Corporate Tax

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have brought on a huge shift for people to work from home. Several business leaders have determined that having employees work from home is entirely possible and a great way to reduce overhead costs. Why would you force your employees to drive across town and sit in an office when they are just as productive (if not more) in their own homes? This trend has impacted our household. My husband’s automotive expenses are a fraction of what they were a year ago. On the other hand, our utilities, unlimited highest speed internet requirements, toilet paper and coffee costs have increased substantially. How does this trend impact your tax filing obligations?

Information for Employers:

If you have required your employees to work from home at least 50% of the time, they can claim some of their home office expenses on their personal tax returns. When you hand out your employees T4s, provide a completed T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment form. Indicate on the appropriate sections that the employee was required to work from home.

Based on the size of their home office, your employees will be able to claim a percentage of their expenses. This percentage is calculated by dividing the workspace area by the total finished area of the home. Expenses to track include: Utilities (heat, electrical, water), and maintenance (cleaning supplies, paint, plumbing, etc.) and rents. If your employee is paid commissions, they may also claim their insurance and property taxes. If home office specific expenses are incurred (fax line, increased internet capacities, office space only maintenance), the entire expense may be deductible. For example, if your household normally spent $50 per month on internet and now you spend $150 so that your ZOOM calls don’t freeze, one could argue that the $100 extra should be deductible. Similarly, if you revamped a spare room to create an office oasis (paint, shelves) you may (within reason) claim 100% of these costs.

Ensure that your employees are aware that employment expenses are often reviewed by Canada Revenue Agency. Encourage your team to keep their receipts/invoices/statements to be able to prove their claims.

Information for Business Owners:

Whether you are incorporated or a proprietor, you may also claim some home office expenses. The portion claimable is calculated in the same manner as for employees (office space divided by total finished area of your home). In calculating this percentage, it’s tempting to say that a significant portion of the home is used for business purposes. As a general rule, it’s best to keep the percentage around 10%. Any more than that and Canada Revenue Agency can argue that your home was a revenue generating property and you put your Principal Residence Exemption at risk… meaning tax implications on any gains when you sell your house. Also note that if you rent a secure commercial space, you likely cannot claim your office as well.

Keep track of your rents, heat, electricity, insurance, mortgage interest, property taxes, security monitoring fees, and maintenance costs. You can claim the calculated portion of those expenses. Consider office specific costs: the portion of internet required for the smooth running of your business, a fax line, office décor, desk, shelves, chair, chair mat, WIFI booster, etc. These office specific costs may be considered 100% for business purposes and expensed accordingly. Larger items such as furniture, computer, printers, and other office equipment would be expensed over a period of time via Capital Cost Allowance.

Ensure that your claims are reasonable and justifiable. Would it pass the sniff test for Canada Revenue Agency? Was it an expense incurred to earn business income? I think my favorite COVID-19 home office question so far has got to be: With the shortage of toilet paper, do you think I can justify expensing the entire cost of the bidet seat for my toilet? This client won tons of points for creativity and making me laugh out loud during a particularly stressful time in the accounting world. My advice: I would stick to the 10% household repairs and maintenance write off on this one.

If you have any specific questions or concerns about home office expenses for either your employees or yourself as a business owner, I’m always happy to chat. Send me a message at angela@rmllp.ca.

Getting paid should be easy.

Many entrepreneurs struggle with cash flow and wish they had more money in the bank. One of the most significant keys maintaining a healthy cash balance is collecting accounts receivable in a timely manner.

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure you’re collecting your accounts receivables as fast as possible.

Stay on top of your invoicing.

Picture the entrepreneur that is too busy doing the work to invoice his customer. Most people would agree that there is very little point to working in your business if you never receive any money. Hire staff/contractors to help you with this if you are too busy.

    • Invoice for work completed as soon as possible. If your customer typically takes 30 days to pay your invoice, the extra time that the paper sits on your desk equals added extra days before that money lands in your bank account.
    • After delivery of the invoice, consider following up with your customer to ensure that they have received your invoice as well as any other documents and information required for payment. This may include PO numbers, proof of delivery, etc. Missing information can add days/weeks or more to your collection time.
    • Consider automating your internal processes to save time in paper processing.
    • Ensure that your staff are aware that invoicing is a priority and that you have the manpower to get the task done on time.

Call and ask for the money.

Don’t be too busy to remember to call and collect from your customers. The money doesn’t land in your bank account any faster by sitting, hoping and waiting.

    • As time passes, consider simply picking up the phone and calling the customer. If your customer normally pays within 30 days and its day 35. Perhaps a gentle reminder is all that they need. Perhaps there are other circumstances.
    • It’s important that your customer be aware that they have bills to pay. Be the squeaky wheel. If they are in a tight cash flow position, when there is cash available for payments, you want your invoice to be on the top of the list.
    • Often calling and collecting money ends up on the bottom of the priority list for busy staff. Ensure that staff know that collection activities are a priority and consider hiring help as required.

Offer quick and easy payment options.

    • Do you accept electronic payments? E-transfers? Credit cards? While the merchant fees on credit card payments can cut into your profit, so can paying interest on your operating line of credit… or not being paid at all. There are many mobile debit and credit card processing options. If your customer is the general public, strongly consider some of these immediate payment alternatives.
    • Electronic and card payments can eliminate the old “the check is in the mail” excuse. Mailing payment can add an additional week to your collection time. Mention your electronic payment options so that your customer can also save money on postage

Offer discounts on quick payments or charge interest.

    • Does it make sense to offer your customers a few percent off of their bill if they pay immediately or within 15 days?
    • Alternatively, consider charging interest on late payments. Often people will delay paying you simply because there is no consequence to not paying you.

Evaluate your policies for granting credit.

    • Who are you offering goods and services to without knowing of their ability to pay?
    • Do your customers have to fill out a credit application?
    • Do you obtain their credit history?
    • Do you have internal controls that prevent sales staff to extend additional credit when previous invoices have not been paid?
    • Consider obtaining a retainer or deposit.

Know your legal rights.

    • If your customer is delaying payment, can you place a lien on a property? Make sure you are aware of your options and any applicable deadlines to register such liens.
    • What are your options with small claims court?
    • What are your rights to collect on invoices outstanding for over a year or two?
    • Develop a relationship with a good collection agent to assist with difficult cases.

Stay current on your record keeping.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Get meaningful financial reporting on a timely basis.

    • Current financial records will indicate exactly who still owes you money. Keep on top of bookkeeping and reconciling your bank account. Review your accounts receivable listing regularly.
    • Become immediately aware of any NSF payments by your customers.
    • If you take your box of records to a bookkeeper quarterly or annually, you may not realize that your customers invoice over 60 days old. Perhaps monthly bookkeeping options would be better for your operations.
    • Even with very simple operations with very few customers, it’s easy to forget that an invoice is outstanding.

Need assistance with bookkeeping or automating your invoicing processes? Send me an email angela@rmllp.ca.

Is your choice of Corporate Year End timing critical?

You’ve incorporated… did you know that you can CHOOSE when your year-end can be?  It’s true! You do not have to have a December 31 year end. This is a very common misconception.

Deadlines to keep in mind:

For most small to medium businesses in Canada:

  • Your corporate taxes are due within 3 months of your year-end.
  • Your corporate tax return needs to be filed within 6 months of your year-end.
  • T4s and T5s for any wages and dividends paid must be filed by February 28.

Imagine how busy the professional accountants would during the months of January and February!

The virtues of a non-December 31 year-end:

  1. Your accountant will have more time/energies to devote to your year-end.

This is a sad, but true fact.  Many professional accountants are crazy busy during January through to the end of April.  You’re likely going to get slightly better customer service during slower times of the year.

  1. Opportunities for tax planning and deferrals.

If you’ve got a December 31 year end, this means that your personal tax year end equals your corporate year end.  Any funds drawn for your corporation MUST be reported on your personal taxes in that year (unless repayment plans are in place).  When you file your corporate tax return, these numbers must be reported as part of the return.

Any other year-end date allows for so much more flexibility with respect to when these funds were drawn and repaid.

How to choose a year-end:

  1. Approximately 12 months after you incorporate.

This option gives you the most bang for your accounting dollar with 12 months included in your corporate tax return filing.  For example, you incorporate on April 17.

Without other considerations, a March 31 year-end would be a reasonable choice.  Why would you have financial statements and a corporate tax return prepared for December 31 when you can postpone it until March 31?

Have questions on how to get started? Let’s get connected!