Efficient Ways of Handling Money For Your Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Piggy bank TNWith the help of the Internet, it is now very easy to run a business without leaving your home or even hiring employees. In the last few years, the increase in the number of home-based businesses in Canada and the United States alone has been nothing short of astounding. Despite the ease and convenience of running a home-based business nowadays, there are still certain skills that any business owner needs to learn in order to ensure the success of his business. One of these skills is efficient money management.

People who run home-based businesses are their own boss and as such, it is their own responsibility to make sure that the financial aspect of the business is handled perfectly. If you have a home business, you can always seek money management advice from professionals but it is good if you learn a technique or two about the proper ways of handling money.

  1. Open a business account.

Your personal savings account should always be separate from your business bank account even if you are working from home. This way, you can clearly monitor the performance of your home business, as well as help keep your personal finances secure in case of business problems. It is also interesting to note that many banks offer special interest rates and rewards to business accounts. In addition, you appear more professional if you do business with your clients using a business account rather than a personal account.

  1. Use a financial software program.

Even if you have had no formal education on business management, you can easily take care of a home business with the help of a good financial software program. Most of these programs are capable of handling everything from budgeting, paying bills, financial forecast, and so on. Choosing which financial software program to use is not that difficult either. First of all, there are probably hundreds of options you can choose from and there will always be at least a few out there that can cater to your needs perfectly. In making your choice, consider the features included in the software, as well as customer testimonials and reviews.

  1. Keep transaction records clear and updated at all times.

When you think about it, this should actually be easy to do since you are the only person handling all transactions. However, many business mix-ups usually begin precisely because of this line of thinking. To avoid any problems, make sure you record and organize all cash and receipts as soon as each transaction is completed.

  1. Create a business budget and stick to it.

This is one other thing that most home-based business owners fail to do. Many of them think that this is an unnecessary step, particularly if their home business is quite small. But small or not, a home-based business is still a business and every business must have a well-planned budget. As a matter of fact, it is even more important to have a budget for a home business because the risk of overspending is much higher, especially if home expenses and business expenses are tied together.

Once you have mastered the proper money management techniques, you can easily grow your home-based business in no time at all.

How Secure Is Your Information As A Taxpayer?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Privacy_image 2015 06-10 Tidbits TNThe Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) takes the security of all taxpayer information very seriously. The CRA reviews internal processes continuously to prevent unlawful attempts to obtain tax information and to make sure those taxpayers’ rights are protected.

Safeguards

For the security of taxpayer information, the following policies and procedures are in place:

  • Personnel screening: All prospective CRA employees undergo security screening before employment.
  • Employee awareness of their responsibilities: New employees are briefed on their security obligations and security awareness information is regularly communicated to all employees. All CRA employees are subject to strict standards of conduct as defined in the CRA’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
  • All taxpayer information is protected: Depending on the information, employees may have to take special steps in handling it. For instance, taxpayer information must be kept physically secure; employees may not transmit taxpayer information by email or leave voice messages containing taxpayer information; employees have to make sure that information is shared only with the taxpayer concerned or with a third party only after the taxpayer has given written consent, except where the disclosure is authorized by law.
  • Security markings on forms and documents: Some CRA forms or documents are marked Protected A or Protected B.  These markings help CRA employees ensure that sensitive information is handled in a secure manner.
  • Access to taxpayer information is on a need-to-know basis: CRA employees with different levels of responsibility, such as taxpayer services personnel, auditors, investigators, or those handling income tax files, have different levels of access depending on the requirements of their work.
  • Regular risk assessment: The CRA performs regular risk assessments and internal audits to ensure the security and integrity of its internal processes.
  • Suspected breaches of confidentiality of taxpayer information: If a taxpayer tells the CRA about a suspected breach of confidentiality of personal information, the Agency can put a stop to any outside request concerning that taxpayer’s account. The CRA will tell the taxpayer that the Agency will disable all online access to the taxpayer’s account immediately, whether it be My Account for Individuals, Quick Access, My Business Account, Represent a Client, NETFILE, or EFILE. Online access can later be restored at the taxpayer’s request by calling the e-Services Helpdesk at 1-800-714-7257.
  • Disciplinary measures: CRA officers immediately and thoroughly investigate any security breach or allegation of unauthorized access or disclosure of taxpayer information. Any employee found to have acted inappropriately is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
  • Network access denied to departing employees: Departing CRA employees have to return their employee ID cards, and steps are taken to end their network access.

Tips for taxpayers

CRA advises individuals to take the following precautions to protect their tax information:

  • Do not communicate personal information by email.
  • Send the CRA your change of address when you move.
  • Use a reputable tax preparer.
  • Shred unwanted documents or store them in a secure place. Make sure that documents with your name and SIN are secure.
  • Do not carry your SIN card on your person and do not provide your SIN to others unnecessarily.
  • Do not share your passwords, user IDs or access codes.
  • Beware of scam emails and telephone calls.
  • Ask a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail when you are away or ask that a hold be placed on delivery.

4 Good Reasons to Build a Home Office for Your Home-Based Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

modern-home-office--Tidbits 2015-06-03 TNFollowing the recent economic crisis, many people who lost their jobs have decided to become entrepreneurs. Their encouragement to do so comes from stories and news about individuals who succeeded in their home-based businesses. Indeed, running a business from home offers a lot of benefits and can be profitable too. If you have begun doing business at home, you may want to formalize a little. Specifically, you may want to build a home office from where you can manage and operate your home business. This is one aspect that is often neglected by many small home business owners especially those who put value on how much they save by working from home. Building a home office, however, will open greater opportunities for your business.

  1. A Home Office Boosts Your Professional Image

If your business goals include growth and expansion, then you will need a home office. It will validate the professional image you want to impress on your clients. By having a home office, you have your own place to meet and entertain your clients and prospects in a businesslike manner. Do remember that image is very important when doing business and you need to hold up that image.

  1. A Home Office Offers Convenience

Another reason why you ought to create a home office for your home business is the convenience it will give you. You get to save on time and energy while exerting lesser efforts in operating your home business. You have a designated space in your home that is dedicated to your business affairs. You can have everything you need in there, from furniture and equipment to materials and supplies, to make your work easier. And when you feel that pressure is building up at work, you can always cross over to your home and enjoy its comforts even for a short while.

  1. A Home Office Keeps Your Business Life Separate from Your Personal Life

Those working from home may find themselves constantly interrupted by demands from other family members and other household responsibilities. As a result, you may not be able to complete your tasks and could miss out on deadlines. Having a home office can isolate you from domestic concerns at least for the duration of your working hours. You should then be able to have peace and focus on your tasks yet be accessible enough in case of emergency.

With a home office, you are not abandoning your responsibilities to the home. You’re merely establishing a boundary for your professional life. The other members of your household need to understand that your work is real work and that you will need to be serious about it. It will help if you let them know about your working hours so they won’t bother you during that time. It is for this reason that the ideal location of your home office is in a separate room with a door you can keep closed while working.

  1. A Home Office Gives You Opportunities for Growth and Expansion

If you have a home office, you can explore more opportunities that will help you grow and expand your business. As you may be aware, traditional business establishments have separate personnel attending to the different aspects of the business, like a human resources department has its own staff and so do the other departments such as tech support, finance, and sales, to name a few. It is different with a home business setting, especially those that are in the start-up stage when the business owner does everything. In time, when you can afford to pay salaries, you may consider hiring employees although you will need to take care of a few things like withholding taxes and insurance coverage. Then again, the increase in your expenses and in your administrative duties may well be justified considering the many benefits of having employees to help you generate bigger revenues while reducing your own workload.

What is the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC)?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

vintage travel collage background TNIt’s really a tax to offset the security expenses through 2014-2015.  The Canada Revenue Agency is responsible for administering the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC), which came into effect April 1, 2002. Since then, the charge has been collected by air carriers or their agents at the time of purchase.

Travellers pay the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) on air transportation services for travel within Canada and from Canada to foreign destinations.

ATSC Rates

  • For domestic air travel acquired in Canada, where the GST/HST applies at the rate of 5% or 13% for the air transportation service, the ATSC will be $7.12 for each chargeable emplanement, to a maximum of $14.25. Where the GST/HST does not apply, the ATSC will be $7.48 for each chargeable emplanement, to a maximum of $14.96.
  • For air travel to a destination outside Canada but within the continental zone, where the GST/HST applies at the rate of 5% or 13%, the ATSC will be $12.10 for each chargeable emplanement, to a maximum of $24.21. Where the GST/HST does not apply, the ATSC will be $12.71 for each chargeable emplanement, to a maximum of $25.42.
  • For air travel to a destination outside the continental zone, the ATSC will be $25.91 where there is a chargeable emplanement. This applies to air transportation that is acquired in or outside Canada.

Should you have any questions about these changes or any other ATSC matter, you can call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Excise Taxes and Other Levies Information Line at 1-866-330-3304.

All technical publications related to excise taxes and special levies are available on the CRA Web site at www.cra.gc.ca/etsl

The ATSC does not apply to an infant under the age of two if the infant has not been issued a ticket entitling him or her to occupy a seat for part of the air service that includes a chargeable emplanement.

The following chart illustrates some examples on when the ATSC is applied to domestic air travel acquired in Canada:

ORIGIN POINT INTERMEDIATE POINT DESTINATION POINT ATSC LEVIED
Listed Airport Listed Airport Yes
Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport No
Listed Airport Connection at Non-Listed Airport Listed Airport No
Listed Airport Connection at Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport Yes
Listed Airport Stopover at Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport Yes
Non-Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport No
Non-Listed Airport Listed Airport No
Non-Listed Airport Connection at Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport No
Non-Listed Airport Stopover at Listed Airport Non-Listed Airport No
Non-Listed Airport Connection at Listed Airport Listed Airport Yes
Non-Listed Airport Stopover at Listed Airport Listed Airport Yes

Any examples involving connections or stopovers are not considered direct flights.

Connections

For domestic or transborder continental travel, a passenger’s waiting time between flights is considered a connection if the time is:

  • 4 hours or less; or
  • the time until the next available flight.

For international travel, a passenger’s waiting time between flights is considered a connection if the time is:

  • 24 hours or less; or
  • the time until the next available flight.

Stopovers

For domestic and transborder continental travel, a passenger’s waiting time between flights is considered a stopover if the time is longer than:

  • 4 hours; or
  • the time until the next available flight.

For international travel, a passenger’s waiting time between flights is considered a stopover if the time is longer than:

  • 24 hours; or
  • the time until the next available flight.

The following examples illustrate the application of the ATSC on an airline ticket:

One Ticket Purchased in Canada

Return Journey
Ottawa to Vancouver 2010-04-01
Vancouver to Ottawa 2010-04-05
Total of both fares $400.00
ATSC $14.25
Consideration for GST $414.25
GST 5% $20.71
Total $434.96

One Ticket Purchased in Canada

One Way Journey
Ottawa to Calgary 2010-04-01
Total of fare $400.00
ATSC $7.12
Consideration for GST $407.12
GST 5% $20.36
Total $427.48

One Ticket Purchased in Canada

One Way Journey
Moncton to Washington 2010-04-01
Total of fare $400.00
ATSC $12.10
Consideration for HST $412.10
HST 13% $53.57
Total $465.67

One Ticket Purchased in Canada

Return Journey
Vancouver to Tokyo 2010-04-01
Tokyo to Vancouver 2010-04-15
Total of both fares $400.00
ATSC $25.91
Total $425.91

One Ticket Purchased in Canada

Return Journey
Halifax to Calgary 2010-04-01
Calgary to Halifax 2010-04-15
Total of both fares $400.00
ATSC $14.25
Consideration for HST $414.25
HST 13% $53.85
Total $468.10

Whether or not an individual passes through security, air travel from a listed airport to another listed airport is considered a chargeable emplanement and is, therefore, subject to the ATSC.

When a passenger uses no part of an air transportation service, a designated air carrier or the CRA may credit or refund the ATSC. When an air transportation service is only partially used, a designated air carrier or the CRA may credit or refund the ATSC if the used part of the air transportation service was not subject to a charge.

All designated air carriers who provide air transportation to individuals on an aircraft having a maximum certified take-off weight greater than 2,730 kilograms and whose service includes chargeable emplanements must register to collect the ATSC.

 

How to Come Up With a Winning Business Idea

By Randall Orser | Small Business

a_bright_idea--Tidbits 2015-05-20 TNEvery entrepreneur has spent countless hours thinking about what the next big thing will be. What did the great business leaders of the past know that helped them to achieve such extraordinary success? Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Fred DeLuca of Subway, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks are just a few among the long list of individuals who came up with a Winning Business Idea that brought them success beyond their wildest dreams. So how did they do it and what can we learn from them to help us to achieve our dreams too?

Although there is a lifetime of lessons to be learned from each of the individuals the reality is that none of them came up with a fundamentally original business idea. Think about it. Harland Sanders wasn’t the first person to sell fried chicken. Sam Walton wasn’t the first person to open a discount store. Fred Deluca wasn’t the first to open a sandwich shop and Howard Schultz certainly wasn’t the first person to open a coffee shop. Every one of these businesses had existed long before these people changed the world with their vision.

What each of these people did was to take an old business and reinvent it.

Sam Walton reinvented the discount store by taking the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of offering the lowest price very, very seriously. He made it his mission to offer his products at a price that couldn’t be beaten. It wasn’t just words in an ad. He stood by it and made it happen. In fact he was so good at it that he changed the way business was done around the entire globe.

Howard Schultz, while traveling, experienced a cup of coffee that told him coffee could taste much better then what most people were accustomed to for about the same cost. He offered it in an environment that was clean and trendy. A place you would enjoy spending time with a friend.

So to begin looking for a Winning Business Idea you may want to look at the business you’re in now. How can you reinvent it? Sometimes it’s as simple as giving the customer what they want. In one instance an online seller of beauty products recognized that one of the most significant objections people had to buying online was paying shipping. He reinvented the way online retail was typically done and his sales took off.

If you don’t have a business now then start by making a list of traditional businesses and ask yourself how you can reinvent them. Has the particular business been run in essentially the same way for decades without any fundamental change? How can you bring it into the 21th century? Are customer’s expectations different now than they once were as a result of changes in technology or cultural norms of the times?

One thing is for certain. More business will be reinvented and more people will achieve unbelievable wealth simply by reinventing a business that already exists! Will you be the one to bring change and reap the rewards?

How To Survive An Audit

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Old fashioned audit report written in feather on parchment. TNBusinesses do not only have to audit financial records these days. You can audit every facet of the business and the processes used by employees for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, an external party coming in to audit your business can be quite a nerve-racking experience for the business manager.

Many businesses need to comply with industry specific legislation and audits are one way of tracking that compliance. You may need to demonstrate compliance with security, occupational health and safety, or union regulations. Prospective customers and current customers can initiate audits to see if your business meets their needs.

Auditors will have certain criteria or benchmarks for your company to meet, and will compare your business standards to these criteria. If your business does not meet the criteria, the auditor will issue a non-conformance notice and will give your business a deadline to fix the problem.

Non-conformance in some audits can lead to a loss of licence, legal fines, or legal action taken against the company, and loss of customers. You could even find that your business has to shut down due to non-conformances in an audit, depending on the severity of the non-conformance, and the importance of the audit.

Preparation is the Key to Surviving the Audit

Spending time preparing for the audit before the external auditor arrives will save much time and headaches during the audit. Know what the perimeters and scope of the audit are. Although auditors may not provide the criteria unless asked, all auditors have specific criteria or benchmarks against which to audit the business.

If the audit is required to demonstrate legal compliance, the guidelines for the audit should be available from the government department undertaking the audit. Check each area in the audit and make sure your business is compliant before the auditor arrives. Get out the appropriate files and reports to have on hand to show the auditor your compliance when needed.

Internal Audits Help You to Keep Track

If you have an external compliance audit every two years, you should hold smaller audits in between yourself. These internal audits will enable you to pick up errors and to fix the procedures to match the external compliance requirements well before the external auditor arrives.

You can reduce preparation time prior to the audit by completing small audits internally, as part normal procedure. Audits, whether internal or external, give you the opportunity to see whether your business procedures are efficient, helpful, compliant, and if staff are following procedures correctly.

Review Procedures against the Benchmarks to Ensure Compliance

Review your current business procedures against the legal and external benchmarks or standards expected. Make sure that if your employees are following your procedures, you will automatically be compliant with the audit requirements.

Discipline Employees for Not Complying with Procedure

If your internal audits or other checks show that certain employees do not comply with the procedure, you may need to instigate further training and even disciplinary action, as required. Enforce your business procedures, so that employees are used to complying with the requirements and you will not worry that individuals will let your business down during the external audit.

Say as Little as Possible During the Audit

A common error made by business managers is actually telling the auditor too much. Allow the auditor to ask the questions. Answer the questions concisely and do not be tempted to add in extra information. Any additional information may lead the auditor on to a different track, and could show unexpected errors.

Negotiate for Time to Fix Identified Issues

When the auditor does bring an issue to your attention during the audit, you can negotiate for time to fix the problem before the auditor gives your business a formal non-conformance notice. This could save your business from paying fines or dealing with some of costs involved with a formal non-compliance. If you can address the issue within a couple of days, many auditors will hold the audit report open for you if you successfully negotiate and show the auditor a willingness to resolve the non compliance issue.

Respond Quickly to Identified Non-Conformance Issues

As soon as practical after the audit, send a report reply to the auditor with the necessary attached documents which prove your business is now compliant. This allows the auditor to close out the non-conformances and could prevent the auditor returning to check if your business has resolved the identified problems.

Preparing your business to survive an essential or legal compliance audit is not difficult, but does take some work and planning time. If you have everything in place prior to the auditor arriving on your site, your business is far more likely to survive the audit without any non-conformance issues.

Why Small Businesses Go Bankrupt and How to Avoid It

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Debt Word And 3d Character Shows Bankruptcy And Poverty TNStatistics are regularly released that say something to this effect: “85% of new businesses fail in the first five years”. The message is clear. If you start a small business there is a high probability that you will fail. You would think that this would send the smart money straight to the Help Wanted ads but what about the businesses that succeed? What made them different? What secret did they know that lead them down the path to prosperity? Here is what you need to know to be one of the winners.

Lets look at a scenario. Andre is a baker. Not just any baker. When anyone who has eaten Andre’s baking hears mention of it they start to salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. One day Andre’s grandmother passes away and leaves him a modest inheritance. His time has come. He takes his money and starts his dream business. Five years later the inheritance is gone and Andre is back working for his old boss. What happened?

Andre had spent all his time learning about his passion, which was baking. In order to succeed he needed to know an equal or greater amount about business. For every cookbook he read he needed to read a book on business. For every cooking class he attended he needed to attend a course on business. Andre didn’t know the difference between a Monthly Bank Statement and a Cash Flow Forecast. He had heaps of Specialty Knowledge and almost no Business Knowledge.

So the first step to succeeding in business is to learn about business. Sounds simple doesn’t it. It is but it is a sad fact that most people will only figure this out after it is too late and maybe not even then. Here are some things you can do to give yourself a huge edge and increase your likelihood of success.

  • Sign up for some courses in small business at your local college or university. Maybe even start working on a degree in business. Be aware that there are now programs aimed at learning to be an Entrepreneur, which differ somewhat from a typical business degree designed to send you into the corporate world.
  • Start networking. Meet successful business people. You will find them at your local Chamber of Commerce, at work in their business and as members of clubs such as Toastmasters.
  • Read books on business. The libraries and bookstores are filled with them. Read reviews to find some of the most recommended titles and take notes when you read them.
  • Make use of the excellent resources online. The United States Small Business Administration website is just one example of a tremendous (and free) resource on starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks but the reality is that the skilled entrepreneur takes risks that are calculated and based on knowledge and experience, which is available to anyone who will go looking for it.

One west coast entrepreneur has owned a jewelry store, a pub, a community centre, a restaurant and a music store. Each one was a success and was ultimately sold as a profitable business. The key elements of his success were his solid business fundamentals.

Some things you need to know before you start leasing space, hiring staff or buying equipment include:

  • A sound understanding of Business Plans and which one you need (and you absolutely do need one).
  • The basics of marketing, who your customers are and how to reach them with your message.
  • What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and how this differentiates you from your competition. Why would your potential customers choose you over them?
  • What are the important numbers that you need to know and monitor to measure the health of your venture.
  • What is Cash Flow, how does it differ from Monthly Sales, what potential Cash Flow pitfalls effect your business model and how can you protect against them.
  • Who are your competition and what are their strengths and weaknesses.

Taking the time to gain a solid business education to supplement your Specialty Knowledge is the key to surviving your new business venture. It is what separates the winners from the losers. Reading this article is a sign that you are on the right track. Use the list given above as a starting point as you build a framework of required business knowledge and continue to fill your areas of weakness until you are strong and prepared to enter the arena. Do this and you will enhance your potential for success and give yourself the edge you need to achieve your dreams.

Where Does Our Tax Revenue Go?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Canadian-Two-Dollar-Bill--Tidbits 2015-04-29 TNPeople just hate paying taxes. I think a lot of that has to do with we really don’t know where it goes. It all goes into that sinkhole we know as General Revenue. From there what happens to it is a mystery. Of course, there are many things the government spends money that really tick off people, and that has much to do with this hatred for taxes. So where does this money we grudgingly pay to the government go exactly?

The following figures are from the Department of Finance for the fiscal period 2013 to 2014, and we accept no responsibility for their accuracy, nor for how much they may tick you off.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, Canada’s federal government spent $276.8 billion. That represents roughly 15 per cent of our country’s $1.9-trillion economy.

Transfer payments

Payments that go directly to persons, to provincial and territorial governments, and to other organizations are called “transfers.” Transfers are the largest category of government spending. They made up about 61 cents of each tax dollar spent ($169.4 billion).

Transfers to persons

Major transfers to persons cost 26 cents of each tax dollar spent ($72.2 billion). The biggest category within transfers to persons was elderly benefits. These transfers include:

  • Old Age Security
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • Allowance for Spouses

Total elderly benefits cost about $41.8 billion, or roughly 15 cents of each tax dollar spent.

Another major transfer to persons is Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Altogether, EI benefits cost over 6 cents of every tax dollar spent ($17.3 billion). The final category of transfers to persons is children’s benefits. The federal government provided $13.1 billion to help families raise their children through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit. These payments cost almost 5 cents of every tax dollar spent.

Federal support for health care

Federal support for health care goes beyond cash payments under the Canada Health Transfer and the Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing programs. The federal government also provided over $6 billion last year for:

  • First Nations health services
  • Health care for veterans
  • Programs for public health
  • Health research

Other transfer payments

Last year, spending on federal grants, contributions and subsidies added up to $36.7 billion, just over 13 cents of each tax dollar spent. This included:

  • $6.3 billion in assistance provided by Employment and Social Development Canada in support of learning, skills and employment, and social housing
  • $6.2 billion in transfers by Indian Affairs and Northern Development for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples
  • $3.4 billion in transfers by the Canada Revenue Agency, which includes transfers made to individuals and corporations through the tax system

Other funding was provided in support of farmers and other food producers, research and development, infrastructure, regional development, health research and promotion, the arts, amateur sports, international assistance, and multiculturalism and bilingualism.

Other program expenses  

After transfers, the bulk of federal tax dollars went to cover the operating costs of the more than 130 government departments, agencies, Crown corporations and other federal bodies that provide programs and services for Canadians.

Government operating expenses such as salaries and benefits, facilities and equipment, and supplies and travel made up 29 cents of each tax dollar spent ($79.2 billion). Close to half of this spending—14 cents of each tax dollar—went to just three organizations.

National Defence

First, spending last year by National Defence, including the Canadian Armed Forces, made up 8 cents of each tax dollar spent ($21.5 billion) 

Public Safety

Next, operating costs of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness represented over 3 cents of each tax dollar spent ($9.8 billion). This includes funding for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal prison system, and border traffic and security operations.

Canada Revenue Agency

And third, expenses of the Canada Revenue Agency, which administers the federal tax system (and also collects taxes for all provinces except Quebec) totalled $7.8 billion, or 3 cents of each tax dollar spent.

Other operations

A further $32.6 billion—12 cents of each tax dollar—was spent on the operations of the other federal departments and agencies. These included major departments such as:

  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Industry Canada
  • Department of Justice
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Funding also went to federal agencies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Parks Canada.

Paying for Parliament

One of the smallest spending slices goes to Parliament itself—the House of Commons, the Senate and the Library of Parliament. Last year, the combination of salaries and benefits for Members of Parliament, Senators and parliamentary staff, and spending on facilities and services, totalled about $534 million. That’s less than one-quarter of a cent of every tax dollar spent.

Crown corporations

Crown corporations (organizations owned directly or indirectly by the Government) cost $7.5 billion, or 3 cents of each tax dollar spent. Most of these expenses were recorded by three organizations:

  • Canadian Commercial Corporation—$1.7 billion
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—$1.7 billion
  • Atomic Energy of Canada Limited—$1.3 billion.

Funding was also provided to cultural organizations (including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canada Council for the Arts), to enterprises like VIA Rail, and to the Canadian Tourism Commission.

These costs were partially offset by revenues earned by the Crown corporations, which totaled $3.5 billion in 2013–14. These revenues are included as part of the Government’s other revenues discussed in the section entitled “Where the money comes from.”

Public debt charges

Interest charges on Canada’s public debt—money borrowed by the federal government over the years and not yet repaid and liabilities for pensions and other future benefits—cost $28.2 billion. That’s 10 cents of every tax dollar spent. Currently, 74 per cent of the Government’s un-matured debt is owed to Canadians, including citizens and domestic institutions holding federal bonds, treasury bills and other forms of the debt.

Here’s a summary of where all your tax dollars go:

  • Canada Health Transfer (11 cents)
  • Canada Revenue Agency (3 cents)
  • Canada Social Transfer (5 cents)
  • Children’s benefits (5 cents)
  • Crown corporations (3 cents)
  • National Defence (8 cents)
  • Employment Insurance benefits (6 cents)
  • Other major transfers to other levels of government (6 cents)
  • Other operations (12 cents)
  • Other transfer payments (13 cents)
  • Public debt charges (10 cents)
  • Public Safety (3 cents)
  • Support to elderly (15 cents)

Six Ways Small Business Owners Can Reduce Costs

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Reduce Overhead Costs TNIf you own a small business, you may need to cut your business costs in order to survive the global recession and to protect your business and personal assets for the future. Reducing your business costs at any time will increase your profit margin, and during a recession, it may make the difference between going out of business and fiscal survival.

  1. Offer Personalized and Interactive Internet Services

Offering a good service on the internet to your customers can save your business some costs. Often the labour costs of your small business are the highest regular costs. Providing an interactive internet service means your customers can order products without needing an individual to service the request.

Providing a personalized internet service means you have one customer service representative answering emails and customer queries on the website, which could save your business some labour costs.

  1. Become Efficient

Streamlining your business processes and eliminating waste from your business can save you a lot of money. Look at every task your business has and break down each process. If there is any duplication in the process or parts of the process that you can streamline or cut, changing your processes could save your business in many ways.

  1. Barter and Negotiate for supplies

Every small business needs supplies and services by other businesses. You may be able to cut your costs by bartering for your business needs. For example, you may need to employ a website designer to get your website up and running. If your business offers the website designer free advertising on the website, you may be able to negotiate for a discount.

Use your imagination to see what services or products you can barter in return for the supplies and services your business needs. If you can offer products or services in place of cash for some supplies, you can cut down on your business costs. Restaurants can offer meals for a certain period in exchange for menus, and the printer can offer flyers for the website design for the print shop. You may not always be able to negotiate a straight barter situation, but you can certainly try to negotiate for discounts and reduced costs with your suppliers.

  1. Manage cash flow to reduce expensive loans

Managing your business cash flow does not have to mean borrowing money from the bank and paying high interest rates. You can factor your income by paying a small fee to a credit company to get immediate payment on outstanding invoices. Instead of offering credit to your customers, you can create a business where customers must pay up front for your products. Customers who order a product via the internet will expect to pay by credit card or a secure internet payment site, such as PayPal. Using these services means your customers pay before you ship the product, so your cash flow is easier to balance.

  1. Find Cheaper Forms of Advertising or Marketing

While it is not advisable to cut out advertising and marketing completely, even during a recession, it is possible to reduce your marketing costs. Internet advertising can be relatively cheap. You can send an email newsletter to your customers instead of paying for printing. Local radio and community newspapers can reach a wide market within a local region for relatively little cost, especially in comparison to advertising in national newspapers or magazines.

  1. Reduce Packing Costs

If your business ships products across the country and overseas, the freight costs can be exorbitant. Look at how you pack your product. Many cargo and freight companies charge on a volume rate, as well as a weight rate and choose the larger rate for each package. Even if your product is relatively light, you could pay for the volumetric size of your package. If you pack a small product in a large box with lots of packing foam or air envelopes, you could be paying to ship air across the country. Reduce your package size to reduce your packing and freight costs.

You can easily save money and cut your business costs by streamlining your business processes, cutting the costs for supplies, packing, freight, and marketing, and by offering customers internet self service options. Managing your business cash flow can reduce your costs in paying loan repayments.

You May Qualify For The Family Tax Cut

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

tax frustration--Tidbits-2015-04-15 TNUnder Canada’s tax system, federal personal income tax rates increase with the level of taxable income of the individual. As a result, a couple in which one individual has a higher taxable income than the other often pays more federal income tax than a couple where both individuals have equal taxable income.

In October 2014, the federal government introduced the Family Tax Cut; a new non-refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 for eligible couples with minor children based on the net reduction of federal tax that would be realized if up to $50,000 of an individual’s taxable income was transferred to the individual’s eligible spouse or common-law partner. This would take advantage of a spouse’s lower income tax bracket. This tax cut is available for the 2014 tax year and subsequent years.

To be an eligible partner, your spouse or common-law partner must be a resident of Canada on December 31 of the year (or on the date of death) and you were not, because of a breakdown in your marriage or common-law partnership, living separate and apart from each other at the end of the year and for a period of 90 days or more beginning in the year.

Can I claim the Family Tax Cut?

  • You were a resident of Canada on December 31 of the year (or on the date of death);
  • You have an eligible spouse or common-law partner for the year who has not claimed the Family Tax Cut;
  • You have a child who is under 18 at the end of the year who ordinarily lives throughout the year with you or your eligible spouse or common-law partner;
  • You were not confined to a prison or similar institution for a period of at least 90 days during the year;
  • Neither you nor your eligible spouse or common-law partner became bankrupt in the year;
  • Neither you nor your eligible spouse or common-law partner elected to split eligible pension income in the year; and
  • Both you and your eligible spouse or common-law partner file an income tax and benefit return for the year.

In most situations, only one spouse may claim the Family Tax Cut. However, if you and your ex-spouse have a child under the age of 18 and you have joint custody, you may be able to both claim it. Because of a joint custody arrangement, your child may have ordinarily lived with both you and your former spouse or common-law partner throughout the year. Provided that you and your former spouse each have an eligible spouse or common-law partner for the year, and all of the other conditions for claiming the Family Tax Cut are met, you can both claim the credit for the year.

Your net income or taxable income will not change with the Family Tax Cut. This credit is calculated as if an individual allocated up to $50,000 of taxable income to an eligible spouse or common-law partner of the individual. Your actual net income and taxable income will remain unchanged.

Likewise, other credits don’t change. Unlike pension income splitting, your net income and the net income of your eligible spouse or common-law partner will not change if you claim the Family Tax Cut. As a result, benefits and tax credits that are calculated based on net income, such as the GST/HST credit, the CCTB, the age amount, and the spouse or common-law partner amount, will not change.

The Family Tax cut can definitely benefit those families, and not just the rich, as many would have you believe, where one spouse makes more than the other.

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