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Thinking of Moving Up North for a Job? 

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

The north is thought to be a desolate place, however, that’s not the case anymore. It could be a good time to find a job in the Northern parts of Canada. There are credits for being a northern resident, and they could be good enough to make that move worthwhile.

Northern Residents Deduction

There are two northern residents’ deductions:

  • a residency deduction (Step 2 of Form T2222) for having lived in a prescribed zone; and
  • a deduction for travel benefits (Step 3 of Form T2222) you received from employment in a prescribed zone that was included in your income.

You qualify if you have lived on a permanent basis, in a prescribed northern zone (Zone A) or a prescribed intermediate zone (Zone B) for a continuous period of at least six consecutive months. This period can begin or end in the tax year specified on Form T2222, Northern Residents Deductions. To determine if you lived in the prescribed zone on a permanent basis, we consider the number of your absences from the prescribed zone and the purpose and length of your absences.

If you have not lived in a prescribed zone for a continuous period of at least six consecutive months at the time you file your return, you do not yet qualify. File your return without making the claim. When you qualify, you can ask us to adjust your return.

Your period of residency is not affected if you moved from one place in a prescribed zone directly to another place in a prescribed zone. Absences from a prescribed zone - If you lived in a prescribed zone on a permanent basis, absences from a prescribed zone do not usually affect your period of residency. If you lived in a prescribed zone for work-related reasons (while your principal place of residence was not in a prescribed zone), you may qualify for the deduction.

Can you claim the deduction for travel benefits?

You can claim the deduction for travel benefits for expenses you incurred to travel or the value of travel provided by your employer if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • you qualify to claim northern residents’ deductions;
  • you are an employee dealing at arm's length with your employer; and
  • you must have included in your income (in the same year that you have the travel expenses) the taxable travel benefits that you received from your employment in a prescribed zone.

If you take a trip that begins and ends in one year and you are reimbursed the following year, you cannot claim the deduction for travel benefits for that trip.

You can claim a deduction for travel benefits if you leave on a trip in one year and return the next year. For example, you may leave on a trip in December and come back in January. If you receive non-refundable tickets or travel vouchers, the taxable travel benefit should be included in your T4 slip or T4A slip for the year the trip begins.

Taxable travel benefits include:

  • travel assistance provided by your employer such as airline tickets or a trip on the company owned airplane; and
  • a travel allowance or a lump-sum payment you received from your employer for travel expenses you incurred.

Any travel expenses, excluding those for employment purposes, which are paid for by your employer, are generally considered taxable benefits.

The maximum deduction you can claim for each eligible trip is the lowest of the following three amounts:

You can claim a deduction for travel benefits even if you are not claiming a residency deduction. For example, if your spouse or common-law partner claims both the basic and the additional residency amounts, you can still claim a deduction for any taxable travel benefits you received.

You cannot claim a deduction for travel benefits if:

  • you or any member of your household received or was entitled to receive non-taxable amounts as travel assistance, a travel allowance, or as a reimbursement for travel expenses; or
  • someone else has already claimed the deduction for travel benefits for this trip on their return.

There are two parts to the residency deduction: a basic residency amount and an additional residency amount. The amount you can claim for these will depend on whether you lived in a prescribed northern or an intermediate zone.

For 2016, you can claim a basic residency amount of $11 for each day you lived in a prescribed northern zone. Or if you lived in a prescribed intermediate zone, you can claim $5.50 per day.

The additional residency amount is $11 for each day you lived in a prescribed northern zone. Or if you lived in a prescribed intermediate zone, it is $5.50 per day. You can claim this additional amount only if you maintained and lived in a dwelling in the northern or intermediate zone and you are the only person in your household claiming the basic residency amount.

  • Example 1: Eric and his wife Geneviève lived in a prescribed northern zone for 300 consecutive days during 2016. Eric’s basic residency amount is $3,300 (300 days x $11). Geneviève’s basic residency amount is also $3,300 (300 days x $11). Eric and Geneviève cannot claim the additional residency amount. This is because they lived in the same dwelling during the same period and they are each claiming the basic residency amount.
  • Example 2: Jane lived in a prescribed intermediate zone for 300 days during 2016. Her basic residency amount is $1,650 (300 days x $5.50). Her additional amount is also $1,650 (300 days x $5.50). This gives her a total claim of $3,300 ($1,650 + $1,650). Jane can claim the additional residency amount because she maintained and lived in a dwelling and is the only individual in her dwelling claiming the basic residency amount.

As you can see, moving up north may not be all that bad, and many people I know that moved up north are enjoying it very much.

Is it Time to Explore Getting a Partner? 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Partnerships can be complex. Adding an employee can be disruptive enough, however, a partner can create an upheaval. That said, a partner can be indispensable to growing your business. Your partners aren’t just those working with you at the top, it’s your manufacturers, and such.

Finding the right partner could let your business grow beyond your expectations or levels you might not reach by yourself. A partner also allows you to have someone you can empathize with, and divide the duties. Of course, it’s not all sunshine and unicorns. You need to be careful who you bring aboard as they may go from your greatest ally to your worst nightmare. Before you leap into that partnership, here are some things to consider.


You should always protect yourself legally, even if you’re getting along with your partner before joining forces. Too many people shy away from a legal contract with too much detail, believing such contracts exemplify an absence of trust. This just is not a good idea.

If the partnership collapses, your partners’ responsibilities are to themselves or their investors to ensure they get the most out of the collapse as possible, as well as your responsibility. Your trademarks represent ownership of your company and what you do. By not protecting those trademarks, former partners can claim ownership, and while you might win the legal battle, you may lose the war by crippling your business with legal and other fees.

If may be a good idea to have any trademarks owned by another company, and have your operating company pay the other company royalties or licensing fees.


Whether your partner is human or a corporation, trust is mandatory for it to survive. That doesn’t mean you give away the farm (so to speak), so they don’t get to learn the many things about your business. After all, it’s still your small business. You should only give away what you must, however, be overly cold about it. Ask your potential partner what they need to know to ensure things to gently. For anything sensitive that you may need to share, get the new partner to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and anyone else relevant.


Ideas are at the heart of any small business, which makes them incredibly desirable. Be assured if you don’t protect your ideas, someone else will steal them. Potentials partners could take your ideas and start their own business, especially if they believe you can’t handle it, and if you don’t protect your ideas.

It may not be something you’d think someone would do, but if someone can get an advantage, they’ll probably take a shot. Don’t let partners have the opportunity of using you as a jumping-off point; protect your ideas at all costs. There are ways to work around a patent, most notably if they were there from the beginning, however, the fact that patents exist can avert legal battles from cropping up in the first place.

Due Diligence

Having a partner means you’re putting your small businesses future in their hands. The same with a manufacturer, you put the quality of your product in their hands. You don’t want to let just anyone get a piece of your dream, so it just makes sense to do your due diligence. You need to do research on any potential partners. Get references from previous businesses or jobs they’ve worked with, and chat to them so you get a feel for how the will fit you and your small business. You may even want to do social media and background checks to ensure they’re on the up and up.

Non-competes / Non-solicitations

At some point in your business employees or partners will exit. That’s all-in course of running your business, and you do get used to it. What is harder to get used to is seeing them using their training and knowledge to join the competition right after the exit, or worse, starting their own business. It’s not just your ideas your former partners have their eyes on, it’s your top talent too. A non-competition or non-solicitation agreements limit the liability a former partner or employee represents, and can keep your company safe. Always get legal advice on any non-compete agreement you’re preparing.

Partners can be a crucial component of your small business. Your partners, including the ones you do business with, embodies your potential growth and ability to do great things. Sadly, if the times turn bad they can turn on you too. Always work to protect yourself for most contingencies. It is your business after all.

Are You Having a Baby? 

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Congratulations! If you are a new parent, or about to be one, there are some things that can benefit you tax wise when having children. Children can be expensive to raise and the government recognizes this and gives parents different tax credits and benefits to somewhat offset those costs.

If you are a single parent, then you can claim the child as equivalent to spouse, which gives you an additional $11K non-refundable tax credit.

Apply for child benefits

With the Automated Benefits Application (ABA), you can automatically apply for child benefits when registering the birth of your new baby. If you live in a province that has ABA and give your permission, you will automatically be applying or registering for:

  • the Canada child benefit (CCB)– A tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising a child under 18
  • the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit - A tax-free quarterly payment that helps families and individuals with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay
  • any related provincial programs – Most provinces and territories also have child and family benefits and credits, which families can receive in addition to the CCB and the GST/HST credit. We won’t get into these in this post as there are just too many of them.

If you live in a territory that does not have ABA, you can apply for child and family benefits using the “Apply for child benefits” service through My Account or by completing and mailing Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application to your tax centre.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The Canada child benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The CCB might include the child disability benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses information from your income tax and benefit return to calculate how much your CCB payments will be. To get the CCB, you have to file your return every year, even if you did not have income in the year. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they also have to file a return every year.

Benefits are paid over a 12-month period from July of one year to June of the next year. Your benefit payments will be recalculated every July based on information from your income tax and benefit return from the previous year.

If you want to know if you qualify for the CCB check out CRA’s website here.

GST/HST Credit

The GST/HST credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay. You no longer have to apply for the GST/HST credit. The Canada Revenue Agency will automatically determine your eligibility when you file your next income tax and benefit return for the 2014 and later tax years.

There are various provincial programs related to the GST/HST credit, which you can check on CRA’s website here. For British Columbia, there is the BC Family Bonus and the BC Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, only one of you can receive the credit. The credit will be paid to the person whose return is assessed first. The amount will be the same, regardless of who (in the couple) receives it.

Working Income Tax Benefit

Your baby is considered an eligible dependent, which means you may now claim the working income tax benefit (WITB), or the amount you claimed before might increase. The WITB is a refundable tax credit that provides tax help for working low-income families and individuals. Eligible individuals and families may be able to apply for WITB advance payments, which are paid quarterly. This credit is especially helpful if you are a single parent.

Save For Your Child's Education

It's never too early to start saving for your child's future education by contributing to a registered education savings plan (RESP). Programs such as the Canada education savings grant (CESG) and the Canada learning bond (CLB) are other reasons for creating an RESP for your child. These programs may provide incentives for using an RESP to save for a child's education after high school (post-secondary education).

With the above credits, there is a disability portion if your child is diagnosed with any kind of disability. All the above credits get an increase for a disable child under 18 years of age. Note that the disability must be severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.

If you are having a baby, then these credits can help with the cost of raising them, and you may as well take advantage of them.

Renovating the Office? Here are Five Things to Think About

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Is your small business office getting tired? It may be a time for a change. Maybe you need to create space for new employees, or maybe it just needs an update look. Perhaps you’re just getting started and want your office to reflect your vision. Here are five things to consider before hitting the sledge.

The Strength of the New Design

While blending in and being part of the neighbourhood can be good, but not for your office. Your clients need to be able to find you, so make it as easy as pie. Your design should be readily distinguishable, matching your current branding, so people know it right away. For a lot of businesses, that seems to epitomize a large sign. That can be okay in some circumstances, however, you should be afraid to experiment.

There is still value into fitting into the neighbourhood and surrounding area. If you stick out like a sore thumb, you seem too out of place and that you don’t really belong. While it can be a headache to not clash with fitting in and standing out, it may be worth thinking about that.

Energy Efficiency

Today being energy efficient is a big thing, and can work in your favour business wise. You’re just starting out, so you may not have tons of capital, so if you can save on utilities, then great, and energy consumption is a good place to begin.

It isn’t just the wiring you need to check. If you’re in a colder clime, then ensuring the insulation is sufficient can save you on the heating costs. Upgrading your windows is a good way to keep the heat in and your costs down. Check into your local utilities energy credits or rebates for upgrading your home/office to become more energy efficient.

Focus on the Most Important Change

More than likely, you won’t be able to afford all the changes you wish to make, and that’s okay. You need to focus your resources on the most important areas first. Is there anything your new office just can’t do without?

Analyze your office space. Do you really need to improve it? Will it do for now. Or does it affect company productivity? Is it bleak and putting off to customers? Check your budget, and see where improvements would give you the biggest bang.

The People Affected

You’re not alone in your business, nor is the space just for your workforce. You have to think about your customers and your neighbours. While you may think painting the building yellow is a great idea, that may annoy your neighbours, which could affect deals down the road, and there could be legal considerations (bylaws are the first thing that comes to mind).

You need to have a chat with those involved. Are there any changes your employees may want? They would know what would work for them productivity wise. Of course, you need to go over the renovation plans with them, and how you’re going to deal with any disruptions. Consult your lawyers and see what laws you need to review. You also want to warn your neighbours about any disruptions that the renovation may cause.


Renovations don’t come cheap, and cutting corners is never a good idea. The old cliché holds true ‘you get what you pay for’, and a well-designed office will pay for itself eventually. Your bookkeeper or accountant should be able to help you develop a budget to get what you want, and keep those costs under control.

Are you doing the work yourself? If you find you need some piece of equipment, rent it instead of buying it as you probably won’t use it again. Check in your network for a dependable contractor, and maybe you can work out a deal for reduced costs such as promising future work or referring them to others.

Your office renovations can be a thrilling affair for your small business, however, it should be mildly. Rushing into a renovation and without care, could make the office worse than it was before. Take your time. This is your office you’re creating, so ensure it changes into what fits your vision and needs.

Have You Made Donations Yet This Year? 

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes

As we’re nearing the end of 2017, it’s a good time to look at your potential deductions for the tax year. Whether you’re someone who donates throughout the year, or just in one lump sum. It’s a good idea to see how much you’ve donated so far, this year, and should you top it up.  You may also be doing a bit of cleaning out this fall and getting rid of things, so may be a good time to think about donating something in kind to your favourite charity. Now is definitely the time to look at what you can contribute to make the most of your tax deduction.

Your donations can consist of monies or gifts to registered charities, and political parties, too. You can look up on Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s website to see if the charity you wish to donate to is registered on the Charities Listing page. Ensure the charity is registered here before you give any of your money; this includes charities of foreign countries. Qualified donees are:

  • registered charities;
  • registered Canadian amateur athletic associations;
  • registered national arts service organizations;
  • registered housing corporations resident in Canada set up only to provide low-cost housing for the aged;
  • registered municipalities in Canada;
  • registered municipal or public bodies performing a function of government in Canada;
  • the United Nations and its agencies;
  • registered universities outside Canada that are prescribed to be universities the student body of which ordinarily includes students from Canada;
  • Her Majesty in Right of Canada, a province, or a territory; and
  • before June 23, 2015, registered foreign charitable organizations to which Her Majesty in Right of Canada has made a gift. For gifts made on or after June 23, 2015, registered foreign charities (which now include foreign charitable foundations) to which Her Majesty in Right of Canada has made a gift.

What is the eligible amount of my gift?

In most cases, the eligible amount of your gift is the amount shown on your charitable donation receipt.

However, in more technical terms, the eligible amount of the gift is the amount by which the fair market value of the gifted property exceeds the amount of an advantage, if any, received or receivable for the gift.

The advantage is generally the total value of any property, service, compensation, use or any other benefit that you are entitled to as partial consideration for, or in gratitude for, the gift. The advantage may be contingent or receivable in the future, either to you or a person or partnership not dealing at arm's length with you.

Look at all the donations you have given this year, do they add up to $200 or more? If not, you want to top that up to over $200 as you get a bigger credit for the amounts over $200. Currently, you get 15% tax credit on donations up to $200, and 29% on any amounts over that. For example, you give $750 to charity, you get $30 on the first $200 and $159.50 on the rest for a total of $189.50.

Generally, you can claim on line 340, all or part of these donations, up to a limit of 75% of your net income (line 236). As an exception, gifts of capital property are limited to 100% of your net income. Also, for the year a person dies and the year before, the 75% limit is extended to 100% of the person's net income.

Of course, as always, keep your copies in case CRA asks for them; usually, if you donate quite a bit of your income they’ll check.

First-time donor’s super credit

The First-time donor's super credit (FDSC) supplements the value of the charitable donations tax credit (CDTC) by 25% on donations made after March 20, 2013, by a first-time donor.

For the purpose of the FDSC, you will be considered a first-time donor if neither you nor your spouse or common-law partner (if you have one) have claimed and been allowed a charitable donations tax credit for any year after 2007.

The FDSC applies to a gift of money made after March 20, 2013, up to a maximum of $1,000, in respect of only one taxation year from 2013 to 2017.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, you can share the claim for the FDSC, but the total combined donations claimed cannot be more than $1,000.


An eligible first-time donor claims $700 of charitable donations in 2016, of which $300 are donations of money. The charitable donations tax credit (CDTC) and the first-time donor's super credit (FDSC) would be calculated as follows:

  • On the first $200 of charitable donations claimed, the CDTC is ($200 x 15%) = $30.
  • On the donations claimed in excess of $200, the CDTC is [($700 − $200) x 29%] = $145.
  • On the donations that are gifts of money, the FDSC is ($300 x 25%) = $75.
  • The total of the CDTC and FDSC is $250.

You do not have to claim all of the donations you made this year on your current year return. It may be more beneficial to carry them forward and claim them on your return for any of the next five years, or over the next ten years for a gift of ecologically sensitive land made after February 10, 2014.

Donating to charity is a worthwhile effort as you are able to help people, feel good about yourself, and get a tax deduction. As with anything in life, it’s a good idea to plan, and track what you’re donating for the year, so as to maximize your tax benefit the most. Check here for some samples of official donation receipts.

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

By Randall Orser | Small Business

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 four items are something 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 is in need of repair, 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

o 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 your giving the tenant

· Who’s 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.

Some other forms to include:

· Pre-tenancy application form

· Security deposit receipt form

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

The beginning of a successful landlord-tenant relationship is to get the right tenants. To find financially suitable applicants for your property seek the help of a credit check agency. 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.

The Taxman Cometh

You 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. 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 and towels that you use exclusively for this rental, and if you supply soap, etc. too. 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.

Are you considered Common-law for Tax Purposes?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

You and a significant other have decided to take a leap and moved into together; however, you didn’t get married. You may be considered common-law for tax purposes after living together for a certain length of time, whether, you believe so or not. And, you’d better not lie about living together, as this could catch up to you and cost you $1000s in taxes, fines, etc.

What is a Common-law Partner?

This applies to a person who is not your spouse, with whom you are living in a conjugal relationship, and to whom at least one of the following situations applies. He or she:

  1. has been living with you in a conjugal relationship, and this current relationship has lasted at least 12 continuous months;
    1. In this definition, 12 continuous months includes any period you were separated for less than 90 days because of a breakdown in the relationship.
  2. is the parent of your child by birth or adoption; or
  3. has custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support.

If the 90-day period includes the end of the tax year (December 31st), you may want to wait until 90 days have elapsed before filing your return, to avoid confusion and possibly having to submit a request for a change to your return.

If you were separated because of an involuntary separation, you are still considered to have a spouse or common-law partner if you were separated involuntarily. An involuntary separation could happen when one spouse or common-law partner is away for work, school, health reasons, or incarcerated.

And, these rules apply for same-sex couples, too.

What do I do Now that I’m Considered Living Common-law?

The first thing you should do is inform Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in one of these ways:

  • log in to MyBenefits CRA or MyCRA on CRA’s mobile apps page
    • select “Manage profile details” or "Personal information" then “Marital status”
  • log in to My Account
    • select “Personal information” then “Change my marital status”
  • call the CRA at 1-800-387-1193
  • fill out Form RC65, Marital Status Change, and send it to the CRA

What Changes on My Taxes When I File Common-law?

The benefits you’ve been receiving, such as the GST/HST credit, or Canada Child Benefit (CCB), will be affected by being common-law. As a single person, you may have qualified for the GST/HST credit; however, as a common-law couple you may not. As a couple, CRA combines your income, so you need to have less than $45,000 combined family income to qualify.

The same for the Canada Child Benefit, as a couple the more your combined family income is the less benefit you get. The CCB decreases to zero around $150,000 in combined family income.

There is a plus side to being common-law. You can combine deductions for medical and donations under one spouse. If you don’t have enough medical to qualify individually, you may as a couple. For donations, you only get 15% on $200 in donations, however, you get 29% on the amount over $200. For example, you each have $175 in donations, individually you get 15% of that or $26.25; combined you’d have $350, you get $30 on the first $200 and $43.50 on the other $150 for a combined deduction of $73.50 (that’s almost 3 times as much).

Pension splitting is another area where you can save taxes when living common-law. If one person has a lower income (doesn’t have to be pension), and the other person has a higher income (must be pension based), then they can split the income to lower their tax bill.

There is also the spousal credit which is equivalent to the Basic Personal Exemption. If the spouse has no income then you get the full amount, otherwise, it decreases based on how much the other spouse makes.

If one spouse is going to school then the higher income spouse can claim a tuition/education transfer of up to $5000. And, the higher income spouse can claim the child care expenses if the spouse going to school has no income.

When you’re in a relationship, and you move in together, even without getting married, CRA will consider you common-law after 12 consecutive months. You need to inform CRA once you have lived together 12 consecutive months as any credits you are getting now will change once you are common-law. And, CRA will make you pay back any overpayments.

Tune-up Your Business with These Growth Hacks

By Randall Orser | Small Business

If you’re not growing then you’re dying, whether or not your business is online or on ground. The term ‘adapt or die’ has never been more prevalent than it has now. Doing the same things year over year in the hopes of being profitable won’t happen; you need to take decisive actions to grow your revenue. Your competition grows at an ever-increasing rate, so now is the time to get more aggressive in growing your company. If you want your year to be the best yet, your top focus needs to be on growth. The ten tips below used in your growth strategy will help your revenues soar.


You can start networking more, looking at those groups that could likely send you some business. Look for those groups that have members that match your ideal client, or have access to that ideal client. What other industries are connected to your business? You may find clients there, or really good referral sources. The more people you can expose your business to the better, however, make sure it’s the right ones.

Marketing Tools

What marketing tools are working now? Facebook or Twitter may be working now, however, you may want to look at other customer engagement ideas such as live streaming or audio broadcasts. Where is your audience now? That is probably where you should be. There’s many different ways to connect with customers, and you need to be willing to try what resonates with them.

Inventory Collection

Is your inventory getting stale? Do you have items that rarely sell? May be time to get rid of that old inventory. What are the trends happening in your market sector? What could you incorporate into your inventory? Look at finding global suppliers to explore new products, or modifying the ones you already sell.


What’s your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy? Do you have one? Could be time to revisit now. SEO is a lot different than just a couple of years ago, however, you should be looking at it. Figure out if there’s any new keywords you should be using, develop a blogging strategy using those keywords. If you’re on YouTube, then you need an SEO plan for that too. Look at your competitors, and see what keywords they’re using. SEO is an ongoing process, so make this the year you focus on ranking higher on Google; maybe look at Bing too.

Holiday Marketing

What’s your holiday marketing strategy for this year? Are you planning one? You should be planning well before the actual holiday; don’t think about your Valentine’s marketing at the beginning of February. Your Summer sales push should be created well before the hot weather starts. Believe it or not, but your Christmas marketing strategies should be started in July or August. Commit to becoming a masterful marketer this year by developing your seasonal strategies well ahead.

Beat Your Sales Each Month

Pledge to beat your prior month’s sales every month. What contributed to that growth? Whatever that was, do everything you can to beat those sales figures. That could be anything from boosting your presence on social media, to growing your blogging, to commenting on blogs related to your market, or being helpful on forums where your ideal client resides.

Email Marketing

What are you doing for email marketing now? It’s probably time to increase those efforts. Shoot to grow your subscriber list by at least ten percent each month. If you have an email newsletter, promote that more, add curated content to boost engagement rates, and enhance your visuals with video and custom brand marketing images. Have your existing subscribers share your email newsletter with their social networks for increased enrollment of new subscribers.

Client Acquisition Strategy

Where does your ideal client hang out online? Wherever that is, that’s where you should be building a presence. Where does your client go to network or hang out? Look at offline occasions to connect with your ideal client, and ensure to actively engage at events where those ideal clients are. Sales don’t happen by magic; a client acquisition strategy can make it seem so though.


Feedback is very important from your customers, and one way is to offer an anonymous survey. What do they like about your business? What do they think you can do better? Are the most common questions to ask. Your customers may just surprise you with their insightful comments, and you could uncover some great business-building ideas too. Of course, you’d better be ready for some brutal honesty.

Multiple Streams of Income

How many streams of income do you have now? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have 5 to 7 of them. Rather than depending on your existing income streams, maybe offer a course on Udemy, sell your products, or new products, on Gumroad or Amazon. You have a good chance of increasing your profits continuously, if you are agreeable to getting creative in your approach to revenue generation.

Business growth is a constant battle, and takes careful planning. Those sales aren’t going to magically appear no matter how much you wish. If you want a better balance sheet when 2018 rolls around, you need to be proactive. The above ten tips should be incorporated into your growth initiative to ensure your business grows bigger, and the profits increase.

Why You Need to Think About CRA’s Online Services? 

By Randall Orser | Business Income Taxes , Personal Income Tax

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has joined the 21st Century when it comes to giving you access to your tax information online. You can get your notices of assessment, RRSP contribution limit, and more via their My Account and Online Mail, and they even have an app called MyCRA. These allow easy access, and faster access than snail mail, to your tax information that CRA has for you.

Before we get into why you should use these services, let’s give a quick overview.

My Account

My Account allows you to track your refund, view or change your return, check your benefit and credit payments, view your RRSP limit, set up direct deposit, receive online mail, and so much more. My Account is a secure portal. This is for your personal taxes, and not for business accounts, such as GST/HST.

My Business Account

My Business Account is a secure online portal that provides an opportunity to interact electronically with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on various business accounts. Business accounts include GST/HST (except for GST/HST accounts administered by Revenu Québec), payroll, corporation income taxes, excise taxes, excise duties, and more.

Online Mail

Online mail is a simple to use service that allows individuals to receive most of their mail, like their notice of assessment or benefit notices, from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) directly in My Account.


MyCRA is a mobile app for individual taxpayers where you can securely view and update key portions of your tax and personal information.

For step-by-step instructions on setting up your CRA user ID and password, go to Registration process to access the CRA login services.

All of the above are:

  • Convenient – It is available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Easy to use – After registering, simply log in with your CRA user ID and password.
  • Fast – Information is up-to-the-minute and transactions are processed immediately.
  • Secure – The CRA user ID and password are just part of the security.

It is possible to see information in My Account before you receive the official document from the CRA. For example, if the CRA reassessed your return, you will see details of the reassessment in My Account before you receive your notice of reassessment in the mail. This is because the most up-to-date information is displayed immediately in My Account, while the notice goes through several manual processes before you receive it by mail.

Correspondence that you can receive electronically

Some examples of correspondence currently available through online services include:

  • notices of assessment (NOA)
  • notices of reassessment (NORA)
  • benefit notices and slips
  • T1 adjustment notices
  • instalment reminders and payments made
  • income tax and benefit return status
  • tax-free savings account and registered retirement savings plan contribution limits
  • buy-back amounts for the Home Buyers’ Plan and the Lifelong Learning Plan
  • GST/HST return status
  • Account balances
  • And more…

The above are just some of the services that are currently available, and CRA is looking at adding more all the time. CRA finally wants you to be able to access this information electronically rather than get it in the mail.

Let’s face it mail theft is on the rise and will continue to do so as long as we have those community mailboxes; those mailboxes are not secured in any fashion. Online services allow you to have access to your tax information at any time, and you can authorize others to access it on your behalf, such as your tax preparer. This allows them access to your notices of assessment, T-slips, etc., allowing you to relax as to whether or not you got them. It also allows you to check to see if you didn’t get a T4, or other slip before you do your taxes.

I’m am going to suggest to all my clients this year to sign up for My Account, Online Mail and MyCRA App, it’s just the right thing to do.

Speed Up Your Entrepreneurial Adventure 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Your mindset is important when being an entrepreneur, and you should be working on it regularly. Want to enjoy long-term success as an entrepreneur? You’ll need to look at learning as something you want to do not just something you have to do; that goes for your thought processes too. Assimilate the following growth tips into your daily routine, and improve the quality of your entrepreneurship journey.

Your Thoughts Affect the Journey

The actions you take on your entrepreneurial journal are definitely affected by your thinking. Negative thoughts, such as you’ll never achieve your dream, will affect your actions and cause you to fail. Welcome the many learning opportunities that come your way, and let your recently discovered positive attitude push you towards your dreams. Though sometimes a problem is just a problem and it just needs to be solved.

Who You are Matters

The kind of entrepreneur you’ll become hinges on who you are as a person, it will have a powerful impression. Deal with others in a trustworthy and honest manner, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the same. Surround yourself with principled people, and you’ll build a better business with a strong moral foundation. Figure out and focus on your core values, and incorporate those into your business, and how they can work with your passion.

Ten Year Overnight Sensation

A successful business doesn’t happen overnight, and can take years; hence the expression, ‘the ten-year overnight sensation’. You could struggle for years before even seeing a return on your time investment. Your time investment must be seen as the building blocks for creating a brighter future. Look at your entrepreneurial struggles as an investment in your future, and your mindset changes. Those tough times are now opportunities to grow.

Don’t Judge

You shouldn’t judge your competitors for having success you haven’t obtained yet. Instead, look to them for ideas of what works and what doesn’t in the business your building. Approach your competitors like research subjects and do thorough research on everything from their networking skills to their digital marketing strategies. Understanding how your competitors became successful, the better equipped you are to fuel your fire.

Your business-building adventure will be much more enjoyable if you remember these tips for entrepreneurs. Always be working on increasing your knowledge, and find those motivational tips that work for you. Keep going and pursue your passion even in those tough times. Don’t give up you’ll be happier in the end, and have respect for yourself for following your dreams.

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