Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Director Liability: Is Asking About Source Deductions Enough?

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Directors can be personally liable for payroll source deductions (CPP, EI and income tax withholdings) and GST/HST unless they exercise due diligence to prevent the corporation from failing to remit these amounts on a timely basis.

An August 31, 2022 Tax Court of Canada case found that the director was not duly diligent and therefore was personally liable for the corporation’s unremitted payroll deductions, interest and penalties of $78,121 from January 2011 to April 2012.

The taxpayer argued that he was duly diligent as he asked at the directors’ meeting each month whether the tax remittances were up-to -date and received oral confirmations that they were. The taxpayer stated that he had “checked the box” at each directors’ meeting. He also argued that his decisions were driven by materiality; he focused his efforts on the corporation’s overall well-being and safeguarding the millions of dollars of investment, rather than the payroll remittances that he considered “tiny.”

Taxpayer loses
The Court ruled that the taxpayer was not duly diligent in preventing the failure to make adequate payments. It noted that the taxpayer never contacted CRA to confirm whether payroll remittances were current, which was particularly problematic as he was unable to obtain reliable financial statements and was aware of the difficult financial situation. While it was the taxpayer’s view that this was someone else’s job, there was no evidence of the taxpayer ever asking anyone else to follow up with CRA.

ACTION: Prior to accepting any role as a director, ensure to fully understand your responsibilities and potential exposure to personal liability. If currently acting as a director, make sure to be duly diligent in ensuring payroll and GST/HST payments are properly made.

TFSA Overcontribution: Relying on Information in Your CRA Online Account

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One challenge when relying on CRA-provided information online in respect of TFSA contribution room is that the information is not updated on a real-time basis due to the delay in receiving information from TFSA issuers. Although CRA has many disclaimers surrounding this issue, some individuals may be unaware or misinterpret their comments.

A July 14, 2022 Financial Post article (Taxpayer relying on CRA website info gets hit with penalty for contributing too much to TFSA, Jamie Golombek) indicated that financial institutions are required to submit information on all contributions and withdrawals for each calendar year by the end of February of the following year. CRA may not process and update this information until April or later. As such, for example, the contribution room available online in  January 2022, would likely only consider transactions from 2020 and earlier, with the 2021 transactions only being included later in the Spring of 2022.

In a June 15, 2022 Federal Court case, the Court addressed an application for judicial review of  CRA’s decision to deny relief for taxes on excess TFSA contributions (1%/month for each month the TFSA is  overcontributed) where a taxpayer misunderstood the contribution room as published online in CRA’s My Account.

In 2019, the taxpayer contributed a total of $26,002, while her contribution room was only $7,849, resulting in a penalty tax of$1,784. Only $400 of interest income was earned on the overcontribution. The taxpayer made contributions in January and February 2019 based on what the taxpayer misinterpreted to be her contribution room at  that particular point in time, resulting in an over-contribution. The taxpayer argued she did not intend to make an over-contribution and that the information on MyAccount was “very confusing” and gave rise to a reasonable error.

The taxpayer previously made excess contributions which were withdrawn after correspondence was received from CRA. It appeared that CRA assessed no excess contributions tax at that time.

Taxpayer loses
While the Court was sympathetic to the taxpayer’s position, in the self-reporting tax system in Canada, individuals are responsible for understanding their TFSA accounts, and thus the Court ruled that CRA was reasonable in denying relief to the taxpayer.

Had this been the taxpayer’s first excess contribution, the result may have been different as CRA generally offers a little more relief in such situations. 

ACTION: Do not rely solely on the information presented in your online CRA account.  Additional verification should be conducted to ensure that recent contributions have been incorporated into the contribution room number. If you discover you have accidentally contributed too much, the excess should be withdrawn without delay to minimize exposure to this punitive tax.

Tips Collected Electronically: Withholding Requirements

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Where tips are “paid” by an employer, they are pensionable and insurable. In such cases, the employer must also withhold income tax and report the amounts on the employee’s T4. 

CRA’s current administrative policy is that if the tip is controlled by the employer (controlled tips) and then transferred to the employee, it is considered to be paid by the employer. In contrast, direct tips are considered to have been paid directly by the customer to the employee. Therefore, the tips are neither insurable nor pensionable, income tax deductions are not required to be withheld and amounts are not required to be reported on the T4.

Controlled tips are generally those where the employer has influence over the collection or distribution formula. CRA has provided several examples of controlled tips, including the following:

  • the employer adds a mandatory service charge to a customer’s bill to cover tips;
  • tips are allocated to employees using a tip-sharing formula determined by the employer; and
  • cash tips are deposited into the employer’s bank account and become, or are even commingled with, the  property of  the  employer, and then are paid out to the employees.

Direct tips are paid directly to the employee by the customer, where the employer has no control over the tip amount or its distribution. CRA has also provided several examples of direct tips, including the following:

  • a customer leaves money on the table at the end of the meal and the server keeps the whole amount;
  • the employees and not the employer decide how the tips are pooled or shared among employees;
  • a customer includes an amount for a tip when paying the bill by credit or debit card, and the employer returns the tip amount in cash to the employee at the end of the shift. In exceptional situations, the cash tips could be paid out the day after, for example, if there was not enough available cash on hand; and
  • the restaurant owner informs the server that if a customer pays by credit or debit card and includes a voluntary tip, the restaurant will return the full tip amount to the server in cash at the end of each shift.

An August 31, 2022 Federal Court of Appeal case reviewed whether the electronic tips left by restaurant customers (e.g. paid by credit or debit cards) that were distributed by the restaurant to the servers were considered “paid” and therefore pensionable and insurable. Only a portion of the electronic tip was distributed to the servers, based upon the particular tipping arrangement at the restaurant (some funds were retained for items such as credit card fees and tip-outs to the kitchen staff). Amounts were transferred to the servers the day after the particular shift was worked. The Tax Court of Canada (TCC) previously held that the amounts transferred to servers were paid by the employer, and therefore, pensionable and insurable.

Taxpayer loses
The FCA found that the TCC did not err in its finding. In particular, the TCC noted that the electronic tips had not previously been in the server’s possession. Instead, the customers had provided the electronic tips to the employer as part of a single transaction to settle the dining bill. The TCC followed a 1986 Supreme Court of Canada case that found that the word paid could be interpreted broadly to mean the mere distribution of an amount by the employer to the employee.

The FCA also stated that factors such as the following are not determinative and might be of little to no relevance when determining whether an amount is paid by an employer:

  • when the amount is paid;
  • whether the server is paid all or some of their own tips or pooled tips;
  • whether the employer keeps a portion of the tips; and
  • whether the tips are distributed under a collective agreement, a written contract, an oral agreement or otherwise.

The case did not deal with any cash tips the servers may have received or tip-outs received by kitchen staff, on-site management or support staff. Likewise, the FCA was not concerned with the total electronic tips left for the servers, but only the net amount paid out the next day.

ACTION: Restaurant operators should be vigilant for developments on this issue and be prepared to adjust tipping policies, and/or reporting and withholding policies if necessary.

It remains to be seen whether CRA’s administrative policy will be changed to reflect the courts’ rulings. As of October 10, 2022, the CRA website did not have information showing an integration of the courts’ rulings into their administrative policy.

Trusts: New and Expanded Disclosure Requirements

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Legislation has been proposed for trusts (including estates) with years ending on December 31, 2023 and onwards that would significantly expand the reporting rules. More trusts would be required to file tax returns, and more information would be required to be disclosed in these returns. In addition, sizable penalties would be introduced for non-compliance.

More trusts and estates required to file
Under the existing rules, trusts are exempt from filing a T3 tax return if they have no taxes payable and no dispositions of capital property. However, under the proposals, tax returns will be required for all Canadian resident express trusts (this generally means trusts created deliberately) that do not meet at least one of a number of exceptions. Some of the more common exceptions include the following:

  • trusts in existence for less than three months at the end of the year;
  • trusts holding only assets within a prescribed listing (including items such as cash and publicly listed shares) with a total fair market value that does not exceed $50,000 at any time in the year;
  • trusts required by law or under rules of professional conduct to hold funds related to the activity regulated thereunder, excluding any trust that is maintained as a separate trust for a particular client (this would apply to a lawyer’s  general trust account, but not specific client accounts); and
  • registered charities and non-profit clubs, societies or associations.

Reporting will be required where a trust acts as an agent for its beneficiaries (referred to as bare trusts in the government’s explanatory notes). No details on the intended breadth of such trusts have been provided by the Department of Finance or CRA to date. 

More disclosure of parties to trusts
Where a trust is required to file a tax return, the identity, including residency, of all of the following people must be disclosed: 

  • trustees, beneficiaries and settlors; and
  • anyone that has the ability (through the terms of the trust or a related agreement) to  exert  influence over  trustee  decisions  regarding the income or capital of the trust.

The requirement to provide information in respect of the beneficiaries would be met if beneficiary information is provided for all whose identity is known or ascertainable with reasonable effort by the person making the return at the time of filing the return. Where there are beneficiaries whose identity is not known or ascertainable with reasonable effort, the person making the return would be required to provide sufficiently detailed information to determine with certainty whether any particular person is a beneficiary of the trust. For example, where the beneficiaries are both the current and future grandchildren of the settlor, details in respect of the current children must be provided in addition to details of the trust terms describing the future class of beneficiaries.

The new rules would not require the disclosure of information subject to solicitor-client privilege. 

Substantial penalties 
Failure to make the required filings and disclosures on time attract penalties of $25 per day, to a maximum of $2,500, as well as further penalties on any unpaid taxes. New gross negligence penalties have been proposed, applicable to filings not made on time and inaccurate filings. These penalties are proposed to be the greater of $2,500 and 5% of the highest total fair market value of the trust’s property at any time in the year. These will apply to any person or partnership subject to the new regime, leading to the concern that multiple persons could be subject to these substantial penalties for a single trust.

ACTION: Make a list of all arrangements that you and  your family have that may be considered a trust or bare trust.  Review them with a professional to determine whether they would  be  subject  to  the  rules.  Obtain the relevant information that will be required for the filing of the particular trust returns.

Cloud Accounting 101

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Cloud accounting software is an easy solution to small business bookkeeping. From collaboration to secure data storage, learn more about cloud accounting. QuickBooks Online is cloud accounting software that helps you take care of your finances and does the number crunching for you.

There are many benefits of cloud accounting. No longer tied to your desk, cloud accounting software allows you to access all your documents no matter where you are working from. Perfect for virtual teams, all your accountants can login and make updates in real-time.

Online accounting software like QuickBooks offers several different cloud accounting features depending on the size and type of business you own.

What Is Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Cloud-based accounting software is based in the “cloud” rather than installed on your desktop or manually maintained in ledgers and journals. The software for cloud accounting is hosted on a remote server instead of a server on your business’ premises. Your accounting data is sent to the cloud, processed on the remote server, and then sent back for you to access.

None of the accounting processes occur on your desktop. The application functions entirely in the cloud. This frees your business from installing and maintaining software on multiple computers throughout your company. Your accounting or HR department can access the exact same version of the software as you and access real-time data within your account.

Differences between cloud accounting & traditional accounting systems

Cloud accounting and traditional accounting have some key differences. Cloud accounting is much more flexible, allowing anyone who has access to your cloud account to crunch real-time numbers from any device, anywhere, as long as there’s an internet connection.

Personnel don’t have to be at a specific computer to do their jobs. In fact, balances reflected by your entries with cloud accounting have a high level of accuracy, as far fewer errors occur in cloud accounting than in traditional, manual accounting.

Benefits of Cloud Accounting

For new businesses, starting fresh with a cloud solution is easy as signing up. Established businesses, however, will need to plan ahead for migration to ensure that critical data is kept intact, and everything continues to run smoothly.

Fortunately, major cloud accounting providers such as QuickBooks Online allow seamless transition from older, traditional desktop based solutions. Many business owners who migrated to cloud accounting technology have reported cost savings and greater efficiencies in day to day operations.

Cloud accounting has several benefits, such as:

  • Secure Storage of Financial Data

Cloud accounting technology can provide a more secure method of storing financial information than desktop-based software. Data is routinely backed up to servers in multiple locations by the SaaS provider, and there are no physical hard drives or computers containing sensitive data that can be stolen. Since financial information isn’t kept on-premise, the risks of fires and natural disasters are also mitigated.

  • Sync Data Automatically

Cloud accounting software does the heavy lifting so you can spend your time on other important business tasks. Automatically sync your bank accounts so you don’t have to manually import transactions or verify expenses. If 84% of businesses using cloud software are cutting their application costs — it’s a good indicator that with the adoption of online accounting, you can too.

  • Pay as You Grow

Small businesses often experience growing pains, which makes choosing software with future growth in mind a priority for many. Cloud accounting software allows businesses to purchase what they need and increase their spend as they grow. This includes adding more storage space, users, and more advanced features.

  • Multi-User Access

Once you reach a point where your business is looking to outsource specific tasks, using cloud accounting can help scale in a cost-effective and controlled manner. The multi-user feature of cloud accounting means you can give different people access to your financial records and bookkeeping process, which they can access remotely.

This streamlines workflow and allows you to ask your advisor or accountant questions directly, all based on the most up-to-date versions of documents. The multi-user feature makes for quick communication, team collaboration and less back and forth.

  • Immediate Transactions

Retail operations electronically enter transactions as they occur, whereas you might only enter your transactions at the end of each week or every other week, depending on the size and sales volume of your business. Small business accounting in the cloud compels you to keep your data entry current.

With cloud accounting in place, you can quickly spot a gap in cash flow or see if customers are abusing your extension of credit. Business owners who simply place all of their receipts in a drawer to deal with at a later date might not catch a potential issue until it’s too late.

You can run balance reports or expense reports and get a financial snapshot of your business at any given point. Cloud accounting software can also handle the calculations for different currencies in the event you do business with foreign companies, compensating for the fluctuations in exchange rates. It can be time- and cost-prohibitive if you or your accounting department has to crunch those always-fluctuating numbers on paper.

  • Centralizes Your Most Important Tasks

Several aspects of your day-to-day business operations, like managing inventory, invoices, payroll, and even portions of your customer relations management can all be tied into your cloud accounting software. Save your hard-earned money – no separate software is needed.

Plus, the great thing about cloud accounting software is that third-party systems integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks Online. If your company uses an ‘actual-minutes worked’ type of format, your time tracking software can integrate with your accounting software to maintain accurate payroll records.

You can basically build the accounting software suite of tools with your favourite apps that apply to your specific business.

  • Simplify Tax Compliance

You must remain compliant with the CRA or you can face stiff penalties. Cloud accounting software helps by showing you things like how much tax you owe (even down to specific invoices) or how much you’ve paid overtime on a specific tax. Cloud accounting software like QuickBooks makes it much easier to compile the information you need to file a successful remittance.

  • Analysis Tools

Have you ever wondered how much easier (and more accurate) your business tasks might be if only you had a personal financial advisor? Cloud accounting apps not only give you tools to customize your own reports, they even suggest reports for you based on the type of business you own. You can make solid financial decisions when you can see the bigger picture – just like having your own advisor.

There’s a report you can run for virtually every question you have regarding your business’ financial health. Wondering which of your clients haven’t paid you yet? Run an Accounts Receivable report.

  • Accuracy

The accuracy of your numbers is crucial. There’s always the chance of a transposed number or erroneous math in manual entry accounting, but cloud accounting software does the calculations for you. And the software also maintains other necessary information, like inventory on hand, supplies on hand and which suppliers you use for which products. Need to mail something to a client? Even your client’s addresses are maintained in QuickBooks Online for easy access when the need arises.

Is Cloud Accounting Right for Your Business?

From the smallest downtown laundromat to the largest Fortune 500 company, your business can benefit from implementing cloud accounting. Whether you have one employee or 1,000 – even if you are the only employee – cloud accounting software like QuickBooks can help you manage your payroll expenses, tax remittances and other business expenses.

How Much Does it Cost?

Costs can vary greatly among different cloud accounting service providers. QuickBooks Online offers a free, 30-day trial of its online accounting software. This cloud accounting online software offers the usual browser compatibilities, plus applications for Android and iOS mobile devices. The family of Intuit QuickBooks programs has different tiers, depending on the scale of your business and what you need the software for.

The tiers include:

  • EasyStart
  • Essentials
  • Plus

There are also versions of QuickBooks for the self-employed individual and even corporate-sized entities.

The Future of Cloud Accounting

Nothing stays the same forever and everyday new technologies are being developed that will impact the future of Canadian small businesses. From the help of AI to continued integrations, the future of cloud-based accounting systems has never looked brighter.

Machine Learning & AI

No longer a plot device in science-fiction, artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms are already starting to make a difference in how Canadian small businesses are handling their accounting in cloud-based software.

As Canadian firms take in ever-increasing volumes of data, a sorting mechanism must be employed to make sense of it and draw reasonable conclusions. With the right machine learning systems, it becomes possible to not only track the income and expenses for a single company, but to track those of an entire industry across decades of recorded data and derive likely projections from it. This has obvious applications for up-and-coming small businesses, as well as for Canadian firms looking to compete abroad in a post-USMCA trading environment.

A good accounting AI can already use its almost human-like language processing ability to rapidly scan through thousands of documents and come up with certain key phrases — such as “debt” and “unsustainable” — to arrive at predictions about the financial health of your company.

Another way artificial intelligence can help sort a company’s books are with long-range and specific predictions about which customers, clients, or markets are more trouble than they’re worth. An intelligent computer system can sift through the various signs of problematic customers and employees and predict which is likely to become a headache later on. A good AI system could help you see any potential problems in particular geographic locations, track the correlation between employee paid time off and the work-life balance of your employees.

Continued Integration

The vertical integration of compatible apps with software has already become a normal part of cloud-based software systems. Work towards better and more seamless integration of apps with different capabilities is an ongoing project for many app and accounting software developers. This trend can only continue, until something like a market standard for compatibility is common to every app, and a cloud-based solution is available for virtually any need that could arise.

Another approach to vertical integration is layering apps. This works a lot like the package deals vertical app markets currently offer, but with a more customized approach that allows the user to build a cloud-accounting solution specifically for their business.

For example, if a small accounting firm needed to handle financials for a start-up, payroll for an established client, and a data security audit for a one-off customer who might develop into a long-term contract, they would need three different apps to provide a solution for their varying clients. An ideal solution is to have a standard payroll app coupled with a financing app, interest rate/loan calculator, and a report generator for the audit client.

The layered approach to this situation is to choose a specific app for each task, then combine — or “layer” — them all together into the app you’re comfortable using. While this is already possible with the integration capabilities of QuickBooks Online, it is safe to say that layering will be an essential aspect of cloud-based systems of the future.

Ready to dive in? Desktop accounting applications might be on the way out, so transitioning to cloud accounting is a smart choice now. 5.6 million businesses use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive.

Buying and Selling a Home: Budget 2022 Proposals

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The 2022 Federal Budget included several proposals that would significantly change the taxation environment when buying and selling a home. Broadly, the government proposed various incentives for first-time buyers and extended family units in addition to bright-line tests/restrictions for those purchasing homes for profit (e.g. home flippers). Taxpayers should consider how the changes will affect their intended purchases and sales. In some cases, it may be beneficial to expedite a purchase or sale, while in others, it may be prudent to delay. 

New possibilities and enhanced programs include the following: 

  • Home accessibility tax credit – The annual expense limit would be doubled to $20,000 such that the maximum non-refundable tax credit would be $3,000, proposed to be effective for 2022 and subsequent taxation years. This credit applies to enduring and integral home renovations in respect of a taxpayer, or a relative who is (or will be) living with the taxpayer, that is either a senior or eligible for the disability tax credit. The renovation must enable the individual to gain access to the home, be more mobile or functional in the home, or reduce the risk of harm within, or in gaining access to, the home. 
  • Home buyers’ tax credit – The amount would be doubled such that eligible first-time home buyers could access tax relief of $1,500, proposed to be effective for acquisitions of a qualifying home on or after January 1, 2022.  
  • Tax-free first home savings account – A new registered account would allow for tax-deductible contributions of up to $8,000 annually and up to $40,000 in total; withdrawals from the plan (including income earned in the plan) to purchase a first home would not be taxable. This initiative is expected to become available in 2023. 
  • Multigenerational home renovation tax credit – A new tax credit would provide relief on up to $50,000 of eligible expenses to construct a secondary suite for a senior or person with a disability to live with a relative. This initiative is expected to become available in 2023. 

New cautions and restrictions include the following: 

  • Residential property flipping rule – A new rule would be introduced to deem all gains arising from the disposition of a residential property (including rental property)that was owned for less than 12 months to be business income, other than any disposition for which an exception would apply (such as where a death or addition to the family necessitates a move). Sales on homes owned for 12 months or more would follow the traditional rules. This means that such sales could still be classified as fully taxable business income and not be eligible for the principal residence exemption. This measure would apply to residential properties sold on or after January 1, 2023.
  • Foreign buyer property banForeign commercial enterprises and people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents would be prohibited from acquiring non-recreational residential property in Canada for two years. This would not apply to refugees and people authorized to come to Canada while fleeing international crises, certain international students on the path to permanent residency or individuals on work permits residing in Canada. 
  • GST/HST on assignment sales by individuals – All assignment sales in respect of newly constructed or substantially renovated residential housing would be taxable for GST/HST purposes. 

In addition to the above tax measures, Budget 2022 proposed to develop and implement a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights and national plan to end blind bidding. This Bill of Rights could also include items such as ensuring a legal right to a home inspection and ensuring transparency on the history of sales prices on title searches. 

ACTION: Consider the expected timing of implementation for reach of these measures and the impacts on purchases or sales.

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.  

Retirement Planning – Be Future Ready!

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Contrary to popular belief, retirement planning should begin as soon as you start working. However, even if you are middle-aged or older, it’s never too late to start taking control of this important planning.

2020 is a sobering reminder of how unsettling not being prepared can feel. While we cannot prepare for everything life throws at us, there is much that is in our control. Retirement planning is a good example.

Here are some simple, yet important, questions to think about now as you plan for your retirement:

What is your retirement vision? Have you set goals?

  • What will you do with your new freedom?  Have you thought of short-term or long-term goals? Do you have a dream list? 
  • If you want to semi-retire, what part-time work makes sense for you? How much extra income would you like, or need, to make?
  • What post-retirement responsibilities will you have? Will you be supporting children, aging parents, or other family members?

Now for the elephant in the room: “How much money will you need?”

  • Consider your current lifestyle. What are your ACTUAL expenses monthly and annually? If you’re uncertain, start tracking them now – you may be surprised.
  • When budgeting, don’t forget the details – everything from vacations, to car purchases, to clothing.
  • Factor in inflation. 2020 is a good example of how prices rise each year.
  • Scope out big family events – upcoming weddings, anniversaries, etc.
  • Plan for unexpected costs, such as dental work, home and car repair, etc.
  • How is your present health? How long do you expect to live?

What will be your sources of income?

  • Consider whether you will be eligible for CPP, OAS, or employer-sponsored pension.
  • Review your existing investment portfolio such as RRSP/RRIF, TFSA, non-registered investment accounts and personal savings. Maximize savings now by investing early to take advantage of compound earnings.
  • If you are a business owner, how long will you be able to draw salaries or dividends from your corporation?

Tax planning questions

  • How can you minimize taxes during your retirement? Are your investments and other sources of income structured in the most tax-efficient manner?
  • Do you understand the differences between an RRSP, RRIF and TFSA, as well as their tax treatment in retirement?
  • When should you apply for benefits under CPP and OAS? Keep in mind, the age you start to receive CPP benefits will impact the amount of payment you will receive.
  • Are there specialized tax credits or tax planning available upon retirement?  For example, depending on your situation, you may be able to share CPP and split pension income with your spouse.

Wondering where to start, or how to move forward?

Feeling confused is totally understandable! During this COVID crisis investment portfolios were severely impacted, but then bounced back strongly. Many who had plans to retire may have decided to postpone their plan, while others were forced into retirement due to layoffs. Other Canadians are simply not ready because of large debts, or insufficient savings. Even Canadians who have been diligent savers simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to retirement planning.

Have no fear – SYC is here! We have been providing retirement planning services for years. So if your goal is to be “future ready”, don’t delay! Call one of our team members and take the first step.

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.

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