As the end of the year draws nigh, it is time for business owners everywhere to start contemplating some end of year tax planning tips to not only ensure that they can maximize their tax deductions and reduce taxes payable, but to streamline the tax filing process in the New Year. Even if you are incorporated and your year end date is not December 31st, it is a good time to take advantage of calendar year deadlines for personal tax planning purposes.Read More
“I want to create a rival to Twitter. So I want it exactly the same except where it says What’s Happening? I want it to say How are you feeling?”(From the very funny "Clients from Hell")
This pretty much sums up the type of client we don't want - ridiculous expectations, unimaginative and just plain clueless. Conversely, there are some clients that are a pleasure to deal with. Ones that ask great questions, and make us feel happy to have chosen the entrepreneurial route. The more important of these are listed below:
The Goods and Services Tax or GST is a consumption tax that is charged on most goods and services sold within Canada, regardless of where your business is located. Subject to certain exceptions, all businesses are required to charge GST , currently at 5%, plus applicable provincial sales taxes. A business effectively acts as an agent for Revenue Canada by collecting the taxes and remitting them on a periodic basis. Businesses are also permitted to claim the taxes paid on expenses incurred that relate to their business activities. These are referred to as Input Tax Credits.
Does Your Business Need to Register?
Prior to engaging in any kind of commercial activity in Canada, all business owners need to determine how the GST and relevant provincial taxes apply to them. Essentially, all businesses that sell goods and services in Canada, for profit, are required to charge GST, except in the following circumstances:
Many small business owners (including myself) tend to focus on the more glamourous aspects of their business like sales and marketing and product/service development. As a result, accounting (poor misunderstood accounting) does not get the attention it deserve. In addition to the perception that an accounting system does not necessarily add value, they can also be a little intimidating. However, setting up an accounting system does not have to be complicated and should be considered essential for any small business or self employed owner (the reasons for which will be covered in my next post). A good software tends to handle most of the complexity of accounting as long as the data is entered accurately.
The primary steps in setting up an accounting system are represented below:
Many of us have clients who are annoying, cheap, stupid , high maintenance or some combination thereof. As a new business owner, we are often stuck with these clients because we need them. However, we look forward to the day when we will have the thriving business that we so deserve, and fantasize about the spectacular way in which are going to fire them (you can shove your business into your rear orifice etc.) This is actually a productive fantasy as can help to channel and concentrate anger. Of course, in the majority of cases, a firing should be conducted with slightly less vigour.
For the third year in a row, the Quebec Sales Tax (QST) will be changing. Fortunately, the change is not to the rate, which effectively remains the same, but rather an effort to harmonize the QST with the GST. Consequently, the most significant change is the method by which the rate is calculated.
In the past, the QST used to be calculated on the total sale plus GST. As a result the published rate was 9.5% while the effective rate was actually 9.975%. The harmonization of the GST and the QST requires that the QST be charged on the sale amount only, without the GST. As such the published rate and the effective rate will both be 9.975%. This is illustrated below:
The temptation to start a small business or venture into self employment can be strong particularly for those who are unhappy with their existing employment situation. The freedom and flexibility that being your own boss seems to offer can be seductive, as is the potential for growth which you, as the business owner, can have full control over. You may have an idea or a particular skill that you believe is desirable to a specific target market and you are confident that once this target market is aware of your existence they will all be banging down your door. Consequently, you start your business by offering an amazing product or services, only to realize that building up a customer base is more challenging than you thought. Additionally, there are a number of other obstacles for which you do not have the expertise (done by another department when you were an employee) whether it is marketing, website development, legal research and accounting. Finally, you realize that you actually need a fairly sizable source of cash to maintain the business, deal with growth opportunities, whilst ensuring that you are able to support yourself.
The chart below, published by Statistics Canada available Key Business Statistics – July 2012 (this seems to be the latest data that is available), demonstrates the percentage of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that actually survive over a five year period.
No deduction shall be made in respect of an outlay or expense except to the extent that it was made or incurred by the taxpayer for the purpose of gaining or producing income from the business or property
If you are running a business of any size, it is essential that you have a system in place that allows you to get paid. A system can range in sophistication from a handwritten receipt to a software generated invoice which is part of an entity wide CRM system. To meet this need there are countless invoicing solutions available and many billions of dollars are spent annually on setting up systems to meet each business’ unique needs.
Almost all accounting software geared to small business owners and freelancers have built-in invoicing modules that integrate with your accounting. This is very useful when doing your books as you don’t have to worry about entering your invoicing manually and it allows you to track your accounts receivable and deposits into your bank account. There are also invoicing solutions that are not full-fledged accounting systems; however they usually integrate with the more popular software.
The deadline to file our tax returns is quickly approaching, resulting in slight feelings of panic for some individuals and small business owners. As someone who provides tax services for a living, I have found that (like with many things) the stress is far more manageable when you know exactly what you have to do (rather than a vague idea that documents need to be located and forms need to be filled in). One of the best ways to mitigate this stress is to prepare a checklist. If you are looking for a comprehensive tax checklist , David at The Tax Issue has prepared an excellent one and I recommend that you check it out.
The checklist below has some of the more common income, deductions and credits that the majority of taxpayers are likely to have:
Investment in capital items such as computers, furniture, equipment and cars can cause confusion for small business owners. Since these are purchases that affect the cash flow of the business, it seems that they should be accounted for as expenses just as you would reflect office supplies or rent. There are however special rules for any acquisitions that qualify as “fixed assets”.
A fixed asset, simply speaking, is an acquisition that provides a long term economic benefit to the business. In other words, any business purchases that has a useful life that extends beyond one year, will usually qualify as a fixed asset.
From an accounting perspective, fixed assets as their category implies, are reflected as assets on the Balance Sheet. This means that they when they are initially entered into your accounting system, they will have no immediate impact on your bottom line. It is only with the passage of time that a portion of these costs become an expense, which requires an assessment regarding the useful life of the asset. For example you might purchase some computer hardware that you expect to use for about 3 years after which you will need to replace it. At the end of the 3 years, however, it may still have some value (you may be able to sell it) which is referred to as salvage value. This too needs to be evaluated. Once these factors are determined (since you are not psychic, they do not have to be exact – just reasonable) you have enough information to calculate your depreciation expense. The depreciation expense is the amount by which you reduce your fixed asset value on an annual basis.