Category Archives for "Personal Income Tax"

Where Am I Tax Wise?

By Randall Orser | Personal Finances , Personal Income Tax

corporation-Tidbits-2013-10-30-300x188It’s already December and along with New Year’s resolutions we will be thinking about our taxes.  Ideally, we already know what to expect and will have it all organized, however, we still may want a more clear idea of where we stand based on 2012 income and expenses.  Some  may need to set a date with their “shoebox” to make sure all is well.  The earlier the better!!  Estimating what we owe and budgeting for future installments along with exploring our options is easier to do when we still have the time to plan and organize our financial position.  Here is a guide for 2012 to help determine your bottom line.

You’ve been working hard in your business all year long and before you know it’s almost the end of 2012, and now is a good time to figure out whether or not you’re going to owe come April 30th (for self-employed individuals the return itself is not due until June 15th). If you’ve been doing your books on a regular basis (quarterly at the minimum) then you roughly know how much money you’ve made so far this year. From that we can guestimate what you’ll owe for the year taking into account depreciation and other factors if necessary.

Estimating the taxes owing

How can you estimate your taxes owing for the current year? If you use a tax preparer, then come late January they should have a draft copy of their tax software. They can help you get a pretty good idea about what your tax situation will be come April 30th. They may charge you for doing this but in the end it would be worth it

You can also do a simple calculation by taking into account where your net income fits into the tax brackets* for 2012. The brackets for the provinces vary greatly so this calculation will be based on British Columbia’s rates (that’s where we’re based). We also took into account the basic personal exemptions for 2012: Federal $10,822 and B.C. $11,354.

Also, don’t forget CPP, which is 9.90% for the self-employed (employee and employer portions) up to a maximum for 2012 of $4,613.40.

Up to $42,707 income         20.47%

Up to $85,414 income         25.56%

Up to $132,406 income       30.66%

For example, you have a net income from your business of $67,350, which is greater than the maximum CPP level of $50,100. You fall within the middle rate of 25.56% so you’re estimated tax bill is $17,214.66 and CPP would be $4,613.40 for a total owing of $21,828.06.

Now this is just a guestimate and should not be used as a final calculation for any tax amount owing, as that will depend on many factors, such as RRSP contributions, etc. Plus we have based this calculation on just your business income. This is just a guide so you have a rough idea of what you’ll owe come April 30th.


If you owed more than $3,000 (including taxes and Canada Pension Plan for self-employed individuals) last year then you should have been making quarterly installment payments based on the amount you owed. For example, if you owed $5,200 last year, then that’s $1,300 you should have been paying quarterly. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been charging penalties and interest on missed, or late, installments, so make sure that you are making those installments.

Now, if you believe your taxes owing will be less than last years, you can lower the installment payments or eliminate them if the net amount owing will be under $3,000. If you believe your taxes owing will be higher than the previous year then you can also increase your installment payment so as not to have a high balance owing come April 30th.

You could use your current tax amount owing to figure out what you should make for an installment come March 15th.

Installments are due March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15.

Tax Brackets for 2012


15% on the first $42,707 of taxable income, +

22% on the next $42,707 of taxable income (up to $85,414) +

26% on the next $46,992 of taxable income (up to $132,406) +

29% of taxable income over $132,406.

British Columbia

5.06% on the first $36,146 of taxable income, +

7.7% on the portion of taxable income more than $36,146, but not more than $72,293, +

10.5% on the portion of taxable income more than $72,293, but not more than $83,001, +

12.29% on the portion of taxable income more than $83,001, but not more than $100,787, +

14.7% of the amount of taxable income over $100,787.

Tidbits – How Much Tax Will I Pay?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Wordcloud of Income taxThat is the question, isn’t it? And one I get asked a lot, especially from small business people. It’s also a loaded question because no matter what I say it may end up being wrong as there are many factors that come into play. You may not just owe tax, but Canada Pension Plan too (many people see this as a tax as much as they see income tax as a tax).

Factor #1: Your Income

How much tax you pay will depend on your taxable income, which is the amount used to calculate your tax on Schedule 1 (federal) and Form 428 (provincial). Taxable income is your net income earned during the year less RPP contributions, RRSP contributions, childcare expenses, union dues, carrying charges & interest, and more. We won’t get into provincial rates as they vary quite a bit from province to province.

For 2013, the income tax rates (federal) are:

  • 15% on the first $43,561 of taxable income, +
  • 22% on the next $43,562 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $43,561 up to $87,123), +
  • 26% on the next $47,931 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $87,123 up to $135,054), +
  • 29% of taxable income over $135,054.

You are taxed incrementally on your income so if you’re in the highest bracket you don’t just pay 29% on the total income, but incrementally from $0 to whatever is your income.

Example: You are earning $150,350.00 per year. The tax on that would be $33,015.69:

$ 6534.15 on the first $43,561

$ 9583.64 on the next $43562

$ 12462.06 on the next $47,931

$ 4435.84 on the final $15,296

Now this is just the tax calculation, as we’ll discuss in a little bit, there are credits you receive against this amount.

Factor #2: Type of Income

Another factor that affects the amount of tax you pay is the type of income. Employment, business, interest, pension, rental, RRSP, and most other incomes are taxed at 100%. This means that the total amount of those incomes is subject to tax.

The kind of income you really want is that income which is not taxed at 100%. That would be capital gains, which are taxed at 50%; this means that for every $1 in capital gains you have you’re only taxed on 50¢. For example, you have a capital gain from selling shares of $10,000; you’re only taxed on ½ of that or $5,000.

The other kind of income you want is dividend income as you get the dividend tax credit (DTC), which reduces the amount of tax you have to pay on dividends. There are two kinds of dividends: eligible and other than eligible. An eligible dividend is any taxable dividend paid to a resident of Canada by a Canadian corporation that is designated by that corporation to be an eligible dividend. A corporation’s capacity to pay eligible dividends depends mostly on its status. Other than eligible, or ordinary, dividends are any dividends issued by a Canadian corporation, public or private, which are not eligible for the enhanced dividend tax credit.

Dividends have a gross up whereby the amount of the dividend is increased by 38% for eligible dividends and 25% for other than eligible dividends. The dividend tax credit is 15.02% for eligible dividends and 13 1/3% for other than eligible dividends. If your corporation issues a $10,000 dividend then for eligible dividends are taxed at $13,800 with a DTC of $2,072.76. Other than eligible dividends would be taxed at $12,500 and a DTC of $1,666.67. Currently, in BC, you can make up to $35,000 in dividends and pay no tax; as long as the dividends are your only income.

Factor #3: Your Refundable and Non-Refundable Tax Credits

Individuals are entitled to claim certain non-refundable tax credits in calculating taxes payable for a taxation year. These credits reduce the amount of income tax an individual owes. The most common credits are the basic personal tax credit; the spousal tax credit; the equivalent-to-spouse tax credit; the dependent tax credit; and the age tax credit. These amounts change every year, so check with your tax preparer how much they are and to which ones you are entitled.

From our tax example above, you actually don’t pay the $33015.69 as you have non-refundable tax credits, which come off of this amount. As an employee (and single) the basic credits you get are:

Basic Personal Exemption   $11,038.00

CPP Contributions                 2,356.20

EI Premiums                           891.12

Canada Employment Amount  1,095.00


Of this amount you get 15% (lowest federal rate) or $2,307.05. This amount comes off the tax amount above for a total tax bill of $30,708.64. That’s a lot of tax, which is why it’s good we have other deductions, such as RRSPs, medical expenses, donations and more.

A refundable tax credit is a tax credit that is treated as a payment and thus can be refunded to the taxpayer by Canada Revenue Agency. Refundable credits can be used strategically to help offset certain types of taxes that normally cannot be reduced, and they can produce a federal tax refund that is larger than the amount of money a person actually paid in during the year.

Some of these refundable credits are RRSP, childcare expenses, working income tax benefit, CPP or EI overpayments, GST/HST rebate on employment expenses, refundable medical expense supplement, non-capital losses of prior years, net capital losses of prior years, and many more.

As you can see calculating your tax payable is not an easy process as there are many factors that affect the tax you are going to pay. For the self-employed person, I’d keep aside at least 15% of your gross income as a good cushion for your tax bill the next year. Of course, don’t forget you need to make installment payments if your tax bill the prior year was over $3,000.

I’ve Registered for the GST/HST. Now What?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

TaxesYou’ve decided to take your business seriously and have just registered for the GST/HST. You’re now wondering what’s next? Let’s go over what you need to do now that you’re registered for GST/HST.

You have two sides of the GST/HST of which you have to keep track. The first is what you are charging to your customers called GST/HST Collected. The second is your Input Tax Credits (ITCs), which is the GST/HST you paid on purchases and other business expenses. Note that GST/HST becomes due once it’s invoiced, whether or not you’ve been paid by your customer is irrelevant. The same goes for the ITC side; it’s when you were invoiced, not when you paid the bill.


Your 15 digit GST/HST number (123456789RT0001) must be shown on all invoices, receipts, or other documents you use to invoice customers. If you’re using accounting software, such as Sage 50, the first thing you must do is put that into your accounting software. It will now show up on all your invoices. This is important, as CRA will not honour your client’s Input Tax Credit without your business number on the invoice.

You must indicate whether or not an item is taxable, the GST/HST amount must also be shown separately on your invoices or receipts, and the rate of GST/HST applied. If you are charging HST, show the total HST as well as the rate; do not show the federal and provincial amounts separately.

Other items you must include on your invoice are the business/operating name, invoice date, buyers name/operating name, brief description of the goods, and terms of payment.

If you are finding that people are always trying to get you to just take ‘cash’, don’t. This can come back to bite you in the butt. If you are finding the ‘cash’ conversation coming up a lot, then just include the GST/HST in the price when you quote it. If they ask about the GST/HST, just say ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s all included’. That, in most situations, seems to alleviate this problem. On the invoice, you’d just separate it.

Filing Your GST/HST Return

You must file your GST/HST return based on the period you were given upon registration. Most businesses are set-up as annual filers with installments payments 4 times per year. You can change this to monthly or quarterly if you find it hard to make installments. Installments are generally due April, July, October and January, which is the same timeframe for filing your quarterly returns. I have had clients go monthly, as this alleviates that big bill every quarter, and allows them to get a better handle on their GST/HST.

CRA will send you a return (GST34) prior to your filing period. Generally, CRA prefers people to electronically file their returns, and CRA has ensured this by not having the line numbers or boxes on the return. You can do electronically file via CRA’s website using GST/HST Netfile® or via your online banking.  I generally file the return electronically for the client, and then they just pay it through online banking.

Your GST34 return comes with an access code, which is used to confirm your identity when using GST/HST Netfile®. If you happen to lose this code, you can retrieve it using CRA’s GST/HST Access Code Online service. You will need your prior return’s information or access code to make this work.

The line numbers you will have to worry about most are: 101 – Sales, 105 – GST/HST collected, 108 – Input Tax Credits, and Line 109 – GST/HST Owing (Refund).


You have to keep all records that support your filing of your GST/HST return. This means your invoices, supplier bills/receipts, cash register tapes, POS reports, etc. If you don’t keep these then your claim for ITCs will be denied; however, CRA will be happy to take the GST/HST collected as they can go by your deposits for that amount. I have seen CRA completely deny the expense side and keep the revenue side; even going into the persons personal account and including any deposits in there as income. Needless to say this person should have kept all his receipts and been organized. A bookkeeper, like us, will help you do that. Remember you have to keep records for six (6) years after the end of the tax year. For 2013, you’d have to keep the records until the end of 2019.

So, the GST/HST does become a big pain in the butt to keep track and remit; however, in the end, it will make you much more careful about keeping your records. And, really, people will take your business more seriously if you’re charging GST/HST as you look like a legitimate business.

What should I do if I haven’t filed taxes for a few years?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Rip Van Winkel has not filed taxesWell, the first thing is don’t panic. If you are employed and haven’t been contacted by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) yet, then it’s more than likely you don’t owe them money and will be getting refunds. CRA has already done an estimate on your return based on the slips that were filed by your employers, and others.

If you’re self-employed and haven’t filed since starting the business, you more than likely have been asked to file by CRA, especially if you have to file GST/HST returns. CRA knows you’re sales based on what you filed with those GST/HST returns. If you haven’t been asked to file, then you’re just not on their radar yet, and it’s best to get caught up before you do.

Of course, it also depends on how long you haven’t filed your taxes. A couple of years probably won’t be as big a deal as, say 10 years, however, it will depend on how much you owe. If you haven’t filed in 10 years, then you definitely need to look at the voluntary disclosure program which allows you to come forward and file taxes or adjustments to prior years without incurring penalties or being prosecuted. This program applies to income tax and GST/HST.

If you have been assessed by CRA for your income tax or GST/HST, then it’s best to get everything caught up ASAP. As far as CRA is concerned you’ve filed and are now owing this balance, whether it’s right or not. You will more than likely not owe as much as CRA thinks.

The first thing to do is contact a tax preparer/accountant, as I’m assuming you’re behind because either you don’t want to do it or am just not able to do them. The good ones, such as myself, won’t chastise you (well not too much) and will guide you through what they need to get your taxes done.

Now, if you are employed and can’t find your slips, then call CRA (1-800-959-8281) and you can get copies of your slips for the years you need to file. You could also go back to your employer(s), etc. and get copies from them. Once you have all that information you can get all the returns prepared. Also, let CRA know that you are getting all the information together so you can file the back returns and get caught up on all your taxes.

For the self-employed person, it’s a little more complicated. You can also go to CRA and get all slips filed, however, you also have to gather up all your receipts for the business, and, hopefully, you have all of those.

I’m Moving; Can I Deduct My Moving Costs?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Happy family with kids moving into a new homeYou can deduct moving expenses when you move to start a new job, business, expand your existing business or are going to school. However, as with everything taxes, there are restrictions. You must have moved at least forty (40) kilometres closer to the new place of business, work or school. So, if you move from Vancouver to Surrey in British Columbia where I’m from, that’s actually only thirty (30) kilometres and you cannot deduct your moving expenses. Now, if you moved from Vancouver to Maple Ridge, you can, as Maple Ridge is forty-five (45) kilometres away.

You cannot deduct your moving expenses from any other type of income, such as investment income or employment insurance benefits, even if you received this income at the new location.

If you received a reimbursement or an allowance for your eligible moving expenses you can only claim your moving expenses if you include the amount you received in your income or if you reduce your moving expenses by the amount received. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may ask you to provide a letter from your employer stating that you were not reimbursed for the moving expenses you are claiming.

You need to fill out form T1-M Moving Expenses Deduction and file that with your return. If you electronically file, you don’t need to send receipts; however, keep your receipts just in case CRA asks to see them.

If your net moving expenses (line 21 of For T1-M) that you paid in the year of the move are more than the net eligible income (line 22 of Form T1-M) earned at the new work location in that same year, you can carry forward and deduct the unused part of those expenses from your employment or self-employment income earned at the new work location in the following years. If your eligible moving expenses were paid in a year after the year of your move, you can claim them on your return for the year you paid them against employment or self-employment income earned at the new work location. This may apply if your old residence did not sell until after the year of your move. If this is the case, CRA may ask you to submit Form T1-M with the receipts and explain the delay in selling your home.

You cannot carry back moving expenses to a previous year. For example, if you paid moving expenses in 2013 for a move that occurred in 2012, you cannot claim the expenses paid in 2013 on your 2012 return, even if you earned employment or self-employment income at the new location in 2012.

What are Eligible Moving Expenses?

Transportation and storage costs (such as packing, hauling, moving, in-transit storage, and insurance) for household effects, including items such as boats and trailers.

Travel expenses, including vehicle expenses, meals, and accommodation, to move you and members of your household to your new residence. You can choose to claim vehicle and/or meal expenses using the detailed or simplified method.

Temporary living expenses for up to a maximum of 15 days for meals and temporary accommodation near the old and the new residence for you and members of your household. You can choose to claim meal expenses using the detailed (keep all your receipts) or simplified (claim a flat rate per person) method. If you choose the simplified method, although you do not have to submit detailed receipts for actual expenses, we may still ask you to provide some documentation to establish the duration of the temporary lodging.

Cost of cancelling a lease for your old residence, except any rental payment for the period during which you occupied the residence.

Incidental costs related to your move, which includes the following:

  • Changing your address on legal documents;
  • Replacing driving licences and non-commercial vehicle permits (not including insurance); and
  • Utility hook-ups and disconnections.

Cost to maintain your old residence (maximum of $5,000) when it was vacant after you moved, and during a period when reasonable efforts were made to sell the home. It includes the following:

  • Interest;
  • Property taxes;
  • Insurance premiums; and
  • Heat and utilities expenses.

Cost of selling your old residence, including advertising, notary or legal fees, real estate commission, and mortgage penalty when the mortgage is paid off before maturity.

Cost of purchasing your new residence if you or your spouse or common-law partner sold your old residence as a result of your move.

Moving can be a costly expense, and it’s good to know that you can deduct your expenses. Just remember to keep all your receipts and check with your tax preparer and let them know you have moving expenses. Your tax preparer will need your old address as that needs to be on the T1-M form.

TFSAs: What are they and do I need one?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

What is a TFSA?

corporation-Tidbits-2013-10-30-300x188TFSA, short for Tax-free Savings Account, allows Canadians, age 18 and over, to set money aside tax-free throughout their lifetime. Each calendar year, you can contribute up to $5,000, any unused TFSA contribution room from the previous year, and the amount you withdrew the year before. As with RRSPs, the term savings implies it’s like a bank savings account, which it is not. You can invest in a variety of investments, such as cash, mutual funds, securities listed on a designated stock exchange, GICs, bonds and certain shares of small business corporations

The main benefit of a TFSA is that all income earned in and withdrawals from a TFSA are generally tax-free. Plus, having a TFSA does not impact federal benefits and credits. It’s a great way to save for short and long-term goals. The only age restriction is that you must be 18 (or age of majority in your province) or older to contribute to a TFSA; there is no upper age limit so you can contribute until you die.

You can have more than one TFSA at any given time, but the total amount you contribute to all your TFSAs cannot be more than your available TFSA contribution room for that year. As the account holder, you are the only person who can contribute to your TFSA.

So, do you need a TFSA?

A TFSA can be useful in certain situations. You have already contributed the maximum to your RRSP for the year or just don’t have any contribution room left. TFSAs can be a good way to save for a vehicle, appliances, down payment on a house, and more. The TFSA can also be used in lieu of or in combination with the RRSP Home Buyers Plan. If you are no longer eligible to contribute to RRSPs, due to your age, you can still contribute to your RRSP.

A TFSA is a good way to save for a rainy day as you can make earnings in it and when you need the funds you can take it out tax-free. The best part of a TFSA is that the money you take out can be put back into the TFSA next year and you still get your $5000 maximum contribution that year too.

For young people just starting out, in a low tax bracket now, expecting to increase earnings and be in a higher tax bracket in a few years.  At that time, the TFSAs could be transferred to an RRSP, making the contribution when the tax savings is greater.

Over contributing to your TFSAs will incur a 1% tax of the excess amount. There is no grace room like there is for RRSPs. So, if at any time in a month, you have excess TFSA amount, you are liable to a tax of 1% of your highest excess TFSA amount in that month.

The tax of 1% per month will continue to apply for each month that the excess amount remains in the TFSA. It will continue to apply until whichever of the following happens first:

  • the entire excess amount is withdrawn; or
  • for eligible individuals, the entire excess amount is absorbed by additions to their unused TFSA contribution room in the following years.

Should I borrow to finance a TFSA?

Interest on money borrowed to make TFSA contributions is not a deductible expense for tax purposes. If you have a choice between borrowing to make a TFSA contribution or borrowing to make another investment, you should always borrow to make the other investment. The interest paid on the investment loan may well qualify for tax deduction and thus offset the cost of borrowing.

The TFSA can be a good vehicle to saving for the future or those expenses that crop up unexpectedly. It shouldn’t be your only retirement savings vehicle and a combination of the TFSA and RRSP can a very good way to save for retirement. Or, use to save in your retirement, too.

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