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How do You Measure up on Making the Hard Decisions?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Running your small business can be one demanding enterprise. Your dilemma is that you have control, but that is both a blessing and a curse. You have the joy of deciding how your company grows and develops, but you are also answerable for everything that happens, good or bad. If you let it, this kind of pressure can douse the flames of passion. You can make things mentally and emotionally easier for you to deal with by using the following in your approach to decision-making.

Limit Your Options

The old adage analysis paralysis can easily set in. That’s why you should look at having your offers have as few options as possible. The more choices the customer has to decide on then the less likely they are to make any choice at all.

The more options you have available to you, the harder it will be to take a path. Your best bet is to limit options is to raise or refine your standards. The more specific your needs or desired outcomes, the less options you’ll have to pick from.

Use Your Numbers

Not sure which way to go, then your best to approach the issue objectivity. Rather than just go with your gut, check your numbers. Focus on the measurable metrics and forget what isn’t quantifiable. 

While this can take more time and slow down your decision-making process, it also makes your decision more tenable as well as improving the quality. As an example, you have two manufacturers to choose from and it’s a hard choice, however, go to the numbers and which one gives you a better deal when it comes down to brass tacks.

Think Long Game

Fear is one of the biggest barriers to quick decision making. The idea that your business can be hamstrung by a single mistake is a common one, fortunately it’s not an accurate one. Although a single mistake can hurt, it’s not the death knell you may make it out to be.

Some decisions won’t always expose their true nature early on. What’s working now for your small business won’t necessarily work in the future. On the other hand, that bad decision you make today that negatively affects your business may not necessarily do so in the future. Don’t focus too much on your mistakes or their immediate effects. They’re not necessarily representative of how things will turn out.

Manage Decision Fatigue

Nothing withstands constant pressure. Exercise one muscle frequently in a short period of time, and it’ll fatigue, no matter how strong it is. The same effect happens on your brain when making a lot of decisions, fatigue. Deciding what to have for lunch, which is a simple choice, can add to the barrage of stress bearing down on your brain.

By delegating those small-impact decisions to other people can keep that stress at bay. You need to focus on the big decisions. If you can reduce something to a habit or pattern, do so. Save your energy for important choices.

Not Your Problem

You can easily miss the forest for the trees when you’re deep in the woods, and that’s where you’re at when trying to solve your own problems. Especially challenging decisions can leave you lacking perspective. Taking a step back and removing yourself from the situation can be the best thing to do. Pretend it’s not your problem.

If you had a friend facing this decision point, think about what advice you’d give them. That seems silly but pretending that it’s someone else’s problem to resolve can jar your mind enough to recover your perspective.

You must nurture decisiveness as it’s a key trait to decision making. You won’t be able to run your business if you can’t make decisions quickly. It will take a lot time, practice, and effort, but it’ll be worth it if it makes you a leader who can make choices without freezing.

Seven Things You Need to Look at for Financial Success

By Randall Orser | Small Business

You’re a small business operator, managing your business by the bootstraps -- literally! Money is tight, your expenses are on the rise and your competition is nipping at your boots.

Maintaining a thriving business is challenging enough but advancing it may seem downright impossible. One important way you can conserve your resources is by employing multiple money-saving strategies. We’re serving up seven, each designed to help you come to grips with your bottom line.

Just ask

That 13.4 percent rate you’re paying on your business credit card has you losing sleep. Get some sleep after you contact your credit card issuer and ask for a lower rate. You just might get it. You can do the same with your telecommunications company and with any other business that offers rate flexibility.

Share your office

Perhaps you have more space for your business than needed. You may not be able to get out from underneath a lease, but your landlord might allow you to sublease part of your office to someone who can share some of your expenses. An empty cubicle or back office might be desirable to a freelancer who works at home.

Freeze or cut your salary

When things are tough, cut back on what you pay yourself. Then tell your team what you did. Don’t expect your team to offer to do likewise, but they might step up their game in appreciation for you taking a hit on behalf of the team.

Get rid of your merchant account

You’re paying high fees and had to buy or lease equipment for your merchant account. Get rid of that account and use online PayPal instead. Avoid statements and monthly fees, paying a flat rate for each transaction instead.

Buy online

Shopping online can yield big savings, but you need to carefully find the right suppliers to serve your needs. Online shopping typically offers two other advantages: no payment of sales tax and free shipping.

Use independent contractors

Before you consider hiring an employee, use independent contractors to do the work for you. Keep you overhead costs low by outsourcing your accounting, advertising, website and marketing needs to people who charge a flat rate or by the hour.

If possible, barter

Exchange goods and services with a company without exchanging cash. Find a business that needs your service and likewise, developing an even plan to exchange services. Read CRA Interpretation Bulletin 490(even though it’s archived it still has good information in it) to stay within the good graces of the tax man.

There are other ways for you to cut expenses including joining a business association where members offer each other discounts, reducing your insurance costs, making use of open source software and sharing your advertising costs with another business; though stay away from ‘free’ accounting software as it’s just not worth it. With a mind to save, you’ll find savings in virtually every area of your business, money that will benefit your financial statements.

Find the Best Talent

By Randall Orser | Small Business

The 21stcentury economy is constantly evolving at unheard-of rates, and it’s getting harder and harder to find employees with the necessary skills for your business. As an employer are you finding it a struggle to find the right employees to stay competitive? The tried and true solution of old for finding new employees through traditional educational programs isn’t working as well either, because modern business is progressing so fast that many things learned in the classroom are either irrelevant or outdated by the time a student gets a degree. Businesses must get more innovative in their search for new employees in order to overcome those challenges. If you’re looking for new talent in this modern job market, here are some tips that may help.

Formal Education

For a long time, prevailing thought was that a relevant degree was the mark of a potentially able and valuable employee. There is still some truth to this, but a degree shouldn’t be the final word on whether that potential employee is a suitable fit. Many workers today are bypassing the traditional educational system by teaching themselves skills via online learning. Just because they don’t have the traditional degree doesn’t mean they aren’t as good or better than other prospects who do have degrees in their field. You should be placing your emphasis more on skills over degrees to avoid overlooking good talent.

Freelancers

Freelancer workers have been increasing their presence over the past few years, and economically are a great development. Freelancers aren’t someone who’s going to come work for you directly, but they can become a valuable resource because of the real-world experience in their fields. The workers of the future will be freelancers, so you don’t want to pass over them simply because of an outdated mindset of having traditional employees.

Build a Virtual Team

Thanks to technology many businesses carry on their operations without the need for all employees to be in one location. As an employer, you have a big opportunity to hire people from anywhere in the world, not just where your business is situated. The virtual space does take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to a more traditional way of doing business, but the benefits are vast. If you find someone whose talent fits your business well and is prepared to work remotely, don’t squander the chance to bring on this person just due to geographic separation.

Training Resources

Once a new employee has been brought on, the problems that were there that made it difficult to find that new employee with pertinent skills are still there afterwards. It’s more important than ever to play an active role in keeping the skills of your employees up-to-date. You need to develop practical training resources for employees that protect you from that skills gap re-emerging later on in your business. You may be thinking I’m a small business and don’t have the funds or time to develop such resources, however, there are online learning courses, and many are probably provided by your suppliers, that can keep your employees advancing.

The disparity between the skills you need or want, and those of future employees, just seems to grow bigger as the years go by. However, with the above strategies, you, as a modern business, can mostly sidestep the skills gap by adapting to how the modern job market works. And remember to offer your top performers generous incentives so they’ll stay, before you realize that their talent is also wanted by your competitors.

Be Better Prepared for Tax Season 2019

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

I know what you’re thinking, didn’t we just do our taxes, well, yes, but it’s never too late to start planning now for the 2019 season. Maybe you weren’t as organized as you’d like to be, maybe you weren’t able to take advantage of certain deductions, such as RRSPs or employment expenses. Now is the time to think about these things rather than next April.

Get Organized

Start by having a specific drawer, or area of your desk that you keep all your tax receipts you get during the year and use an envelope in which to keep them. This is the best way to ensure you always have the receipts you need to file your taxes. As something comes in, put it in the envelope, and it’ll always be there when you go to do your taxes.

What Did You Miss Last Year

What deductions did you miss out on last year? Did you not make enough RRSPs? Maybe you could deduct your automobile for work but didn’t have all the receipts; or kept track of your mileage. Now is the time to look at where you are as far as RRSPs go and start contributing more. It’s much better to start contributing now rather than one lump sum come February as your money starts earning income right away. 

For your automobile, start keeping your mileage now, and ensure you keep track of all work-related mileage. Every time you get gas make sure you get a receipt, same with any repairs you do to the car, and keep your insurance papers with the amount. If you haven’t kept your mileage until now, do the best you can to backtrack up to January 1st, that includes the beginning mileage for the vehicle.

What Couldn’t You Use Last Year

You may have had capital losses, from the sale of shares, etc., or non-capital losses that you just couldn’t use. If you feel there are shares you wish to get rid of this year, think about doing so to create a gain that you can offset with those losses (the opposite goes here to so if you have some lame-duck stocks and you know you’re going to have gains it may be time to get rid of them). If you had non-capital losses last year, you can carry them forward, to a year you have income. There are limitations so make sure you check them out.

Another thing you may not have used last year were moving expenses. If you moved later in the year or didn’t earn income from your new job or business before December 31st, you can carry forward these to the next year that you are actually earning income. CRA likes to see these expenses deducted from income you earned because of the move and in the year that the income was earned (as long as it’s the following tax year).

Donations can also be carried forward for five years. Donations are one deduction that are best done with a high value. $20 here or $20 there really doesn’t do much for your taxes. Donations work as a non-refundable credit and on the 1st$200 you get 15% of that or $30; over $200 you get a 29% credit. Therefore, it makes much more sense to accumulate your donations until you have over $200 (as long as it doesn’t take more than 5 years). If you are feeling philanthropic then your best bet is to give bigger donations to fewer organizations to take advantage of the tax deduction.

Medical expenses are another deduction that you can carry over to another year. For medical expenses, the end date must fall within the tax year you are filing for; for example, if you’re filing for 2018, then you can have March 2017 to February 2018. For 2019, you don’t have to carry on those dates, however, you would have to use March 2019 to December 2019. 

Doing this split works well when you have a lot of expenses in one part of the year that fall into the next year. Let’s say you’re having a bunch of dental work that starts in November but won’t end until January of the next year at a cost of $10,000. You may be better off claiming it in the following tax year rather than the previous tax year.

The reason for a successful tax year is organization. The better organized you are and have everything ready to go, the faster your return gets done. It also makes your tax preparers life much easier too.

Cleanup Your Invoicing Practices

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Surprisingly, many small business, and maybe yours, are making it hard for your clients to pay, improper invoicing can slow payment, which could bring your whole operation to a halt. You may even get much less than you expected, simply because the client found a hole in the deal. The following ways can help you improve your invoicing and keep your company healthy.

Short Payment Terms

Stay away from 30-day payment terms as they aren’t good for your business. Those kinds of terms mean you wait an entire month for your revenue and this increases the amount of capital your company needs to function, because you don’t immediately recoup your expenses. With today’s technology, you don’t need to wait that long. You can email the invoice and many accounting programs allow the receiver to just click a button and pay. There’s also e-Interac®Transfers, online banking, and credit cards. In this day and age there’s no real need for payment terms anymore. Always, encourage your customers to pay right away, or better yet, prepay.

Bill Clients Regularly

Your business is probably like most that you can get away with requiring payment right away. If you’re in a situation where that’s not possible due to the nature of your business or clients, you will have to determine when you should bill your clients. There’s no one set of rules that apply to all companies, but there are some best practices, so check with others in your industry and see what they’re doing, and those practices may depend on the region you’re in.

No matter how often you send invoices, shoot to send them when their inboxes are less full, like a weekend. Barring that then Tuesday is usually the best bet.

Automation

Invoicing can be a time-consuming, though albeit very important, task. Rather than slaving away at your invoicing, you should automate it as much as you can. The time savings allows you to work on other aspects of your business, especially if you have recurring invoices. As we work on a value-based pricing model, we bill out the first of the month, and apply to a credit card, and thanks to QuickBooks Online this makes it very simple.

Set Your Payment Terms in Stone

Before you even sell your product or service you need to set your payment terms in stone, too many small businesses make this mistake when starting out. Without clear rules, either party could start trying to get more out of the deal, possibly hindering the process or turning it into a worthless endeavour. Every contract should answer things such as payment options, invoicing, as well as any other incentives.

Never Hold Credit

Once you spend your money, you’re not getting it back until you get paid for your product or service. By holding credit, accounts receivable, for your clients, you’re putting your business in pickle. Holding credit can impede you from meeting orders, and if you don’t get paid on time, it could affect your relationships. Your suppliers may not look favourably on your business if you can’t pay them. Ensure your customers know this from the beginning.

If you can’t get paid quickly, and on-time, your small business will never survive. Overhaul your invoicing and ensure you get what you deserve.

How do you calculate your installment payments?

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes

Now that you’ve determined you need to make installments to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), how do you do that? Your installments are based on your net tax owing (what you owed on your tax return), any Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions payable on self-employment and other earnings, and any voluntary employment insurance (EI) premiums payable on self-employment and other eligible earnings. Once you know that information you can calculate your installments for the current year.

Calculation options

You have three options to choose from to calculate your instalment payments:

No-calculation option

This option is best for you if your income, deductions, and credits stay about the same from year to year.

CRA will give the no-calculation option amount on the instalment reminders that CRA will send you. CRA determine the amount of your instalment payments based on the information in your latest assessed tax return.

Prior-year option

This option is best for you if your 2018 income, deductions, and credits will be similar to your 2017 amount but significantly different from those in 2016.

You determine the amount of your instalment payments based on the information from your tax return for the 2017 tax year. Use the Calculation chart for instalment payments for 2018 to help you calculate your total instalment amount due.

If you use the prior-year option and make the payments in full by their 2018 due dates, CRA will not charge instalment interest or a penalty unless the total instalment amount due you have calculated is too low. For more information, see Instalment interest and penalty charges.

Current-year option

This option is best for you if your 2018 income, deductions, and credits will be significantly different from those in 2017 and 2016.

You determine the amount of your instalment payments based on your estimated current-year (2018) net tax owing, any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums. Use the Calculation chart for instalment payments for 2018 to help you calculate your total instalment amount due.

If you use the current-year option and make the payments in full by their 2018 due dates, CRA will not charge instalment interest or a penalty unless the amounts you estimated when calculating your total instalment amount due CRA too low. For more information, see Instalment interest and penalty charges.

By choosing the best option for you, you will not overpay your tax during the year or have a large amount of tax to pay when you file your tax return. You do not have to tell CRA which option you choose.

Instalment reminder received in August 2018

If you only received an instalment reminder in August and the reminder does not mention a March or June 2018 instalment payment, follow the instructions that apply to you:

No-calculation option – Pay the amount shown in box 2 of your reminder for September 15 and December 15.

Prior-year option – Calculate your 2017 net tax owing and add any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums payable. Pay 75% of the total on September 15 and 25% on December 15.

Current-year option – Estimate your current-year 2018 net tax owing and add any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums payable. Pay 75% of the total on September 15 and 25% on December 15.

You want to reduce or eliminate the amount of your instalment payments

You can reduce or eliminate the amount of your instalment payments if you reduce your net tax owing. You can do this by having tax withheld, or by increasing the amount of tax withheld, from the following types of income:

Income tax cannot be withheld from certain types of income, such as self-employment, investment, and rental income, and capital gains.

Example:

Hugh, a resident of Alberta, pays his tax by instalments. He decides to have more tax withheld from his income in 2018. His net tax owing has been $3,500 for several years, and he expects it will stay the same in 2018. In January 2018, Hugh gave his pension plan administrator a filled-out Form TD1 that stated he wants an extra $250 withheld each month from his pension income.

Hugh now estimates his net tax owing will be $500 for 2018. Based on his estimate, he does not have to make instalment payments in 2018 because his net tax owing will not be over $3,000 for 2018. Hugh would disregard the instalment reminders he gets for 2018.

It can be easy to calculate installments, as CRA does it for you for the most part. If you feel your income will be much different than the prior year, either up or down, then adjust your installments accordingly. Just remember that if CRA does send you a reminder, then you must make those payments, especially if your tax situation doesn’t change from last year.

Enhance Your Chances of Small Business Success

By Randall Orser | Small Business

As a small business owner, don’t you want to be more successful? Are you content with your success up to now, but realize your business could be better if you worked hard at strengthening your business skills? You need to put in the work regularly in order to improve your chances of business success. The following tips will supercharge your long-term growth of your business.

Challenge Yourself

Outperform your previous day’s efforts. You can make it a game to do more each day and watch what you can achieve in a week amaze you. Track your task completion rate and try to beat your work output each day. Supercharge your productivity by adding just one more task to your to-do list.

Learn to Say No

A coach I work with says it’s either a “Hell, Yes!” or it’s a “NO”.  What opportunities are being thrown at you that you need to say no to. Don’t cave into customer demands for fear of losing a sale or take on a customer if they don’t fit your ideal client. You need to focus your energy on opportunities and tasks that help the bottom line to build a booming business. Learning to say no is the hardest challenge of being a small business owner. However, it’s on that’ll pay dividends well into the future.

Spot Opportunities Where Others Don’t

Learn to spot opportunities others miss if you want to be a successful business owner. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in community politics, competitive challenges, or market negativity. Your best bet to outperform others in your industry is to stay positive about the future of your business and be observant spotting opportunities. Skip the negativity and squabbling and grin all the way to the bank and leave them wondering about the secret to your success.

Change is Good

Your business plan should include change. If you’re not willing to change your business plan, you may miss out on extraordinary growth opportunities. Business planning is smart, tweaking and updating your business plan is smarter.

Make Quick Decisions

If you truly want to succeed as a small business owner, you need to learn to make quick, informed decisions. Take too long making that decision and poof the opportunity has passed you by. Understand crucial factors that are relevant to your decision, weigh the pros and cons, and then make a firm decision. Never look back or second guess yourself.

By incorporating the above tips into your daily routine your odds of growing a booming business increase. Putting in the effort to improve your business skills makes it likelier that you’ll achieve great success. What about it? Are there business development skills you have found especially helpful in growing your business?

 

Do You Have to Make Income Tax Installments?

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes

There comes a time in many taxpayers lives where you end up owing too much to the taxman and have to make installments. Or, you’re now self-employed and no tax is taken off your earnings. The taxman likes his cut and doesn’t want to wait for it either. If your amount owing come April 30this more than $3,000 then you must make installments; except Quebec which is $1,800. And, now Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is penalizing, plus interest, you when you don’t.

Generally, your net tax owing is the amount you owe on your income tax and benefit return. You have to pay your income tax by instalments for 2018 if bothof the following apply:

your net tax owing for 2018 will be above the thresholdfor your province or territory ($1,800 or $3,000)

your net tax owing in either2017 or2016 was above the threshold for your province or territory

You do nothave to pay your income tax by instalments for 2018 if your net tax owing for 2018 will be $3,000 or less ($1,800 or less for residents of Quebec), even if you received an instalment reminder in 2018. If you received an instalment reminder that shows an amount to pay, you may have to pay your income tax by instalments.

What is an instalment reminder?

An instalment reminder is sent to help you determine if you have to pay income tax by instalments. The reminder will suggest an amount to pay and list the calculation options. There are three: no-calculation option, prior-year option, and current-year option.

No-calculation option

This option is best for you if your income, deductions, and credits stay about the same from year to year. CRA will provide the no-calculation option amount on the instalment reminders that they will send you. CRA determines the amount of your instalment payments based on the information in your income tax and benefit return for the two previous taxation years.

Prior-year option

This option is best for you if your 2018 income, deductions, and credits will be similar to your 2017 amount but significantly different from those in 2016. You determine the amount of your instalment payments based on the information from your income tax and benefit return for the 2017 tax year. 

If you use the prior-year option and make the payments in full by their 2018 due dates, CRA will not charge instalment interest or a penalty unlessthe total instalment amount due you have calculated is too low. 

Current-year option

This option is best for you if your 2018 income, deductions, and credits will be significantly different from those in 2017 and 2016. You determine the amount of your instalment payments based on your estimated current-year (2018) net tax owing, any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums. 

If you use the current-year option and make the payments in full by their 2018 due dates, CRA will not charge instalment interest or a penalty unlessthe amounts you estimated when calculating your total instalment amount due were too low. 

The CRA sends instalment reminders to people who mayhave to pay tax by instalments:

The February reminder is for the March and June payments

The August reminder is for the September and December payments

  • No-calculation option– Pay the amount shown in box 2 of your reminder for September 15 and December 15.
  • Prior-year option – Calculate your 2017 net tax owingand add any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums payable. Pay 75% of the total on September 15 and 25% on December 15.
  • Current-year option– Estimate your current-year 2018 net tax owing and add any CPP contributions payable, and any voluntary EI premiums payable. Pay 75% of the total on September 15 and 25% on December 15.

If you received an instalment reminder and you were required to pay instalments but did not comply, you may have interest and penalty charges. I won’t get into that here, but it can be hefty depending on what your instalments should have been and what you actually paid.

 

Is it Time to Clean up Your Annoying Marketing?

By Randall Orser | Small Business

You shouldn’t be annoying your customers with your marketing, but instead creating and curating value in the life of your customers. It will take and effort to build relationships with your customers to where they’ll trust and value your opinions. The following are some of the ways you’ll break your potential customer’s trust and annoy them.

Avoid Minor Injustices

Our first offender for annoying marketing is norm violations or minor injustices. These usually aren’t intentional, but somehow, they violate standards your customers value. For example, you invite IT technicians to a convention where WIFI is not easily available, or any form of internet connection during the convention. No matter how well the convention goes, or the other advantages encountered, they’ll remember being annoyed and frustrated with no WIFI. Your oversight in picking this venue may not have been intended, however, the gist of the meeting may probably boost their expectations.

We rely on technology a lot nowadays, so your customers are predisposed to frustration when you can’t meet their expectations around it. What are your customers standards and expectations being accustomed to? Knowing this can reduce negative reviews.

Crappy Website

Your customer today is looking for instant gratification, and not easy to please. Online shoppers expect your website to load instantly. As soon as your website doesn’t meet their expectations, in mere seconds now, they’re off your page and onto the next. An unwieldy checkout system can also increase the likelihood of cart abandonment. You need to design your website for easy navigation as anything less will end up in a mass exodus to your competitors.

With the popularity of smartphones and tables at an all-time high, your website should be optimized to tap into this huge audience of internet users. Your website should be compatible with all major browsers and mobile devices, in which case you’re best to hire a skilled website developer. Complete your contacts page, and don’t obscure or conceal them as it will make it hard to get feedback from your customers.

Don’t Keep Your Customers Waiting

It’s much simpler now to communicate with your customers thanks to technology. If there’s a problem that you can’t solve immediately, then keep your customers informed. They’ll soon understand that you’re working hard to fix their issue, which makes them feel valued and respected. Unexpected events may end up causing longer wait times, so keep your customers up-to-date via text, which shows you care. Once the issue has been resolved follow up and your customers will look upon your brand as trustworthy.

If you are getting negative feedback, it’s a much better approach to be proactive as that’s in the best interest of your customer. Do your best to solve the problem straightaway, and if you must give them a refund or replacement. Keep track of any feedback and then adjust your offering to continually improve your business. Sadly, one bad review often outweighs a dozen positive ones.

Why Is My Tax Notice of Assessment (NOA) Different Than What Was Filed?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Every year after you file your personal income taxes, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sends you a Notice of Assessment (NOA). On this NOA, CRA will state any information that relates to changes made during their processing of your return, what any carry forwards for non-capital and net capital losses will be, information on your current TFSA, and what is your next year RRSP contribution limit.

Occasionally, you find that something has been changed by CRA due to information they received that you perhaps didn’t get, such as an additional slip, or carry forwards you may have forgotten about. It could also have been a mistake during the preparation of your return.

The most common mistake we find is the missing slip. You had more than one job in the tax year, or non-registered investments that send out a slip you don’t get or that slip comes after you’ve done your taxes. Even with the new auto-fill return feature, not all slips will who up, as they may not get processed by February 28th, and can show up on CRA’s system much later in March.

If you do have non-registered investments, allow enough time for those slips to come before you file your taxes. T3 Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations slips are the last slips you’ll usually receive. I find it best to wait until Mid-March or later to do your taxes, if you get any kind of slip for non-registered investments. Those slips usually come on a T3, T5, T5008.

Another slip that is commonly forgot about is the T4RSP, which is a slip you receive when you take money out of your RRSP during the year. It is amazing how many people forget they did this, do their taxes, and then get a NOA very different from what they thought it would be. This can be a major difference depending on how much you withdrew, and what was your income for that year.

For those of you that still paper file, yes there are still people using paper, addition errors are the biggest mistake. Double, and triple, check your addition and subtraction. Make sure that you have the correct figures before you send in your return. A good idea is to do it in pencil (never file your return in pencil) first then do it over in pen. If you’ve paid based on what you’ve filed, and you file too close to the deadline, you may be charged penalties and interest if the balance owing goes above what you already paid, and CRA processes your return after April 30th.

Your installment payments are another item that can make your NOA different from what you filed. Sometime in February you get a statement of installments paid that apply to the prior tax year. It’s best to make sure you get this statement before filing, and call CRA if you don’t have it by March. Always ensure exactly what you paid for installments for the prior tax year before filing your taxes.

When you do get your NOA check it and compare it to what was filed. If you used a tax preparer, send it to them, so they can see what happened after your return was filed. It’s important to check your NOA so next year you know for what to look when you go to prepare your next year’s taxes. Today, your tax preparer can get your NOA almost as soon as they file, which is pretty cool.