When you start your own business in Canada it’s easy to get overwhelmed with paperwork and protocol, especially when you’re a staff of 2 and you’re mopping your own bathroom floor. One of the decisions you’ll have to make ASAP is whether to strike out as a sole proprietor or incorporation. Unfortunately, you don’t even know what that means. We can help you with that!
The terms Sole Proprietorship and Incorporation refer to ownership. The government gives you 4 options to choose from when declaring to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who is responsible for your business. However, as a small business owner you really only have to worry about the first two (the others are Partnership and Co-operative).
If you are the sole proprietor of your business, then you own it all. If this were Middle-earth you’d be wearing that one ring. You file 1 tax return because your business taxes ARE your personal taxes. You don’t have to sign legal documents to declare yourself (aside from your tax file). There are few formalities and all the power.
Entrepreneurs who choose to go the sole proprietorship route experience unique benefits. These include, zero incorporation fees, an instant start date, and total control. The only people you report to are your clients and the CRA (and the law, of course).
The downside of a sole proprietorship links directly with the benefits. You are entirely responsible for the business. That includes incurred debt and lawsuits that may come your way via creditors or clients. You also may end up paying more in taxes if your revenue puts your income into a higher bracket.
Choosing to run as a sole proprietorship depends on what your business is. If yours is a low-risk, not-pouring-all-my-life-savings-into-launching kind of service, then you might feel comfortable operating solo. Artists, designers, writers, and similar freelancers typically begin as sole proprietors and stay that way until they get burned. Or rather, they earn enough revenue to use incorporation as a taxable advantage.
By incorporating your business you are registering as a company with the Canadian government which opens doors for you both financially and legally. As soon as the ink is dry on the paperwork, your life savings are protected from lawsuits and debt incurred by your company (with a few exceptions). You can also apply for corporate loans and grants. Although your taxes become more complicated, your personal taxes won’t be as…well, taxed.
Incorporation costs between $800 and $2800, which includes paying government fees, as well as the optional fees for the accountants and lawyers to help assist with the filing (like Upside Accounting!). It does not include additional fees you may pay to file your taxes every year, the bookkeeper you may want to hire, etc. Incorporating after you’ve run as a sole proprietor will likely cost you a little more, but can be done.
The decision to choose between sole proprietorship and incorporation lies with you. We have now outlined the basic differences between the two. This is information is meant to inform you on the concepts to help you know you have options and what they consist of. On top of that, now if a buddy at the next BBQ you go to starts talking about it you’ve got a clue!
For more detailed information on sole proprietorship and incorporation and how they apply specifically to you, get in touch by contacting our team here.