Tax Implications of Shareholder Loans

Tax implications of Shareholder Loan

The Canadian Income Tax Act contains numerous provisions relating to the tax treatment of shareholder loans, many of which are designed to prevent their abuse by shareholders. But, what is a shareholder’s loan, how are they used and what are their tax implications? 

What is a shareholder’s loan?

Your shareholder loan account is made up of all capital that you contribute to the corporation and all purchases made on behalf of the corporation (using personal funds or personal credit cards) netted against cash withdrawals and personal expenses paid by the company on your behalf.

  • Owner cash withdrawal: An owner withdrawing money from a corporation is the most basic shareholder loan. If the withdrawal is not designated as a dividend or a salary, it creates a loan from the corporation to the shareholder. Accountants call this a “due from shareholder” transaction because the loan amount is due from the shareholder to the company.
  • Purchase of a personal item with company funds: Another version of an owner withdrawal is when a shareholder purchases a personal (non-business) item using company funds. The purchase would be recorded as a loan from the company to the shareholder and the funds need to be repaid.
  • Owner cash contribution: Sometimes a shareholder of a company deposits personal funds into the company to cover expenses. Essentially the shareholder has loaned the company cash and the company needs to pay it back. An accountant would call this a “due to shareholder” transaction because the amount loaned to the company is now due back to the shareholder.
  • Pay for business expenses with personal funds: Another common version of an owner contribution is when company expenses are paid with personal funds (usually a credit card) of the shareholder. The purchase is recorded as a loan to the company. The shareholder expects to be reimbursed for this legitimate expense.

What are the benefits of a shareholder loan?

One of the benefits of a shareholder loan is the ability to withdraw funds from the corporation without triggering a tax liability. If a shareholder loan is repaid within one year from the end of the taxation year of the corporation (the taxation year in which the loan was made) it will not be included in the income of the borrower. This creates planning opportunities but it also creates opportunities and incentives for shareholders to abuse the rules. Therefore, the Income Tax Act will, by default, include the principal loan amount of any shareholder loan into the taxpayer’s income. It’s imperative that your loan meets certain conditions to avoid costly or unintended tax consequences. 

Understanding shareholder loan conditions:

The following are common scenarios regarding shareholder loans and the conditions required: 

  • The shareholder loan was made to you or your spouse to buy a home to inhabit, you received the loan in your capacity as an employee of the corporation and bona fide arrangements are met. As an employee of the corporation, you must be actively involved in the operations and not merely a passive shareholder. A bona fide arrangement requires that the loan repayment terms and the interest rate charged is reasonable and would reflect terms similar to a contract entered into between two parties in normal business practice. 
  • The shareholder loan was made to you to acquire a motor vehicle to be used for the business’s operations. You received the loan in your capacity as an employee of the corporation and bona fide arrangements are met. The loan cannot be part of a series of loans and repayments and the loan must include interest charged at the prescribed rate.
  • The shareholder loan was repaid within one year after the taxation year-end in which the loan was made. For instance, assuming the corporation has a calendar year-end, a loan issued February 28, 2020, would have to be repaid by December 31, 2021. There are no tax liability issues under these circumstances.

Shareholder loan tax implications:

Ensuring that you are not penalized by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for improperly withdrawing a Shareholder Loan is critical within your personal and corporate income tax planning. Understanding the tax planning opportunities is also important.

  • Any loan to a shareholder that does not meet the conditions is included in the shareholder’s income and no expense is allowed to be deducted by the corporation, resulting in double taxation.  
  • Any subsequent repayment of the loan may be deducted from income in the year it is repaid.  
  • In certain circumstances, this rule creates tax planning opportunities.  For instance, if a $10,000 shareholder loan was made to your adult child studying full-time there would be no tax liability as the $10,000 income inclusion would be sheltered by the basic personal tax credit. Upon commencing work and repaying the loan, your child would deduct $10,000 from income in a higher tax bracket.  If their marginal tax rate at that time is 30% that would create a tax savings of $3,000. Ultimately, the corporation is in the same cash position after the loan is repaid but your child is $3,000 richer.  

In the worst-case scenario, the CRA can have the full amount of the loan plus interest added to the shareholders’ income for the year of the loan and not allow a deduction at the corporate level.  Planning for repayment within two corporate fiscal year ends is a reliable course of action to mitigate any worry of penalization from the CRA. Having an experienced accounting team in place to not only plan but to monitor and execute is pivotal when a corporation has transactional deposits and withdrawals out of the corporation.

How to avoid shareholder loan tax problems:

There are a few straightforward ways to avoid taxation problems. These include:

  • Repaying the loan: If the shareholder repays the loan permanently within one year, he won’t have to pay tax personally on those funds.
  • Taking the cash as a salary or wage: If the owner wants to earn money from his company and avoid double taxation, he could take the funds as a salary or wage. The salary would act as a tax deduction for the company and the owner would include it in his employment income. This avoids double taxation.
  • Taking the cash as a dividend: Avoid double taxation by taking the money as a dividend. A dividend would be declared and the owner would transfer the cash into his personal account. Dividends are taxed at lower rates than employment income so double taxation is avoided. If you issue dividends, you will need to issue T5 and prepare corporate documents called dividend resolutions. 

Shareholder loans are a useful way to manage short-term personal cash needs. They allow shareholders flexibility in how and when cash is withdrawn from a company. If you need a short-term loan for less than a year, a shareholder loan could be an easy way to obtain the funds. The loan needs to be repaid within the year to avoid having to include the amount in your personal income. If repayment isn’t possible, a dividend could be issued and you would pay personal tax on the amount at a reduced rate. The rules relating to shareholder loans can be very complex. To successfully navigate subsection 15(2) of the Income Tax Act and its many exceptions, proper planning is essential. Talk to a Chartered Professional Accountant. They can help you successfully navigate the intricacies of shareholder loans.

Do You Need an Accountant for Your Small Business?

Accountant for Small Business

Are you in the planning stage of a business venture? Do you own and operate a recently started business? Are you planning a business expansion? When should you hire an accountant to help? The following is some information that can help with the decision of when to hire an accountant. 

What are the duties of an accountant?

An accountant’s duties vary from company to company, but typically they are responsible for:

  • Data management: An accountant is responsible for ensuring a business’ financial data is stored, updated and managed appropriately. They make sure proper procedures are used for data entry and accounting software is up to date, secure and regularly backed up.
  • Financial analysis and consultation: Accountants act as a resource when a business is making financial decisions. They provide tips on spending, discuss options for credit and tax deductions and help interpret financial jargon. They help troubleshoot the day-to-day management of finances in a company. 
  • Financial reports: Accountants supply documents that provide deep insight into a business’s performance (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, profit and loss statement, accounts receivable aging, revenue by customer, accounts payable aging, statement of retained earnings, general ledgers, etc.). A business and its investors make decisions based on the reports their accountant provides. 
  • Regulatory compliance: There are many rules and regulations that affect businesses. An accountant ensures that your income and expense reporting follows applicable provincial and federal laws. 

When do you need an accountant?

An accountant can save you time, money and headaches. There are several key times when an accountant can make a significant difference for a business. 

  • When starting your business: A chartered accountant can assist you in writing your business plan, help you acquire funding, aid you in leasing a space and provide you with direction and goals. They can advise you on the best structure for your business (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation), help you get the appropriate licenses (GST number, business license) and assist you in setting up business accounting software. 
  • For compliance and tax issues: An accountant makes sure you are in appliance with applicable tax laws, helps with complex payroll issues and assists with reporting requirements. 
  • When being audited: A chartered accountant provides advice to work within the auditing process. They can recommend accounting software that incorporates an audit trail, easing the transactions needed during an audit.
  • When applying for a loan: An accountant improves your chances of receiving a business loan. They can present facts and figures that back up your application for funding. They can advise you regarding the best type of loan and whether the terms, conditions and interest rates offered are favourable for your company. 
  • When expanding: A chartered accountant can help you handle growth transitions (hiring, larger office space, increased product/service line) and look after details (payroll, tax management, property tax, utility payments) allowing you to focus on company growth. They can analyze cash flow, inventory and pricing to provide insight into how to grow your business successfully. They can even help determine the best time to introduce new products and/or services. 
  • Before taking on a franchise: Franchise contracts vary widely. An accountant can help determine whether the fees and percentages charged will allow for a reasonable income. They assist in providing sufficient information for making the decision regarding franchising. 
  • Before buying a business: Consult an accountant before buying an existing business. They can look into the company’s accounts and determine whether the purchase is a financially sound decision.
  • Before you sell your business: A chartered professional accountant can put your company’s financial records in order and produce statements of accounts that you can show to prospective buyers. They create charts and tables to clearly show your company’s position. They can also structure your financial affairs so that you get the most from selling your business.
  • Every step of the way: The truth is, a chartered professional accountant can help your business at every stage of its development. They can make life easier for you so you can concentrate on operating your business. 

A chartered professional accountant can interpret your financial data in order to help you make better business decisions, assist you with business start-up, aid with tax and compliance issues, be of service during auditing, help you expand and/or buy a franchise, aid in acquiring a loan and help out at various stages during the growth of your business. Every business benefits from working with an accountant! 

Need help with the financial complexities of your business? Want advice regarding your business’ situation? Contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we use our experience and expertise to assist you. Contact us to request a meeting.

What is Goodwill and How is it Calculated?

What is Goodwill

The value of goodwill becomes apparent when a business is being acquired or sold. The amount an acquiring company pays over the target company’s net assets accounts for the value of positive goodwill.

What is goodwill?

Goodwill is an intangible asset that is built over time by the owner of a business. Tangible assets (buildings, equipment, land) are relatively simple to value. The calculation of goodwill is more complex and highly subjective, as goodwill doesn’t independently generate cash flow. The value of goodwill is determined by:

  • a company’s good name and positive reputation 
  • brand name 
  • solid customer base 
  • good customer relations
  • intellectual property/patents/copyrights 
  • domain name(s) 
  • licenses/permits
  • functioning consumer associations
  • good employee relations 
  • excellence of management 
  • proprietary technology
  • favourable contracts in place

Goodwill and Accounting:

Goodwill is an intangible asset that is listed under the long-term assets of a company’s balance sheet. It cannot be sold or transferred separately from the business as a whole. The value of goodwill is difficult to define as it doesn’t generate any cash flow for the business. Consequently, accounting standards require that a company regularly test its goodwill asset for impairment (a permanent decline in the value) and write down the asset if impairment can be proven. Companies must evaluate the level of their goodwill, at least once per year.

Types of Goodwill:

  • Purchased goodwill refers to when a business concern is purchased for an amount above the fair value of its net assets. It’s shown on the balance sheet as an asset.
  • Inherent goodwill is the opposite of purchased goodwill and represents the value of a business more than the fair value of its net assets. This type of goodwill is internally generated and arises over time due to reputation. It can be either positive or negative.
  • Business Goodwill is associated with the business, its position in the marketplace, and its customer service.
  • Professional Practice Goodwill relates to professional practices such as doctors, engineers, lawyers and accountants. It is classified as practitioner goodwill which is related to the reputation and skill of the individual professional and practice goodwill which arises from the practitioner’s track record, institutional reputation, location and operating procedures.

Factors affecting goodwill:

  1. Location of the business: A business that is located in a suitable area has a more favourable chance of higher goodwill than a business located in a remote location.
  2. Quality of goods and services:  A business that is providing a high quality of goods and services has a great chance of earning more goodwill than competitors who provide inferior goods and services.
  3. The efficiency of management: Efficient management results in an increase in profit for the business, enhancing goodwill.
  4. Business Risk: A business having lesser risk has a better chance of creating goodwill than a high-risk business.
  5. Nature of business refers to the type of products that a business deals with, the level of competition in the market, demand for the products and the regulations impacting the business. A business having a favourable outcome in all these areas will have greater goodwill.
  6. Favourable Contracts: A firm will enjoy higher goodwill if it has access to favourable contracts for the sale of products.
  7. Possession of trade-mark and patents: Firms that have patents and trademarks enjoy a monopoly in the market, which contributes to an increase of goodwill.
  8. Capital: A firm with a higher return on investment along with lesser capital investment will be considered by buyers as more profitable and have more goodwill.

How to Calculate It?

In principle, the goodwill calculation technique looks simple. However, it’s incredibly complicated.  Goodwill Formula = Consideration paid + Fair value of non-controlling interests + Fair value of equity previous interests – Fair value of net assets recognized.

Goodwill can be calculated by using the following five simple steps:

  1. Determine the consideration paid by the acquirer to the seller as part of the deal contract. The consideration is valued either by a fair valuation method or the share-based payment method. The consideration may be paid in the form of stocks, cash or cash-in-kind.
  2. Determine the fair value of the non-controlling interest in the acquired company. It’s the portion of equity ownership in a subsidiary that is not attributable to the parent company.
  3. Determine the fair value of equity in previous interests.
  4. Figure out the fair value of the net assets recognized in the acquired company. This is the net of the fair value of assets and the fair value of liabilities. It’s available on the balance sheet.
  5. The goodwill equation is calculated by adding the consideration paid (step 1), non-controlling interests (step 2), and the fair value of previous equity interests (step 3) and then deducting the net assets of the company (step 4). 

Goodwill encapsulates the value of the reputation of a company built over a significant period of time. It’s challenging to determine because it’s composed of subjective values. Transactions involving goodwill have a substantial amount of risk that the acquiring company could overvalue the goodwill in the acquisition and ultimately pay too much for the company being acquired.  

Need help understanding the complexities of calculating goodwill? Are you acquiring/selling a company and have questions regarding the determination of the goodwill value? Contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we use our experience and expertise to assist you. Contact us to request a meeting.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor: Tax Differences

Employee and Independent Contractor Taxes

For employees that receive a salary, taxes are fairly straightforward for both employee and employer. The employer deducts the appropriate amount of tax, employment insurance and pension contributions from each paycheque. The employee fills out a standard tax form at tax time. When you’re an independent contractor, taxes are more complicated and so are the required tax forms. The deductions for self-employed contractors are unique as are their contributions for Employment Insurance and the Canadian and provincial pension plan.

Who qualifies as self-employed or independent contractor?

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, a self-employed individual:

  • usually works independently 
  • does not have anyone overseeing activities
  • is free to work when and for whom they choose 
  • may provide their services to different payers at the same time
  • can accept or refuse work from the payer 
  • has a limited relationship with the payer (not ongoing), often restricted to a specific job
  • does not personally have to carry out the work for which they’ve been hired, can hire another party to complete all or part of the work 
  • typically uses their own tools, space and equipment  
  • generally takes on a measure of financial risk and can incur losses 
  • often has fixed operating costs relating to operating a workspace or hiring helpers/assistants 
  • has a working relationship with the payer that does not present a degree of continuity, loyalty, security, subordination, or integration, all of which are generally associated with an employer-employee relationship 
  • is responsible for paying provincial and/or federal sales taxes and may claim certain deductions as business expenses 
  • is not entitled to benefit plans

Who qualifies as an employee?

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, an employee:

  • works for one client or company (payer)
  • the payer has direct and effective control of how and when work is carried out
  • tools and equipment are usually provided by the payer, who is responsible for repair, maintenance and insurance costs and retains the right to use the tools and equipment provided 
  • does the work they have been assigned and cannot decide to hire helpers or assistants without the express consent of the payer 
  • is generally reimbursed for any expense incurred in completing their work 
  • is not usually responsible for any operating expenses nor financially liable if they do not fulfill the obligations of their contract 
  • relationship with an employer is continuous and not limited to a specific task
  • is entitled to benefit plans such as registered pension plans, group accident, health and dental insurance plans 

Tax benefits of hiring an independent contractor:

  • save on labour costs
  • no need to pay benefits (disability, accident, life insurance, health and dental insurance)
  • not necessary to pay the employer portion of the Canadian pension plan, healthcare, workers compensation and employment insurance
  • less paperwork and responsibility
  • more flexibility to meet the ups and downs of business,
  • better manage cash flow
  • no paid training

Tax benefits for independent contractors:

  • larger take-home pay
  • can pay your significant other and/or kids and the money paid to them is tax-deductible, as long as the salary you’ve paid them is reasonable for the work they’ve done
  • more write-offs you can claim:
    • Operating expenses (rental of space, office supplies, repairs, maintenance, inventory, payroll, utilities, professional fees)
    • Home office expenses: If you run your business from your home and use the space for the majority of your activities, then you can deduct a fraction of the cost of your home rent for the tax period. 
    • Meals and entertainment costs associated with a self-employed business are eligible for tax write-offs as sanctioned by the CRA. These costs must be incurred in the company’s name (client dinners, employee lunches, etc.) and only 50% of the total cost of the meals and entertainment can be written off. You’ll need to show evidence that the food or entertainment costs were reasonably and appropriately used for your business. A guide to claiming meals and entertainment can be found on the CRA site.
    • Travel: The CRA allows tax write-offs for self-employed persons who travel outside their usual area of business for work-related reasons (meet a client, pick up inventory, attend a professional conference).
    • Vehicle expenses: Personal vehicle use is not eligible for any type of write-off, but a fraction of such costs can be written off if you drive your car for work-related reasons. You’ll need to track your mileage. If a vehicle is only used for business purposes, then almost all costs associated with its running are eligible for deductions (gas, mileage, repairs, maintenance, insurance, oil changes).
    • Advertising/marketing: A part of your advertising and marketing costs can be deducted. 
    • Websites and software: The CRA dictates that certain costs associated with your business website are tax-deductible (software/website development, cost of products, contractor fees for installation and/or technical help). 
    • Bad debt refers to money owed to you by others that cannot be paid back. It’s uncollectible revenue and it is considered a business expense. In order for bad debt to be expensed and written off, you must have done one of two things: establish that an account receivable is a bad debt expense within the specific tax year and/or include the bad debt in your receivable income. Then you are able to claim bad debt under business expenses using the T2125 form.
    • Private health service premiums: If you pay for a private health plan each year, then the premiums you pay on that plan are tax-deductible. 
    • Industry/professional fees: The expenses associated with professional certification required to work in your industry are eligible for write-offs (licenses, certifications, dues and requirements).
    • Professional development and educational expenses: Further learning and professional development can be deducted from your personal returns. 
    • Interest and bank charges attached to your business accounts can be written off. There are strict limits on the interest you can deduct depending on what the loan was for. 

Tax disadvantages of being an independent contractor: 

  • have to pay both the employer and employee amounts for Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance
  • large tax bill because taxes aren’t withheld at the source
  • required to complete Form T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities)
  • must follow complex rules regarding tax deductions
  • must be familiar with all of the tax rules
  • must budget and set aside money for taxes owed 
  • required to charge your clients GST

The largest tax advantage for an independent contractor is the potential for tax deductions that aren’t available to employees. A self-employed person can generally deduct all reasonable business expenses. However, an independent contractor must properly estimate and remit income taxes on a regularly scheduled basis as dictated by the Canada Revenue Agency. The biggest tax advantage when hiring an independent contractor is the savings on the cost of labour and benefits as well as reduced paperwork. Individuals and companies need to weigh the tax benefits and disadvantages of hiring/becoming independent contractors. 

Need help with the tax complexities of being an independent contractor? Want advice regarding the advantages/disadvantages of hiring a self-employed contractor? Contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we use our experience and expertise to assist you. Contact us to request a meeting.

What You Should Know About Commission Income in Canada

Commission Income Canada

Commission employees in Canada are a specific category of taxpayers under the Income Tax Act. They have the option of deducting a broader range of expenses from their gross income. The sales expenses incurred by a commission employee are only deductible against the commission portion of the employment income and the amount cannot exceed the commission that is received by the taxpayer during the year. 

What is commission income? 

Commission income is usually a percentage of sales revenues, but it could also be a flat rate based on the sales commission agreement between the owner of a product and the seller of that product. Sharing the earnings means the owner receives less money from each unit, but may actually earn more money overall as a number of people are marketing the product for the owner.

Who qualifies as a commission employee?

Commission employees earn commission income or a combination of salary and commission. At least part of their income is based either on sales or another kind of achievement. To qualify as a commission employee, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • As part of your employment contract, you must cover the cost of your own expenses
  • You are normally required to work away from your employer’s place of business
  • You are paid a portion or all of your earnings in commissions, based either on volumes of sales or on contacts you negotiated
  • You do not receive any non-taxable allowances for travelling, such as a kilometre allowance
  • You receive a form T2200, Declaration of Conditions of Employment, annually, which is completed and signed by your employer

Examples of commission jobs/positions:

  • Sales engineers: Sales engineers sell advanced technology and/or services to businesses. They may also help in the research and development of these products. 
  • Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell products to private companies and government agencies. They assist clients in understanding and selecting products, negotiate prices and prepare sales contracts.
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents buy and sell securities (ie: stocks, bonds) and commodities (ie: gold, corn). They monitor financial markets, advise companies and sell securities to individual buyers.
  • Advertising sales representatives sell advertising space for online, broadcast, and print media platforms to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, maintain customer accounts and make sales presentations.
  • Insurance sales agents sell one or more types of insurance (life, health, property, etc.). They contact potential clients, explain the features of policies, help customers choose plans, manage policy renewals and maintain records.
  • Travel agents plan, book, and sell travel for individuals and groups. They book transportation, lodging and activities.
  • Financial advisors assess the financial needs of individuals to help them make important decisions regarding taxes, insurance and long or short-term investment options. Advisors interface with clients to understand their financial goals, perform financial analyses and calculations and make recommendations for meeting those goals. 
  • Sales consultants help companies sell products or services to target customers. They meet with clients, conduct research, analyze market statistics, identify existing issues and assess opportunities for strategic intervention. They create marketing strategies to promote products, advise companies on how to best execute their promotional campaigns and are responsible for making recommendations on how to train sales representatives and increase sales within retail locations.
  • Brokers facilitate large-scale business transactions. They serve as intermediaries between customers and sellers and are responsible for advising clients on how to make successful business investments regarding real estate, stocks, mutual funds land, insurance and more. 
  • Sales managers are leading members of sales teams. They provide guidance, mentorship and training for sales representatives and agents. Sales managers are responsible for setting goals, quotas and crafting successful sales plans to meet company targets while staying within budget.

What employers of commission employees need to know:

  1. If you pay commissions at the same time you pay salary, add this amount to the salary, then use the Payroll Deductions Online Calculator, the Payroll Deductions Formulas (T4127), or the manual calculation method found in Payroll Deductions Tables (T4032).
  2. If you pay commissions periodically or the amounts fluctuate, you may want to use the bonus method to determine the tax to deduct from the commission payment. See Bonuses, retroactive pay increases or irregular amounts to find out how to do this.

What expenses can a commission employee claim?

There are a variety of expenses that commission employees can claim on Form T777, Statement of Employment Expenses when they file their personal income tax return. Sales expenses are deductible only against the commission portion of an employee’s income. 

  • accounting fees
  • legal fees
  • costs for business cards, promotional gifts, cellphones, and computers 
  • a portion of the costs associated with work-related transportation including fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration fees, parking, and any interest or leasing costs
  • 50% of food and beverage costs for themselves (not clients) if they are away from the office for over 12 hours at a time
  • Costs of entertaining clients except for golf club and membership fees
  • advertising and promotions
  • accounting fees
  • Capital Cost Allowance 
  • work space-in-the-home expenses
  • home insurance and property taxes when claiming home-office expenses
  • salary of an assistant
  • lodging
  • parking costs
  • supplies
  • licensing fees
  • monthly home internet access fees
  • office rent
  • training costs

How are claims supported?

To support your claims as a commission employee you must keep all receipts, cancelled cheques, invoices, credit card statements and other documentation that supports your claims. Your records must include your name and address, the name and address of the seller, a full description of the product/service purchased and any GST paid on the purchase. Automobile expenses must be supported by a log that shows the total number of kilometres driven for employment purposes through the use of odometer readings. 

If your company employs commission workers but you find the rules and regulations regarding payroll and taxes confusing, you’re not alone! Contact your CPA for assistance. They can help you navigate the complexities and assist you with source deduction planning and remittance.

Need help with the tax complexities associated with commission employees? Contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we use our experience and expertise to assist you, making tax time a breeze. Contact us to request a meeting.

Why Should I See my Accountant in January?

Accountant in January

It’s only January. There’s lots of time before you need to think about tax deductions and filing business taxes. Or, is there? Contacting your certified professional accountant in January is wise. It gives you time to consider and discuss all possible deductions. It gives your accountant time to maximize your deductions and minimize your taxes. Tax laws change constantly. Your accountant will stay abreast of changes and, if given adequate time, may find new tax credits you’re eligible to claim. The health of your business could depend upon it! Contacting your accountant in January has many advantages:

  • Reduce stress: Last-minute tax preparations reduce potential tax planning and create unnecessary stress. Tax minimization requires careful preparation, planning and time. Do your business and yourself a favour and contact your accountant in January. Save yourself from stress and headaches by tackling the problem in advance.
  • Keep your accountant informed: Your accountant can help mitigate losses and solidify successes. To provide these services, they need all the facts. Contact your CPA in January and let them know about any changes in your business (new product line, second location, switching of banks, equipment purchases, etc.) so that they can help plan for the future of your business. 
  • Manage cash flow: Cash flow problems can spiral out of control. Manage your cash flow problems by talking to your accountants. They can help you maintain a healthy cash flow all year. 
  • Keep a handle on growth: An professional accountant has experience handling both revenue growth and capacity growth. They can tell you if you need more customers or if you are unprepared to handle more clients. They can assist your business with financial advice and planning.
  • Stay ahead of changes: Changes to regulations and tax codes are constantly occurring. To stay competitive and receive all possible benefits, you need the help of your accountant. They will ensure compliance with all tax changes.
  • Handle transitions: Changes in your life (inheritance, marriage, divorce, new partners/investors) have accounting and tax implications. Your CPA can help you handle these transitions effectively.
  • Ease budgeting for tax payments: Filing your tax return early gives you information on what you owe the government and an opportunity to plan a payment strategy for your tax bill.
  • Ensure all items are included: Contacting your CPA in January gives you plenty of time to find important or misplaced records and receipts. No last-minute unpleasant surprises!
  • Lower accountancy fees: Take advantage of the lower rates afforded by many professionals during off-peak months to save your bank balance and your stress levels.

Gather all of your business’s essential reports and documents in early January, every year. Include your previous year’s return to help pinpoint your past data and compare it to your present information. Contact your CPA and let them help properly prepare your tax return in a timely manner. By making an appointment to see your accountant in January, you can conquer one of your biggest challenges, filing your business tax return accurately and on time. 

For all your tax needs contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we can use our experience and expertise to make tax time a breeze. Contact us to request a meeting.

All About Deductible Business Expenses in Canada

Deductible Business Expenses

It may seem distant, but tax season will soon be upon us! It’s time to gather your receipts and organize your documents in preparation for filing your business tax return. Sole proprietorships use the same tax schedule as individuals, so returns are due on April 15. If your business is a corporation or a partnership, the return is due on March 15. Canada Revenue Agency offers a number of tax deductions to business owners. Some are deductible at 100% while you may only claim a portion of others. The following are some deductions you’ll want to keep in mind as you file your business taxes this year. 

  • Capital cost allowance: When your business purchases items such as buildings, computers, computer equipment, vehicles and/or a franchise, you can depreciate these articles over time providing a tax benefit for several years.
  • Bad debts are debts that remain unpaid after you have exhausted all means to collect. The CRA allows you to claim bad debts except those which are for a mortgage or resulting from a conditional sales agreement.
  • Start-up costs are costs incurred preceding the start of business operation and can be claimed as an expense. 
  • Fees, licenses and dues: You can claim fees for professional licenses, professional service fees and professional association fees (membership in a trade or commercial association).
  • Use of home expenses: If you operate your business from home, you can claim a portion of the following: interest on your mortgage, electricity costs, home insurance and heating costs. 
  • Delivery, freight and express: You can claim fees for services such as mail and delivery.
  • Fuel costs: You can deduct the cost of fuel (gasoline, diesel, propane) motor oil and lubricants used in your business. This does not include fuel used in your motor vehicle. 
  • Insurance: You can deduct all business insurance policies such as general business liability, business property insurance, business interruption insurance and fire insurance. You cannot deduct the insurance for your motor vehicle or your life insurance premiums.  
  • Interest and bank charges: You can write off any interest you have incurred on money borrowed for business purposes or to acquire property for business purposes and bank charges which are given when processing your payments.
  • Maintenance and repairs: You can deduct the cost of labour and materials for any minor repairs or maintenance done to property you use to earn business income.
  • Management and administration fees:  You can deduct any fees you paid to have your assets and investments managed.
  • Meals and entertainment:  When you attend a convention, conference, or similar event you can claim up to 50% of the cost for food, beverages, plane tickets, hotel rooms and gratuities. When you take a client to an entertainment or sporting event, you can claim 50% of the cost of tickets, entrance fees, cover charges, food, beverages, gratuities and room rental for a hospitality suite.
  • Motor vehicle expenses: If you incur expenses through the use of your personal vehicle for business purposes, you can claim those expenses by keeping an accurate log of use. If your business owns a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles, you can claim fuel, insurance, parking, repairs and maintenance. 
  • Legal, accounting and other professional fees: You can deduct the fees you incurred for external professional advice and/or services such as accounting and legal fees.
  • Prepaid expenses are expenses you pay ahead of time such as yearly rent and can be claimed.
  • Office expenses can be deducted such as the cost of pens, pencils, paper clips, stationery and stamps.
  • Other business expenses are expenses you incur to earn income that are not included on a previous line of your claim such as disability-related modifications, computer and other equipment leasing costs, property leasing costs, convention expenses, allowable reserves private health services plan (PHSP) premiums and undeducted premiums.
  • Property taxes: You can deduct property taxes you incurred for property used in your business such as taxes for the land and building where your business is located.
  • Rent: You can deduct rent incurred for property used in your business such as rent for the land and building where your business is located.
  • Salaries, wages and benefits: You can deduct gross salaries and other benefits you pay to employees but not a salary paid to yourself or your business partner.
  • Supplies: You can deduct the cost of items your business used indirectly to provide goods or services such as drugs and medication used in a veterinary operation, cleaning supplies used by a plumber, supplies used to manufacture a product or software used to supply a service.
  • Telephone and utilities: You can deduct costs for telephone and utilities (gas, oil, electricity, water, and cable) if you incurred the expenses to earn income.
  • Travel: You can deduct up to 50% of travel expenses incurred to earn business and professional income such as public transportation fares, hotel accommodations and meals.
  • Cloud Computing Service Fees: Cloud computing provides access to business data and applications from anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device and may be claimed as a business expense.
  • Donations: Don’t forget that you can claim donations made to registered charities, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, registered national arts service organizations, registered Canadian low-cost housing corporations, government bodies, registered municipal or public bodies, registered universities, certain registered foreign charitable organizations and the United Nations. 
  • Advertising: You can deduct expenses for advertising and promotion, including amounts you paid for business cards and promotional gifts. You can also deduct expenses for advertising in Canadian newspapers, on Canadian television, Canadian radio stations and online or digital advertising.


When in Doubt: Check with your accountant or with the Canada Revenue Agency if you’re in doubt about the tax deduction potential of a particular business expense. 

Allowable tax deductions are constantly changing. If you’re not aware of or don’t understand all of the deductions possible, don’t despair! Get in touch with your CPA. No matter what type of business you operate, what size your business is or where you operate from, your CPA will ensure that you receive all the deductions you’re entitled to. Let your CPA help you determine how much you can save this year.

For all your tax needs contact Cook and Company Accountants. Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a sizable corporation with multiple subsidiaries, we can use our experience and expertise to make tax time a breeze. Contact us to request a meeting.

How Does Passive Income Affect Corporate Taxes?

Passive Income Affects Corporate Taxes

Passive income can have a financial impact on a corporation’s tax burden. Strategic planning can reduce the impact of passive income on your corporation’s bottom line.

What is passive income?

Your business may generate income from many sources. Passive income is derived from the ownership of capital property/assets. It’s generally earned through rental, interest income and/or royalties and is achieved without excessive effort on the part of the stakeholder(s). Passive income is taxable in Canada.

What is considered passive income in Canada?

  • Investments: Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and personal savings accounts are low-yield sources of passive income. Moderate-risk investments like dividends from shares of a corporation are also considered passive income. Passive income can be earned through investments that are part of a non-registered investment plan or portfolio. 
  • Rental properties: Income earned through the leasing of a rental property is considered passive income. 
  • Online platforms are an increasingly popular method of earning passive income. Earning money online can be done independently through one’s own website or through partnerships with affiliates.
  • Corporations: Many corporations own shares in other corporations as a means to generate passive income.

How does passive income affect corporate tax in Canada?

Passive income in any amount is ineligible for the small business deduction (SBD). As such, corporations receiving any passive income will pay a high-rate corporate tax (upwards of 50%) on that portion of their pre-tax income.

Strategies to reduce the impact of passive income on corporate tax:

There are a number of ways that your corporation can reduce the impact of passive income on your corporate taxes. 

  • Withdrawals to permit RRSP or TFSA contributions: Consider withdrawing sufficient corporate funds to maximize your RRSP and TFSA contributions, rather than leaving the funds inside the corporation for investment. Given sufficient time, RRSP and TFSA investing will outperform corporate investing when earnings come from interest, eligible dividends, annual capital gains or a balanced portfolio. 
  • Tax-free withdrawals: If a shareholder previously made a loan to the corporation, and those funds are no longer required by the corporation, consider repaying the shareholder loan. Capital dividends can be paid without being included in a shareholder’s income. 
  • Investment strategies: Consider investments that lean towards growth rather than annual interest or dividend income, as you may better be able to time the recognition of a capital gain. Consider a “buy and hold” strategy to defer capital gains. It may also be possible to stagger dispositions of investments between calendar years.
  • Individual pension plans: An Individual Pension Plan (IPP) is a pension plan created for one person, rather than a large group of employees. 
  • Life insurance: Invest the after-tax income of the corporation into a corporately-owned life insurance policy that insures the life of the business owner or some other individual. There is generally a lower after-tax cost of the insurance premiums, which can be paid with funds that are taxed at a lower tax rate inside the corporation than funds that are earned personally. 
  • Donations: Your corporation will receive a deduction for the amount of the donation and making a donation will reduce the funds that may be invested in your corporation to produce passive income.

Be sure to discuss all tax strategies with your chartered professional accountant to make sure they are appropriate for your corporation. Your accountant can advise you regarding the best tactics to reduce the impact of passive income on your corporation’s tax burden. 

Need help with your passive income taxation strategies? 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, financial and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Should a Sole Proprietor Incorporate?

Should a Sole Proprietor Incorporate?

In Canada, a business can operate as a sole proprietorship or a corporation. Most small businesses initially operate as sole proprietorships and later incorporate. 

What is a sole proprietorship? 

With a sole proprietorship, one person owns the business and makes all the decisions, assumes all the risks, claims all losses and receives all profits. In terms of taxation, the owner/operator and the business are one and the same. The owner pays personal income tax on profits earned. This is the easiest type of business to establish and is a popular choice for contractors, consultants, small businesses, freelancers and other self-employed individuals. A sole proprietor may choose to register a business name, operate under their own name or both.

What is a corporation?

A corporation is a separate legal entity. It can enter into contracts and own property in its own name, separately and distinctly from its owner(s). When forming a corporation, the owner(s) transfer money, property and/or services to the corporation in exchange for shares. To set up a corporation you need to complete articles of incorporation and send the documents to the appropriate provincial, territorial, or federal governments. Corporations have higher administrative costs (set up fees, paperwork) and require the help of professionals to handle complex tax filing requirements.

What are the benefits of incorporating a business?

 Incorporation has many long-term benefits. 

  • Limited liability: Incorporation provides protection to owners and their families by limiting their personal liability. Personal assets of the owner(s) are protected against creditors and legal action taken against the corporation. An individual shareholder’s liability is limited to the amount they invested in the company. 
  • Lower tax rates: Corporations are taxed separately from their owners and at a lower rate than the individual tax rate. Corporations have the benefit of a small business deduction (SBD), further reducing income tax.
  • Income tax deferral: Surplus profit can be reinvested into the business or used for other investments, allowing you to defer personal taxes on withdrawals. You can also receive income from an incorporated business in the form of dividends rather than salary, which will lower your tax bill. 
  • Lifetime capital gains exemption: When you sell a corporation, you’re selling an independent entity with its assets and liabilities. If you make a profit from the sale, the Lifetime Capital Gains exemption (LCGE) could save you from paying taxes on all or part of the profits. Many small business owners incorporate their business for this tax advantage alone.
  • Income splitting: Incorporated businesses can pay dividends to shareholders/spouses/children, lowering the tax bracket of the company. Shareholders do not have to be employees to receive dividends. 
  • Easier access to capital: Corporations can borrow money at lower rates, raise money by selling shares/bonds to shareholders and more easily attract angel investors/venture capitalists. 
  • Continuous existence: You can buy and sell shares of a corporation without affecting the corporation’s existence. It continues to exist even if the shareholders die/leave the business or if the ownership of the business changes. It continues to exist unless it winds up, amalgamates, or gives up its charter. 
  • Increased business: People perceive corporations as more stable than unincorporated businesses. Some clients/customers will only do business with incorporated companies due to liability issues. Sole proprietorships are often overlooked in favour of incorporated businesses.
  • Business name protection: When you incorporate a business, the business name you choose is reserved for your use. If you incorporate your business federally, you have the right to use your business name throughout the country. Sole proprietorships have no business name protection.

As a business grows so too do the tax liabilities and operational risks. These may indicate that it’s time to prep articles of incorporation. Business owners should consult with a lawyer and accountant to determine if the increased costs are offset by the benefits.

Considering incorporating your business? Need advice and/or assistance? 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, financial and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Why Should a Business Undertake Financial Planning?

Business Financial Planning

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.

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? 

  • 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.

Every financial decision your business makes has a significant impact on the overall strength of your company. Financial planning helps you be better equipped to make decisions. 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 with financial planning? Looking for business advice? 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, financial and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.