As summer is upon us, business slows down a bit, and we take time to relax, it may also be a good time to think about your taxes. Yeah, I know. It’s summer, I don’t want to think about that yet. But, hear me out. The first half of the year is gone, and you have a good idea how it went, so from this you can project what the rest of the year is going to be. With this projection, you can estimate what your tax bill will be. Why? So, you’re not shocked come April of the next year with how much you owe. Instead, you’ll be like, yeah that’s what we thought and you have the funds to pay the bills.
When we’re talking about taxes, we’re including the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in these calculations, because as a self-employed person you pay your taxes and CPP at the same time.
Are your books up-to-date?
In order to be able to do any tax projections, you have to have your books up-to-date for the end of June. Are your expenses entered, banks reconciled, credit cards reconciled, and payables entered too? Once you have June completely finished then you are able to look at what your taxes could be. If you’re working with a bookkeeper, let them know what you want to do, and they should get you financials as soon as June is completed. They may even be able to help you with the projections.
The big question now is, how much do you set aside for taxes?
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may have already done this for you based on a prior tax filing year. If you owed more than $3,000 in a prior tax year, CRA will send you a notice in August that you must make instalment payments in September or December. In February you’ll get a notice for the March and June payments. Usually CRA splits the amount into 4 equal payments. If you’re going to owe at least the same amount last year, then you must make these instalments or you will suffer penalties and interest for not paying them.
You’ve looked at your profit and loss statement (P&L), and realize that you’re doing much better this year compared to last year at the half way mark. You need to decide if you should increase your instalments for September and December, or keep them the same. As long as you paid the amounts in your instalment reminder, you should be okay even if your tax owing is more when you file the next year. Now, if you haven’t made any instalments this year, then now is the time to estimate and pay those in September and December.
The simplest way to estimate taxes owing is to take 25% of your estimate net income (revenue minus expenses) times the 25%. The 25% would be approximately 10% for CPP and 15% for taxes. Now this doesn’t take into account the home office deduction, depreciation, or other deductions, such as RRSPs. This isn’t perfect, however, it does give you something in order to pay instalments. If you’re net income is below $15,000, in many cases you’ll owe CPP, and very little to no tax, depending on your province of residence. In this case, you could use 15% and be pretty accurate.
You can take the net income from your P&L for the end of June, and double that and take the 25% the net income for what your potential tax liability will be for the year. If you don’t think the last half of the year is going to be as good as the first half, then estimate what you think it’ll be, add that to June’s net income and times that figure by the 25%. And, of course, if you think the last half is going to be much better then increase your net income estimate. The simplest way to estimate the last half of the year is to just take a percentage of the first half. What percentage? Well, that depends on what you think you’re sales are going to be in the last half.
Estimating your taxes can be difficult, however, sometimes you just have to take the easy approach and give it a good ole guess. It’s better to pay too much rather than too little. Plus, remitting instalments relieves that shock come April, and you’re much more relaxed at tax time because you’ve already paid the bill.