Date posted: 22/07/2021

Helping your clients access COVID-19 financial support

Considerations for accountant sign-offs for COVID-19 related assistance

In Brief

  • Some forms of COVID-19 assistance require an accountant’s letter
  • These should be treated the same as any client engagement
  • Limit yourself to the facts

To access some COVID-19 financial support the State and Federal governments require businesses and individuals to provide letters from their accountants.

The types of supporting letters are varied but can include statements that provide, or imply, assurance to others of matters such as the client’s changed revenue, percentage change in earnings, rental commitments or reduction in turnover compared to prior periods.

The legal implications of these supporting letters can be severe, including inadvertently exposing you to penalties associated with COVID-19 support legislation and professional standards. To reduce your risk, we recommend:

  • You exercise a high degree of caution
  • Assess whether you have the skills and competence to complete the engagement
  • Issue engagement documentation that makes clear the scope and limitations of the engagement you will perform
  • Limit your engagement to a factual report on historical information or events
  • Ensure it is a service included in your professional indemnity policy

This type of request is very similar to the requests being made by client’s financiers and future financiers. Please refer to our recent article on how to respond to these requests and how to mitigate your risk.