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Beware of CRA Fraud Scams

Unfortunately, it is that time of year again where CRA fraud scams are prevalent in many forms. It may seem hard to detect whether the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is actually contacting you or if it is a fraud. However, there are some red flags to look out for that will alert you that it is a scam, as well as ways to protect yourself.

What is a CRA Fraud Scam?

Taxpayers should be skeptical when they are contacted by what is thought to be the CRA requesting personal information such as credit card number, social insurance number, passport number, or bank account number through telephone, email, text message, or email. These CRA fraud scams may insist that this personal information is necessary due to an error on their tax return or neglecting to file it. They may also insist that taxpayers visit a fake CRA website to verify their identity by entering this personal information. The fraudulent communication may even threaten individuals with calling the police, blacklisting, or jail time to scare them into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Taxpayers should recognize these fraudulent communications as scams and not respond or click on any links provided.

What the CRA Will Do

If you signed up for online mail, the CRA will do the following:

  • Send a registration confirmation email for the online mail service.
  • Notify you by email when new online mail is available in the CRA’s online services portal.

What the CRA Will Not Do

It is important to note that the CRA will not do the following:

  • Send an email with a link asking you to reveal personal or financial information.
  • Ask for personal information by text message or email.
  • Request payments by prepaid credit cards.
  • Give taxpayer information to another individual, unless formal authorization was provided by the taxpayer.
  • Leave personal information on an answering machine.

How to Protect Yourself

It is important to remember how to protect yourself from these CRA fraud scams. The following includes some tips on how to protect yourself and your sensitive personal information:

  • Never provide personal information through email or the Internet.
  • Requests to pay taxes or fees to the CRA on sweepstakes or lottery winnings are scams. You do not have to pay taxes or fees on those winnings.
  • Keep your user IDs, passwords, and social insurance number secret.
  • Caller ID can be altered by criminals. Never use only the Caller ID to confirm the identity of the caller.
  • Store unwanted documents in a secure place or shred them.
  • Be cautious before clicking on links in any email you receive.
  • Pay close attention to your bills and inquire about any suspicious transactions.
  • Choose your tax accountant carefully – make sure you choose someone you trust! Always review your return, agree with the content before filing, and follow up to be sure you receive your notice of assessment.

For a more exhaustive, detailed list, please visit Canada Revenue Agency’s website. When in doubt, if you are contacted and told you owe money to the CRA, you can always call the CRA or check My Account to be sure. If you have any further questions about these CRA fraud scams or want to know the importance of having a tax accountant, please do not hesitate to contact our team at (226) 214-3233.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

How to Successfully Target Millennials

Why target millennials you might ask? Well, the fact that there are 9.6 million millennials that account for 27% of the total population in Canada is reason enough (Doug Norris, Millennials: The Generation Du Jour). That means that millennials account for more than a quarter of Canada’s total population. Not only that, millennials are highly influential and trendsetters across all industries. Convinced yet? Keep reading for some tips on how to successfully target millennials.

Brand Authenticity and Ethics

Millennials place high value on brand authenticity and ethics. Your brand image and transparency plays a big part in their loyalty. Millennials generally are attracted to brands that contribute in a positive way to the environment and to society. Thus, you should find a small way to make a positive impact to society and promote awareness of this contribution. It can be as simple as using less plastic in your packaging or donating a small percentage of your sales to a good cause. Moreover, millennials seek brands that are transparent with their motives. In other words, if you advertise false or exaggerated product features or omit information and they discover this misrepresentation, you will lose their trust and loyalty. As such, it’s important for your brand to be authentic and genuine at its core.

In-Store Experience

If millennials aren’t online shopping in the comfort of their home, they want their in-store experience to be worth their while. In-store experience doesn’t necessarily have to be events or activities. It can take the form of friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff. It could also simply be providing free testers and demonstrations. The experience that millennials get from making a purchase impacts their purchase decisions and post-purchase loyalty and gratification. Whatever your brand image is, your customer should feel as though they embody your brand after making a purchase. For example, if your brand represents innovation and sophistication, your customer should feel innovative and sophisticated after making a purchase.


As mentioned previously, millennials like the convenience of online shopping. It is becoming critical for businesses to have an efficient and user-friendly online website. Having a website allows customers to easily find your business and discover what products or services you offer. Convenience is a really important factor in the millennial customer’s buying decisions.  They will be more likely to buy a product online that offers free ship-to-your-door convenience, than purchasing the same product only available in-store or online with a shipping charge. Millennials favour products that offer maximum convenience at the lowest price. They want everything available to them at their fingertips, when possible.

Content Sharing Capability

As I’m sure you know, millennials love social media. They like to capture their experiences and share them with others. This is actually an advantage for your business! If you can provide an incentive for them to share their experience with your business or of your product, others will become aware and be more likely to purchase as well.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding about how to successfully target millennials. Truthfully, it’s really all about providing additional value beyond what they are purchasing. Interested in gaining more business advice? Contact our team at (226) 214-3233 and we would be more than happy to advise.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

Bitcoin’s Rise: Should I Invest in Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the flagship of cryptocurrencies. With Bitcoin reaching its all-time high combined with attractive future value predictions, it’s no surprise people want to invest. But the real questions is: when and how much? Although we can’t provide an exact answer, we can give you the information you need to.

Bitcoin’s Rise and All-Time High

“The bitcoin price set another all-time high yesterday, rising as far as $8,380 on bitcoin exchange Bitfinex after recovering from the post-Tether hack market volatility. The bitcoin price has since receded to $8,292, but this still represents a 24-hour gain of almost two percent. This provides bitcoin with a market cap of $138.4 billion, making it just larger than French “Supermajor” Oil and Gas Company Total S.A.”  Josiah Wilmoth, Bitcoin Price Sets New All-Time High as Crypto Market Cap Nears $250 Billion.

Bitcoin has dramatically risen from $966 on January 1, 2017 to a high of over $8,200 on November 22, 2017.  Everyday there is news fueling Bitcoin’s rise. This is caused by the increasing amount of prominent investors, billionaires, and fund managers who comment on Bitcoin. These knowledgeable individuals’ opinions generate public trust and interest.

All-Time High… For Now

“Billionaire and ex-fund manager Mike Novogratz has restated his belief that bitcoin will end the year at $10,000, adding that ethereum could close at $500.” Sujha Sundararajan, Mike Novogratz Doubles Down on $10,000 Bitcoin.

“Wall Street strategist Tom Lee raises bitcoin forecast, now predicts 40% increase.” Tae Kim, Wall Street Strategist Tom Lee raises bitcoin forecast, now predicts 40% rise.

As these predictions and comments become prominent headlines, more people are taking note and investing in cryptocurrencies. This only further fuels Bitcoin’s rise. While all of this is intriguing and compelling, investors should exercise with extreme caution.

Proceed with Caution

“As the price of the digital currency continues to smash through record highs, hitting $US8200 for the first time, a growing number of commentators are drawing comparisons to the dotcom bubble and even the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century.” Frank Chung, ‘Every generation gets sucked in’: Bitcoin bubble worse than dotcom boom, price ‘should be $US100’.

“Finance chiefs say bitcoin is ‘real’ but many think it’s in a bubble right now.” Arjun Kharpal, Finance chiefs say bitcoin is ‘real’ but many think it’s in a bubble right now.

If you are considering investing in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency: do your homework, proceed with caution, and prepare for volatility. Due to the risk of these types of investments, only invest what you can afford to lose.

Did you know? Here at UpSide Accounting, we accept Bitcoin! We would be happy to talk more about Bitcoin or any other financial questions you may have. Contact us at (226) 214-3233.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

How to Become a Student Entrepreneur

We all know the struggles of being a student. Whether it’s relying on loans to get by, or living by the few dollars left in your pocket, money is definitely an issue. Even once you graduate, you might have years before all those loans are paid off. So how is it possible for any student to become an entrepreneur with all this debt? Keep reading, and we will demonstrate how you can become a student entrepreneur, despite your financial situation!

Decrease Student Debt

Loan debt is a huge problem for new graduates. Add on low starting wages and increasing housing costs, and it’s no wonder students have such little cash flow. Becoming a student entrepreneur is probably the last thing on their mind. However, the good news is that there are student loan forgiveness programs. Keep in mind though, that most of these programs are only for publicly funded student loans.

The Canada Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) is for graduates who are having trouble making  their minimum student loan payments. This program allows you to reduce the amount you have to pay each month or eliminating the payment altogether. Every province has their own RAP, as well. Furthermore, if you’re a current student and have Ontario student loans, there are 24 grants and bursaries available to you through OSAP.

Canada also has student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses if you’re working in a remote or rural area. Doctors can qualify for up to $8,000 per year in Canada student loan forgiveness for five years. Moreover, nurses can qualify for up to $4,000 per year in Canada student loan forgiveness for five years.

Increase Cash Flow

Now that you’re informed about how to decrease your student debt, it’s time to talk about the many opportunities available for financing your startup. Since accessing capital can feel impossible for students, governments and organizations offer secured loans and grants to qualifying young entrepreneurs.

Ontario Programs

There are several financial aids for becoming a student entrepreneur in Ontario. The Young Entrepreneurs Program Summer Company is just one example. The Summer Company program is for current students, between the ages of 15 and 24, who will be returning to school in the fall.  This program provides start-up money up to $3,000 to help you start and run a new summer business. Further, the program will connect you with local business leaders for advice and mentorship. Mike Widdis, Founder & Partner at Upside Accounting, was one of those mentors for this past Summer 2017.

There is another Starter Company Program for young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 29, who are not attending school full-time. If eligible, this program provides funding of up to $5,000 and connects you with a business advisor, mentoring from a local entrepreneur, and training for your business. In order to be eligible, 25% of the grant must be contributed in cash or similarly.  

The Youth Accerlator Fund provides funding through MaRS up to a maximum of $250,000! This program is targeting youth who have participated in university or college-based accelerator programs or who are currently enrolled in a Regional Innovation Centre Program. However, this isn’t mandatory if the other qualifications are met.

The Northern Ontario Young Entrepreneur Program provides funding that covers up to 85 per cent of eligible costs, to a maximum of $25,000 per project. In addition, it generally doesn’t have to be repaid. Residents of Northern Ontario, between the ages of 18 and 29 are eligible. In addition, the Youth Entrepreneurship Partnership Program provides money for not-for-profit organizations. 

National Programs

There are also multiple financial aids for student entrepreneurs across Canada. The Futurpreneur Canada Start-Up Program  is one example. This program is for young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 39, and are a Canadian resident with a good business idea. The program can provide $15,000 to help you start and run your business. There is also a similar one for newcomers in Canada.

Another method of financing Nation-wide is the BDC’s Young Entrepreneur Financing Program. There are two financing options under this program. You can apply for start-up financing if you’re in the startup phase of your business or within the first 12 months of sales. Alternatively, if your business has been operating for at least 24 monhs, you can apply for a small business loan. Under this alternative, you can receive up to $50,000 to support your business.

The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund provides loans up to $25,000 to start or grow a business that is working towards achieving social or environmental goals. In order to be eligible, you must be between the ages of 18 and 29, and can be running either a for-profit or not-for-profit social enterprise.

Lastly, the Leadership Grant provides financial assistance for Canadian residents to support the starting or growing of a small business. An important note, Leadership Grants are not loans and thus, don’t need to be repaid.

Note, however, that these lists are not exhaustive. There are even more opportunities in Ontario and Canada-wide for student entrepreneurs. Additionally, be sure to check the the full eligibility requirements for all of the programs before applying. Thus, despite your current financial situation, it is possible to become a student entrepreneur. For more advice about becoming a student entrepreneur, give us a call at (226) 214-3233 and we would love to chat!

MikeWiddis No Comments

Debt-Crushing Habits for Small Business

Debt is such a normal state of finances that the idea of it isn’t as scary as it was a generation ago because everyone’s dealing with the same things; lease for office and manufacturing space, vehicle payments, and the business loan that helped get you off the ground.

The truth is that debt is scary, and a serious player in the success or failure of your business. Without a plan to pay your debt not just down but off you can’t get ahead. Work these debt-crushing habits into your business plan now and make a business plan to thrive rather than merely to survive.

Set a budget, stick to it, and practice tidy bookkeeping.

Budgets require so much care they’re practically living beings. You have to make adjustments based on your expenses, your income, rising prices for equipment and wages, and interest on your loans. It’s smart to set up a budget at the start of every fiscal year, and it’s wise to review it at least every quarter. Know where your money goes by tracking every single expense. Look hard at where you’re failing to stick to your budget and find out why. Don’t fix the failure by assigning a higher expenditure to the failing part of the budget unless you can cut back somewhere else or dramatically increase your income.

Pay down debt.

You’ve already got debt, that’s business. Pay it off! Pay it off at a higher rate than the minimum or else you’ll never get anywhere. You have additional bills to pay, you want to grow your business, and you want to earn a living. Hold off on incurring more debt before paying off what you already owe. You’ve got the saying, “You have to spend money to make money,” ringing in your ears, but that’s a general idea, not words to live by. Take calculated risks rather than hoping for the best. Look at your tidy books and forecast your projected income to see whether it’s worthwhile to invest in another machine or hire another employee this year or if next year is the smarter option.

Make more money.

If your income isn’t enough to cover your debt and then some, find ways to increase your business or upscale your services. Create more appealing packages, consider partnerships, find out what the needs of your clients are and fill them. Increase your rates. If you can’t make more money, scale back your expenses. Find smaller office space, use only 1 vehicle, and sell seldom-used equipment that you can rent when needed.

Save Money!

In addition to your accrued debt, you’re going to owe taxes and your accountant. You may want to give your employees a year-end bonus. You should be prepared for an emergency. Save at least 10% of your income to cover expected and unexpected expenses. How do you do that? Pay your savings account first. It’s a popular suggestion of financial consultants everywhere because it works. Make saving money a priority in your bookkeeping rather than an “if” and see if you don’t sleep better at night.

Feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about your debt? Want to know what reasonable debt is and how to tell your accounts are out of control? Book a consultation with Upside Accounting for sound advice from one small business to another. Call (226) 214-3233 from anywhere in Canada to set up an in-person, phone, or virtual appointment.

Debt Free Party!
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Bookkeeping, what is it good for?

To those who miss the rich nuances in the art of bookkeeping, this chore is simply keeping track of invoices and bills in order to pay the staff and your taxes. And that’s good enough, which is perplexing to us accounting geeks because in our experience “good enough” isn’t good enough for entrepreneurs. You started your business from an idea and worked hard to build what you have now. Keep that momentum going by harnessing the powers of quality bookkeeping and turn “good enough” into dollars and sense.


Bookkeeping entails intimately tracking your income and expenses in a book called a ledger – by now we sincerely hope you’ve discovered the sanity-saving software versions. You bought an online advertising package? That goes in the ledger. You paid your employee? That goes in the ledger. Even unpaid invoices are included.

It’s the details of bookkeeping that trip most people up. The idea of noting your latest gas receipts and weekly mileage regularly sounds easy, but it’s even easier to say, “I’ll do that next week.” Say that a few times, and suddenly your fiscal year end is upon you, and you’ve got mountains of debits and credits to enter. Now your bookkeeping is a nightmare! *cue horror movie soundtrack* It doesn’t have to be like that. Take 5 to 10 minutes and balance your latest bank statement or hire a bookkeeper to come in once a month and do it for you. If it’s not obvious that investing time and maybe a bookkeeper’s wage is going to make you money, look closely at the data.

Up-to-date bookkeeping is a map of your business that provides clear navigation to success. When you can easily review the details of where you’ve been, you can plan where you’re going with accuracy to relieve stress and get excited about the future. Updated bookkeeping allows for:

Tax Planning

Know how much you’ll owe in taxes, and plan for it – we know, that one’s easy. Good bookkeeping also means you can look ahead at current and upcoming tax credits that you or your business qualify for and make plans for eligibility, like hiring and apprenticeship credits. And make sure you’re updated on the current fiscal year’s expense allowances administered by the CRA before you blow the budget wooing a new client.


Forecasting is an incredibly satisfying perk of bookkeeping. Use your historic financial and business information to project your upcoming year. Know when your busy season is and be prepared to hire additional staff. Know when your quiet season is and be prepared to lay staff off. Examine your upcoming projects and find out whether any of them qualify for government funding. Look at your growth to devise an expansion strategy.

Realistic Budgeting

Budgeting and Forecasting are best friends. Use your financial forecast to set a budget – a realistic budget based your own historical data. Know when it’s critical to save extra funds in order to support slow times. Use your budget to measure your real-time financial situation as the year goes on and make adjustments based on what has already happened and what your business’ history suggests will happen so that you aren’t left scrambling to pay bills or fulfill orders.

Upside Accounting can help you develop excellent bookkeeping skills and plan for the future. Never done this before? That’s okay! We’re here to help. Book a consultation today by calling (226) 214-3233.


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What Coworking Spaces Can Really Do For You

We have chatted with numerous people here at UpSide, contemplating the leap to being self-employed.   They are good (I mean VERY good) at their profession but staring into the abyss of the unknown has to be one of the top deciding factors.  “Should I stay or should I go now” is playing in my head currently. The difference maker is support and surroundings. I mean UpSide was even born in a coworking space.  Don’t get me wrong, we have seen people who excel being locked in their basement or spare bedroom and just pound out the work.  Typically coders, website builders, yes even accountants do well in these environments.

At some point, though, EVERY business owner has to come up for air and hunt down more business.  For the majority, this will feel isolating and overwhelming as there is just soooo much to do when success is solely on your shoulders.  This is why it is so important to get out and network, talk to people, ask questions about anything and everything.  Coworking spaces have this component ingrained in their culture.  You would really have to try to not engage in someone, in something every time you walk through the doors.  Like attracts like and the entrepreneurs that I’ve met are some of the most giving people out there.

But don’t take my word for it, click on this link to read an article from Forbes

Check out Cambridge’s “The Idea Room”

Or, we’d love to chat with you if you are considering the leap and not sure where to start!

Coworking space

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Why Should I Care About Sole Proprietorship vs. Incorporation?

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).

Sole Proprietorship

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 calling Upside Accounting at 226-214-3233 or contact us here.

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Firm of the Future

September 20, 2016–CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO: UpSide Accounting places runner-up in Intuit Inc.’s Firm of the Future 2016 contest. Firm of the Future winners are selected from an international pool of accounting firms dedicated to dynamically changing the landscape of business bookkeeping from a necessary service to a supporting role in the clients’ success. As a runner-up in the Firm of the Future contest, UpSide Accounting is being lauded as one of the top 20 forward-thinking firms supporting small business on an international stage.

Contest entrants push the boundaries of traditional accounting with cloud-based accounting and value-based billing, enabling the firm to serve progressive small business owners from anywhere. UpSide Accounting also provides support to clients with business development consultations in addition to financial management. Incorporating technological advancement into their regular workday–like apps and social media communication–allows UpSide Accounting to meet with clients on their terms, and speaking the same language. While UpSide Accounting takes the initiative to train clients on cloud-based accounting apps, new clients seek them out because of this specialty. The increased efficiencies provided by cloud accounting allows the partners to engage with clients anytime, on any platform, “We always tell our clients that we won’t charge them for a five-minute phone call because we want them to save money and be confident that they’re doing the right thing,” says Mike Widdis, CPB at Upside Accounting.

Over 95% of UpSide Accounting’s clients use cloud-based accounting software and third-party apps to conduct business. However, Widdis says, the most noticeable difference between forward-thinking firms and traditional isn’t so much the technology as it is the company mindset. Accountants embracing technology are talking to each other and learning together as equals rather than distancing competition. “We have a niche clientele,” says Widdis, referring to their client-base consisting of creative start-ups and solopreneurs, “and we will send clients who don’t fit that to firms better suited to their needs.”

Intuit Inc.’s Firm of the Future contest is open to cloud-based accounting firms using Intuit financial management solutions in Canada, Australia, The United Kingdom, and The United States of America. The top prize is $10,000 USD and the winner is chosen by public voting committee from 4 finalists – one from each eligible country. Fifteen runners-up are selected from the international pool of entrants and are awarded $2500 USD.


UpSide Accounting supports startups, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs with customized financial and business solutions, providing a rich source of support for businesses at every stage. The greatest source of career satisfaction for partners Mike Widdis and Phil McTaggart rests in their open communication platforms which straddle the traditional lines and ever-evolving social media. Embracing cloud-based accounting techniques and third-party app efficiencies puts UpSide Accounting on the leading edge of frustration-free accounting and business management skills to suit every definition of success.

Intuit’s Press Release

UpSide Accounting - Firm of the Future

UpSide Accounting – Firm of the Future


Mike Widdis and Phil McTaggart – (226) 214-3233 –

Website:  Address: 10 Queen St. W, Cambridge, ON  N3C 1G1