First AICPA Cannabis Conference Paves the Future for the Industry

AICPA Cannabis Conference 2021 - The Future of Cannabis Accounting and Tax

As states across our country continue to legalize Cannabis every year, CPAs, bookkeepers, and accounting professionals are steadily encountering new clients who want to serve the Cannabis industry. The AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants} has now recognized the need for providing guidance and support to accountants who may support the quickly growing Cannabis market. 

Calling on industry leaders, the AICPA held its first 2-day Cannabis education conference, the AICPA and CIMA Cannabis Conference, on November 8 and 9, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among the Cannabis accounting and tax leaders that presented at this conference are DOPE CFO Founder Andrew Hunzicker, CPA, along with DOPE CFO students Paula Collins, Molly Mayfield, and Carlos Vela. 

Read on for highlights of the DOPE CFO member’s presentations.

Conference Overview

The AICPA and CIMA Cannabis Conference 2021...

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Do’s and Don’ts of Cannabis Cost of Goods Sold and IRC 471-11 Accounting and Tax

Legally Reducing Tax Liability in the Face of 280E

Due to the fact that Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug (in spite of the fact that the majority of states in this country have voted to legalize Cannabis in some form or fashion), ALL Cannabis companies must comply with 280E. There’s little grey area here, but if you’re in the business of harvesting, producing, manufacturing, or selling Cannabis in any way, shape, or form, your business is not able to legally take deductions.

IRC 280E clearly states:

No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted. Source: Cornell Law

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Choosing the Right Cannabis or CBD Entity Structure

NOTE: When forming a legal entity it is best that all parties involved seek experienced, informed legal counsel. Preferably a tax AND corporate attorney that can help guide you in making legal decisions.  

At the inception of a Cannabis or CBD company, one of the most important first steps is to decide on the entity structure, where the client will be deciding how the business will be taxed, how equity will be dispersed when investors come on board, and how to protect the assets of owners, among other considerations. 

There are so many things to consider during this crucial stage, so if a Cannabis or CBD CEO approaches you and wants to know…

“What’s the best entity structure for my Cannabis business…?”

The answer should always be…

“It all depends.” 

Here’s why!

Questions and Considerations when Choosing a Cannabis Entity 

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding which entity structure to...

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8 Ways Cannabis Startups Differ from Traditional Startups (and the Vital Skills Accountants Need to Help Them Flourish)

Cannabis startups are much more complicated than traditional startups. They face a set of unique challenges that require accountants to be clear on state licensing rules and federal regulations regarding controlled substances, making Cannabis companies 10x more likely to fail than non-Cannabis.

We’re not talking about not being successful in business -- we mean getting audited and paying massive fines, criminal charges against CEOs for illegal market activity, loss of licensure, and running out of money due to poor financial planning and insights.

We promise there’s a way to help things run smoothly and set your clients up for long-term success. It just requires understanding the day-to-day challenges a Cannabis startup faces and dedicating yourself to learning the skills necessary to help your clients navigate those issues.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with a new startup and have no idea where to even get started to figure out the ins and outs of Cannabis...
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11 Cannabis Accounting Experts Share Industry Software Tips

11 Cannabis Accounting Experts Weigh in on Industry Software Workarounds

Cannabis accounting software is hard to come by, and options that do exist are abysmal at best. Most vendors won’t come near the federally illegal industry. Also, the software that is available tends to be buggy and won’t typically integrate well with your clients’ existing accounting software. 

Without efficient “out-of-the-box” software solutions in place, you’d have to resort to pen and paper and archaic spreadsheets. Not only is that method time-consuming, but it’s also incredibly error-prone and inconvenient. You need smooth, systematic, and repeatable software solutions and workarounds to streamline accurate Cannabis accounting, which will keep keep your clients profitable and compliant.  

We questioned more than 800 accounting professionals that are currently in the DOPE CFO program and are successfully helping clients. To help you navigate the...

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5 Accounting Myths Cannabis CEOs Believe (and How to Debunk Them)

If you’re a Cannabis accounting professional, or are working towards learning how to serve clients in this space, you may have already experienced the frustrations of trying to reach out to Cannabis clients, only to be told that you’re not needed because they “already have an in-house bookkeeper” and that they’re sure their current accounting system is just fine. Until Cannabis CEOs understand that their practices are often inaccurate and self-damaging (as they likely don’t have access to or an understanding of the cost accounting tools required), they may not understand until they’re slapped with a severe penalty. 

Understanding the myths that business owners believe about Cannabis accounting can give you a leg up on understanding their perspective, and may better form how you pitch your value to them when you do reach out. For every myth they believe, you can counter with a well-researched answer, illuminating the consequences of...

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How to Legally Maximize Your Clients’ Tax Benefit: An Introduction to Cost Accounting for Cannabis/CBD/Hemp

cost accounting gaap Mar 05, 2021

Cost accounting is essential for proper Cannabis and CBD/hemp accounting and tax; however, if you are not doing cost accounting correctly (or at all), your clients could be missing some benefit under IRC 471-11 and paying too much in taxes. On the other hand, if you claim a significant amount of costs allocated to inventory (and eventually COGS) incorrectly, your clients could end up in hot water when audited, and potentially owe thousands of dollars in back taxes, interest, and penalties.   

Two tax codes make cost accounting imperative for your clients: 280E and IRC 471. 280E prevents Cannabis companies from deducting business expenses because, federally, they are trafficking Schedule 1 controlled substances. CBD and hemp aren’t subject to 280E, but must still comply with IRC 471. IRC 471 classifies which costs can go into inventory (and what cannot be allocated as an inventoriable expense). These costs will eventually be categorized as Cost of Goods Sold...

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Lessons in Compliance from 4 Notorious Cannabis Court Cases

2021 is already shaping up to be a historic year for Cannabis, on the heels of the huge growth and developments the industry experienced in 2020. From skyrocketing sales amid the pandemic to five new states welcoming legalized Cannabis in the November elections, the industry is poised for big changes on the horizon.

Now, with the recent Senate power shift and the House voting on the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act, Cannabis may finally be removed from its Schedule 1 classification. At the very least, the pace at which new states continue to legalize marijuana is a harbinger that federal legalization is in the not-so-distant future.

With all this excitement and growth, here’s the thing: regulations are still tightening and the IRS is ever-sharpening its vigilance, winning nearly every court case filed. Even if Cannabis was de-scheduled, the industry would still need to do GAAP accrual accounting and accountants will still need to know how to...

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4 Things Cannabis and CBD/Hemp Accountants Need to Know About 471 (That Will Save Your Clients Money and Frustration)

280e 471-11 irc 471 Jan 05, 2021

Cannabis companies are springing up across the country, and for good reason. There is a huge opportunity for growth in this market and businesses are just scratching the surface. However, it’s your job to be the expert on the numbers and the complicated rules to stay ahead of the game and keep your clients moving forward.

Despite the many opportunities in the industry, Cannabis companies face certain challenges due to its federally illegal status, especially in regards to tax liabilities. CBD/hemp companies can deduct normal business expenses, but must proceed with extreme caution as they are still highly regulated and often audited. Both niches require complex accounting and tax processes to stay compliant.

According to 280E, any business associated with the “trafficking” of Schedule 1 substances may not deduct ordinary business expenses (i.e. rent, vehicle expenses, mortgage interest, and much more). The only way Cannabis companies can lower taxable income is by...

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How to Properly Price Your Cannabis and CBD/Hemp Accounting Services in 6 Easy Steps

Properly quoting accounting fees is complicated in any industry, but establishing a pricing policy for the wily Cannabis and hemp/CBD niches can be especially challenging and overwhelming. 

If you find it hard, or even scary, to price your Cannabis and hemp/CBD accounting services without undercutting your value, you are not alone. 

Many accountants struggle with raising their fees beyond low hourly rates. Learning how to package your services, create clear offers to reflect your value, and develop a system for charging appropriately for cleanup, onboarding, and ongoing work will enable you to confidently set your price and find clients who will happily pay it.

Here are six easy steps you can take to make sure you're pricing your Cannabis accounting services correctly.

Position Yourself as a Premier Provider 

Stop charging for your hours and start charging for the value of your work. This is a complicated numbers game with ever-changing rules and regulations....

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