Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

Canada Government Subsidy News For Businesses

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On October 9, 2020, the Canadian government announced its intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses cope with the affects of the pandemic. It is hoped that this support will assist businesses navigate through the second wave and end up in a good position for a strong recovery.

NEW: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

This subsidy is designed to essentially replace the failed existing program on rent relief. It allows the tenant to apply and will hopefully provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. Please read some of the highlights here.

EXPANDED: Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has also been expanded. The highlights are that eligible businesses would be able to access the CEBA interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. The deadline for CEBA has also been extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days. We will keep you updated as things are rolled out.

5 Ways That Lead to $avings

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“Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving.”

– Warren Buffett

An interesting quote indeed! It actually makes a lot of sense. Life can be hectic, and when we’re tired and busy it’s easy to make decisions about money far too quickly. However, taking a step back before we spend allows us time to weigh our options and make better financial decisions. This investment of time can lead to impressive savings.

Even the simplest of strategies can reap large saving rewards. We’ve put together 5 simple things you can do NOW to help you save your money.

Know Where Your Money is Going

If you don’t have a budget, make one – budgets work and there are plenty of Apps to assist you. If you already have a budget – do you look at it? REALLY look at it? Knowing how much money you actually have and where your money is going can be a wake-up call. Get the family involved. Budgeting and the value of money are good life lessons for the next generation.

Before You Spend, Ask Yourself:

  • Do I need this? If your budget shocks you, try defining your needs from your wants. Be honest! Keeping nonessentials to a minimum can help your cash flow and protect your savings. Run the numbers and see for yourself.
  • Do I have the best deal? Whether its insurance premiums, cable, or phone plans, make it a habit to know what deals your providers are offering compared to their competitors. Don’t be shy to call your provider to let them know you’re not happy with what your paying. You may be surprised at what they might offer you. If they are not willing to budge, don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere if you find a better deal – every little bit you save adds up over a year.
  • Is this the best price? Take advantage of coupons. If you cringe at the idea of cutting coupons and flipping through flyers – then don’t! Truth is, it’s never been easier to know where the deals are. For example, if you use an app like FLIPP, you can search for the exact item you want, find the best price, and know where to get it – in seconds. A good motto is never to pay full price for anything, when possible!

Boost Your Cash Flow

Most of us are at home far more than usual this year. Now may be the best time to look around the house and make a list of items you haven’t used in over a year (i.e. furniture, appliances, tools, etc.). Ask yourself “Do I really need this”? If not, sell it! It’s money in your pocket and could fill a need for someone else who is trying to save money.

Are there any memberships you don’t use anymore? For example, hanging on to a gym membership in the hopes that “one day” you’ll use it does not keep you in shape physically or financially.

Also, review your credit card cash back and points plans. Perhaps you can convert reward points from credit cards, Air Miles, or Aeroplan into cash or gift cards. Bottom line is, if your points plans aren’t really benefitting you, maybe it’s time to investigate other options.

Take Control of Debt

COVID-19 has made paying our bills more challenging than ever. Now is a great time to renegotiate debt. Call your bank to see if you can get a cheaper interest rate, or if there is a way to consolidate debt that makes sense for you.

Develop a Savings Plan

Have definite savings goals. Decide on a percent to save for both long-term goals like retirement, mid-term goals like a house, or short-term goals like your dream vacation. Also, don’t forget an emergency fund. Once you have a savings plan, commit to it and ensure your money is somewhere that you cannot see it or touch it until you really need to.

While these suggestions are a great place to start, there are many other ways to save money. Don’t put it off – ACT NOW and call us today. We’ll do our best to understand where you’re at and inform you of other options you may never have considered before.  

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – UPDATE

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If you still have questions about the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – you’re not alone. We’ve scratched our heads a few times too!

For the first sixteen weeks (Periods 1-4), eligible employers that saw a drop of at least 15% of their qualifying revenue qualifying revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months of April, May and June, when compared to their qualifying revenue for the same period in 2019 (or the average of January and February 2020), qualified for the wage subsidy.

However, things changed dramatically starting in Period 5. For the following twenty weeks (Periods 5-9) the wage subsidy has been modified to include ALL eligible employers that experience ANY decline in revenue for a claim period.

Just to recap, CEWS applies to you if your business:

1)    Experienced a decline in revenue when comparing the current or previous month to either:

  • the same month in 2019 (based on revenue recognized or cash received);

OR

  • an average of January and February 2020 (based on revenue recognized or cash received).

2)    Has at least one employee (arm’s-length or non-arm’s-length).

3)    Had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions or would like assistance with your CEWS application. Our experienced SYC team is here to help!

HEADS UP – CEWS Eligibility Has Been Expanded!

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As we mentioned in our July blog, the Canadian government recently extended the CEWS subsidy program until December 19, 2020. Along with the extension, they have dramatically expanded the eligibility requirement for the subsidy. Employers who have not qualified in the past may now be eligible under the new requirements.

Eligibility Update

The latest eligibility rules remove the 30% revenue reduction threshold requirement. This means that any employer that is experiencing a revenue reduction may now qualify for the subsidy even if the reduction is less than 30%. Before you begin calculating, please remember:

  • The CEWS subsidy application is done separately each month and the revenue reduction must be determined each time.
  • Revenue reduction is determined by comparing the monthly revenue for the subsidy period to a number of other data points and this is what provides more complexity, but more opportunity as well.

If you think you may qualify for the CEWS subsidy program under the new requirements, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Income Tax Payment Deadlines Extended AGAIN!

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The New Payment Deadline is now September 30, 2020!

The CRA initially extended the payment deadlines for individual, corporate and trust income tax returns to September 1, 2020. The CRA has now extended the payment deadlines once again to September 30, 2020.

That means the CRA will waive any late filing penalties and interest for returns filed after their normal filing deadline – as long as you file the return and pay the taxes owing the return by September 30, 2020. This includes any elections, forms and schedules that are to be filed with the return (i.e. T106, T1135).

The CRA is also waiving any arrears interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust tax returns from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. For GST/HST returns from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020. (NOTE: This does not include penalties and interest incurred prior to this period.)

In the case of financial difficulties, it’s still important to file the return by September 30 to avoid an additional 5% late filing penalty on top of what you may already owe. In fact, the CRA is still encouraging Canadians to file their income tax returns as soon as possible even though the deadlines have been extended. We agree! Let’s get this done!

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – Further Extension Announced

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The Canadian government has announced an extension to the CEWS subsidy. Eligible employers will now be able to claim this subsidy until December 19, 2020. We thought it appropriate to give you a heads up as they have also announced proposed changes to the CEWS as follows:

  • Starting with the July 5 to August 1 reporting period (Period 5), new rules will be in place to allow for possible eligibility to employers who previously did not meet the 30% revenue reduction threshold.
  • The previous CEWS subsidy will be replaced with a two-part subsidy. There will be a “base” amount and a “top-up” amount. The top-up amount will apply to employers who are experiencing a 50% or greater revenue decline.
  • Under the new rules, the amount of the wage subsidy an eligible employer could qualify for would vary depending on their revenue decline. Where the revenue decline is less than 30%, the subsidy falls in proportion.
  • Interestingly, this proposal included an option for employers to apply under the previous rule for July and August (Periods 5 and 6) should the amount of the CEWS subsidy received result in a larger amount under the old rules compared to the new rules. 
  • New continuity rules are in place for employers that have recently purchased assets of a business.
  • There will be a CEWS appeal process and an extension to the subsidy application deadline.
  • The legislative proposals also include previously announced measures for the subsidy affecting employers with a paymaster arrangement, amalgamated corporations, tax exempt trusts, and seasonal employees.
  • The draft legislation further includes previously tabled measures to allow the government to temporarily extend or suspend certain federal statutory deadlines and time limits (i.e. tax filing and payment deadlines) up to December 31, 2020.

Clear as mud? Based on our first read through the new rules, they are by far more complex than what we had before, but ultimately perhaps “fairer”. We are going to need time to fully absorb how all of this works and will be issuing additional guidance when we feel we understand this better.

In terms of urgency and timing, we are presently in Period 5 of the subsidy which ends August 1, so no applications for Period 5 can be processed until after that time. Until then, we will monitor any updates and do our best to keep you posted as things are clarified by the Government of Canada.

COVID-19 Home Office Expenses – What You Need to Know

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COVID-19 has resulted in many learning curves for 2020. For example, some of us are working from home for the first time. So, it’s not surprising that we’ve been asked by many clients if and how they can claim home office expenses.

As you would imagine, it’s tricky. Here’s what you need to know.

Definition of home office space

First, you must meet the qualifications of a home office space according to the Government of Canada, which is that it must be:

  1. Used principally (“principally” meaning “more than 50% of the time”) for the performance of office or employment duties. It can be any place in the home such as a kitchen or dining room, OR
  2. Used exclusively during the period to which the expenses relate, to earn employment income, and on a regular and continuous basis, used for meeting clients* or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the employment duties.

*It is the CRA’s view that “ ‘meeting customers or other persons’ as used in subsection 8(13) of the Income Tax Act includes only face to face encounters”. That said, we believe that video calls and phone calls constitute a “meeting” with clients in the context of the work-at-home COVID-19 scenario.

Employer responsibility

Once you have determined that you qualify, your employer must provide a signed T2200 Condition of Employment form which outlines the type of expenses that can be claimed as part of the employment contract.  

What you can claim

It starts to get tricky at this point. Here are some of the more common expenses incurred while working from home – but as you see – not all are claimable expenses. (Due to the pandemic, we will not cover expenses related to meals, entertainment, and travel costs). 

How much of the “Home expenses” you can claim 

Now you will need to calculate the proportionate business usage. There is no specific rule, it can be based on either:

  • Square footage of the workspace as a percentage of the overall square footage of the home; OR
  • Calculated based on business hours used as a percentage of total hours for mixed used home office. For example, if the business hours are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm for five days a week for 36 weeks, the business usage for year 2020 would be 15.45% (37.50/ 168 hours per week x 36/52 weeks).  

Whatever approach you choose, it must be reasonable. You must also be able to provide CRA your supporting documentation (such as the workspace home floor plan and bills) if they should ask. In addition, the home office expense deduction is limited to the amount of employment income.  Any unused deductions (although unlikely) can be carried forward and deducted against future employment income.   

Special COVID-19 reimbursement for 2020

To assist the transition to home office, CRA allows a special rule for an employee to receive up to $500 for a reimbursement from the employer for the purchase of a computer used primarily for the benefit of the employer.  This reimbursement is not taxable to the employee.   

We hope this blog has helped flattened the learning curve as you get yourself organized to work from home. If you need any more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call.


Disclaimer: Information is based on existing tax law as at July 2020, subject to CRA changes/updates on claiming any home office expenses.    

The 75% Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – EXTENDED to August 29, 2020

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As we outlined in our April 9 blog, a Canadian employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). On Monday, May 15, the Government of Canada announced that this subsidy (which has been available from March 15, 2020) has now been extended an additional 12 weeks, to August 29, 2020.

The current eligibility criteria for the subsidy will apply to the current June period (period 4). It is possible that the criteria will be different in period 5 (July 2020) and/or period 6 (August 2020). We will keep you posted as the government releases the updates.

*Whatever Baseline Revenue option you used to date will be the method you are locked into for entire period of the subsidy.

Embrace Technology While Physical Distancing

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Physical Distancing has left many of us starved for interaction with our family and friends. To fill this void, many are taking advantage of modern technology to help stay connected. Even folks who are not technically inclined are embracing Social Media, Video Conferencing, and WhatsApp for the first time – and finding technology not as intimidating as they once thought.

If you’ve put off investigating advances in technology, why not keep the education momentum going by using some of your unexpected downtime to explore the many ways technology is supporting consumers through COVID-19. We’re confident that when you do, you’ll find many useful tools that can make your life safer now as well as much easier in the days ahead. Here are a couple ideas to get you started.

Electronic Banking

Before COVID-19, many people were still enjoying the in-house banking experience. However, during this challenging time, the value of electronic banking has never been more evident. Consider some of the benefits:

  • Pay bills, cash cheques and transfer funds when it’s convenient for you – from the safety and privacy of your own home.
  • Replace hand-written cheques with automated payments or e-transfers, saving you time, postage, and paper.
  • Use your bank card, credit card or a Digital Wallet application to purchase products. One tap with your card and you’re done – instead of using cash that has been handled by a gazillion people (yuk)!

Sharing Information Electronically

It’s inevitable, snail mail and couriers are slowly being exchanged for electronic transmission of information. At Scarrow Yurman & Co. we’re encouraging our clients to get comfortable with ShareFile, our cloud based electronic file sharing application. COVID-19 has actually expedited this as our new standard for accepting and disbursing client information going forward. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • In these uncertain times, it’s a safer for everyone and a far more efficient way to exchange important documents as we do our best to keep up with challenging demands and deadlines
  • With electronic files there’s less chance of valuable documents being lost in a flood, fire or other natural disaster
  • Going paperless is sanitary, health smart as well as good for the environment

Of course, no technology is perfect, but we encourage you to do research and find what will work for you. Why not contact your bank to see the electronic services they have to offer. As always, feel free to contact our office to see the ways technology can assist you or your business in the days ahead.

COVID-19 Updates to Important Subsidy Programs

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“75%” Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The Federal government has passed into law the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as well as the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy.  As we noted before, the CEWS provides for an amount to employers equal to 75% of employees’ remuneration paid, up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020.

Employers that qualify for the CEWS in one period will now automatically qualify for the NEXT claiming period.  See our April 8, 2020 Blog for the details on the revenue reduction qualification thresholds. 

It’s important to note that where an employee’s pre-crisis wages were below the threshold of $58,700 the CEWS does in fact provide a subsidy of 75% of the pre-crisis’ wages. In the event that post-crisis wages for that employee are reduced, the CEWS in effect starts to provide a subsidy that is greater than 75%. Read details of this program here.

Remember that for the employers who don’t qualify for the CEWS, the 10% Temporary Subsidy may be available to them – see our April 2, 2020 Blog.


Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

An important criticism of this program was the eligibility criteria of requiring 2019 total payroll between $50,000 and $1M.  In response, the government has widened the eligibility range so that employers with payrolls in calendar 2019 of between $20,000 and $1.5M are now eligible.  The commercial banks are managing this program, and we have seen these loans be processed within about 5-7 banking days after applications were completed. Read details of this program here.


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

On April 15, the government announced changes to the eligibility rules of this program as follows:

•    Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.

•    Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19.

•    Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.

Read details of this program here.


National Research Council IRAP Innovation Assistance Program

This program assists start-ups during the COVID-19 crisis as follows:

•    This program is for small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 500 employees in the innovation industry. You may qualify if you are in the pre-revenue, high growth, enterprise SaaS and tech space.

•    The focus is on labour costs (i.e. salaries and benefits) with the goal of helping companies retain highly skilled labour. The scale of support is based on the number of skilled labourers.

•    There will be $250 million funding with built-in scalability components. The funding is not tied to COVID-19.

•    If you qualify for the wage subsidy and take advantage of the 75% wage subsidy, you do not qualify for this program.

•    Speaking with the ITA Advisor is required as part of the application process. Unlike the typical IRAP application, this program will not look at the tech component.

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