All Posts by Randall Orser

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President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.

What Should I do if I am a Victim of Identity Theft?

By Randall Orser | Personal Finances

If you are victim of identity theft or identity fraud, you should immediately take action to prevent further crimes from happening and to restore your credit and good name. Here are some important steps you need to take:

  • Stay calm! Think about all the identification information that you have that may have been lost or stolen.  Check filing cabinets for records of all your credit card number, bank account information, and government identification.  Create a spreadsheet and enter all this information. Use it to track all the steps you take to recover or correct each item and all the information that you obtain.
  • Track all communications with financial institutions, law enforcement and government or other agencies.  You can enter this information on your spreadsheet for future reference.
  • Contact both credit bureaus and let them know that you have been a victim of identity fraud.

    Equifax Canada http://www.consumer.equifax.ca/home/en_ca   1-800-465-7166    TransUnion Canada http://www.transunion.ca  1-877-525-3823    

    Request  a copy of your credit bureau report – this report may be free of charge. Request that a "Fraud Warning" be placed on your credit file instructing creditors to contact you personally before opening new accounts in your name - these warnings remain on file for 6 years. Remember to contact and file fraud warnings with both bureaus 
  • Review your credit reports – look for new credit accounts that you did not open, creditors who have made enquires on your credit report when you have not asked for credit.  Contact all of these creditors and describe your identity theft case and ask them to close any accounts you did not open, and to decline any requests for new accounts.

  • Contact your local police – Report the theft of your identity information and ensure that you are given a report number and record it for future reference.  Banks and creditors may require proof of the crime in order to erase debts created by identity theft.  Any suspicious information on your credit bureau reports should be disclosed to the police.  

  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) – The CAFC is the central agency in Canada that collects all information and criminal intelligence on all forms of identity theft and fraud.  They do not investigate but they provide assistance to law enforcement.  Visit their website at Canadian Anti-Fraud Center or call them at 1-888-495-8501.

  • Review all of your bank and credit card statements – If you see any suspicious transactions on your account contact the creditor or you bank and file an Identity Theft Statement.  This will help you notify all financial institutions and creditors of your identity theft.  It tells them that you did not create the debt or charges and gives them the information to start an investigation.  The Identity Theft Statement can be obtained from the CAFC website.

  • Notify credit card companies, banks and other financial institution and change all of your passwords – contact all credit card companies and banks where you have accounts that might have been affected. You then need to do the following:                                                    1. Close every account that might have been compromised. Request that it be processed as "closed at the consumer's request".
    2. Obtain replacement bank or credit card with a new account number and a new Personal Identification Number (PIN)
    3. Put a "stop payment" on any stolen cheques.
    4. Ask to have a password added to your account.

  • Notify Canada Post and utility and service providers - If you suspect that someone had your mail re-directed, notify Canada Post. Notify your service provider (telephone, cell phone, electricity, water, gas, etc.) of the identity fraud.  Ask that any new requests for service first be confirmed with you.   

  • Immigration Documents - If your immigration documents have been lost or stolen, or if you suspect that someone is fraudulently using your immigration documents, contact the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada http://www.cic.gc.ca or 1-888-242-2100

  • Passport -If your passport is lost or stolen contact any Passport Canada office or Canadian government office abroad to report it and get a replacement.

  • Social Insurance Card If you suspect someone is using your Social Insurance Number (SIN) you should visit a Service Canada Centre and bring all necessary documents with you to prove fraud or misuse of your SIN. Also, bring an original identity document (your birth certificate or citizenship document). An official will review your information and provide you with assistance and guidance.

  • Notify Provincial agencies who may have issued your identity documents including birth certificate, driver’s license, health card etc.

For more information regarding identity theft visit the following websites:                          http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/victims-guide-victimes-eng.htm            http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/fraud-escroquerie/types/identity-identite/index-eng.htm

What is Identity Theft and How Would it Affect Me?

By Randall Orser | Personal Finances

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen by someone with criminal intent and it is a serious issue in Canada.   It can lead to months of financial and legal struggles and even severe financial loss.  Criminals try to acquire any of the following personal information: 

  •  Full name
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Driver’s license
  • Credit card and banking information
  • Home Address

With a combination of this information they can apply for credit in your name, gain access to your banking and credit card accounts and potentially rack up a large amount of debt in your name.  As we work harder to secure our personal information, criminals also work harder to find newer ways to access it.

Here are some warning signs that your personal information may have been compromised:

  • A creditor that you already have or a new creditor contacts you to say that they have received an application from you
  • A bank or credit card company lets you know that you have been approved or rejected for a loan or product that you did not apply for
  • You stop getting bank statements or important banking information in the mail
  • You notice strange purchases on your credit card bills
  • A debt collector calls you about a debt that is not yours

How to Avoid Identity Theft:

  • Don’t carry around personal information such as your Social Insurance Card, passport, or birth certificate unless you absolutely need it
  • Always inform your bank and any creditors that you have changed your address so that any mail containing personal information reaches you
  • Immediately inform your bank or credit card company if you lose or misplace a card, and check with them if you do not receive a new card before the old one has expired
  • Do not give anyone access to your credit cards or bank account
  • Always take your ATM receipt or say no when asked if you would like one
  • Never leave your purse or wallet alone
  • If you close a chequing account dispose of all paperwork including cheques
  • Always review your bank and credit card statements and make sure there are no strange charges
  • Limit the number of credit card accounts that you have so that you can keep track of them all
  • Never give out any personal information over the phone unless you can verify the caller is who they say they are
  • Do not use your SIN as an identifier for bank or credit card accounts
  • Always check utility and other bills to make sure that they are yours
  • Always memorize your pin, and make sure no one is looking when you are use it
  • Never use numbers with meaning such as your date of birth
  • Always tear up or shred bills before disposing of them
  • Never apply for credit on applications that you receive in the mail, especially if it asks for your SIN
  • Get in the habit of requesting your credit report once a year so that you can catch any unauthorized credit accounts opened in your name

For more ways to protect your identity visit:               http://www.consumerhandbook.ca/en/topics/consumer-protection/identity-theft

Why Your Company Needs a Minute Book

By Randall Orser | Small Business

When you decide to incorporate your company there are many things that you need to do, but one of the most important tasks is setting up a Minute Book.   The business registry does not require you to set one up but as a business owner you are responsible for creating one and updating it annually or if there are changes to the company for example in shareholder information.  With the right amount of information, creating a Minute Book is not such an intimidating task. 

Your Minute Book is comprised of important company documents including:

  • Your articles of incorporation
  • Minutes of shareholder/director meetings
  • Annual filings /Financial Statements
  • By-laws
  • If you are selling your company a potential buyer will want to see your Minute Book
  • If you are transferring ownership, a Minute Book is necessary to prove your ownership of the company.
  • If you want to apply for a bank loan they will want to see your Minute Book
  • If you want to purchase property, you will have to provide your Minute Book before the transaction can be completed.
  • Potential investors will want to see your Minute Book to help them decide if they want to invest in your company.
  • In a partnership the Minute Book will keep a record of how much of the company is owned by each partner and any major decisions that have been made. This protects you if there is ever a dispute between the partners or if one wants to dissolve the partnership.
  • Your accountant will require your Minute Book in order to correctly prepare your Tax Returns.
  • Government agencies will request your Minute Book for information and will inflict penalties if you are unable to produce one.  

It is always best to have your Minute Book already prepared to meet any of these situations.  If you rush to put one together you can miss important information or put inaccurate information into the Minute Book, which could cost your company money.  For more information visit:

https://www.canadianbusinessresources.ca/what-goes-in-a-minute-book/

 

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Registering Your Business for Sales Tax

By Randall Orser | Sales Taxes

In Canada, there are two different kinds of sales taxes, a goods and services tax or GST and a provincial sales tax or PST.

Some provinces (Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and PEI) have harmonized their PST with the GST and charge HST (Harmonized Sales Tax). British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec have not harmonized their PST & GST so it’s two separate taxes. 

You do not have to register for the GST/HST until your sales are over $30,000. However, if you are serious about being in business or have to buy lots of equipment or other goods before starting your business, then register as soon as you have your business registered. This also goes if your sales are mostly business to business. Remember that the HST is just the GST with the PST added onto it; it’s the same tax and is remitted along with any GST you charged.

PST is a tough one as every province has different registration requirements, and on what items they charge PST. Definitely check into the province where your business is located and see if you need to be charging the PST. 


British Columbia and Manitoba require anyone selling into those provinces to register for the PST if you sell regularly into that province. Saskatchewan suggests you register, however, doesn’t require it. Quebec only requires you to register if you have an address there, an employee, or operations, such as production or marketing activities. 

To learn more about registering and charging sales tax visit https://canadabusiness.ca/government/taxes-gst-hst/federal-tax-information/overview-of-charging-and-collecting-sales-tax/

How Can You Participate in the Government’s Home Buyer’s Plan?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

The Home Buyers Plan is a government program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year  from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.

How to Participate in the HBP:

  • You must be considered a first-time home buyer, this is a person who has not occupied a home that you, your spouse, or common law partner owned in a four-year period prior to withdrawing funds.  
  • You must have a written agreement to buy or build a qualifying home for a related person with a disability or to help a related person with a disability buy or build a qualifying home.
  • You or your related person with a disability must intend to occupy the qualifying home as your principle residence within one year of building or buying it and it must also be occupied as a principle residence.
  • You may be able to participate again if your repayable HBP is at zero at January 1stin the year of your next withdrawal

To Meet the Withdrawal Conditions:

  • You must be a resident of Canada at the time of the withdrawal
  • You have to receive all withdrawals in the same calendar year
  • You cannot withdraw more than $25,000
  • You can only withdraw from your own RRSP, but you can withdraw from more than one RRSP and your RRSP issuer will not withhold tax on withdraws of $25,000 or less
  • Usually you cannot withdraw from a locked-in RRSP or a Group RRSP
  • Your RRSP contributions must stay in the RRSP for at least 90 days before you can withdraw them under the HBP or they may not be deductible for any year
  • Neither you nor your spouse or common-law partner or the related person with a disability can own the qualifying home more than 30 days before the withdrawal is made.
  • You have to buy or build a qualifying home before October 1st of the year after the year of the withdrawal.
  • You have to fill out Form T1036, Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) Request to Withdraw Funds from an RRSP for each eligible withdrawal.

You have to make sure that all HBP conditions are met otherwise your withdrawal may not be considered eligible.  You must include part or all of the withdrawal as income on tax return for the year that you received the funds. 

For more information visit the Government of Canada webpage at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/rrsps-related-plans/what-home-buyers-plan.html

Buying or Selling a Home? Tax Information You Should Know

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

If you buy or sell your principal residence in Canada, since 2016 you have to report the sale on your income tax return.  This ensures that only those who are entitled to the principal residence exemption can claim it. 

A principal residence can be any type of housing unit including a house, cottage, condo, apartment, trailer, mobile home or houseboat. It qualifies as a principal residence if you own the property alone or with another person, you, your spouse or children lived in it for some point during the year and you designated the property as your principle residence.

You can only have one principal residence at a time. If you sell your principal residence and buy another in the same year you can use the “plus one” rule when calculating the principal residence exemption amount.  This allows you to claim for both properties but only one can be designated as your principal residence.

What is the Principal Residence Exemption?

When you sell a housing unit you may realize a capital gain which can be taxable.  However, under the Principal Residence Exemption rules this capital gain may be reduced or eliminated if the property was your principal residence for all the years that you owned it.  If it was not your principal residence at any time, then you may have to report capital gains.   

What Happens if you Don't Report the Sale

If you do not report the sale on your income tax, or don't make the designation then you will have to ask the CRA for an amendment to your return for the related tax year.  The CRA may accept a late designation but you may have to pay a penalty.

For more information on buying and selling your principal residence visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/newsroom/tax-tips/tax-filing-season-media-kit/tfsmk27.html

Why Your Business Needs Financial Statements

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Why do I need a financial statement? is a question that bookkeepers and accountants are asked many times by clients.  There are three main reasons why your business needs a financial statement.

  • It is a measurement of how well your business is doing today, has done in the past and what it expects to do in the future.  Investors and potential investors look at financial statements to assess the management of the company and the viability of the business.      They also use a financial statement as a starting point to forecast the company’s future performance.  Lenders look at the financial statement to assess a business’s ability to repay debt.  The financial statement can also decrease the costs that a business may have to pay for capital, seen in lower return rates for investors and lower interest rates from lenders. 
  • You are expected to have financial statements especially by your bank.  Your financial statement assists in bridging the information gap most lenders will not even consider a loan application without up to date financials.  Bankers are notoriously unsympathetic to the stress put on entrepreneurs trying to get their business off the ground and providing an up to date financial statement will make it easier to deal with them.
  • Financial Statements are required by the CRA.  To file corporate tax returns Canadian corporations are required to produce financial statements.   If a corporate tax return is not filed within three months of the corporation year end interest on taxes begins to accrue. Within six months significant late filing penalties are also charged.  In order to avoid these extra costs, it is important to have a financial statement prepared on at least a yearly basis. 

As a business owner, financial statements are vital information for you to make business decisions.  You need to review more than your bank statements to see if you can afford to invest money back into your business.  Having a financial statement will also help you to keep all your information neatly organized for tax time.   

Just having a financial statement is not enough!  You must make sure that you are reviewing your statements regularly.  This will help you to catch mistakes earlier, detect fraud, theft or other illegal activities within your business.  Even if you have a bookkeeper or accountant to do your books you still need to be involved and watchful for any discrepancies.  

Bookkeeper vs CPA – Why you Need Both

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Many people outside the financial sphere have understandably never felt much need to absorb the various terms we throw around, even the basic ones. For instance, you might not have a grasp of the actual differences between a bookkeeper and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). After all, they're both professionals who work with small business that need to outsource critical accounting tasks. But there are some important distinctions to be made between these two types of specialists, and ultimately, you're well advised to make extensive use of both of them for your business accounting needs. 

CPA firms tend to take on big, complex issues that routinely plague businesses of all sizes. These may include tax advice and tax return filing, counseling on what type of structure the business should adopt (proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation), in-depth financial reviews, and preparations for loan applications. These are the specialists you rely on for major transitions and CRA transactions. By contrast, full-charge bookkeeping firms help you handle those routine but critical day-to-day accounts receivable and accounts payable issues, including payroll calculations, bank reconciliations, journal entries, and internal financials.

Too many businesses try to get by without a bookkeeping firm by simply throwing together a rough approximation of their financial details and handing that to their CPA firm. This places an undue burden on the CPAs, forcing them to work harder and longer to make sense of your books. A CPA's billable time usually comes at a premium, so you pay proportionately more for their extra efforts. If you've been getting by in an effort to save some money, you would be better off hiring a professional bookkeeping firm to handle your financials. You'll receive smaller bills from your CPA while making better use of your own team's valuable time.

Renting Out Your Mortgage Helper? – The Taxman Cometh

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Personal Income Tax , Small Business

Once you start renting out that mortgage helper you will need to include rental income on your tax return, using form T776 Statement of Real Estate Rentals.

You must keep accurate records of your rental income and expenses each year and retain them for six years.  These records help you figure out your net profit for the year. The tax you pay will depend on the net income from the rental; any losses will be deducted from your other income and if you have no other income will be carried forward to the next year. Whether a long-term or short-term rental, most rental receipts are considered income for tax purposes.

If your mortgage helper is for a parent, grandparent, or sibling, they are considered a ‘related person’. You may still have to report the income as rental income, however, if you’re renting below fair market value, you won’t be able to write-off any losses, and will have to report the income differently. 

Airbnb is a big thing now, and you need to realize if you’re doing this regularly, then you need to claim it as rental income. You get the same expenses as if it was a long-term rental, plus you can write off bedding, towels, and soap etc. that you use exclusively for this rental. If you supply meals, then the income may be considered business income and not rental income.

Your mortgage helper can definitely help pay for the mortgage and make your dream home more affordable. With experience, managing the rental side does get easier. Finding a good property manager, lawyer and tax preparer can help you manage the details.

For more information about renting visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/t4036/rental-income-2016.html

Thinking of Renting Out Your Mortgage Helper? – Here are Some Things You Should Know

By Randall Orser | Small Business


Before You Rent Out That Mortgage Helper, here are Some Tips

You’ve been able to buy that new home you want, and it came with an income suite, which can be financially fruitful. To be a good property manager, you should manage your rental as you would a business, which means you need to be an able planner and keep good records (especially for the taxman).
For a first-time landlord, renting out your house to an outsider can be quite the challenge. The following three items are things you should know before renting out that mortgage helper.


Keep Your Property Presentable
You must keep up the property in a tidy manner, no one wants to rent a messy place. You may also get a higher rent if you maintain the property, and keep it looking nice. Your renters will feel more confidence that you are a professional landlord when the residence is maintained. If something needs repairs, fix it, clean up the floors and walls and keep up the landscaping; this makes your rental much more attractive to potential tenants. 
Rental properties will need periodic repairs. If you’re not handy yourself, it is a good idea to find a local handyman you can rely on when needed. Your job as a landlord will be much easier if you can find reliable professionals you can call on when needed. Yes, it’s going to cost you money to maintain the property, however, it could cost you more in lost tenants. Plus, you get to write off minor repairs off the rental income.


Always Get it in Writing
That old adage is never truer than when being a landlord. You need to have a tenancy agreement, though there is no standard agreement you must use. You can look at one of those online law documents services and grab one from there, or chat with a lawyer that specializes in rentals. If you decide to just create your own, it is advisable to have a lawyer check it over for its legality. 
You should include the following details in any tenancy agreement:

  • Start and end date of the rental term
  • Security deposit amount
  • Monthly rental amount
  • The date of the month the rent is due
  • Acceptable methods of payment
  • How rent should be paid
  • If you are allowing direct payments into your bank account, you need to note on the form your bank details.
  • The number of keys you are giving the tenant
  • Who is responsible for utilities and maintenance
  • Any additional fees and disclosures

Depending on your particular circumstances, you may want to incorporate other terms you deem appropriate.

  • Pre-tenancy application form
  • Security deposit receipt for

It may be a good idea to contact a property law specialist to help create the tenancy agreement to your particular needs. The lawyer will be over legal disclosure requirements and explain how insurance can curb your liability.

Acquiring Great Tenants

At the beginning of a successful landlord-tenant relationship you need to get the right tenants. To find financially suitable applicants for your property seek the help of a credit check agency and ask for references from previous landlords.   After that, there are tools that can help you locate good tenants. Look for a local property investment association, as this can be a great resource for networking with other landlords. You’ll be able to get tips, and share yours, that you and they have learned over the years.

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