Category Archives: Taxes
5 WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TAX RETURN
A common goal for Canadians every tax season is to avoid paying taxes. Making an error on your taxes can mean you pay more tax than absolutely necessary. At Profit Financial Services Inc income Tax preparation in Hamilton, Brantford and Cambridge offer 5 unique ways to make the most of your tax return:
Hamilton, Ontario residents are hardworking people who, like everyone else in Canada, want to have as few unpleasant experiences with CRA returned documents as possible.
As a firm providing Hamilton bookkeeping and accounting services, we noticed that in the past few years the need for professional tax planning services has increased. More and more people are deciding to use the services of a professional tax accountant instead of filling their own taxes for many reasons.
First of all, tax related documentation can be annoying to fill out, and you need to fill out quite a few documents for your tax returns. The slightest error can cost you and your family money or time, which usually puts a lot of stress on tax season. Tax prep becomes even more complicated when you, or your spouse, have more than one job, or if you own a business; even in the case of internet based businesses, additional paperwork often ends up giving those involved serious headaches.
Second of all, tax accounting services are now affordable, especially considering the great value you get for the money you invest. Passing the job to someone specialized means there will be less stress involved for you – in fact none. You won’t waste hours trying to learn tax language, and most importantly you get the guarantee that a highly qualified professional will take care of your taxes with dedication and attention to detail.
If you are one of the many people who have decided to take advantage of professional Hamilton bookkeeping and accounting services, you will probably book a meeting with a tax accountant soon in order to deliver the needed documentation. To avoid wasting both your time and that of the tax accountant you will be working with, you should carefully prepare in advance all the documents you need to bring with you to the meeting.
It is a very good idea to create a folder containing all the documentation your tax accountant will need, and categorize them depending on what they represent. By separating your documents into categories, you will have a much easier time determining whether all the documents you need to file your tax return are in the possession of your tax accountant.
In the rest of this post we will take a look at the categories that your folder should include.
Declaring your income is serious business, and your folder should include very specific information regarding all forms of income that your family has. This includes information on you and your spouse’s main jobs, any side income that you might be earning, as well as information on your investments and dividends.
For information on your main jobs, both you and your partner will have to fill out a specific form. Side income also includes any form of passively generated income, such as internet ad income generated by your websites. If this applies to your situation, you need to add a spreadsheet with the income values received from various Ad operators.
Investments are also to be included into the Income information category, and you will have to fill out a distinct form for each of the types of shares you own, as well as for any fund account that you might be benefiting from. It might seem a bit tricky at first, but if you learn to keep your documents in proper order, in the future your task will become much easier.
In this category you should include information on bank accounts owned by members of your family. The documents should include individually owned accounts, as well as jointly owned bank accounts.
There are two types of deductions: non-business deductions and business deductions.
The first type, non-business deductions, should include the mortgage and property taxes on your house, student loans (not all student loans are deductible, so if you have any student loans you will have to check if yours are), as well as any information on charitable donations throughout the year – and here you can include church donations, as well as donations for any charitable events.
The documents included in the business deductions category depend on your and your spouse’s status on the labor market. If you are a business owner or self-employed, you should add gas, electric, telephone and internet bills. If you have a home office, then you can add the utilities bills from your home. Additionally, you can add information on purchases made for your firm in the past year – anything from light bulbs to cleaning products.
You can additionally add a checklist containing all the documents included in the folder for the accountant to verify and check them as he reviews them. That way he can easily spot missing documents, in case anything was omitted.
If you are missing any documents, your tax accountant should be able to help you track them down. If you are missing W2 forms, you can ask your employer to send you a new one, as they are required by Canadian law to keep payroll records for a period of four years. Similarly, for self-employment and investment related missing information, your bank can help you track down the records you are looking for.
Working with tax related paperwork requires professionalism and attention to details, and we are certain that you are interested in having only the best tax accountants handling your tax documentations. If you are interested in a Hamilton accounting or bookkeeping services provider, our professional and reliable accounting professionals are at your service.
Information technology is so common that software apps and hardware gadgets are now household names. Who isn’t familiar with Windows OS by Microsoft, Apple Computers, the iPhone and iPod, the Macintosh, Linux and other popular apps? Some applications however are not as well-known outside the industry in which the software has been specifically designed for, like QuickBooks. QuickBooks is a software designed specifically for small businesses with accounting needs. Profit Financial Services, our small business accounting firm, discusses the important features and benefits of this software that is used by many small business owners around the globe.
QuickBooks is an array of software solutions created to manage payroll, inventory, sales and other needs of a small business. The software’s value-added features include marketing tools, merchant services, and training solutions. Each solution is designed and tailor-made to fit the requirements of specific industries.
QuickBooks is a product of Intuit, a software development company founded by Scott Cook and Tom Proulx in 1983. Their first financial application software was named Quicken, which became a market success. The product, however, did not function as a “double-entry” accounting package. In 1994, Intuit purchased the right to use the double-entry accounting program called MoneyCounts, an application developed by Parsons Technology. The company then combined the best features of MoneyCounts and Quicken and named the new, integrated program, QuickBooks. In a short time, the software has captured 85% of the small business market. It has maintained its hold the market ever since.
Intuit improved on the earlier versions of QuickBooks in response to numerous feedback from accounting professionals. By 2000, the company developed a Basic and Pro version of the software. In 2002, Intuit launched QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for medium-sized businesses.
Benefits of QuickBooks
What is the appeal of QuickBooks to small business owners? Here are 15 of the best value benefits that QuickBooks offers:
- QuickBooks has the capability to send invoices via e-mail. Now a days, more businesses use email rather than the traditional “snail” mail or even fax machines. So, a program that allows you to send invoices through electronic mail is ideal.
- You can enter transactions through the QuickBooks forms interface. The program also allows you to utilize their more streamlined version of recording transactions.
- Using Microsoft Word, you can send formality, fill in the blank collection letters with content options appropriate to the recipient. This takes the confusion out of composing collections letters.
- QuickBooks allows you to send invoices in batches. This means that if you have more than a couple invoices that need to be sent out, you can save a lot of time with QuickBooks.
- When it is appropriate and useful to do so, QuickBooks can accept data input using Microsoft Excel.
- QuickBooks is programmed to adopt the Payment Application Best Practices. This will give your small business a competitive edge in the global market because it allows you to accept payments with secure credit card acceptance and storage.
- You can easily customize unattended backups.
- You can customize your bookkeeping forms.
- With mobile integration, you can use your Smartphone to access certain areas of QuickBooks.
- QuickBooks’s Remote Access capability enables another user with internet access to view your QuickBooks account if given permission.
- QuickBooks reports can easily be exported to Excel spreadsheet format.
- QuickBooks has the capability to generate invoices that present two balances: the balance for the current invoice and the total balance owed.
- The DrillDown or QuickZoom enables a user to do faster problem solving.
Versions specific to industry and geography
QuickBooks comes in versions specific to different businesses such as manufacturers, wholesalers, professional service firms, contractors, non-profit entities and retailers. There is even one version specifically created for professional accounting firms who service multiple small business clients. In May 2002 Intuit launched QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for medium-sized businesses.
Besides offering industry specific versions, QuickBooks also comes in country specific versions. The company’s Canadian and U.K. divisions market versions of QuickBooks that support the unique needs of each region and time zone, such as Canada’s GST, HST or PST sales tax and European VAT for the UK edition. There are also published versions for the Australian, New Zealand and Singapore markets. The UK edition is programmed to compute Irish and South African VAT.
Intuit also offers a hosted solution called QuickBooks Online (QBO). With QBO, a customer pays a monthly subscription fee instead of an upfront fee. The user can access the software exclusively through a secure login via web browser. Intuit hosts all of the user’s data, provides patches, and regularly upgrades the software automatically. Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer are the browsers supported by QuickBooks online. Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome are also supported if a user is using Mac platform. QBO can also be accessed via an iPhone, a BlackBerry, and an Android web app.
Continuing Product Innovation
QuickBooks maintains its leadership in its industry because it is the continuing innovation of Intuit. This year, the company has released QuickBooks Pro 2014. QuickBooks Pro 2014 can more than satisfy the specifications of most small businesses. The new version contains all the basic modules to manage common accounting tasks such as general accounting, payroll, banking, inventory, customer management, time and job billing, and vendor and purchase orders. For users seeking facilities for processing of credit card payments, direct deposits and point of sales, compatible add-ons are available.
Our small business accounting firm in Hamilton, Profit Financial services, knows how valuable this accounting software can be for small businesses, which is why we offer Quickbooks training and consulting services. Over 4.5 million companies worldwide now use this amazing software, and we encourage all small businesses to try it. The reputation of QuickBooks speaks volumes about their reliability.
Contact Profit Financial Services, a small business accounting firm in Hamilton, today to inquire about QuickBooks training for your business.
The need to cut costs to a minimum is one of the challenges all businesses must face. But more so for the small or fledging enterprise. Many start-ups will see sales revenues trickle in only after a few days, weeks or even months of operation. This is why many start-ups open shop using their own homes or garage as their office or production plant to save on prohibitive rental costs. They also multitask. The owner takes the role of general manager, salesperson and bookkeeper. In that manner, he saves on salaries. But this is not such a good idea. As a Hamilton bookkeeping company, we know that bookkeeping is a backend activity and must not weigh down on small business owners.
In this regard, many owners of small businesses hire someone to do take care of their bookkeeping, freeing them to focus on more front-end activities. But even that one step of hiring a person to handle the books is not as practical as it looks. Here at Profit Financial Services, we advise small business owners to outsource their bookkeeping needs, instead of hiring a full-time staff member to record the books. This eliminates the cost of having another full time, in house employee. All financial data is supplied by the client and the bookkeeping company does its financial and accounting work in the comfort of its own office. Here are seven reasons why it is more practical to outsource your bookkeeping requirements rather than hire a full-time staff.
You save time.
Owners of small businesses are so focused on saving money that they lose track of saving another important business resource, time. Owners of small businesses often succeed in cutting costs to a bare minimum – but at the expense of spending too much time on back-end activities such as keeping financial records. Make no mistake about it: keeping record of the books is very important. However, small business owners should prioritize front-end activities such as generating sales, creating and maintaining a positive company image and building and strengthening relationships with vendors and clients. Having an accounting firm handle the books for them will allow owners of small businesses to focus on front-end activities and leave back-end chores to experts in the field.
You save money
As the owner of a growing business, you might strive to save every cent. You may not be able to afford to spend money the way established companies do. You can try to cut corners all you want on labor costs by doing several tasks yourself, but this is not as effective as you may think. You may be taking on tasks which are beyond your level of expertise. If you hire a full-time bookkeeper or accountant you won’t have to worry about bookkeeping. You can spend your time generating leads and growing your income.
The best way for you to save money is to hire a bookkeeping service. When you hire a bookkeeping service, you do not pay expensive salaries and bonuses to a full-time staff. You pay a minimal retainer fee or monthly service fee to the accounting company.
You get professional help.
An accounting company like Profit Financial Services is simply just that: A group of accountants and bookkeepers who are focused on their discipline. As a matter of fact, an accounting firm will have team members who specialize in accounting subspecialties such as taxation, payroll, cost accounting, inventory, and depreciation. Not only do these people have a bachelor’s degree and even a government license in accounting they also attend seminars to keep themselves up to date on the latest developments in accounting and new government regulations. You get that level of expertise and professionalism for a reasonable monthly service fee or retainer.
A full-time bookkeeper hired by your company may have the same credentials as the best accountant or bookkeeper in an accounting firm. However, you would have reimburse expenses relating seminars and conventions of fellow accountants and bookkeeper as well as the cost of the full time employee benefits they may need. On the other hand, when you hire a bookkeeping firm, you get the expert advice and support of a team of bookkeepers – all for a very reasonable rate.
You get to focus on work at hand.
Multitasking may be the “in” thing for many businesses; but it still has its drawbacks, especially for small and growing businesses. Let’s go back to the frontend / back-end dichotomy. Front-end staff should not be made to do back-end work. They cannot give their clients 100% of their attention if their minds are on administrative and financial matters. It is best that they focus their attention on front-end matters particularly sales and marketing.
Bookkeepers on the other hand easily get distracted by the hustle and bustle of business. They work best in a quiet, laid-back environment. Thus, small business owners can actually have their companies stacked almost entirely with front-end staff. When they outsource their bookkeeping requirements, they give the work to an accounting firm, where the bookkeeping staff works in an appropriate environment. The outsourced bookkeepers do their work in a place where they can thrive, while the sales and marketing people of the upstart business thrive in the fast-paced work environment, freed from the burden of having to do administrative work. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone: the small business owner, his in-house staff and the outsourced accounting company.
You get the support of a team – not just one person.
A small or medium-sized business that hires a full-time bookkeeper utilizes the talent and expertise of one person. Being the only bookkeeping expert in the small enterprise, there is no one to oversee or double-check his/her work. Thus, if he missed out on some small details, he will most likely not catch it.
Such will not happen when you outsource your bookkeeping services. You do not get the services of just one bookkeeper, but a team of bookkeepers and accountants. These people will help double-check (and even triple-check) each other’s work. They will give input on the other’s work so that it can be enhanced and refined. Hiring an accounting firm to do your bookkeeping is not just a case of “Two heads are better than one,” it is a case of several heads working synergistically as a team. And at a price of less than the salary of a full-time bookkeeper.
You get access to the latest bookkeeping tools and techniques.
As discussed earlier, as a small business owner you do not have to pay to let your bookkeeper attend those expensive (but necessary) seminars when you outsource your bookkeeping services. Also, you don’t have to purchase advanced accounting software which can be expensive. The accounting company takes care of updating their staff as well as purchasing the most advanced accounting software. It’s in their best interest to do so. For your part you do not have to spend a cent on seminars and software upgrades. But note this: you effectively have access to these tools when you outsource your bookkeeping services.
You have the option to upsize or downsize – with ease!
One of the things you cannot easily forecast in a business is sudden growth – or decline. Business owners generally project modest growths and marshal their resources to meet such growth. There are cases however when growth is sudden. All of a sudden a business might need more sales people, clerks, production staff, and your lone bookkeeper needs more help. In such a situation, it’s not that easy to hire an additional staff. You have to post an ad, short-list the applicants, interview the applicant and finally select your candidate.
It is a different matter altogether when you hire a bookkeeping service for your company. When your business zooms, you can just tell the accounting firm to increase their services. Same concept if your business experiences a sudden decline. Just inform your accounting firm that you would like to lower the amount of services used.
As a Hamilton Bookkeeping firm, we want to point out that a small business has much to gain and little to lose when it outsources its bookkeeping. By doing so, a small business can focus on growing its business while the outsourced bookkeeping team takes care of the financial records.
While almost everyone will agree on the importance of taxes when generating revenue for the government, most people want to save as much on taxes as possible. This is a valid concern for most Canadians. Profit Financial Services, a Hamilton bookkeeping firm, suggests these 4 tips to help save you money:
File your tax returns on or before deadline.
This may not sound like much of a tip. After all, you know that you have to file your tax returns, right? While that is true, many still see the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) as something to avoid until the last minute. The result of this is that people miss the tax filing deadline. They are then charged steep penalties. So, the first step in lowering your taxes is to file your returns on or before the deadline date.
Invest money, save on taxes.
Any personal finance guru will tell you that you should invest money to plan for your retirement and to save for emergencies. But did you now that investing money can also help you cut down your taxes? If you are an employee, you should maintain your contributions to the RRSP every year since your contributions to the fund are tax-deductible. If you have excess income you can just keep it and let grow, then try to look for investment programs that offer good returns.
As long as you keep your money in the investment program, you don’t pay any taxes; you only pay taxes on money withdrawn from your fund. A good fund to place your money in is the TFSA. In that fund there are no taxes charged on your investment earnings and your withdrawals are tax-free. Think about it: by investing, you’re saving for your future and saving (on taxes) in the present.
Take advantage of work-related tax-free perks.
You may think that taking advantage of more employee benefits may mean paying more in taxes. On the contrary, many of these benefits are actually tax-free. Tax-free employee benefits that you may want to use include: RRSP, work-related transferring or relocation costs, personal counseling, death benefits with a maximum limit of $10,000, education tuition and miscellaneous expenses, use of company fitness facilities, use of company child-care services and discounts on merchandise.
Splitting the tax bill among family members.
This plan works best with married individuals and seniors. For seniors who receive pension or Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) payments, splitting pension income between spouses can significantly lower taxes and minimize the costs of Old Age Security (OAS). There are other pension plans such as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) open to you where income splitting can work to reduce your taxes. Please consult your accountant before considering an income-splitting plan since not all such methods are legal.
As you can see, the key to saving on taxes is using benefits, pension funds, investment packages, and tax laws to your benefit. Follow the four tips cited above by Profit Financial Services and you will see a reduction in your tax bite. Our Hamilton bookkeeping firm has been counselling Canadians on financial matters for decades.
When thinking about possible tax refunds, it is ideal to maximize or optimize it. Especially when it comes to your RRSP contributions.
Most people believe that maximizing and optimizing are the same thing. This, however, is not true. Our Income Tax Preparation firm in Cambridge stresses that these two words are not the same and are used completely different. In concrete terms the results is a big difference in tax refunds.
Let’s talk about “maximizing” first because most people generally opt to maximize their RRSP contributions. An individual maximizes his contributions by remitting more than the minimum required for a fiscal year. In investment language, this is putting a “top up” to the contribution. In 2014, the maximum contribution that one can make is $22,000. People are allowed to contribute as much as 18% of their previous year’s income – and that can be lower than $22,000.
For those who can afford to contribute more, topping up is a good idea since they know they will benefit more in later years – especially during their retirement. Still, the question of whether to add more money to the RRSP contribution given one’s limited income at the moment weighs down heavily on just about every RRSP contributor’s mind.
In optimizing, the person still tries to maximize his RRSP contribution – but with a twist. The individual will not be shelling out 18% from his previous year’s gross income. Instead, he will be borrowing money. The sum he will borrow will be paid for by an equivalent amount in tax refund the following year. In effect, he was able to maximize his RRSP contribution by as much as 30% without having to shell out a single cent. Now that’s what we mean by optimizing.
Here is a simple explanation to show what we mean by optimizing your RRSP contribution: Suppose your RRSP contribution for 2014 is $8,000 and your income is bracketed at a 30% marginal tax rate. You then have the option to borrow as much as $3,425 to top-up your contribution. Thus your 2014 RRSP contribution would be $11,425 – instead of just $8,000. Now, since you are bracketed at a 30% marginal tax rate, you will be entitled to a tax refund of $3,427. You have paid your loan with your refund. You have increased your RRSP contribution without shelling out one cent from your income. Now, that’s what we mean by optimizing.
Let me stress that this example uses simple figures. The results from actual contributions may be different – but not by much. The important thing to note is the concept: Borrow enough money to top-up your RRSP contribution and let your tax refund pay your loan. You don’t shell out a cent to top-up your RRSP contribution.
Our income tax preparation team in Cambridge, ON notes not everything is about maximizing your tax refund in the future. You don’t have to worry about getting a lot out of your present savings in order to maximize your RRSP contribution. You do however get the most out of everything that way: your present income, your tax refund and your RRSP contribution.
How do you look at your bookkeeping? Do you think of bookkeeping as a simple chore that you can leave for last? Profit Financial Services, a bookkeeping services company in Hamilton, counsels clients to be on top of their company’s bookkeeping and take it very seriously. Being laid back with your bookkeeping can lead to negative results.
Inaccurate bookkeeping could turn off potential customers, suppliers and creditors. In some cases, bad bookkeeping may even prompt a number of stake holders to take legal action.
Bookkeeping that paints the wrong financial picture of your company can lead to one of several unwanted scenarios:
- A bank or financial institution may refuse to lend you money.
- Potential investors may not want to invest in your company because they do not find your financial reporting reliable.
- You may not be settling your financial obligations on time since your “Accounts Payable” books show otherwise.
- You may be forced into bankruptcy when a large customer pulls out his business due to your unreliable bookkeeping.
- You may unknowingly be owing the government large sums of money when your bookkeeper erroneously computes the payroll tax.
- You might be paying hundreds of dollars with bounced cheque charges.
The examples above happen all the time. Profit Financial Services, a bookkeeping services firm in Hamilton, notes that these failures could have been easily avoided by paying more attention to bookkeeping.
Bookkeeping is not a matter of posting numbers on a ledger; it is telling your stake holders your daily financial transaction story. An inaccurate story can make you or other interested parties take a wrong action.
April is the time of the year when individuals and businesses file their tax returns and companies consult their accountants on how to save money doing so. Most business owners don’t realize that you can and should take positive action way before the April filing deadline arrives. Profit Financial Services, a income tax preparation company in Hamilton, notes that there are four mistakes business owners overlook in planning their tax returns:
Businesses not considering tax-loss selling as a tax planning option.
This involves selling investments that have a net loss at the end of the year to counteract capital-gains on other assets or investments. However, to maximize your tax benefits or savings, you must make this sale on or before December 31.
Failure to prepare adequately for retirement.
You may not realize that you can enjoy tax benefits in your early retirement years. When you reach the age of 71, you have the opportunity to wait until December 31st to make your last premium payment to your RRSP before you convert it to a regular annuity.
Did you know that you can postpone getting your Old Age Security pension for as long as 5 years? For every month of delay that you receive your pension after the age of 65, you will have an increase of 0.6% on you future premium payments. Thus, with the 60-month delay, you can receive your pension at 36% higher value.
Not timing the withdrawals from registered plans.
Are you planning to withdraw funds from your RRSP, TFSA or RESP? Did you know that the timing of your withdrawal may impact your tax savings? For example, withdrawing funds from a TFSA should be done by the end of the calendar year. This gives you the opportunity to add to that fund in the ensuing calendar year rather than have a waiting period of two years.
It’s a different case when you are taking money from your RRSP fund. If you wait until the following calendar year to make the withdrawals, you will get an additional year before you are mandated to make new contributions to your plan.
Overlooking tax credits from donations and expense payments.
It is common knowledge that donating to charities has tax benefits. But did you know that you can maximize your benefits by donating before December 31st? Also, if you and your spouse or partner have donated to a charity for at least 5 years and haven’t availed of a tax credit, then you can claim the federal First-Time Donor’s Super Credit (FDSC). This tax credit will give you an extra 25% federal credit for cash that you donated after March 20, 2013. This can give you a federal credit of 40% for charitable contributions up to $200 and as high as 56% if your donations add up to between $200 and $1,000. We’re just talking about the federal government here. You can get more savings from provincial donation tax credits if applicable. Ditto for expense payments. You can claim tax benefits when you pay these expenses. You can maximize on your tax savings by paying these before December 31 rather than on the following year.
Profit Financial Services, an income tax preparation company from Hamilton, notes that most of the suggested activities are done at the years end. In reality, however, tax planning should be done all year round. Don’t wait until April to think about your taxes, contact Profit Financial Services today.