Your December To Do List!

Written by Gwyneth James MBA CPA, CGA  Senior Partner

Okay, I know…accounting is the farthest thing from your mind right now, but hear me out. There are just a few items that you need to take care of while you sip your glass of egg nog.

  • If you have a business, don’t forget to take an odometer reading on December 31st.
  • If your business is incorporated, this month is the time to pay yourself a little extra – either as a bonus or as a dividend – to ensure it is added to your T4 or T5 for 2018.
  • As an individual, December is donation time if you want to shore up that tax credit for 2018.
  • Another item that is based on the calendar year is your TFSA contribution, but that rolls over if it’s unused so don’t worry. And you have until March 1st to contribute to your RRSP.
  • If you have non-registered investments that you’d like to realize a gain or loss on, make sure you sell that stock or mutual fund before December 27th.

That’s it! See, not that hard.

Happy Holidays!

Home Buyer’s Plan and Lifelong Learning Plan

Written by:  Gwyneth James MBA CPA, CGA  Senior Partner

You’ve been moving around and renting for the past five years or more, but now want to buy a home.  Unfortunately, the only savings you have are in RRSPs.  Don’t cash them in!  The Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) allows you to “borrow” up to $25,000 of your own savings.  Fill out Area 1 of Form T1036 and take it to your financial advisor.

OR you have decided to return to school full-time.  The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) allows you to “borrow” from your RRSPs up to $10,000 a year to a maximum of $20,000.  Fill out Area 1 of Form RC96 and take it to your financial advisor.

These withdrawals will not be taxable and will not have tax withheld, but they must be repaid by making an RRSP contribution and flagging it as an HBP or LLP repayment on Schedule 7 of your tax return.

  1. For the HBP, payments start the 2nd year after you withdrew under the plan.  You have 15 years to pay it all back.
  2. For the LLP, payments starts the year after you cease being a full-time student (to a maximum of four years).  You have 10 years to pay it back.

Any year you miss all or part of the repayment, the balance of the amount that you were supposed to pay is added to your taxable income as if you withdrew from your RRSP.  In some cases, for example a year of very low income, this is an effective tax saving strategy.

There are some restrictions that are beyond the scope of this article related to, for example, RRSP contributions in the 3 months before you withdraw under either plan, the definition of a “first-time homebuyer”, and the type of residence or post-secondary education that qualifies.  Be sure to read up on these or consult an expert.

3 Things You Need To Do When Starting Up A Corporation

Written by:  Suzanne Cody CPA, CGA

As busy as you are when you are just getting things going, it is important to be mindful of Tax issues. There is a great deal of juggling going on with so many puzzle pieces to put together when setting up a newly formed corporation. If you want to avoid starting out on the wrong foot, handling basic tax matters should be in your crosshairs.

You may have started your business to earn a little extra income in addition to your day job like many others have done and now you have a full-time venture on your hands. You have made the decision to incorporate and now need to transfer your existing business to it. You should consider filing an election with the CRA to roll the assets and liabilities into the corporation to avoid unwanted personal tax liabilities. This will require you knowing the value of your current operations.

Get a new business number from the CRA. Upon incorporation you will need to request a business number for the corporation. You will also need to register for a GST account assuming your sales are over $30,000. Depending on whether you plan to have employees and how you plan to compensate yourself, you may also need to register for a payroll account.

You must choose your year-end date within the first twelve months of incorporating. This date does not need to coincide with the anniversary of your incorporation date not with the end of the calendar year. The ideal year-end should be based on your business cycles. For instance, if you are a retail store, you would want to choose a date occurring just after the end of your busy season. This would mean that there would be less inventory to be counted, not as many transactions in progress, and more time for administration work required to close your books.

If you would like further information, please call the office at 705-876-6011 or I can be contacted directly at

Who Should Have a TFSA?

Written by:  Gwyneth James MBA CPA, CGA

The Tax Free Saving Account (TFSA) has been around now for ten years and is pretty popular with good reason – everyone should have one.

There is no tax deduction for contributions to a TFSA. The ‘tax free’ relates to any investment earned by the TFSA. It is tax free even when withdrawn.

For people just entering the workforce the TFSA is the ideal place for your emergency fund. Even $100 a month will provide a nice $2400 emergency fund within two years and get you in to the habit of saving. Then when an emergency happens (like the furnace conks out or the car transmission goes – not the emergency trip to Casino Rama or the 30% off shoe sale) you have the funds to cover it and the $100 a month starts to rebuild it right away.

The TFSA is also the place for everyone to save for those big purchases like new furniture, a vacation or home renovation. Again move money into your TFSA monthly and save for that big purchase.

If you are fortunate enough to have no debt and have maximized your RRSPs then the TFSA can be used to accumulate additional savings for retirement.

If you are retired and have any taxable investment income those funds should be inside a TFSA to reduce the tax bite.

However, be mindful of the maximum contribution limits. The CRA establishes contribution limits each year and they vary each year. It must be clear that no matter how many TFSA’s you have, the contribution limit applies to the combined total of all TFSA’s held by an individual and there are penalties if you exceed your contribution limit.

If you do not have a TFSA, you should – and start using it. If you do have one, good! Now make sure it is put to the best use!

Tax Planning for Retirees

Personal Accounting: a retired coupleWritten by:  Gwyneth James MBA CPA, CGA  Senior Partner

Fall always feels like a time of new beginnings and some folks take time as the days cool to consider their year-end tax planning. Retirees should examine their year-to-date income and consider whether they should take more or less funds from their registered savings accounts (RRSPs and RRIFs).

A few basic reminders:

  1. In the calendar year a taxpayer has their 71st birthday, RRSPs must be converted into a RRIF (or annuity) and an amount withdrawn each year. They can also be collapsed and paid in a lump sum, although this would only make sense if the balance is not too large.
  2. An RRSP can be converted into a RRIF or annuity at any time, but this forces some defined amount to be included in taxable income each year.
  3. Only defined types of pension income qualify for pension splitting. For example, income from company pension plans qualifies at any age, but RRIFs do not until age 65.

Some retirees opt to start withdrawing RRSPs earlier than age 71 which spreads the taxable income over a longer period of time. This can be beneficial in a year where income is expected to be lower than in the future, for example if OAS, CPP or pensions have not yet started. If the funds are not required for living expenses, transfer into a TFSA for later use.

Other retirees convert some of their RRSPs to RRIFs at age 65 to take advantage of the ability to pension split. Pension splitting allows one spouse to transfer up to 50% of their pension income to the other for tax calculation purposes only. This can result in much lower tax owing if that one spouse is in a higher tax bracket than the other. The transferee spouse also qualifies for the $2,000 pension income tax credit.

Each year you elect to do a pension split, complete and sign form T1032 and keep it on file in case CRA asks to see it. Couples who have not remembered to split their pension income can go back and adjust the past three years’ tax returns.

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