What Can Vancouver Retailer Do About Rising Land Taxes?

If you are a Vancouver based business with a retail location then you are no stranger to the unpredictable and seemingly unfair taxation system that is forcing many businesses, some iconic staples in our community, to close down. With land taxes in some areas doubling annually to reflect soaring residential property valuations the mom and pop shops that are loved across the city risk being phased out and replaced by chains.

Unlike residential properties, commercial properties in Vancouver are taxed at a rate that is 5 times higher, are assessed based on the potential use of the property and not the actual use/business revenue of the property and the taxes are not paid by the property owner and instead, are passed onto the tenant. This puts a huge burden on small business owners and can limit growth opportunities and cost people jobs.

So the golden question is – what can be done?

While there isn’t a huge amount that can be done from a tax and bookkeeping perspective, here are some avenues that small business owners can take to voice their concerns about this growing issue.


Contact Your Local Councillor

Small businesses account for roughly 95 percent of Vancouver’s enterprises. With such a significant amount of revenue, jobs, and services at stake city council members are starting to take the issue of land tax seriously.

Here is the list of Vancouver’s city councilors and their contact details. George Affleck has been calling for a review of the cities current policies in an attempt to protect small businesses.

Appeal Your Bill

According to Chris Jobe, manager of the property tax division at the real-estate consulting firm Turner Drake & Partners Ltd. in Halifax, small business owners can appeal their tax bill if they can prove that the property has been overvalued during the assessment.

While the City of Vancouver website states that successful appeals are rare if you want to try your luck you can find more information here!

Band Together

As we mentioned earlier small business owners make up roughly 95 percent of enterprises in Vancouver and there is strength in numbers. Trying to change the current situation is not going to be easy but by coming together and drawing attention to the issues small business owners are facing is one option that will give our retailers a fighting chance. Join your local business association and work to make this issue a focus. Educate your community and talk to the press.

If the city doesn’t do something about this growing crisis more and more small business are going to close, sell or move. This will dramatically impact the level of choice available to residents and the overall appeal of our city.

Let’s hope that the increased attention on this issue can help create some change.

Sole Proprietor: “Do I need to file my business and personal tax returns separately?”

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Running a small business is an eternal learning curve of aha moments. Whether you’re filing an income tax return as a startup or exploring entrepreneurship for down the road, here’s one of the most popular questions that come up every year come tax time.

“Do I need to file two tax returns?”

Every year, many new small business owners who are NOT incorporated ask whether they need to file two tax returns: personal and business.

Before we jump into the answer let’s look at what is classified as business income.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) classifies business income as money you earn from the following:

  • Profession
  • Trade
  • Manufacture or
  • The undertaking of any kind, an adventure or concern in the nature of trade, or any other activity you carry on for profit and there is evidence to support that intention.

(So essentially any money you make that doesn’t come with a T4 at the end of the year)

NOTE: This income may be earned from a business you operate yourself as a sole proprietorship (SP) or with someone else as a partnership.

CRA Tip: You have to report all amounts of income that are required for calculating income for tax purposes. If you do not report all your income, you may be subject to a penalty of 10% of the amount of income that you did not report.

I Definitely Have Business Income. Do I Need To File Two Tax Returns?

The short answer is – NO! You just need to file ONE return. But… and there is always a BUT…There is more to the process than a simple personal tax return.

Additional Step

As a sole proprietor (SP), you need to report your business income on your personal tax return (AKA T1 General) by completing and attaching a Form T2125: Statement of Business or Professional Activities (see below).


Other Fun Facts You Should Know

While you only need to file ONE tax return, there are some tax benefits to being self-employed that you don’t get as an employed individual:

  1. Deadline
    1. While the deadline for individuals filing their 2017 personal income tax return is April 30, 2018, SPs get until June 15, 2018 to file their taxes. That is, if you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business in 2017. However, if you owe tax money that is due on April 30, so it’s best to get in early.
  2. One extra form to complete
    1. All your business tax deductions are reported on Form T2125, Statement of Business or Professional Activities (pictured above).
  3. Business tax deductions
    1. Business expenses: Deduct only the business expenses from business income Eg. Meals, Travel, Equipment, Office Supplies relevant to your business.
    2. Home Office Tax Deductions: In order to deduct expenses, the workspace must either be:
      • the place where the individual principally (more than 50% of the time) performs administration or employment duties,or

      • used on a regular and continuous basis, for meeting customers or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the office or employment duties.

      • You can deduct expenses that are required to run your home office. Eg: Utilities and maintenance costs. If you rent your home, you can deduct a portion of your monthly rent. You can deduct the cost of office expenses (eg: Pencils, stationery, paper clips, stamps, etc). You have to claim the maintenance and repairs related to business use of work space in your home as business-use-of-home expenses. Learn more here.

    1. Private Health Services Plan Premiums: You can deduct the Private Health Services Plan (PHSP) Premiums you pay to insure yourself, your spouse and/or any dependents. Click here for more info.

Can Homeroom Just File For Me?

Of course, individual and business tax returns are our specialty.

Check out our Business Tax Checklist to see what we need to complete your return.

Contact us here if you have any questions or concerns.

Happy 2018 tax season!

Think tax time before you go gaga over Black Friday shopping deals, no matter how fluffy

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If you’re like us at Homeroom, you’re feverishly pulling names for Secret Santa with your workmates, and thinking about snatching all the tantalizing Black Friday shopping deals.

We aren’t saying that those things are not important.  

However, there are a few more things that we recommend you think about before you body-surf your way to the cash counter or Jackie Chan your way through the mad crowds to that magical trinket that’s calling out to you,  to ensure that tax time doesn’t hurt your wallet (or your body) as badly as the holidays can.

Unless you’re  like the shoppers in the photo above, lugging human-sized plush toys through the packed fluorescent store aisles….. because teddy bears are forever-friends that can make everything better, even tax season!

Business Owners

If you are a sole proprietor and corporation owner it is time to start making sure you have everything in place to minimize your tax payable and to ensure a smooth transition into 2017, as December 31st is rapidly approaching.

Large Purchases

You should determine what business purchases you may want to make in the beginning of 2017. Once you have written your list take the time to consider if you can afford to make any of your listed purchases before December 31st.

If you can it will increase the amount you can write-off when completing your 2016 tax return.

Check Your Payroll

Take the time to look through your 2016 payroll liabilities.

Determine if there are any unpaid balances or discrepancies that you can remit/reconcile by Jan 15, 2017 (the date when final liabilities are due for 2016).

Failure to do this could result in your business being charged a penalty to rectify any errors that are found after your T4’s are submitted.

Note: Good bookkeepers will be doing this on your behalf.

Work Out Your Net Income

It is good practice to spend this time of year figuring out a rough estimate of what your net income was for the year.

This will allow you to determine if you have put aside enough savings over the year to pay your income taxes and if you haven’t it will at least buy you enough time to write a letter to Santa begging for money to be left in your Christmas stocking.

Personal taxes are on April 30th and corporate taxes are due March 31st so if Santa doesn’t pull through you still have a chance to save.

We recommend that you complete this task even if you are a salaried employee of your company as it will allow you to determine if you should hold off on paying yourself a bonus or if you should defer any salary payments.

Deferring some payments until January may help you stay in a lower tax bracket or at a minimum defer additional tax payments for another year.

If you need help getting your year end in order Teya our business consultant and tax expert is the lady to help. You can make an appointment by calling us directly on  604 739 9536  or by requesting an appointment through our contact us page.

Teya Mali talks books with Globe and Mail

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If your box of receipts is shapeshifting into a pot of paper flowers, exuding a musty book smell, this article is for you. Use the most cost-effective and fast categorizing approach so that you can account for every receipt when it matters the most, and save some dough for real flowers.

Paul Attfield’s article points out the key to winning your bookkeeper’s heart

“It’s actually faster to sort that way as opposed to trying to find the date on each receipt,” said Homeroom’s Lady in Charge Teya Mali in the recent Globe and Mail article on the importance of record-keeping in business. Teya was not talking about the throw-and-forget approach illustrated in the above left photo.

Find the best way to categorize receipts, why you should keep a mileage logbook, and more handy tips, to run a healthy business in the full article, “In record-keeping, consistency is king,” by Paul Attfield.


The truth and lies about GST/ HST

GST pinata

Launching a small business can feel like swinging blindly at a big, colourful, juicy piñata: a hit or a miss, but if it’s a strike, you get all the yummies and toys inside, along with some lame confetti and papier-mâché filler.

The lackluster, more boring, of the bunch become the key steps and financial decisions to starting a new business. But, without careful planning, you might as well be that person with their eyes shut, hopelessly flailing their stick into open air.

One of the things you need to consider is whether or not you need to charge Goods & Services Tax (GST).

We hope our handy tips and our clarification of some common myths helps you move forward in your small business planning.

 What is GST?

  • GST is an input tax: Meaning that the amount that you PAY to others reduces the amount that you OWE.

Why would you register for GST before making sales of $30,000?

  • If you are starting your small business and incurring high start-up expenses. You can get a refund on the GST that you pay on those expenses.

  • Some potential clients might not want to do business with you if you don’t have a GST number.

Why would you hold off from registering?

  • Keep your paperwork simple for as long as possible. If you register you will need to hire a bookkeeper to make sure your returns are correct, filed properly and on time.

  • When you bill your clients your total will appear cheaper than a competitor who charges GST.

 It’s July and I’ve just made sales of $30,000. What do I do now?

  • By law you have 3 months AFTER you have made sales of $30,000 to register and start charging GST.

  • You must include your GST number on all your invoices.

  • You must keep all records of GST charged and paid for 7 years

Here are four common myths about Goods and Services Tax:

Myth: Every small business must register for GST.

Fact: Every small business that has made GROSS SALES of $30,000 in a calendar year must register.

Myth: I am registered for GST but my sales are less than $30,000 so I do not need to charge my customers the tax.

Fact: If you are registered, then you are obligated by law to charge all of your customers GST.

Myth: GST and HST are two different taxes.

Fact: In fact they are the same tax being paid to the same agency (Canada Revenue Agency). The only difference is that in BC we now charge GST of 5%; before we charged HST of 12%.

Myth: My Business number is different from my GST number.

Fact: Your GST number is your Business number (9 digits) with the ending RT0001.