JUN 6, 2018
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
All servers in the restaurant industry take heed; the CRA wants to tax what you make in tips! A recent article by Peter Shawn Taylor in “Pivot”, the Canadian CPA magazine, talks about a couple of audits the CRA has performed in P.E.I. and Ontario in the hospitality industry.
According to the article, the CRA audited dozens of wait staff at Murphy Hospitality Group restaurants in P.E.I. earlier this year. The CRA went back to 2014 looking for undeclared tips. The premise is that servers only declare a portion of the tips they receive: it is suggested that this portion accounts for only 10% of what is actually received.
In 2012 the CRA also audited four restaurants in Ontario and found $1.7 million in tips received that had not been declared, which averaged out to $12,000 in additional income per server.
With most patrons paying by credit and debit in recent years, it has become very easy for the CRA to request a tip report from the restaurant for every one of their servers. The CRA can now compare that report to the tax returns of the servers and easily determine the accuracy of the servers income reporting.
The time has come for all who earn tips to start correctly reporting that income on their tax returns!
Paul S. Hewitt, CPA and Toronto based restaurant consultant states that restaurant owners should not get involved with collecting or managing tips. In some establishments all of the tips are collected and then distributed among the servers and kitchen staff. However, Mr. Hewitt suggests that, if this is done, owners run the risk of the CRA assessing this as income to the restaurant and, therefore, income to the employees from the restaurant. This will increase the cost to the restaurant owner as they will have to match the employees CPP and EI contributions and include the income on the employees T4 slips each year. With the new Employer Health Tax coming into effect July 1, 2019, owners certainly do not need any additional employee costs.
MAY 31, 2018
Tis the season once again for Tax Scammers. With fraudulent emails and phone calls purporting to be from the Canada Revenue Agency again this year, it is extremely important for you to protect yourself and your personal information.
Following is a list of some indicators that a phone call, voicemail message or email is NOT from the Canada Revenue Agency:
· The call is automated, ie. a recorded message or robot rather than a live person. DO NOT return the phone call.
· The person calling does not ask for you or a member of your household specifically by name. This means they do not know who they are calling. CRA WILL ask, or leave a message, for a specific person.
· The person calling uses threats of lawsuits or claims that the RCMP are on their way to arrest you in an attempt to get you to comply with their demands. You will receive written notice from the CRA long before you will be in legal trouble with the tax department.
· The person calling requests that you purchase gift cards or use prepaid credit cards or Bitcoin to pay a debt owing. CRA will NEVER ask for prepaid credit/gift cards or Bitcoin to pay an amount owing. You can pay amounts owing to the CRA by cheque (mail or drop in the secure box located at your local TSO), cash or withdrawal at your bank or even online from your bank’s website, but NEVER with prepaid credit cards, gift cards or crypto currency, and NEVER via an email link.
· You receive an email that contains links or requires you to provide personal or financial information. The CRA will only send an email containing links if you have requested a form or specific information, in which case, they will send the email while you are on the phone with them.
If you are still unsure whether or not it is the Canada Revenue Agency that has contacted you, there is a way to confirm whether or not a call is authentic. Simply ask the person calling to provide you with their agent ID number and contact information. Keep in mind that scammers have the ability to “spoof” phone numbers in order to hide the origin of the call and make it appear more legitimate.
Once they have provided you with their information, you can call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at 1-800-959-8281 and ask for confirmation that the agent ID number is authentic and to verify which department the person was calling from.
NOV 20, 2017
A court order is forcing PayPal to disclose sales made by business accounts between January 1, 2014 and November 10, 2017.
What does this mean? If you have a professional accountant, probably nothing. Because your professional accountant has been helping you minimize you tax bill legally; and not by failing to declare revenue earned through PayPal.
NOV 14, 2017
RESP’s – Are You Maximizing Your Child’s Education Savings?
We all know how expensive a post-secondary education can be and how important it is to start saving as early as possible. A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) can be extremely beneficial in giving your child the funds they need to start their post-secondary education off on the right foot. Also, when it comes to education savings, the government is there to help. Did you know that the provincial and federal governments will provide money for your child’s RESP in addition to the money you contribute each year?
The Canada Learning Bond
The Canada Learning Bond is available for children from low-income families born in 2004 or later and provides an initial payment of $500 in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for a child’s post-secondary education. Additionally the child could receive $100 for each year of eligibility, up to the year they turn 15, for a maximum of $2,000.
Personal contributions to an RESP are not required to receive the Canada Learning Bond.
The Canada Education Savings Grant
The Canada Education Savings Grant is money the Government of Canada adds to contributions made in an RESP for the post-secondary education of a child, aged 17 or under. For every $10 saved, the Government will add between $2 and $4 for a child’s education, depending on the family’s income and how much is saved every year.
With the Canada Education Savings Grant your child could receive up to $500 per year and, depending on your net family income, an extra $50-100 per year with the Additional Canada Education Savings Grant. For more information on eligibility and how to apply visit the Government of Canada website at:
Eligible children could also receive an additional $1,200 through the BC Training and Education Savings Grant. For more information on eligibility and how to apply visit the Government of British Columbia website at:
NOV 6, 2017
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
Clients often ask me if they should lease or buy a vehicle. Invariably the question is brought on by a lease dealer stating that, for a little money down and low monthly payments, you can drive a brand new vehicle for a couple of years. Once the lease term is up you have the option to buy out the lease or turn in the vehicle and lease a new one.
Leasing is more profitable to dealerships therefore; many sales people mislead consumers into believing that a lease is their best option.
The question to lease or buy depends on your personal priorities. From a financial planning aspect the best route is to pay cash for all items. The idea in creating financial wealth is to have as little debt as possible and, if you do have debt, for as short a term as possible.
A loan is generally a better option than leasing if you intend to keep the vehicle for more than three years. If you plan to trade frequently or are looking at a loaded vehicle, leasing may make more sense.
Here are some things to consider when purchasing:
Here are some things to consider when leasing:
OCT 23, 2017
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
Do you think your computer system is secure? The international Monetary Fund’s system was breached last June; theirs is one of the most secure systems on the globe. Lockheed Martin, the defense and security company has also come under cyber-attack. Spyware, malware and hacking are the most common threats to our corporate structures says Adriana Gliga-Belavic, director of information security at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. “They’ll put an email together that installs spyware in your system. Then custom-built applications can look through it, identify sensitive information, package it and send it out of an environment” she says.
Many Canadian companies are choosing to believe that their company is not at risk or that cyber-crime does not happen in Canada. The reality is however that if someone wants to gain access to your system to “steal” information, or just to cause you grief, they will find a way, even through firewalls and strict access controls.
Everyone in your company needs to be educated not to open emails from unknown sources. There should also be a plan in place so that, in the event you are hacked, everyone knows what actions to take in order to minimize the damage.
Don’t think this is important? Just stop and think about what would happen if your client’s sensitive information was used to steal their identity? With the new anti-spamming laws and PIPEDA, the fall out to your company could be very expensive.
Another potential threat exists when employees leave your company. If you limit their access to information that they do not need to perform their job, you may avoid potential problems when they leave. With increased use of cell phones and tablets there is a risk of information ending up in a vulnerable spot. Your company should have policies and procedures in place to combat the loss or misuse of sensitive information.
If you do experience a security breach, you need to contact a lawyer.
OCT 10, 2017
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
There are more and more Canadians starting their own business and it is thought that as many as 3.2 million are thinking of starting a business. An Ipsos-Reid survey showed that 2.8 million existing small and medium-sized business owners feel that money is definitely a motive for many aspiring entrepreneurs. Another major draw is having more control in their lives. Many entrepreneurs find out the hard way that running their own business is not as easy as it may seem, and that a seemingly successful idea can end up in financial ruin. So let’s review some common areas that are often overlooked by management.
A poorly managed or missing information system can spell ruin. Your system should generate daily and monthly reports on your business transactions. This will assist you in making decisions regarding which areas it would be most beneficial to spend your money on. Monitor your inventory levels by conducting periodic inventory counts and comparing the actual numbers to what you think you have on hand. This should be completed by staff members who are not responsible for the inventory. Regular counts will ensure that you have the product you need to keep shipments going out as promised. Customers that get what they want when it is promised to them are happy and will return. They may also refer business to you. By doing regular inventory counts you will also be able to pinpoint obsolete or slow moving products. If you have an over abundance of these products they can tie up precious cash. Keep records of customer complaints, disputed invoices and credit notes with detailed explanations for each.
Another critical area where cash flow problems arise is accounts receivable. Slow collections can lead to invoices that are never paid which will directly affect your bottom line. It does not matter how much you sell, if you do not collect on your sales, your business will fail. It may sound extreme, but every dollar you do not collect reduces the amount of cash available to purchase new inventory or grow your business and also leaves you with write offs that affect your company’s bottom line. If you pay commissions on gross sales, imagine how much you are paying out on uncollected accounts. Accounts receivable should be reviewed on a weekly basis. Sales commissions should be based on collected sales and overdue accounts should be dealt with immediately.
Just like with individual finances, if your company is spending more money than it is making, it is only a matter of time before financial failure is a certainty. In order to be cost efficient, ensure that there is a formal expense approval system in place for all staff and supervisors, and that it is adhered to. Only business related expenses should be allowed and expenses such as cell phones, advertising and entertainment should be strictly budgeted. Comparisons should be made on a monthly basis between actual and budgeted amounts. Expenses for assets should be reviewed to ensure they are necessary and that funds are in place to support the outlays. Has the expense been addressed in your budget and do you have the cash flow to support it?
Is your business reliant on a handful of clients or is your customer base diversified. Having your revenue coming from a small base could set your company up to fail. If you only have 5 clients and one leaves, 20 percent of your business is gone. Would your company survive such a scenario? Actively work to diversify your client base and develop a good business relationship with your key customers to ensure that they are satisfied and have no reason to take their business elsewhere.
Entrepreneurs are generally optimistic, they have the vision and drive to develop and grow their businesses. However, they often lack the financial ability necessary to manage cash flow and, as a result, profitability suffers. Do not try to be all things in your business. Develop professional relationships that give you the tools necessary to succeed. This will allow you to concentrate on what you do best. Work with your accountant to determine what resources you have available for financial office staff and what you need. Your advisors should work closely with you to develop a plan that fits your needs financially as well as operationally.
Keep an eye on your debt levels, whenever I research a public company to invest in on any stock market I always look at debt. How much debt do they have and how are they servicing their debt. These are the very questions you need to address in your business. Debt may have been necessary at the start of the business however; you must manage your business to ensure you develop a plan to repay debt out of the cash flow of the business. Look for ways to find extra cash; can you refinance at a lower interest rate and reduce your interest costs and repayment time? Review assets for old or obsolete items that you may be able to sell. Look for ways to reduce your expenses and review staffing requirements to determine if you have the right number of employees to sustain the business.
Review accounts payable and receivable terms, if your customers terms are net 30 days your vendors should be the same length of time or longer. At month end your receivables balance should be larger than your payables balance. The greater the margin is between the two, the better off your company is financially. Make sure your receivables are current and that you are collecting as quickly as possible. This will ensure that you have the funds necessary for day to day operations and that you are not relying on debt to continue running your business.
If your company is in trouble seek outside advice. An accountant or consultant will have a different perspective as well as a fresh outlook. Have them work with you to find specific solutions that fit your needs.
SEP 13, 2017
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
In our quest to provide proven business solutions to make life easier for our clients, I would like to share a recent read from the September issue of BC Business regarding the advantages of CPA-level bookkeeping.
Using a CPA-level bookkeeper can add to your peace of mind where your business is concerned as well as provide a certain level of clarity and financial intelligence.
There is always the question of whether adding a specific service will be cost effective. Many times I have been asked the question, should a business hire a CPA-level bookkeeper or not? Any business that has gone through a payroll or PST audit and found they had been recording transactions incorrectly and now owe much more than it would have cost for a professional bookkeeper would say, “Hire the professionals”.
If you are thinking any of the following thoughts, it is time to seek assistance from a professional:
The advantages a CPA-level bookkeeper can provide include:
What you should look for in a bookkeeper:
Using a CPA-Level bookkeeper can give you the insight to optimize your business operations and identify your next big opportunity.
AUG 22, 2017
Written by: Rose Ottesen
Recently the government issued a new paper titled “Tax Planning Using Private Corporations”. The government feels that, in some cases, private corporations are used in order to take advantage of tax planning strategies and loopholes that are generally only available to high income earners. They focused on three specific areas:
1- Income Sprinkling
2- Holding a passive investment portfolio inside a private corporation, and
3- Converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains
What is considered a high income earner in Canada? Should this be calculated on household net income or on net worth? This is not as easy as you would think to determine and it varies across the country. A 2015 article, published in the Globe and Mail, commented on an interview with Peter Mansbridge in which Justin Trudeau quantified the middle class as having $90,000 in household income for a family of four.
How will this affect our clients?
1 – Income Sprinkling – this is the most common tax planning strategy that will affect business owners from the lower, middle and upper classes. The government paper proposes that wages and dividends, to a spouse and/or children, will be taxed at the highest rates unless they have significant involvement in the business or have invested capital. Starting your own business is risky and there are no guarantees. The government is choosing to ignore the fact that your entire family takes on the risk of your business failures and successes. Many families have to live without a fixed pay cheque when businesses start up, and employees get paid before business owners.
2 – Holding a passive investment portfolio inside a private corporation – the corporate tax rate is much lower than personal tax rates. A business owner that leaves funds inside a corporation and invests would have more initial funds to invest than the average person who has to pay higher tax rates on their wages; therefore they would reap higher rewards. Corporations pay a higher tax rate on the passive income earned from these investments and eventually those earnings will be paid out as wages and taxed at the personal income tax rate. There is no way to avoid paying higher tax rates; rather there is merely the ability to put it off. Again, what if this is a corporate strategy to always have a “cushion” available to ensure that wages are paid or that expensive equipment can be replaced in order to maintain the smooth operation of the business? How will corporations be allowed to accumulate operating capital in the future?
3 – Converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains – this must be structured in a specific manner and can be done only under limited circumstances. This would not likely affect the majority of our clients.
“Tax Planning Using Private Corporations” covers some technical tax planning but I am not sure that it has been given the appropriate technical analysis regarding what such changes would bring. I think that our tax system is due for some improvements however not in areas that would stifle Canada’s small business owners.
The Government is accepting comments on the proposals included in this paper until October 2, 2017. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.
JUL 18, 2017
The Canada Revenue Agency is currently in the process of moving its main offices and shuffling services to different areas of the country. Individuals and businesses alike are experiencing longer than usual delays in the processing of their requests and tax returns due to this move.
The CRA is also in the process of moving their online services and information to an alternate website. The Canada Revenue Agency site is still available during this move.
JUL 11, 2017
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
This is an article from my March Tax Mentor Monthly Tax Webinar regarding what constitutes a “meeting” by CRA.
TI2013-0481171E5 - 2013/12/10 - Business and Employment Division of the Rulings Directorate
In this Technical Interpretation, CRA is asked to reconsider its view on what it considers acceptable as a "meeting" for the work space at home deduction. The taxpayer cites changes in technology, including the use of e-mail, telephone and skype. Paragraph 8(13)(a) of the Tax Act states:
"(a) no amount is deductible in computing an individual’s income for a taxation year from an office or employment in respect of any part (in this subsection referred to as the “work space”) of a self-contained domestic establishment in which the individual resides, except to the extent that the work space is either
(i) the place where the individual principally performs the duties of the office or employment, or
(ii) used exclusively during the period in respect of which the amount relates for the purpose of earning income from the office or employment and used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting customers or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the duties of the office or employment;
As the phrase "meeting customers" is not defined in the Tax Act, CRA states that they must rely on case law and the ordinary meaning of the words. CRA references the definition of "meeting" in the Oxford Canadian dictionary and concludes that a meeting is restricted to "face to face encounters”.
Case law on the subject has concluded that meetings conducted by way of telephone are sufficient to meet the requirements for the work space at home deduction. The court in Vanka v. R.,  4 C.T.C. 2832 (T.C.C. [Informal Procedure]) accepted that a medical doctor was meeting his patients within the meaning of s.18(12)(a)(ii) of the Tax Act by making himself available to answer their queries by telephone. The court in Landry v. R., 2007 CarswellNat 2077, 2007 TCC 383,  5 C.T.C. 2633, 2007 D.T.C. 1396 (Eng.) (Tax Court of Canada [Informal Procedure]) concluded that the meetings by telephone in Vanka, sufficient for the purposes of s.18(12)(a)(ii), is indistinguishable from s.8(13)(a)(ii) in relation to the requirement that the work space be used on a regular and continuous basis for meetings.
While the courts have weighed in on the matter and provided their interpretation, CRA continues to maintain their position that a "meeting" must be face to face, stating that informal decisions of the Tax Court have no precedent value.
Perhaps common sense will eventually prevail.
JUN 19, 2017
Since January 1, 2012, there are new rules for CPP.
As an employer, you may have to deduct CPP contributions from the pensionable earnings you pay an employee who is 60 to 70 years of age, even if the employee is receiving a CPP or QPP retirement pension.
As an employee, you must now elect to not contribute to the CPP. If you do not make the election, you will have to contribute to the CPP even if you are receiving a CPP retirement pension while working. You can elect to stop contributing to the CPP by completing a CPT30 form and sending the original to the Canada Revenue Agency. This election takes effect on the 1st day of the month following the date you give a copy of the CPT30 form to your employer
Under the new rules, an employee who works and receives a CPP or QPP retirement pension has to contribute to the CPP if he or she is:
60 to 65 years of age;
65 to 70 years of age, unless the employee has filed an election with you or another employer to stop paying CPP contributions (the election will take effect on the first day of the month following the month the employee provides you with a completed and signed election form);
65 to 70 years of age, if the employee revoked his or her election to stop paying CPP contributions.
For more information, go to:
These changes do not affect the salary of an employee working in Quebec or an employee who is considered to be disabled under the CPP or QPP, nor do they affect the salary and wages of a person who has reached 70 years of age. Do not deduct CPP contributions from the salary and wages that you pay these employees.
Deduct CPP contributions for all employees who are 60 to 70 years of age unless your employee is 65 to 70 years of age and gives you a completed Form CPT30, Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can assess you if you do not deduct CPP contributions or do not remit the CPP contributions to the CRA as required. The assessment may also include penalty and interest charges.
For more information, go to Penalties, interest, and other consequences:
JUN 7, 2017
By: Evelyn Suvajdzic
This excerpt is taken from my monthly tax webinar with Tax Mentor
CRA was asked whether there is a particular provision in the Tax Act that explicitly states that inheritances are not taxable. In response, CRA states that most gifts and inheritances are not subject to tax in the hands of the recipient. This, however, does not mean that there are no tax consequences in respect of gifts and inheritances, just generally not for the recipient.
It is often the person making the gift that is subject to taxation. The recipient often receives the gift "tax-paid". If the gift is an inter vivos gift, the transferor is deemed to have disposed of the gift at fair market value and would be subject to taxation. If the gift is from an estate, tax would have been paid by the deceased on the deemed disposition that occurs at death. However, if there is income earned in an estate and the income is paid to a beneficiary, that beneficiary may be subject to taxation on that "inheritance".
While a recipient is generally not subject to taxation on a gift or inheritance, a recipient may nevertheless incur a tax liability in respect of the gift. The Tax Act has certain provisions where gains, and hence the tax liability, can be deferred and transferred to the recipient. The most common instances of these deferrals are transfers that are made to one's spouse, and the transfer of certain properties (farming and fishing) to children. Hence, there is a tax liability associated with a gift or inheritance to a recipient, though the liability may not be realized until a later time.
If the transferor of the gift is unable to pay the tax liability, it may be that the recipient of the gift will be jointly and severally liable for the tax if the recipient and the transferor are not dealing at arm's length. While this technically is the tax liability of the transferor, the recipient may have to pay this tax as a result of receiving the inheritance.
Besides income tax, there are other taxes that may arise on gifts and inheritances, such as probate and land/property transfer tax.
It should be noted that not all gifts are tax free for the recipient. It depends on the context in which the gift is made. In a situation where an employer gifts money or property to an employee, it is likely that such a gift will be taxable in the hands of the recipient.
MAR 7, 2017
written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) was created on January 1, 2009 with the intention of helping Canadians 18 and older to save money. The purpose of the TFSA is to provide Canadians with the opportunity to save money and earn investment income on a tax-free basis. Following is a list of the major benefits of contributing to a TFSA:
TFSA strategies can vary over the years depending on your individual circumstances. Since the TFSA began in 2009, as of 2017 you are eligible to contribute up to a maximum of $52,500 if you have not yet started a TFSA. The amount you can contribute will appear on the Notice of Assessment you receive each year after filing your personal income tax return with the Canada Revenue Agency. Due to the tax avoidance advantages that come from a TFSA, it is very beneficial to start your own and contribute to it on an annual basis. Be certain to keep track of your contributions so that you do not exceed the maximum allowable amount as there are punitive penalties for over-contributing.
JAN 31, 2017
Written by: Rose Ottesen
New Year, New You! Right!? Almost everyone sets New Year’s Resolutions – lose that extra 5lbs of Christmas weight, eat more vegetables, exercise more, read more and the list goes on and on. Have you considered your financial well-being? Let’s start saving this year!
Should I invest in an RRSP or a TFSA? What about a savings account or GIC? And don’t forget about an RESP! There are so many options and it is so confusing, maybe I will start next year…
Make it easy on yourself and just start small. Pick something that makes sense to you and don’t spend a lot of time on it. Next time you visit your accountant, tell them what you are doing and ask for advice! Any accountant will be happy to help.
DEC 6, 2016
written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic
Every home owner’s tax world changed on October 3, 2016! Due to the overheated Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets and, in an attempt to combat perceived abuses of the principal residence exemption, the Canada Revenue Agency announced amendments to the reporting requirements for the sale of a principal residence.
Taxpayers must now report the disposition of their principal residence. Per CRA:
“Starting with the 2016 tax year, generally due by late April 2017, you will be required to report basic information (date of acquisition, proceeds of disposition and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence to claim the full principal residence exemption”
As a taxpayer you must report the sale and make the designation of principal residence on your personal tax return. Failure to do so will result in penalties; the lesser of either:
1. $8,000 or
2. $100 for each complete month from the due date the filing should have been made.
SEP 26, 2016
Written by: Evelyn Suvajdzic, CPA, CGA
Generation Y (those born between 1977 and 1994) is taking to entrepreneurship like no other generation before them. It is not just due to the economic environment, but also due to role models such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as well as the desire to emulate peers like Mark Zuckerberg. They understand what it takes to reach the expansive and increasingly more affluent youth market of which they are a part. Generation Y has never known a day without computers and internet, they have grown up comfortable with tech savvy tools that enable them to succeed in today’s business environment.
So, what are the main reasons young entrepreneurs fail? An Inuit survey of 1,000 Canadian would-be entrepreneurs states that a poor understanding of finances, along with a lack of planning or strategic vision are at the top of the list. Of those interviewed, 30% said the best way to long-term success is financial literacy and financial management acumen.
A good financial plan should be easy to use and understand and, with the widespread use of spreadsheets, it is easier than ever to create models and plans specific for your individual needs. Financial models, which are a forecast or budget of future financial statements, are paramount to making informed decisions about your business. They can assist you in everything from marketing strategies to determining the potential value of your business. Models allow you to build a business plan using different scenarios that will show you what would most benefit your company for the long-term, before you commit actual capital to the enterprise.