Corpcentre's Blog

May 11, 2010

What Happens if I Get Audited?!

It’s certainly not a campfire horror story but many Canadians fear that they may be subjected to a tax audit. Is there basis to that fear?

The truth is that, for most personal tax returns, the chances of an audit are slim. The vast majority of Canadians, more than 90%, completes their tax returns accurately and files them on time. Of more than 26 million personal and corporate returns filed annually, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) audits less than 2%. Most personal returns are accurate as the bulk of personal income is recorded on T4 slips. However, returns from small and medium sized businesses may be prone to error or may be fraudulent. As such, most CRA audits are directed at the business community.

This is not to say that you should assume that whatever you include in your personal return will slide through unnoticed. For example, if you live in a neighbourhood of stately, expensive homes, yet your income is barely above minimum wage, you may expect to be queried by the CRA as to other sources of income to support your lifestyle.

Should you be chosen for a tax audit, it is wrong to assume that the CRA is searching for criminal activity. A tax audit is conducted to ensure compliance with the Income Tax Act. An auditor may actually discover that you overpaid taxes and a refund is due. In any event, don’t be confrontational. Cooperate with the tax auditor and make all your records available. It is possible that you made an honest error and you have the opportunity to discuss this with the auditor. The auditor is also well versed in tax issues and may be able to offer helpful advice in your tax matters.

Overall, be prepared. Keep careful records and don’t discard them immediately after filing your return. If the tax auditor knocks at your door, be ready and be helpful.

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May 9, 2010

How to Master Canadian Taxes Before Next Year

If you compiled a list of Canada’s greatest complexities, chances are very good that the Canadian Income Tax Act would command a respectable spot on that list. In recent years, it has expanded incredibly, becoming a quagmire of confusion to the average citizen. It is no wonder that more than half of all Canadians now secure professional help to prepare and file their tax returns.

Have you tried to hold a conversation with a tax preparer during tax season? It is limited to several words as most tax professionals literally work around the clock to prepare as many returns as possible. If you are one of the clients, appreciate that your expectations are linked directly to your level of cooperation. In other words, your accountant cannot use information, sometimes basic and crucial, if you don’t supply it. Due to the tremendous workload and seasonal pressure, the accountant may not ask every question. Therefore, be prepared to supply certain information, along with your receipts and T4’s or T5’s.

The amount of tax you pay depends on a number of key facts that your accountant should know. Marital status and exact age are crucial as these affect possible tax credits or deductions. Your children, depending on their ages, create numerous tax credits and deductible expenses. Accuracy is essential; there is no room for approximation.

If you were employed at several jobs, be sure that each employer is listed in your return, even if you did not receive a T4. You are responsible for paying taxes on earned income and your accountant must be aware of every dollar that you earned.

If you own a business, compile a detailed list of every possible expense and revenue. Your accountant can decide which are not relevant, if any. Don’t make assumptions by yourself; let the professional decide.

List all your financial holdings, including any overseas investments. With all the pertinent information available, your accountant can determine your tax liabilities. Similarly, don’t forget to list “non-employment” income such as rental income, capital gains from sale of property, etc.

Finally, don’t forget medical expenses. Keep all your receipts for treatments, medications, insurance, etc. You paid dearly for your health and some of the expenses may return to you.

Spend some time researching tax credits and benefits. If you’re not sure whether you are eligible, ask your accountant. It is better to err on the side of caution. It’s easier to remove some numbers but much harder to add them if they were never included.

Incorporate in Canada with CorporationCentre.ca
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April 16, 2010

How the Self-Employed Can Save on Taxes

If you are like more than two million Canadians, you own your own business, either fulltime or part-time. Despite the sometimes heartaches of being self-employed, there are many advantages. Many entrepreneurs, though, are unaware of the various tax benefits available to them. In fact, running your own business can increase your after-tax income and contribute to family wealth.

Entrepreneurship and self employment promote a spirit of innovation, ultimately contributing to economic growth and vibrancy. As such, the government encourages entrepreneurship by taxing it at lower rates than regular income.

It is not uncommon for a new business to incur losses as it gets off the ground. These losses can be used to offset revenue from other sources, assuming you have a reasonable profit expectation as the business progresses. As your business begins to turn a profit, you can incorporate and the profits can remain in the corporation as a reinvestment in your operations. It is also possible to leave the profits in the business if you do not need a salary immediately. Thus, you can defer paying personal income tax. A salaried individual cannot schedule when to pay taxes. However, when you are self-employed, you can time payments to yourself when the tax payments are to your benefit.

Profits held in the corporation are taxable in the year they are earned. But, the corporate tax rate is low on the first $500,000 of active business income. While rates vary between provinces, all are below 20%. Personal tax rates on comparable amounts can be as high as 45%. It is also possible to pay salaries to family members in the business and have it taxed at their lower rates. Another possibility is to pay dividends to family members who own shares of the company and, thus, benefit from capital gains exemptions.

There are numerous possibilities for self-employed Canadians to benefit from management of taxes and income. All possibilities and options should be discussed at length with your tax advisor.

Incorporate in Canada with CorporationCentre.ca
Click. You’re incorporated ®

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