No business can expect to make money without also managing it effectively. Establishing and achieving key financial milestones is essential to the health of a business. Every financial decision you make can have a significant impact on the overall strength of your company, ultimately defining the future of your business. This is why financial planning is crucial.
What is financial planning for a business?
Financial planning is the task of determining how your business will finance its strategic goals and objectives. The plan is a document that describes the activities, resources, equipment and materials needed to achieve these objectives. It sets time frames for your goals and strategies for achieving them. It helps you be in control of your company’s income, expenses and investments and is essential to building a successful business. A good plan includes an assessment of the business environment, company goals, resources needed to reach these goals, team and resource budgets and risks that might be faced. It ensures a company is equipped in advance to deal with changing circumstances at both personal and business levels.
Why create a financial plan for your business?
There are a myriad of reasons to create a financial plan for your company.
- To manage your risk and respond quickly to financial issues: A business must plan for a lot of risks (death or disability of central figures, illness, property ownership loss, lawsuits, interruption of business, lower than expected revenue, high overheads, etc.). By regularly reviewing risks and planning a response, a company is prepared to tackle issues quickly, before they become hard to manage.
- To provide a road map for growth: It’s easy to focus on daily issues and neglect long-term planning. A financial plan helps a company focus on the future by providing clear goals for company growth and performance. It helps you analyze your current situation and project where you want the business to be in the future.
- To help you develop a good tax strategy: Financial planning is helpful when it comes time to submit your tax return or if you sell the company.
- To identify sales trends: A financial plan that includes quantifiable targets and sales records helps determine which individual products and which initiatives are most lucrative, making it possible to adjust your marketing strategy appropriately.
- To prioritize expenditures: A financial plan sets clear expectations for cash flow and helps a business owner to consider spending priorities.
- To identify necessary cost reductions: A financial plan helps you refer to past spending and identify unnecessary or over-inflated costs so you can adjust accordingly.
- To create transparency with staff and investors by sharing key figures (revenue, costs, profitability, etc.).
- To show progress: A financial plan is helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth and overall profit in quantifiable data, encouraging business owners.
How to get started with your financial plan:
The following are the basic steps of creating a financial plan for your business.
- Determine your financial goals: Are you looking to expand your business? Do you wish to increase your product/service’s market share? Are you interested in strengthening your customer service? Do you need more equipment and/or staff? The financial plan you build for your company largely depends upon your goals and your unique stage of business development.
- Take stock of your assets: What is the balance of your business bank accounts? What are your accounts receivable, cash equivalents and short-term investments? How much stock do you have on hand? How many supplies are presently in storage?
- Determine your income, expenses and debt: Where does all your money go? Examine your cash flow and track your spending. Look at salaries (including your own), rent or mortgage payments, communication expenses (internet, telephone services, etc.), utilities, storage, distribution, promotion, office supplies and general maintenance. What is your monthly, quarterly and yearly income? What debt do you carry (bank loans, lease payments, income taxes payable, etc.)
- Develop financial projections: Create monthly projections based on sales forecast and anticipated expenses (labour, supplies overheard). Prepare a projected income (profit and loss) statement and a balance sheet projection. This is a crucial part of your business plan if lenders and/or investors are involved.
- Arrange for financing (if needed): Use your financial projections to determine your financing needs. Approach your financial partners to discuss options. Well-prepared projections reassure bankers/investors that your financial management is solid.
- Plan for contingencies: Decide what you will do if your finances suddenly deteriorate. Establish emergency sources of money (maintain a cash reserve or keep some room on your line of credit).
- Monitor your progress: Periodically, compare actual results with your projections to see if you’re on target or need to adjust. Monitoring helps you spot financial problems before they get out of hand.
- Get help: Consider hiring an expert to help you put together and monitor your financial plan. Your accountant is an invaluable resource. They can provide you with powerful financial planning solutions. By carrying out a detailed analysis of your current processes, bringing your objectives into focus, and developing viable strategies, they’ll help you utilize your company’s finances in the most effective ways possible. The result? Greater clarity, measurable results and long-term growth.
A financial plan affects day-to-day fiscal decision-making, defining the future of a business and shaping a company’s journey. A detailed financial plan brings a company’s objectives into focus and helps in developing viable strategies. Corporate financial planning demands a strong understanding of commerce and how companies operate fiscally. It also calls for attention and care for the immediate financial needs and specificities of your enterprise.
Need help preparing a financial plan for your business? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We can provide you with powerful financial planning solutions. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company use their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Many businesses look for ways to give to and/or be involved with their communities. They search for organizations they feel a connection to, then donate their time and money. This benefits the community and builds goodwill for the company. Charitable contributions from businesses to nonprofits qualify for a reduction of taxable income. The CRA considers a gift/donation to be a voluntary transfer of money or property for which you expect and receive no consideration. Sometimes the paperwork and/or tax requirements for these contributions are complicated. The following is information and tips for handling charitable donations.
- To make the most out of company donations, choose the right organization to donate to.
- For a small business that’s tied to a community, it makes sense to pick a local group.
- Put sufficient time, effort and energy into choosing the right organization for your support.
- Ensure you’re supporting causes that are meaningful to you and allocate your giving to align with your values and ideals.
- Set an annual donation budget.
- Recurring or automatic monthly donations are easy and convenient.
- For a donation to be eligible, the transfer of ownership has to be voluntary.
- Contributions of services, such as time, skills and effort do not qualify.
- Donations of cash, goods, land and/or listed securities to a registered charity or other qualified organization are eligible.
- Businesses can only donate to qualified entities. Most of these are registered charities.
- Donation tax credits vary by province.
- Incorporated business owners have the choice to donate personally or via their corporations.
- Securities are the most efficient way to give. Donating publicly traded securities (stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc.) directly to a charity eliminates the capital gains tax as these securities are sold and you still receive a tax receipt for the fair market value on the date the security is received by a broker. Your charity gets the full value of the securities.
- Before making a donation of securities, it’s important to contact the qualified donee and verify that they can accept in-kind donations.
- Ask the charity for its registration number and confirm its status in the List of charities. You can also call the Charities Directorate at 1-800-267-2384.
- To qualify for a deduction, ask for an official donation receipt that meets the requirements of the Income Tax Act and its regulations.
- If an organization you donated to is no longer registered but was registered when you made your donation, you can still use your receipt to claim.
- When a business donates to charity it can claim a tax deduction against income. By reducing taxable income, the corporation reduces its tax liability.
- Canadian small businesses can claim deductions on charitable donations for up to 75% of their net income.
- There are two charitable tax credit rates (federal and provincial) and any eligible amount you give above $200 qualifies for a higher rate.
- When you donate over $200, you are automatically eligible to carry the donation forward and claim it on your tax return for any of the next five years. This flexibility means that the unclaimed carry-forward portion may qualify for a larger deduction in the future.
- You cannot claim charitable donations to create or increase a loss but unused charitable donations can be carried forward and used in any of the five following tax years.
- The tax treaty between Canada and the U.S. allows for a deduction of donations made to U.S. charities if your business has U.S. source income.
- Qualified donees include:
Corporate charitable donations provide shareholders with a chance to support their community and receive tax incentives at the same time. The tax incentive for donating to charity is generous, reducing the effective cost of the donation and making the act of giving both an emotionally and financially gratifying experience. The rules for charitable donation by a business are many and complicated. Speak with your accountant. They have the knowledge and experience to help you fully leverage your donations.
Looking for an experienced accounting firm that can minimize your tax obligations and help with your charitable giving? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
You probably know of others who have set up a trust(s) to protect their assets. Maybe you’ve heard mention of trusts on a TV special regarding inheritance and finances. Ever wondered what a trust is? Inquisitive as to how a trust might benefit you, your family and your business? The following is information regarding trusts and how they can protect assets.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal entity that allows you to transfer the legal title of an asset(s) to a person while assigning the benefit of the asset to another. The creator or original owner of the asset is called the grantor. The person who manages the trust is known as the trustee (often an attorney or accountant). The person who receives the benefits is known as the beneficiary. Depending upon the type of trust, the grantor can retain the right to make some or all decisions regarding the trust. A well-designed trust helps save time, paperwork and other challenges when settling an estate. It can reduce the amount of estate taxes beneficiaries have to pay when they inherit assets.
Categories of trusts:
Trusts are either revocable or irrevocable and may take effect during your lifetime or after death.
Revocable trusts are most common and can be changed or revoked at any time. They instruct the trustee on how to distribute your assets to beneficiaries while you’re alive, after death or if you become incapable of doing so. Income from trust-held assets is taxable at Canadian trust tax rates.
Irrevocable trusts are set in stone the minute the agreement is signed. Only in rare circumstances may changes be made. Irrevocable trusts remove the benefactor’s taxable estate assets, meaning they are not subject to estate tax upon death. The benefactor is also relieved of tax responsibility for any income generated by the assets. The trust is protected from creditors and legal judgment.
What are the advantages of a trust?
There are a variety of benefits to the establishment of a trust. You can:
- Control assets and provide security for both the grantor and the beneficiaries.
- Provide for beneficiaries who are minors or require expert assistance managing money.
- Minimize the effects of the estate or income taxes.
- Provide expert management of estates.
- Minimize probate expenses.
- Minimize the time to accomplish probate.
- Maintain privacy.
- Protect real estate holdings and/or a business.
What are the disadvantages of a trust?
There are a few issues to be aware of when considering the establishment of a trust(s).
- Cost: An estate attorney usually does the paperwork involved in setting up a trust and transferring your assets into the trust.
- Time: You’ll need to spend time dealing with paperwork. You may need to have uncomfortable conversations about who gets what.
- May not be necessary: Some people can indeed save on estate taxes with certain trusts, but most estates aren’t subject to estate taxes in the first place.
Reasons to set up a trust:
There are a number of reasons that you may seek to establish a trust(s).
- You want to leave assets to minors or young adults
- You have children from a previous marriage
- You want a professional to manage your assets when you’re gone
- You have a disabled or special-needs child
- You want to support your spouse in the case of his/her incapacity
- You want to save taxes
If you’re seeking to ensure that your finances are well managed as you pass your assets on, a trust is useful. A trust helps make sure that your assets are directed toward the people and causes that are important to you.
Need help understanding the benefits of a trust? Want assistance setting up a trust? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
In order to ensure your company is consistently progressing, it’s important to quantify your business’ performance with hard data. Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you assess your business’ results and build strategies for achieving your goals.
What are KPIs?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a set of quantifiable measurements used to gauge a company’s overall long-term performance. They demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives and help determine a company’s strategic, financial, and operational programs. KPIs can be financial, including cash flow forecasts, gross profit margins, revenue growth rates and relative market shares. They can also be anecdotal, measuring foot traffic in a store, employee retention, repeat customers and quality of customer experience. KPIs help keep a small business on track.
Criteria for KPIs:
The goals of each firm are unique. Therefore your company must craft their own KPIs. However, all KPIs should meet the following criteria:
- Actionable: Your KPIs should concretely and objectively show you the improvements that you need to make to help your business.
- Accurate: The best KPIs are well-defined, quantifiable measurements that are easy to calculate and interpret.
- Timely: Using old data won’t give you a measure of what’s going on currently. It‘s only useful if you use it as a comparison tool for current data.
- Impact the bottom line: Whether your goal is to improve net profit margins or customer satisfaction and retention, an improvement in your KPIs should result in progress toward your goal.
How to choose the right KPIs for your small business:
There is no definitive list of KPIs that all businesses should track. What you measure depends upon your industry, stage of business growth and company goals. However, there are some things you should consider when choosing your KPIs.
- Your business objectives: Good KPIs help you measure what’s important to your business. What are your company’s goals related to your customers or clients, your employees, your operations and your marketing? Choosing KPIs based on your business objectives makes them more valuable.
- Your business stage: A new company might focus on customer acquisition cost and user activation rate. Established companies may focus on employee retention to help them grow the business. Focus on KPIs that are most relevant to your stage of business.
- Lagging and leading indicators: A leading indicator is forward-looking and can influence results. A lagging indicator is backward-looking and will tell you what results have happened. For example, customer satisfaction is a leading indicator while profit is a lagging indicator. Both are necessary barometers of how your business is and will perform.
KPIs most every business should track:
There are a few key performance indicators that are advantageous for almost every business to track. Though they are not the only KPIs that your company should track, they’re a good place to start.
- Sales revenue refers to the income from all customer purchases and is the first KPI most companies evaluate to gauge success and market demand.
- Cash flow forecast: Flow in and out helps business owners assess whether their sales and margins are appropriate and estimate payment timing and likely costs. It also helps in tax preparation, new purchases, or identifying any cash surpluses. This is one of the most critical KPIs for small companies to track.
- Net profit and net profit margin: Net profit equals your revenue minus expenses. Keeping track of this KPI lets you know whether your business earns more than it spends. Your net profit margin is used to measure how profitable your business is and is a stronger indicator of your company’s financial health.
- Gross profit margin is an analytical metric expressed as a company’s net sales minus the cost of goods sold. It shows the amount of profit made before deducting selling, general, and administrative costs. The benefit of tracking this KPI over time is that you can easily quantify how much money you’re keeping against the amount paid out to suppliers.
- Monthly recurring revenue (MMR): If your firms’ focus is on retaining customers and preventing churn, then this KPI is important. You’ll want to measure new MRR (new customers), expansion MRR (customer who upgraded their plan) and churn MRR (revenue lost from customers cancelling before their expected average customer lifespan).
- Customer acquisition cost is a measure of how much you have to spend to get one new customer. This KPI helps to determine how costly, and ultimately how profitable, growth is for your company.
Tracking KPIs is vital to the health of your business. The most successful businesses use KPIs to help them measure outcomes. Picking the right KPIs and utilizing tools to monitor them can help you make informed decisions to grow your business. Small business owners should incorporate key performance indicators in their business strategy to help evaluate progress and set goals. Keep your company on track with KPIs!
Need advice and help to grow your company through the use of key performance indicators? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Now, more than ever, small business owners need to make wise decisions to help grow their companies. The pandemic has created the toughest challenge businesses may ever face. From employee training to marketing, every aspect of a business needs attention. Companies need to adapt to withstand economic pressure and constantly changing needs. The following are multiple strategies for growing your company during the pandemic.
- Make a plan: Come up with a plan of action, one that you can execute. A clear strategy is the best way to grow a small business at any time and even more necessary now.
- Pay attention to your customers: Consumers are the lifeblood of a business and the pandemic has made it even more essential that you maintain core patrons. You need a clear picture of the type of customer that uses/buys your product/services, what motivates their decisions and how their behaviour is evolving with the pandemic. Let your customers know you value their feedback. Provide multiple opportunities for them to communicate with you. Use this feedback to develop products and services that are suitable to the current demands of the market. Ensure your customer service is exceptional. Address problems and answer questions quickly.
- Maximize social media and online presence: The pandemic has us spending more time online; working remotely, taking virtual classes, participating in business meetings, hosting family gatherings and making household purchases. Make sure your company is easy to find online, your website is simple to navigate and your social media is generating interest. Monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, your product and your competitors. Read comments, answer messages and build your social brand. Find out what customers are saying about you, gain insight into their behaviour, identify keywords and trends that appeal to your target market. Use this information to improve your customer service and provide what your users want.
- Manage your costs: Pay close attention to the costs associated with running your business and getting your products/services to customers. Analyze your balance sheet, profit and loss account and cash flow statements to keep business expenses under control. Lower these costs where you are able. Liquidate low-earning products and/or eliminate low-performing services.
- Invest in employees and company culture: In uncertain times, you need qualified and dedicated employees. A smart, diverse team is a company’s greatest asset and one that deserves protection. Adapt employee work duties to accommodate shifting needs. Provide the resources employees need to do their work remotely. Allow flexible work schedules so that working parents and those with increased home stresses can better manage their work-life balance. If you’re hiring, choose experienced professionals who can work with minimal help and supervision.
- Be open to funding: The pandemic has adversely affected the global and local economy. The government has developed programs to cushion small businesses against these pressures. Consider accessing this funding to boost your working capital, respond to the crisis, refinance debt, and finance growth. Available assistance may ensure your company’s survival and growth.
- Undertake strategic marketing: The pandemic has had a huge impact on household incomes and consumer spending. A solid marketing plan is essential. Use marketing technology to actively measure and track results. Determine which posts are performing, which products and services are selling and how your customers are responding. Pay attention to bounce rates, page visits, average time on site, and how your audience is arriving at your website. Use this information to drive your decision-making. Offer greater convenience by delivering products to your customers. Consider hiring an agency/consultant with marketing expertise in your industry to help boost your profile and drive up customer interaction across your social media platforms.
Make the changes needed to ride out the storm. Keep goals and measurable results in mind and implement your plan systematically and consistently. Find initiatives that address your company’s specific needs. Keep searching for growth opportunities. Be creative and your company may do more than survive. It may thrive!
Need advice to help grow your company during the pandemic? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
All businesses are susceptible to fraud, though small and mid-sized businesses are the most common victims. These companies are targeted as they often have few preventative policies in place. Though it’s impossible to be fully protected, there are proactive steps that you can take to minimize exposure to fraud risks.
Types of fraud: Fraud comes in many forms from both inside and outside a business.
- Internal Fraud: Employee theft is a common source of fraud (lost inventory, unethical accounting, theft of financial assets, fake expenses, overinflated commissions).
- External Fraud: Customer fraud (counterfeit bills, bad cheques, stolen credit cards, fraudulent requests for refunds/returns), third-party contractor fraud (overbilling, fee schemes, failure to deliver) and computer fraud (hacking, information theft, data mining) are the most common types of external fraud.
Ways to reduce fraud: There are many policies and practices that can help to reduce the possibility of fraud in your business.
- Create a fraud policy that covers topics such as what actions constitute fraud, how to report suspected fraud, who is responsible for investigating fraud, and confidentiality. Clearly outline your expectations related to employee conduct and the consequences for violating these policies.
- Provide education for all employees (security awareness, fraud policy understanding). Make sure they are aware of the need to create secure passwords, that they change passwords often and to keep passwords safe. Inform them of the importance of phishing awareness and remind staff about the dangers of clicking on unexpected links and attachments.
- Limit file access: Give employees access to only those files that are necessary to do their job. Require more than one person to complete key tasks (approving payments, writing cheques, managing petty cash, processing client receivables, approving overtime claims, recording in the accounting system).
- Protect bank accounts and credit cards: Create separate bank and credit card accounts for your personal life and business. Check security systems your bank uses for online banking to be sure automatic logout is available. Ensure that your credit card provider has suitable fraud protections in place, such as automatic alerts if an employee spends over a certain amount. Limit how and with whom you share confidential banking information.
- Keep detailed and accurate records: Accurate, detailed record-keeping (accounting records, inventory controls) helps shield your business from fraudulent activities.
- Go paperless: Going digital reduces access to information, enables fraud preventive accounting controls, permits authorization limitations and creates an easy to trace audit trail.
- Fine-tune payroll procedures: Ensure that payroll processes require HR and your payroll company to confirm deposit accounts with employees. Pay using direct deposit or open a separate business account to minimize circulation of your company’s bank account information. Use regular audits to keep check for falsified hours, inflated commissions, and other irregularities.
- Use secure payment methods: Switch to direct deposit or fund transfers. Encrypt payment transactions and partner with a secure payment processor. Consider a cheque imaging solution (scanning or picture taking) making it possible for you to deposit money automatically.
- Audit high-risk areas often: A daily check of accounts and statements is a great way to protect against fraud or accounting errors. Routinely audit areas of your business that deal in cash, refunds, product returns, inventory management and accounting functions.
- Establish a thorough hiring process: Check each new hire’s references and previous employers. Do a criminal check, especially for those employees who handle cash, manage payments and have access to bank account information. Use a reputable service that specializes in pre-employment screening.
- Keep your point-of-sale secure: Make sure all your POS devices are digitally secure. Install passwords and change them regularly. Choose systems that come with end-to-end encryption. Don’t connect your POS to external networks. At the end of each day, account for every POS device and secure devices in a location that only select employees can access.
- Know who you’re dealing with: Record basic information about the businesses/clients you deal with (address, name, two phone numbers, references). Check who the owners are and how long they have been in business. Search the company’s name online with the term “scam” or “complaint.” Before engaging with suppliers, ask for recommendations from other business owners in your community.
- Invest in insurance to help with the recovery of some or all of your losses in the event of fraud. Consult with an insurance specialist for help evaluating possible risks and determining what kind of insurance will best suit your business.
- Get expert advice: You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself! Talk to a small business advisor and/or a commercial banking consultant about products and services to help prevent fraud.
- Enable whistleblowing: Create a system that enables employees to anonymously report tips essential to dealing with fraud.
- Update all devices to the latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems. Use antivirus software, anti-malware and firewalls.
- Create a mobile device action plan to encrypt data. Make sure each employee has a separate user account, so you can trace activity if there’s a problem.
- Back up critical business data and store the information in the cloud.
- Secure Wi-Fi networks with Service Set Identifier (SSID) and password protection.
It’s easy to put off fraud prevention until an issue arises. Be proactive! By taking a few simple steps to put a fraud prevention plan into action, you’ll protect your business, establish a culture of zero-tolerance for fraud and help mitigate unforeseen threats in the future.
Selling a business is a complex process. It’s time-consuming, stressful and can seem overwhelming. If you want the sale of your small business to be a smooth transition, there are some things you need to consider. The following are some tips for preparing your business for sale.
- Determine the value of your business: The value of a business is determined by cash flow, earnings (before interest/taxes/depreciation/amortization), industry trends, market demand and location. The asking price of your business needs to be comparable to the industry median in order to attract suitable buyers and open negotiations. It’s important to get a business assessment from an accredited business appraiser as a third-party valuation adds credibility to your asking price.
- Hire legal experts: There are many legal documents required when selling a small business including an asset purchase agreement, the legal contract for the sale, a letter of intent and documents proving ownership of patents/trademarks and other intellectual property. Hire the necessary financial, legal, tax and business advising professionals to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. This guarantees that you are fully protected with a strong contract. Choose experts that specialize in dealing with businesses for sale.
- Engage a business broker: While a lawyer structures the deal, a business broker helps you find a buyer. They will give you market visibility, contact potential buyers on your behalf, submit paperwork correctly, secure a favourable price, and fulfill any licensing and permitting requirements. Keep regular contact with them to discuss sale expectations, contracts, advertising, and other concerns. Brokers charge a commission of 5 to 10% of the sale price.
- Prepare your paperwork: Potential buyers will want to see a profit and loss statement for the last 3 years, a current balance sheet, a cash flow statement, business tax returns for the last 3 years, a copy of the lease, any insurance policies, an executive summary of the business, supplier and distributor contracts, an equipment listing, your policy and procedures manual and employment agreements. Ensure a smooth process by taking the time to get these documents organized. Your professional chartered accountant can assist you with this task.
- Pre-qualify your buyers: Many deals fall through because sellers enter transactions with buyers who are unable to secure financing. Ask your buyer what kind and size of business they desire, how soon they wish to purchase, how long they’ve been looking for a business, what business experience they have, how this experience will help run your business and what type of financing they have in place. Have the potential buyer provide a letter from their financial institution or accountant that shows they have the funds required to purchase your business.
- Tidy up loose ends: Make good on all payments, late payments, defaults and promises. Have your professional chartered accountant audit your financial statements. Review crucial employment contracts. Have an intellectual property attorney review all of your business contracts.
Selling a small business is exciting! It also requires careful planning. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success, increase your chances of finding the right buyer, boost the sale price of your business and create a smooth transaction.
Need help preparing documents for the sale of your business? Need advice regarding the sale? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Completing your company’s GST claim can be a hassle! You have to track the GST you’ve been charged and the GST you’ve paid and back up these claims with invoices and receipts. If you miss any input tax credits, you pay too much. Luckily, the GST quick method can save business owners both tax and time. You can use the quick method if taxable sales for your business do not exceed $400,000 for the fiscal year. Instead of claiming the GST paid on purchases as an input tax credit, you need only remit a portion of the tax you collect to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The GST Quick Method:
- Is a simplified accounting option (eliminates the need to record and report the actual GST paid or payable on most purchases)
- Reduces paperwork
- Simplifies calculations
- Requires submission of 2.6% of the first $30,000 of gross revenue and 3.6% of the gross revenue after that
- Can save you $1,000 or more each year
- Allows you to claim ITCs on purchases of real property, capital property (computers, equipment, vehicles), eligible capital property, and improvements to those properties
You can use the GST quick method if:
- You’ve been in business continuously throughout the 365-day period ending immediately before your current reporting period
- You’re a new registrant and you expect your taxable supplies to be $400,000 or less in your first full year of business
- You didn’t revoke an election of the quick method or the simplified method for claiming ITCs during that 365-day period
- You’re not a person listed under Exceptions
- Your revenues are not more than $400,000 for either the period consisting of the first four consecutive fiscal quarters out of your last five fiscal quarters or the period consisting of the last four fiscal quarters out of your last five fiscal quarters.
Who can use the GST quick method?
Most goods and service-based small businesses are eligible to use the quick method.
- IT consultants
- delivery services
- dry cleaners
- auto repair shops
- quick-service food outlets
- house-cleaning services
- painting contractors
- taxi drivers
Who is ineligible for the GST quick method?
- accountants or bookkeepers
- financial consultants
- listed financial institutions
- lawyers (or law offices)
- notaries public
- listed financial institutions
- audit services
- tax return preparers or tax consultants
- municipalities, or local authorities designated as municipalities
- public colleges, school authorities, or universities, established and operated not for profit
- hospital authorities
- charities and non-profit organizations with at least 40% government funding in the year
How do you elect to use the quick method?
You can elect to use the quick method by using online services:
- You can also elect to use the quick method by completing Form GST74
Do you find calculating GST difficult and time-consuming? The GST Quick Method is faster and easier to use than the general procedure and, in most cases, saves you money. Check out your company’s eligibility for the Quick Method. Save time, money and hassle! Sign up for the GST Quick Method today.
Need help calculating your GST? Wondering if you qualify for the GST Quick Method? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
You’ve added a stamp and mailed the envelope or you hit the send button and e-filed your tax return. Feels good to have this task done! Then you receive another receipt, realize you used the wrong date for your medical deductions, get another information slip in the mail, notice you incorrectly calculated your deductions, realize you input the wrong social insurance number and/or gave an incorrect bank account or routing number. Don’t panic! There are procedures to follow so you can change your tax return after filing and fix the mistake you’ve made.
If you’re requesting a change to a T1 income tax return, the adjustment can be accomplished online or by mail. You can request a change to the current year or any of the previous nine years. A separate request is required for each year you wish to amend.
- By mail: Send a completed T1 Adjustment Request form (T1-ADJ) to your tax center or send a signed letter asking for an adjustment to your return. You’ll need your social insurance number, the year of the return you are amending, your address and a phone number at which you can be reached.
- Online: Use the change my return option found in My Account, a secure online service. You can access My Account in one of two ways, through a Sign-In Partner (selected financial institutions such as BMO and ING Direct) or by creating and using a CRA log-in. You’ll need your social insurance number, date of birth, current postal code and your copy of the tax return you are amending.
If you’re requesting a change to your T2 income tax return, you can do so by mail or online.
- Online: Use commercial Canadian tax software or send your amended T2 tax return in barcode format to the CRA.
- By mail: Send a letter to your tax center. Make sure you include the name of your corporation, your business number, the tax year and details including revised financial statements and revised schedules. Use Schedule 4 to carry back a loss, Schedule 21 to carry back foreign tax credits, Schedule 31 to carry back an investment tax credit and Schedule 42 to carry back a part I tax credit.
After making online changes to your tax return, keep all your receipts and supporting documents in case the CRA asks to see them. Provide supporting documents only if asked to do so and using the method of submission indicated in the CRA’s contact letter.
How long will it take for the change to be made?
The CRA will review your request for a change and advise you if the change is allowed by sending you a notice of reassessment or a letter explaining why the changes you requested are not possible. It will take approximately two weeks for a change requested online and eight weeks for a change requested by mail. Additional time may be needed if the CRA contacts you for more information or documentation. Requests which are submitted during the CRA’s peak return processing period, between March and July, will take longer.
If you realize, after submission, there’s an error on your tax return, don’t worry! There are procedures in place to help you make changes and adjustments. Tired of completing complex forms for tax? Contact a chartered professional accountant. They have the knowledge and expertise to make tax claims a breeze.
Need help preparing your tax return? Require assistance correcting a tax return? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
After your passing and before your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, outstanding debts are settled within your estate including income taxes, probate fees and possibly capital gains tax (on investments, real estate, trusts, etc.). Your legal representative will file a “Date of Death” or “Terminal” tax return resulting in possible taxes being payable from the estate as it is settled. Any assets not automatically rolling over to the surviving spouse/partner will be subject to a “deemed disposition” at fair market value possibly resulting in a potential capital gain or loss on the deemed sale. Careful tax planning, conducted ahead of time, can help you avoid a substantial tax hit to your estate and help you preserve more value to be distributed amongst your surviving heirs.
What can you do to minimize the taxes and other mitigations of your estate?
There are ways to protect your estate from current and future liabilities such as trust planning and estate freezes. These procedures work best when done in conjunction with other strategies.
- Estate Freeze: A typical estate freeze allows you to exchange your common shares of your business for preference shares and have the company issue new common shares to a family trust or to your children and possibly yourself. The value of the preferred shares issued in the exchange will be “frozen” at the value ascribed to them at the date of exchange with all future appreciation and growth in value accruing in favour of the newly issued common shares; thus, capping or limiting any future tax liability on the disposition of the preferred shares.
- Trusts are a particularly useful tool for mitigating tax because they create a unique legal relationship that maintains ownership of an asset on behalf of the beneficiary. A trust can assist a surviving spouse avoid an adverse marginal tax rate they might otherwise be exposed to while also allowing for a continued and orderly splitting of income amongst family members. Assets, like a family cottage, etc., can also be placed into trusts possibly deferring taxes for the next generation.
- Charitable Donations spread your legacy, create a lasting social impact and are a powerful tool for lowering estate tax. The capital gains taxes can be substantially reduced and possibly eliminated altogether. When assets, having appreciated in value, are donated to charitable causes.
- Transfer Property to Your Spouse: One of the easiest and most straight forward ways to defer taxes on death is to have your property rollover automatically to your surviving spouse. The surviving spouse would simply slip into the shoes of the deceased spouse in regard to the assets’ ownership and carrying costs, etc. thereby deferring any gain on disposition until the death of the surviving spouse.
- Buying Assets in Your Child’s Name: A simple and legal route to reduce estate taxes is to buy the article (artwork/property/jewelry, antiques, etc.) in your child’s name. They own the article and any appreciation in the value already belongs to them.
Significant tax losses on your estate are an important concern. Pass on the rewards of your efforts to the next generation. If you want to maximize the wealth of your estate and minimize the tax burden, contact a CPA. They can help reduce and defer the tax on your estate.
Interested in reducing and/or deferring the tax burden on your estate? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a conglomerate with multiple subsidiaries, Cook and Company uses their experience and expertise to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.