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Meet the Member: Mathieu Aimlon, Partner, CPA, Aimlon CPA
Member news | July 29, 2019
In our latest Meet the Member feature, we had the pleasure of speaking with Mathieu Aimlon. Mathieu has been an active FACC member since June 2017 and is passionate about counseling French entrepreneurs. Mathieu is a certified public accountant in France and in the US, and specialist in all areas of both taxation and auditing. He has a broad knowledge of general business matters with a diverse and extensive professional background encompassing industries such as retail, apparel, technologies, manufacturing.
Keep reading to learn more about Mathieu's practice and why he chose to be a part of the FACC community:
FACC: Aimlon CPA P.C. offers assurance, accounting, tax, consulting and advisory services with the goal of demystifying complex accounting and tax issues, maximizing cash flow and minimizing tax liabilities. What advice would you give to a French startup considering the creation of their U.S. subsidiary?
MA: They should speak to a certified public accountant (CPA) first. The CPA is the equivalent of Expert-comptable, commissaire aux comptes in France. The CPA will help them determine the proper way to conduct their business from an economic, legal and tax standpoints. And if they need to form an entity, the CPA will help them choose the proper form of entity. Entrepreneurs tend to speak to an Attorney first. And Attorneys often recommend a structure that may not meet their long-term needs. That said, we have examples of situation where the Attorney sent the Entrepreneur to us to discuss the proper form of entity. And then, the Attorney drafts the legal entity formation documents and file them with the appropriate State Secretary.
French Start up Entrepreneurs should ask to meet with a CPA, not with an Accountant. This is because not all Accountants are CPA. But all CPAs are Accountants. Anyone can say he or she is an Accountant, even if they do not have an accounting education. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Public Accountant (PA) are the only protected accounting designation on U.S. soil. That’s one of the nuances that many people are not aware of.
Finally, unlike in France, anyone may provide tax and accounting services on U.S. soil for fee. Only attest services such as financial statements audit may be provided by licensed CPAs. And a handful of states, such as New York State, require a minimum education to offer to prepare tax returns for a fee. In NYS, that minimum education is a high school diploma or its equivalent.
This market structure may prove challenging to select a qualified professional. That’s one of the areas where the French American Chamber of Commerce can be helpful. And we often hear from Entrepreneurs who came to us through the FACC that they trust us more than the other professionals that they’ve been referred to because the Chamber sent them to us.
FACC: Your firm works in a variety of sectors, including apparel, law, transportation, manufacturing, luxury, real estate, non-profit and more. Is there one sector you find particularly challenging or one who could benefit the most from the expert counsel of a CPA to best optimize qualifying tax exemptions or credits?
MA: We have a few clients that distribute their products online, or operate a marketplace where you may buy and sell furniture. E-commerce has grown into a significant part of the U.S. economy. Holiday season retail e-commerce spending in the U.S. amounted to $123.7 billion in 2018, up from $107 billion of revenue during the 2017 holiday season. In 2016, online shopping generated $91 billion of revenue. But, there are a lot of tax traps when you’re doing business on the web. Corporate income tax trap and sales tax trap are the two main tax traps.
For instance, since June 2018, the U.S. Supreme court expanded states’ ability to require online retailers, and marketplace providers to collect and remit sales tax on transactions with residents of their state even if the online retailer doesn’t have any store, or warehouse, or employee in the state. The challenge is that each state has its own requirements. As a result, even a small start-up with limited amount of activity may have to collect and remit sales tax in multiple states. Until June 2018, start-up entrepreneurs had to have a physical presence in a state to be subject to that state’s jurisdiction including collecting and remitting sales tax. You have a physical presence in a state if you have offices, employees or independent contractors, inventory or other tangible property in the state. And when you sell online, you may sell anywhere without having any physical presence. Because of that physical presence rule, states were losing an estimated $23 billion per year because of Internet sales.
FACC: Can you tell us more about your background and how long you have been in New York City?
MA: My family is from West Africa, but I’ve been educated in France, and I’m a French national. I’m licensed to practice public accounting in France where I earned the expert-comptable, commissaire aux comptes qualification. I worked in different CPA Firms in Paris for about 7 years in total, including at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. During the earlier years of my career in CPA Firms in France, I learned how to help start-ups grow their business from a tax, accounting and business advisory perspective. During my later years in larger CPA Firms in France, I was performing financial statements audit. And as such, I mostly helped publicly traded companies, small caps and large caps, communicate their financial performance to investors, and comply with regulatory requirements.
I resigned from my financial auditor role in France and came to work in New York for a smaller size CPA Firm. During my first two years in the U.S., I studied and passed the U.S. CPA exam, and earned my U.S. CPA license. That gives me the option of practicing public accounting either in Europe (France) or in the U.S. I started my own CPA Firm practice a few years ago. We’re a one-stop-shop tax, audit and accounting firm with an international root. We serve individuals, start-ups as well as small and medium sized established companies.
FACC: What do you most appreciate about the NY business culture?
MA: Some of the start-ups we served over the past 6 years as a CPA have experienced a tremendous amount of growth. One of them is publicly traded in Wall Street. Another one is a Unicorn, meaning they’ve been valued at $1 billion or more. A few of them are now better known than when we started with them and sell internationally.
FACC: What convinced you that being a part of the FACC was a smart choice to help develop and grow your business?
MA: Most of the entrepreneurs from France go to the French American Chamber of Commerce, a reputable institution, for guidance on starting a business in the U.S. We believe that, because of our formal education and practical experience in France and in the U.S., we might be a resource to those business managers. And over the past few months, we’ve been providing guidance, free of charge, to entrepreneurs. Some of them have become our Firm’s client. And we’ve been impressed by the FACC level of quality of service. For instance, Florence Cheiron of the FACC Membership Team typically follows up on the entrepreneurs that she sends our way, and based on what we tell her, she follows up with the entrepreneurs to see whether there is anything else that they may do to help them.
FACC: Where do you see yourself and your business in five years, what are your aspirations?
MA: Our goal is to grow our CPA Firm organically. That means adding more clients, and more staff. We’d like to meet with solopreneurs, start-ups, high growth companies, established companies, U.S. subsidiaries of publicly traded or privately own companies managers, operating in all area of industry except for the financial services industry, who are serious about their business.
FACC: As a member, what do you hope to share with the community?
MA: I try to be helpful to other members. When a member reaches out to me, I always respond, usually within 24 hours. Depending on the other member’s ask, I’ll provide input. For instance, I shared with the most recent member who reached out to me, other business networking group ideas that may benefit him, and I invited him to one of our networking group meetings.
Also, as a CPA, we have exposure to a broad range of industries, businesses, and, as a result, we’re able to share our experience with others to help them grow.
Interested in connecting with Mathieu? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message or learn more on the Aimlon CPA Linkedin page.