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M&E: Marijuana Business Deduction

You have probably been hearing a lot about the upcoming marijuana legalization in Canada. First, Senate recently passed the marijuana legalization bill C-45. Now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced that recreational use of marijuana will be legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. With that being said, we thought we would start a conversation of our own, except with an accounting twist; should there be a marijuana business deduction?

Marijuana Business Deduction

Legalization of marijuana has been a huge debate for years. Now that it’s being legalized, a lot is about to change. One potential change from an accounting standpoint is whether there should be a marijuana business deduction. The CRA has already confirmed that medical cannabis purchased under prescription is an allowable medical expense to the medical tax credit. So if the CRA is allowing this, what else will they allow once it becomes legal? 

Let’s go back in history for a moment. Remember the prohibition from 1920 to 1933? Alcohol was banned once too. However, now it’s even allowed as a business deduction under certain circumstances. For instance, currently you can deduct up to 50% of the cost of drinks during a business meeting as a meals and entertainment expense. Will that be the same with business meetings over a joint as opposed to drinks? Let’s walk through it.

Stance 1: It Should be Included as M&E

First of all, this could be beneficial to creative professionals. Certain strains of marijuana promote creativity. In other words, marketers may want to have a meeting over a shared joint instead of over drinks to induce creative thinking and ideas that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Or graphic designers might want to use it to get their creative juices flowing as they design your innovative logo with fine details. However, even if you don’t mind your graphic designer working high, you might not want your accountant or lawyer doing the same.

Let’s move on to comparing alcohol with cannabis. Alcohol is a depressant and marijuana is a hallucinogen with depressant effects. This means that both intoxicating substances are similarly categorized with soon-to-be similar legal rights. So how different are they really besides differing societal standards?

Another consideration has to do with health. Alcohol is fine in moderation and is often thought to be beneficial to your health. Although, in excess alcohol can also be addicting, damaging to your liver, lead to cancer and even death. On the other hand, cannabis is actually used medically for several health conditions. Marijuana provides plenty of health benefits and research shows that it is much safer than alcohol (once you are over the age of 25). So if marijuana is similar to but safer than alcohol, should there be an allowable marijuana business deduction under the meals and entertainment expense?

Stance 2: It Should NOT be Included as M&E

Despite marijuana being “legalized”, it will still be illegal to smoke everywhere except on private property in Ontario. This law will vary by province. As a result, you won’t be able to go to your regular restaurant and enjoy some marijuana with your meal like you can with alcohol. The only way you can legally conduct your business meeting over say a joint is if it’s in your house or on a private property that allows marijuana use. As a small business owner, would you want to hold a meeting in your own house? Probably not as it is less professional.

Another issue is that marijuana is still taboo. Marijuana is not widely accepted like alcohol has become. There is a stigma attached to it. BUT you could still say the same for alcohol. This stigma could make it a questionable and risky decision to request a business meeting over a shared joint. Just like some people don’t drink and might feel strongly against it, the same is true for marijuana. You would have to tread cautiously here.

One last issue has to do with the difficulty in distinguishing the amount used for business during meetings. Unless you buy a single joint to share for that specific meeting, it’s not as simple as ordering a drink or two. If you buy it by the gram, you would have to somehow verify that the amount you claimed was solely for business use. This would be challenging and cause potential dispute by the CRA.

Final Thoughts

In the end, it’s all perception and societal constructs. Now that you read our thoughts on this debate, let’s start a discussion. What are your thoughts? Should there be a marijuana business deduction for meals and entertainment purposes? Whether you think yes or no, we want to listen to what you have to say!

Are you a creative professional reading this? If so, creative professionals like yourself are our specialty! Please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to set up a free meeting to find out how we can help you and your business.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

Work from Home Like a Boss

It has become more common to work from home. Working from home has many benefits – but it also has some downfalls. Although it offers flexibility and convenience, it can also get lonely and be less motivating. After reading our tips, you will master how to work from home like a boss!

Create a Motivating Workplace

The most important step is to create a motivating workplace at home. First, choose an area of your house designated as your home office. Then place everything you need to conduct your daily tasks in that area. Once you have collected everything you need in your designated workplace area, make sure to keep it well organized. If your space is aesthetically pleasing, you will feel more organized, in control, and relaxed.  Any clutter will distract you and make you feel less productive. Another good idea is to decorate your workplace with motivational art or plants to make the space more lively.

Simulate a Beginning and End of Workday

It can be difficult getting yourself in and out of a work mindset. Since you’re not physically entering or leaving a business office, it can be a challenge to dive into work at the beginning of the day and to leave your work behind after the day is done. You can avoid this by simulating a beginning and end of your workday. For example, before your shift starts and after it ends you can go for a short walk around your block. This will help trick your mind in believing you have traveled to work and back home. A little exercise is also good for clearing your mind and increasing concentration (who knew?!).

Change it Up

Sometimes it can get boring or lonely working from home. That’s why working at a local cafe for the day, or even for just a few hours, can make all the difference. Being at a fresh new place and surrounded by people may be all you need to feel more lively and productive.

Use a Chatting App Between Co-Workers

Since our team at UpSide works remotely the majority of the time, we have discovered effective ways to stay connected. The collaboration hub that we use to chat is Slack. Slack allows you to instantly send messages to your co-workers and get back to each other faster than emailing. You can also create group conversations between your entire team or select people. It’s great for keeping in contact with your team if you aren’t always in the office to speak face-to-face.

If you work from home, you will understand these daily challenges. We hope that by reading this you learned some tips on how to work from home like a boss by staying productive and motivated! If you want to learn more about what we do, please contact us and we would be happy to chat.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

5 Ways Bookkeeping Eliminates Stress

Bookkeeping eliminates stress in many aspects of your life. At UpSide, we believe entrepreneurs should enjoy work time and family time. Why limit yourself? Experience business growth, be present, and make your life an adventure.

1. More Time Spent with Your Family

Do you find that you are missing family events, time with friends, or constantly being late for dinner? By having a professional take care of your bookkeeping, you will be surprised by how much time they save you. That way you can spend more quality time with your family and loved ones.

2. Have Piece of Mind that Your Finances are Handled

If accounting is not exactly your forte, then handling your business’s finances can be a huge burden. Worrying about your taxes for the CRA and getting audited can also be stressful. If this sounds familiar, then having a professional handle your taxes and bookkeeping eliminates stress (yay!). More importantly, you can trust that your taxes are being filed correctly and that your tax returns are being maximized (double yay!).

3. Spend Work Time More Efficiently

Moreover, instead of dedicating critical work time on your books, you can spend your time more efficiently on what matters most. This can include sales, operations, networking, marketing, and more. Get back to what made you so passionate about starting your business and continue spending your efforts on growing it.

4. Be More Present Outside of Work

Furthermore, having a professional bookkeeper means that you have someone to talk to about your finances. At UpSide, we are here to listen and give you advice. This means that you can keep your business and personal life separate – as it should be! We give you someone to talk to so that you can spend meaningful time with your loved ones (and talk about something other than your business for once!).

5. Get Advice when You Need It

Lastly, our team at UpSide will listen to your worries and give you business and financial advice. We are here to help your business’s growth and success. In addition, your bookkeeper will be familiar with your financial situation. This means that they can give you professional advice on ways you can improve your business, both in the short-term and long-term.

We know that being a small business owner can be stressful. However, we strongly believe that bookkeeping eliminates stress. At UpSide, we take care of your books so that you can spend your time on what matters most to you and for your business. If you are a small business owner looking to relieve stress, contact us and we can see if we are a good fit.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

Benefits of Cloud Accounting

There are several benefits of cloud accounting. If you do not know what cloud accounting is, it is accounting using software that is hosted on the cloud, or rather, online. Cloud accounting thus differs from the traditional accounting software hosted locally on a computer’s hard drive. Most importantly, cloud accounting holds many benefits over traditional accounting.  Read further to discover the many benefits of cloud accounting.

No More Hoarding Receipts

Is one of your pet peeves having to store physical records of all your business receipts? If so, I have good news for you! There is no longer a need to store physical records of your business receipts. For cloud accounting, you use receipt apps like Hubdoc and Receipt Bank and simply take photos of your business receipts. They are then stored digitally on your chosen receipt app that is accessible by you and your accountant.

Available Anytime, Anywhere

Since your data is stored in the cloud, it is available anytime, anywhere. This means that while you are traveling, whether it be for work or pleasure, you can still access and manage your business’s financials. Moreover, you can submit your business receipts immediately instead of hording them for the entire trip.

Real-Time Overview of Financials

Another one of the many benefits of cloud accounting is that your data is able to be updated in real-time. This allows you to have a clear overview of your current financial position. By being able to access your financial data and information quickly, you will be able to make more informed business decisions with less delay.

Greater Efficiency, More Time Spent Where it Should

Cloud accounting software has automatic updates so you can spend more time doing what you love. Furthermore, the time saved from eliminating the need for sorting receipts and driving them over to your accountants office means more time spent where it should. Instead, the minute you get your receipt you can quickly take a picture of it on your receipt app and then forget about it. Let the receipt app do the sorting and labeling for you. On top of that, you no longer have to worry about downloading and emailing or printing all of your business bank statements on a monthly basis. Cloud accounting software such as Quickbooks Online or Xero and receipt apps connect to your bank accounts and update your transactions and statements in real-time.

Save Money

Another one of the benefits of cloud accounting is that you are able to significantly reduce upfront business costs. Cloud-based software does not incur costs such as upgrades, maintenance, system administration costs, and server failures like those associated with traditional software.

Environmentally Friendly

Cloud accounting facilitates a paperless environment by eliminating the need to physically store paper documents. This is beneficial not only to the environment, but also from a cost and office space perspective.

Security

As a small business owner, there is much concern about the security of the cloud. Contrary to popular belief, the cloud is actually a more secure way of storing information. There are several reasons for this. First of all, cloud accounting software has automatic backups. This ensures that your data is never lost and ensures that your information is always protected and accessible. Secondly, if your device is stolen, no one can access your data without your login information. This is because your data lives online instead of on your hard drive. Finally, in the event of a fire or natural disaster, your data is not affected because all of your information is securely stored off-site. As long as you have access to the internet through a computer or mobile device, you are good to go.

The cloud is the future and it is important for your business to keep up and work smarter and faster. Cloud software can save your business valuable time and money. If you want to learn more about growing your business and maintaining a competitive edge, please contact our team. We would be pleased to help you through this transition smoothly.

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.

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.

Convenience

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 us and we would be more than happy to advise.

Stacey Leonard No Comments

Build Better Business Money Habits

It’s an unfortunate reality that so many of us always wonder why our wallet is suddenly much lighter than we remembered not long ago. Developing better business money habits can help you save money and help create the lifestyle that you always dreamed of.

So why wait for the New Year or to pay off your debt to start saving money? Start now and you can begin seeing results sooner. Don’t wait for the “right time” because there won’t be one. Here are some tips to help save money now!

Keep Track of Receivables

One sure way to create better business money habits is to increase your collection of receivables. The faster you collect your receivables, the faster the cash flows into your business. There are a few ways you can do this. First, always try and follow up with customers to ensure that they received their invoice. This will either give them a friendly reminder to make a payment or, if they didn’t receive the invoice, give you the chance to send it over. If possible, an Accounts Receivable clerk should be appointed to manage the collection of receivables. This will further encourage fast collection of receivables if they are being closely and constantly monitored.

Another way to increase collection of receivables is to implement a sales contract with payment terms, such as 2/10, N/30. This means that if the customer pays their invoice within 10 days, they get a 2% discount off the original price. Otherwise, after 10 days they must pay the invoice in full and after 30 days interest is typically charged. By creating fast payment incentives and late payment consequences, you encourage the customer to pay their invoice a lot faster than if there were no payment terms. In addition, this also minimizes the likelihood of uncollectable accounts due to delayed receivables.

Discuss Payment Terms

Another way to develop better business money habits is to discuss payment terms with your suppliers. Your payment terms should be longer than or equal to your accounts receivable terms in order to maintain positive cash flows. Although, be mindful that you don’t want to delay your payment terms so much that you harm the relationship between you and your suppliers.

Start Small for Big Results

Don’t try and change all your finances at once. This will only create an impossible feat. Instead, identify the area of financial reform that will make the most significant impact, and focus on that. These small changes are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. Moreover, make sure that this area fits with your priorities so that you’re invested in the end result. Then, once you improve this area you can move on to other areas. Before you know it all of these small changes will lead to significant results. Some areas to prioritize in order to improve your financial life include:

  • Spending less
  • Paying down debt
  • Saving for retirement or a down payment on a house

Everyday Decisions Add Up to Larger Profits

Last, but definitely not least, the best way to save money and increase cash flow lies in your everyday decisions. By being mindful and making it a habit to save money wherever possible on a daily basis, you will notice your unnecessary expenses decrease which will lead to greater profits. Soon enough, you won’t even have to think about these decisions anymore as they will become a habit during your everyday life.

We know that saving money can be a difficult feat. Hopefully these tips will help improve your business money habits. Interested in learning more? Contact our team and we would be 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! Contact us and we would be happy to talk more about Bitcoin or any other financial questions you may have.

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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!