Incorporation or Sole proprietorship ?
A sole Proprietorship is one person operating a business, without forming a corporation. The income of the business is then taxed in the hands of the owner (the proprietor), at personal income tax rates. The income is considered income from self-employment, and is included on the personal income tax return of the owner.
Advantages of Sole proprietorship:
Disadvantages of a Sole proprietorship:
A Corporation is a separate legal entity, which is formed by application to either the federal government, or one of the provincial/territorial governments. The corporation issues shares to the owners, or shareholders. The funding of the corporation can be done through the issue of shares, or by borrowing. Instead of investing a large amount in shares, shareholders can lend money to the corporation, and invest only a minimal amount in the shares. This way, when the corporation has available cash, the shareholder loans can be repaid without attracting personal income tax.
Being a separate legal entity, a corporation pays corporate income tax, which is calculated completely separately from the owners’ personal income tax. If the corporation pays wages to the shareholders, income tax and Canada Pension Plan contributions, and sometimes employment insurance premiums, must be deducted and remitted to Canada Revenue Agency.
Advantages of incorporation:
Disadvantages of incorporation:
Generally, the higher the net income of your small business, the more advantageous it is to incorporate instead of remaining as a proprietorship.
No matter what the type of business structure, spouses and children can be employed by the business, thus effectively splitting income. However, amounts expensed must be reasonable amounts based on services provided, and must actually be paid to the spouse and/or children.
Each type of business entity has its advantages and disadvantages. It is recommended to contact Alvox Accounting & Tax Services to get professional advice to assist in your decision-making, and in the setting up of your business structure. It is also very important to get your accounting records set up and organized properly at the start of your business.
ARE ALL REAL ESTATE SALE TRANSACTIONS TAXABLE?
The gain on the sale of real estate is a capital gain. But however, if the property was used as a principal residence then the gain on the sale of property is tax free If it is considered a business transaction, the entire profit or loss on the sale is taxable or deductible.
If the property is the taxpayer’s principal residence, the principal residence exemption may eliminate all or part of the capital gain.
There aren’t any set rules about how often a person can buy or build a house, move into and reside in it, then sell it, without the transactions being considered business transactions. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would look at the frequency and the intent (i.e., whether the houses were being purchased or built with the goal of reselling and making a profit, or because the person wanted a new house to live in or to rent out). They might even look at a single event of purchasing or building and reselling a house and decide that it was a business transaction, even if the house has been used as a principal residence.
If land is purchased without a housing unit on it, that property cannot be considered the principal residence until the year that a house is built and you move into it.
CRA usually considers that if there is more than 1/2 hectare (1.25 acres) of property, only 1/2 hectare of the land can be considered part of the principal residence, and there would be a capital gain on the excess when the property is sold, even if the rest is the principal residence. However, they also consider whether the property is sub dividable. Thus, if the property is 2 hectares, and is not sub dividable, they may consider the whole amount of the land to be part of the principal residence.
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During business audits, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) closely examines books and records of small and medium-sized businesses to make sure they fulfill their obligations, apply tax laws correctly, and receive any amounts to which they are entitled.
Although there is a high level of compliance with tax laws in Canada, auditing processes help maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of Canada’s tax system.
If you have been selected for a business audit, here is what you need to know.
How does the CRA select files for business audits?
The CRA’s risk-assessment system selects files to audit based on a number of conditions such as the potential for errors in tax returns or indications of non-compliance with tax obligations. The CRA also looks at the information it has on file and may compare that information to similar files or consider information from other audits or investigations.
How does the CRA conduct business audits?
What is the first step in the audit process?
A CRA auditor will write to you or call you, or both, to begin the audit process and inform you of where the audit will take place. Normally, it is expected that the audit take place at your place of business (on-site audit). This allows questions to be addressed quickly and minimizes delays in completing the audit. In certain rare situations, the audit may be conducted at a CRA office (office audit).
If the audit is on site, the auditor will arrive and present you with a valid identification card, then start the audit.
When an audit takes place at a CRA office, the auditor will request that you bring or send any supporting documents required. The CRA centralizes the assignment of audit files to maximize the use of its available resources. Consequently, you may be assigned an auditor outside your geographic region.
In some situations, the auditor will borrow your documents and give you a detailed receipt for the borrowed documents. It may also be necessary to make copies of your electronic records.
Sending your records online to the CRA
For information about how you can save time by sending your records online using the CRA’s secure online services, ask your assigned auditor. Auditors are not permitted to receive records by email.
What does an auditor examine during a business audit?
The auditor will examine books and records, documents, and information (collectively referred to as records) such as:
- information available to the CRA (such as tax returns previously filed, credit bureau searches, or property database information);
- your business records (such as ledgers, journals, invoices, receipts, contracts, and bank statements);
- your personal records (such as bank statements, mortgage documents, and credit card statements);
- the personal or business records of other individuals or entities not being audited (for example, a spouse, family members, corporations, partnerships, or a trust [settlor, beneficiary, and trustee]); and
- adjustments made by your bookkeeper or accountant to arrive at income for tax purposes.
Did you know?
- Your personal records and the personal or business records of other individuals or entities are legally considered to be part of the items that relate, or may relate, to the business being audited.
- An auditor can examine the records of family members.
- An auditor may ask questions of the employees who do your accounting entries or know about the operations of your business.
During an audit, the auditor will identify issues and discuss them with you. At any time, you can also raise your concerns with the auditor.
Once the auditor completes the examination of the records provided, the outcome will determine the next steps.
- Correct assessment: If the auditor finds that your previous assessment is correct, nothing more has to be done. You will receive a completion letter and the audit will be closed.
- More taxes owed or a refund: If the auditor finds that your return has to be reassessed (which means you will have to pay more taxes or you are entitled to a refund), you will receive a proposal letter explaining the reason for the reassessment. You will have 30 days to agree or disagree with the proposed reassessment. The auditor can further explain the reassessment if necessary.
If you disagree with the proposal, you are encouraged to contact the auditor to try and resolve factual disagreements. The auditor will carefully consider your explanations and respond to your questions about the proposal. If issues remain unresolved, you can contact the auditor’s team leader to discuss them further.
What happens at the end of the audit?
At the end of the audit, a final letter will be sent to you and one of three things will occur:
- no adjustments will be made to your previous assessment;
- an adjustment resulting in more tax will be made (reassessment) and you will have to pay the balance owing; or
- an adjustment resulting in less tax will be made (reassessment) and you will be entitled to a refund.
If the adjustment results in more taxes being owed, the auditor can provide you with an estimate of the amount before the CRA issues a notice of assessment or notice of reassessment. This will give you the opportunity to prevent more interest charges from accruing by paying all or part of what you owe right away.
What if I don’t agree with the reassessment?
If you disagree with the reassessment, you have the right to appeal.
How much time does it take to complete a business audit?
Completing a business audit
The time it takes to complete a business audit varies. Factors that influence the time it takes include the state of the records, the size and complexity of the business, and potential delays for missing records.
Well-kept records and co-operation with the auditor will reduce the time it takes to complete an audit.
Your file may be selected for an internal quality review before it is finished to make sure CRA audit standards have been met. As a result of the quality review, the auditor may contact you to get more information or make changes to the proposed adjustments.
What causes delays during an audit?
Delays may be caused if you do not provide records as requested. If you no longer have certain records, get copies from the parties that originally created them (for example, financial institutions or suppliers). If this is not possible, speak with the auditor or the auditor’s team leader to find alternative methods to confirm the amounts reported on your return.
In certain situations, auditors may need to consult other CRA tax specialists. These consultations may cause the audit to take longer than anticipated.
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Child Care Expense Deduction
The Child Care Expense Deduction (CCED) allows child care expenses to be deducted from income when those expenses are incurred to earn employment or business income, pursue education or perform research. Generally, only the lower-income spouse can claim the CCED.
Currently, the maximum amount that can be claimed under the CCED each year is limited to the least of:
- the total amount spent on child care expenses;
- two-thirds of the lower-income taxpayer’s earned income; and
- the total of the maximum dollar limits for all children, that is $7,000 per child under age 7, $4,000 for each child aged 7 through 16 (and for infirm dependent children over age 16), and $10,000 for children who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, regardless of their age.
The Government proposes to increase the dollar limits of the CCED by $1,000—i.e., to $8,000 from $7,000 per child under age 7, to $5,000 from $4,000 for each child aged 7 through 16 (and for infirm dependent children over age 16), and to $11,000 from $10,000 for children who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.
These changes would apply for the 2015 and subsequent taxation years, and would benefit more than 200,000 families.
Donate wisely in this holiday season!
Did you know?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulates more than 86,000 registered charities in Canada. To make sure your donation goes to a legitimate charity, the CRA advises you to follow a few tips.
- Confirm that the organization is a Canadian registered charity.
Registered charities have to devote their resources to charitable activities and are monitored by the CRA. Only charities that are registered with the CRA can issue official donation receipts, which can be used by the donor to claim a charitable tax credit. To check if an organization is registered, go to the CRA Charities Listings at www.cra.gc.ca/charitylists or call the CRA at 1-800-267-2384.
- Get to know the charity.
Start by visiting the charity’s website to learn about its activities and how it’s managed. You can also review its financial information and activities by looking at its information returns using the CRA’s Charity Quick View atwww.cra.gc.ca/charitylists. One of the best ways to learn about a charity is to volunteer.
- Beware of gifting tax shelter schemes that promise you returns greater than your donation.
There are many risks associated with these donation schemes and, in many cases, less than 1% of the funds donated are used for charitable works. The CRA strongly advises that you not participate in gifting tax shelter schemes. As of the 2013 tax year, if the amounts you have donated to a gifting tax shelter are in dispute, you are now required by law to pay 50 per cent of the taxes you may owe.
- Learn to recognize the signs of fraud.
Signs of fraud could include inappropriate pressure to give immediately, individuals who demand cash only or ask that you write a cheque payable to them rather than the charity. In addition, fraudulent organizations sometimes use names that are similar to well-known and respected registered charities.
Learn more about donating wisely this holiday season. Visit www.cra.gc.ca/donors.
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Changing an existing child support order or agreement
Child support orders and agreements cannot predict and provide for all the changes that can occur in the lives of parents and their children. To protect the best interests of your children, and to make sure the amount is objective and fair, you may sometimes have to change the child support amount.
Variation orders and agreements
If you and the other parent agree to change the amount of child support you pay or receive, you may:
- Change your existing written agreement, or
- Change your existing court order by going back to court.
If you and the other parent do not agree, either of you may ask the court to decide for you. The court must use the guidelines to determine the appropriate amount unless there are special circumstances or you and the other parent are seeking a consent order. In these two situations the court may order a different amount of child support after looking at what the guideline amount would be before adjusting the child support.
How to change a court order or written agreement on child support made before May 1, 1997
The Federal Child Support Guidelines came into force on May 1, 1997. Under the guidelines, anyone who has a child support order or written agreement made before May 1, 1997 can change it to reflect the guidelines and the change in tax rules described below even if nothing else has changed. The parents can both agree to the change or, if they cannot agree, either parent can ask a judge to change the child support order or written agreement to reflect the amounts in the guidelines.
The impact of the 1997 Income Tax Act changes
The way child support is taxed was changed in 1997. Under the rules set out in 1997, a person:
- who pays child support does not claim the amount of child support paid as a deduction, and
- the person who receives child support does not include the amount of child support received as income.
The 1997 changes apply to any amount of child support set out in a court order or written agreement made on or after May 1, 1997.
Tax treatment for orders or agreements made before May 1, 1997
This is different from the way child support payments are treated under the Income Tax Act for court orders or written agreements made before May 1, 1997 and not varied since then. For these orders or written agreements, the person paying child support can claim the amount paid as a deduction and the person receiving the child support payments has to declare the payments as income.
Parents with child support orders or written agreements made before May 1, 1997, have three options.
You and the other parent can decide not to change your existing child support order or agreement.
Change the court order or written agreement
You and the other parent can agree to change the child support amount and get a new court order or negotiate a new written agreement based on the guidelines and 1997 tax rules.
Change the way child support payments are treated for tax purposes
If you and the other parent agree to keep the amount of child support the same and simply change how it is treated for tax purposes you can do so easily.
You can both sign and file Canada Revenue Agency Form T1157, Election for Child Support Payments, with the Canada Revenue Agency. This action does not change any terms of your pre-May 1, 1997, court order or written agreement, except for the way the payments are treated for tax purposes.
Changing a court order or written agreement on child support made before December 31, 2011
The Federal Child Support Tables were amended on December 31, 2011. If you have a child support order or an agreement that was based on tables that were in effect before December 31, 2011, you can have it changed by getting a new court order or agreement.
Some provinces have established a child support service to recalculate child support amounts annually based on updated income information. This can reduce the need to go to court. For information on whether this service is available where you live, please call the general inquiries number for your province or territory. You may also use the guidelines to calculate a new amount based on new income information.
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Are you an Employee OR a Self-Employed?
The question of whether a person is a self-employed independent contractor or in an employee-employer relationship is not one that is always easy to answer. There have been many court cases on this subject. The courts generally look at the following criteria in making their decisions:
Risk factor: Self-employed persons usually have some degree of financial risk, and more opportunity for profit than employees.
Integration: An employee’s job will be an integral part of an employer’s business, where as the tasks performed by a self-employed person will likely be less integrated with the client’s business.
Tools and equipment: self-employed persons are more likely to be supplying their own tools and equipment, as well as being responsible for their maintenance.
These topics are further explained in the CRA publication RC4110 Employee or Self-employed. A comprehensive checklist is also provided in this publication. This checklist is useful for a worker or a payer (employer/client) to help determine whether their relationship is a business relationship or an employer/employee relationship.
CRA also has information on the following categories of workers to help determine whether they are employees or self employed for CPP and EI purposes, in their web page CPP/EI Explained:
- Real estate agents.
- Workers who own and operate heavy machinery.
- Workers engaged in construction.
- Workers engaged in fishing.
- Qualify for employment insurance
- Canada Pension Plan premiums paid 50% by employer
- Participation in employee benefits, including:
- vacation pay
- provincial medical plan
- extended health benefits – medical, dental, vision care
- disability insurance
- pension plans
- workers’ compensation coverage
- Higher rate of pay for overtime hours
- More difficult to be terminated
- Severance pay if terminated
- No record keeping required
- Eligible for Canada employment amount tax credit
- Must pay employment insurance premiums
- Very few expenses are tax-deductible
- Less control over working conditions and hours
- No employment insurance premiums, unless voluntarily paid.
- More expenses are tax-deductible – for example, expense of travelling to and from clients’ places of business is tax-deductible
- More freedom to choose own working hours
- Can work for more than one client
- In first year of operation, income tax not payable until April 30th following first year end.
- Opportunity for increased profits
- Can recover GST or HST paid by registering to collect GST/HST, even small suppliers
- No severance pay if terminated
- Cannot collect employment insurance, except special benefits.
- Must pay employee and employer portions of CPP contribution.
- More record-keeping required.
- Often work longer hours with no extra pay.
- Cost of purchasing and maintaining own equipment.
- Risk of loss.
- Liable if contract obligations not fulfilled, thus liability insurance may be needed.
- No employee benefits, including disability insurance.
- After first year-end, usually must make income tax installment payments.
- Must register to collect GST/HST, except for small suppliers.
- Cash management and planning required to ensure funds available for tax remittances
- Not eligible for Canada employment amount tax credit
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SHOULD YOU BUY OR LEASE A VEHICLE?
People frequently ask, “Is it more advantageous to lease or to buy a vehicle?”. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has considered each option and has established rules to ensure that one has little if any benefit over the other. The decision is therefore based on your situation, needs and cash flow circumstances. Whatever decision you make, make sure you thoroughly comparison shop and sleep on it before you make any final decision, sign documents and take the car away. You want to make a decision based on sound logic–not based on emotion or the dealer’s sales pitch. Compare the cost of each approach over the term you expect to own the vehicle.
There are many different types of leasing arrangements, and dealers offer a wide variety of choices and options on both new and used vehicles. All leases involve making periodic payments for the term of the lease, and there may or may not be an option to purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease.
On some leasing contracts, the vehicle is returned to the dealer at the end of the lease period and you have no further obligation except possibly paying for extra mileage or damage. On other leasing contracts, you will be asked to “guarantee” the dealer a residual value for the vehicle at the end of the lease period. Residual value is the amount the vehicle is expected to be worth at the end of the lease period, and is specified in the contract. Sometimes you may be able to buy the car for the residual value. If it is returned to the dealer and sold for less than the residual value, you must pay the dealer the difference.
This contract sets out the contractual nature of the deal. You cannot count on any representations that the sales rep makes to you that are not contained in the lease contract. So make sure that any statements made to you to induce you to lease the vehicle are written into the contract.
Important questions to ask:
Before you sign any contract, make sure you have answers to these important questions and calculate what they will mean to you.
* What would be the total cost to buy the same vehicle and finance its purchase through a lender?
* What is the best retail price of the vehicle, and what price is the company using as the basis for the lease? The difference between the market value of the vehicle at the beginning and end of the lease is one of the main factors in calculating monthly payments.
* What is the interest rate being applied to the lease and how does it compare with current loan rates for purchasing a vehicle?
* Is there an option to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease?
* Can you buy the vehicle during the term of the lease, and if so, and are there penalties or additional charges?
* Are you required to guarantee the residual value of the car to the dealer?
* Can you terminate the lease before the date specified in the contract, and if so, is there a penalty or additional charge?
* How is extra mileage defined and how much might you have to pay at the end of the lease?
* What is the total cost of the lease, and could you have bought a similar car for that amount?
* What are the associated fees you might have to pay for items such as insurance and administration? What are the late payment penalties?
* What is the total financial obligation of the lease, including the cost of all lease payments, plus all taxes, levies, fees, trade-in allowance, security deposit, advance payments and any down payments?
* What is the retail price of the vehicle, the price on which the lease payments are based, and the interest rate applied to the lease contract?
* Do you have “gap” protection? If you do, and you are in an accident and the vehicle is damaged beyond repair, this program will cover the difference after you pay the deductible, between what you owe on the remainder of your lease and the amount of your insurance settlement.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF BUYING
* you own the vehicle and therefore do not have any restrictions on use.
* you are building up potential equity in the vehicle (the value of the vehicle less the debt you have paid off).
* you can use the vehicle as security to borrow money.
* you can sell the vehicle and keep the money, after any loans are paid off
If you are using the car as a business vehicle, there are additional benefits:
# depreciation is deductible. For cars, it is 30 per cent a year on a declining balance. However, only a maximum of $30,000 plus taxes (for tax year 2013) is accepted as the capital cost of the vehicle, no matter how much more you pay.
# interest on money that you borrow for the car purchase is deductible. However, there is a maximum of $300 a month, no matter how much more than that you pay.
If you are using the car as a business vehicle:
* you cannot deduct the full cost immediately
* only the first $30,000 plus taxes (for year 2013) may be capitalized and depreciated for tax purposes. The car you want or need may cost more than that.
* only a maximum of $300 per month for interest is accepted by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
* you pay your own repairs and maintenance expenses.
* time and effort is required to sell the vehicle.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF LEASING
* you can change to a new vehicle relatively easily.
* you have more consistent and predictable cash flow requirements.
If you are using the car as a business vehicle:
* since monthly payments are generally less than loan payments when you purchase a car, you have better cash flow.
* lease payments are deductible, subject to limits set out by the Income Tax Act. At present, it is $800 per month. (year 2013)
you don’t own the vehicle.
you are not building up equity in the vehicle.
you are basically renting the vehicle for a stated time period.
there could be restrictions on where you can use the vehicle.
leasing costs are slightly higher than purchase costs.
leasing expenses can be subject to increases.
costs could include financing, administration and other fees.
you are responsible for maintaining the vehicle, according to the maintenance schedule set out by the leasing company. This could cost you more money than if you had the freedom to do what you wanted, where and when you wanted, as in a purchase situation.
there are many restrictions and limitations set out in the lease that potentially affect your use and enjoyment of the vehicle you could be paying more money for greater mileage use, wear and tear and guarantee of residual value at the end of the lease, or penalties if you want to terminate the lease early.
If you are using the car for business purposes:
* depreciation is not deductible on operating leases.
In summary, if you want a more expensive car, you’re not emotionally attached to the idea of ownership and you change cars every two or three years, you might consider the lease option. However, what makes leasing appear less expensive than buying is that you are not paying any money to build up equity in the vehicle. When you buy a vehicle and pay for a loan, part of the loan payments are reducing the debt, and therefore building up equity.
If you still have any question regarding tax treatment for Leasing or Buying your vehicle, contact us today, we are here to answer your questions.