Stacey Leonard No Comments

Tax Deductible Expenses for Small Business Owners

Being a small business owner allows you to have many tax advantages. With tax season nearing an end, learn about some deductible expenses to keep in mind so you can maximize your tax return for the next tax season.

Advertising

All advertising expenses can be deducted if your advertising is directed at a Canadian market and the original content in the publication is 80% or more of the publication’s total non-advertising content. Otherwise, if it is less than 80%, you can deduct 50% of the advertising expense.

Business Tax, Fees, and Dues

You can deduct annual license fees and business taxes incurred to run your business. You can also deduct annual membership fees or dues if it is for a trade or commercial association.

Delivery and Freight

You can deduct delivery and freight expenses related to your business in the year they were incurred.

Insurance

You can deduct all commercial insurance premium expenses on any buildings, equipment, or machinery used in your business.

Legal & Professional Fees

You can deduct the fees you incurred for your business for external professional services or advice, including consulting fees. You can also deduct accounting and legal fees you incurred to get advice and help with your financial statements. Moreover, fees incurred for preparing and filing your GST/HST and income tax returns can be deducted.

Meals and Entertainment

The maximum amount you can claim for meals and entertainment expenses is 50% of the lesser of either the amount you incurred for the expenses or an amount that is reasonable in the circumstances. This limit also applies to meals when you travel for business. In addition, entertainment expenses include gratuities, room rentals, cover charges, and tickets and entrance fees to a sporting or entertainment event.

Office Expenses

The cost of office expenses for small items, such as pencils, pens, stationary, paper clips, stamps, and more can be deducted.

Telephone and Utilities

Expenses for telephone and utilities can be deducted if you incurred them to earn an income. In addition, if you have a home office space, you can deduct the proportion of your home utilities that apply to that space.

Travel

You can deduct travel expenses incurred to earn a professional or business income. These expenses include meals, public transportation fares, and accommodations.

For a more detailed, exhaustive list of deductible expenses and all limitations or exclusions, please visit the Government of Canada. If you want to find out more ways your business can save you money, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to chat!

Stacey Leonard No Comments

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.

MikeWiddis No Comments

HSA Medical Expense Tax Deduction

As a small business owner, is there a way to save on tax using my family’s medical expenses? The short answer is, absolutely! There are a couple of different ways.

Eligible Medical Expense Claims for all Taxpayers

First, not only business owners, but every taxpayer has the right to claim eligible medical expenses on their personal tax return every April.  There are a couple of downfalls though.  The medical tax credit doesn’t kick in until you have more than 3% of your net income in expenses or $2,237 (whichever is less).  So, a taxpayer with an income of $75,000 would get no benefit from spending over $2000 on medical expenses.  Also, this is a credit, not a deduction, and deductions are always better!

HSA Deduction – Small Business Owner Benefit

One benefit of being a small business owner is that you can choose to have your business set up a Healthcare Spending Account (HSA) which is a deduction to your business income. Every dollar your business spends is eligible, no minimum like the tax credit. You get to choose the monthly amount that makes sense for your situation. When you have an eligible expense, you can submit the receipt and be reimbursed 100% from this account (up to the account balance). On top of that, this reimbursement usually only takes a couple of days! Moreover, even if your spouse has benefits from their employer, which may only cover a portion of the difference, can also be reimbursed from your HSA. It includes everything that you are out of pocket for yourself, your spouse, and all dependents.

There is a long list of eligible expenses on CRA’s website www.cra-arc.gc.ca/medical. Take a look, you may be surprised at the items that you may have missed taking advantage of in the past. Getting a HSA setup is just one way to maximize your hard earned dollars and save on tax. If you want to learn more about the HSA deduction and other benefits of being a small business owner, please contact us and we would be happy to chat!

MikeWiddis No Comments

Tax Time!

It never fails to sneak up on you: Tax time! Whether it’s your personal taxes in the spring or your corporate fiscal year end, getting your books together is a hassle. Follow our guide below to stay on track and make your tax filing as smooth as possible.

First, your accountant needs your business.

The first thing your accountant needs from you is an appointment. By mid-February, you should have already contacted your accountant to be sure they can process your file this year. If they can’t, you’re going to need that lead time to find a new one. Accountants do all the same things regular people do like get sick, sell the business, and retire. This is why it’s prudent to check-in with yours and make sure you’re both on track for this year’s file.

Second, your accountant needs you to reconcile your books.

Since you have already contacted your accountant (right?!), they have provided you a Profits & Loss form (P&L) or given you instructions on how to give them access to your cloud bookkeeping platform. Bonus Tip: If they haven’t, look for a new accountant! In both instances you need to have entered into either the P&L or your cloud file:

  • Invoices – whether paid or unpaid, if you issued an invoice in the tax filing calendar year, they go in the tax file.
  • Pay stubs – if you pay yourself a salary or you pay additional staff, all of that has to be included.
  • Receipts and bills – every receipt that pertains to your business goes into the file, including but not limited to: office supplies, machinery, property, vehicles, gas, meals, internet, cell phones, marketing expenses, travel expenses – if you pay for it and use it for work, add it to the pile.
  • Kilometres – If you claim the use of your car for business use, you need to include the number of kilometres you traveled for work.

 

If you are a Sole Proprietor you also include receipts from medical care not covered by insurance, any donation receipts, investment income statements, property purchases, and everything else you would include on a personal tax return. Because this IS your personal tax return.

Incorporations need to include any shareholder transactions (investments and withdrawals), HST payments, HST claims, dividends, bank statements, and all of your bookkeeping records.

Bonus tip: Make your tax filing easier still with cloud accounting. Just enter in your information into the database as it comes throughout the year then grant your accountant access to prepare your file.  OR, even easier, subscribe to a digital filing cabinet like Hubdoc and let the pros do the rest.

Finally, your accountant needs a little bit of your time.

Your accountant will likely need at least an hour of your time, divided up, to sign releases, fix bookkeeping errors, plan for the year coming and the like. Factor travel time on your part into that.

Your accountant may seem like a superhero, but at the end of the day they are mortals just like you, so you won’t be able to deliver your tax file to them the day it’s due and meet your deadline. But you called ahead and got a realistic timeline from them a month ago, right? Be realistic about the timing, start reconciling early, and tax time will become routine instead of a hassle.

Ready to find out what the fuss is about cloud accounting? Contact our team at UpSide Accounting from anywhere in Canada to get steered in the right direction.

MikeWiddis No Comments

Why Should I Care About Sole Proprietorship vs. Incorporation?

Are you stuck between 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 proprietorship vs 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.

Incorporation

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 vs incorporation and how they apply specifically to you, get in touch by contacting our team here.