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Save money on your bookkeeping, Wonder Woman-style!

Wonder Woman Super Hero Vancouver

When you are juggling a small business or start up and your life…. every penny counts.

Here are our top four tips for saving money on you  bookkeeping:

 

1. Organize your receipts

 

Keeping your receipts well organized can sometimes be difficult when you are busy running your business. As bookkeepers we are never surprised when a new client brings in bags or boxes of mangled receipts. However, if you are looking to make your bookkeeping as cost effective as possible then the easiest way to save money is to make sure your receipts are well organized so that the bookkeeper does not have to sort them for you.

In addition to sorting them, make sure they aren’t scrunched up into little balls. You may laugh but a lot of people do this and it takes a lot of time to un-scrunch them. Additionally scrunching them up can cause the ink to wear off which means that you are paying us to un-scrunch receipts that turn out to be blank pieces of paper.

Also if you want to claim the GST you paid on a meal as well as the tip (in addition to cutting down the amount of time we spend entering your data) make sure you staple together the original itemized restaurant bill to your credit/debit slip.

Sole Proprietors:

A common mistake a lot of first timers make is arranging their receipts by month instead of by category.

The fastest way for your bookkeeper to enter your bills into Quickbooks is if they are sorted by category. If you want to go one step further and really limit the amount of time a bookkeeper spends on you file, organize your receipts by company eg. Translink.

Corporations:

If you are incorporated then you need to organize your receipts by payment method (eg. Visa account, cash, business savings account) rather than by category so that it makes it faster for your bookkeeper to enter your bills and reconcile your accounts.

2. Keep your receipts/documents in one place

Create a filing system for your receipts/ documents and utilize that system so that you can ensure all paperwork is easily accessible.

Keeping your receipts all over the place can result in two issues.

  1. You will lose some receipts. This means your reporting will be inaccurate and you may miss out on including significant write-offs in your tax return.
  2. You will need to keep contacting your bookkeeper to let them know about additional receipts you have found or to ask them to hunt down important documents for you. This means that you will utilize more of their time and your fees will increase.

3. Save your online receipts to a flash drive, or upload them to LedgerDocs

These days a lot of businesses send email receipts. Although you have the option to forward all of your email receipts to your bookkeeper we recommend that you download your invoices and save them onto a flash drive that you can submit with your paperwork. This saves your bookkeeper time as they do not have to sort through all of your emails, in turn saving you money.

It also means that if your email crashes you have all of your important documents saved elsewhere.

If you’re using LedgerDocs, snap pictures of your receipts and forward them to your unique email address in real time. We’ll take care of the rest! Contact us here if you are interested in signing up!

4. Don’t keep receipts you can’t claim

Know what you can and cannot claim and know your categories. For example: in most cases YOU CANNOT CLAIM CLOTHES as an expense unless they are branded with the company logo or required safety wear.

Additionally, you cannot claim haircuts, facials or any other kind of personal maintenance even if you are a TV personality or the face of your company.

Placing receipts into your file that you can’t claim just means that your bookkeeper spends extra time sorting through receipts, remember time is money.

 

Regardless of what state your bookkeeping is in we are happy to help you. That said, we always recommend that you consider these points because it not only helps you save money it keeps your bookkeeper happy and guarantees that you will be added to their secret list of favorite clients.

If you need help getting organized contact us today.

Employee or Contractor: CRA checklist


Vancouver Bookkeeper(s), Tax Return Service Vancouver, Small Business Bookkeepers in Vancouver, CRA, Canada Revenue Agency, employment, employee, contractor, long weekend

Something to chew on over the long weekend……

Looking to hire additional help for your expanding business? Last week, we outlined key questions to ask yourself before expanding your sales force.

We noted that deciding between hiring a contractor or an employee is not as simple as figuring out your personal preference.  The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has a very comprehensive checklist that they use to determine if you should be paying your new hire as an employee or if it is OK to consider them a contractor.

This week, we are going over the checklist presented by the CRA  in more detail so that you can make sure you are paying people under the correct category to avoid nasty fines.

Tip: If you own a store or run an office and you don’t want to hire a contractor through a temporary  employment agency then you need to hire an employee and pay the applicable payroll taxes.

Determine who has control

Do you want to have control over the worker? Will you determine when, how and where the work will be completed? Do you expect them to complete the work personally?

According the CRA ‘It is the right of the payer to exercise control that is relevant, NOT whether the payer actually exercises this right’ so basically, if you have the option in any way, shape or form to control the employee’s time and how they complete the work then they are not considered a contractor.

Tools & Equipment

Who provides the tools and the equipment to complete the job?

If you provide your new hire with the tools and equipment they need to complete the job and are responsible for all repairs to that equipment then you need to hire an employee.

Subcontracting Work or Hiring an Assistant

Can the person who is working for you independently hire an assistant or subcontract out the work you have asked them to do?

 If the answer is no, then as you may be assuming by now, you have yourself an employee.

Financial Risk

 Will the worker be financially liable if they do not fulfill the contract? Does the worker actively market themselves? Does the worker perform a substantial amount of the work from their own workspace? Are they responsible for paying their own employees?

If you answered YES to these questions then you may be able to categorize your worker as a sub-contractor, if you answered NO then you guess it, you need to pay them as an employee.

Responsibility for Investment and Management

Does the worker have any capital invested in their business and an established business presence?

If they do then you are pretty safe hiring them as a contractor so long as the also meet majority of the above criteria.

Opportunity for Profit

Can the worker realize a profit or incur a loss? Is the worker paid a flat fee and incurs any expenses as a loss?

If the answer is NO then you need to hire the worker as an employee.

In the end if you are uncertain about your relationship with your new hire or you can’t distinctively answer majority of these questions with a YES or NO response (because the status of your relationship is unclear) then it is best to contact the CRA and get a ruling before you proceed.

This will save you a lot of grey stress hairs, and costs in the long term.

#ThursdayThoughts: Employee or Contractor?

CRA, Vancouver Bookkeeper(s), Tax Return Service Vancouver, Small Business Bookkeepers in Vancouver, subcontractor, contractor, employee

Tear. It’s been a year. Your small business is growing before your eyes. You stare at your Profit and Loss statement for the hundredth time like a kid who’s been fervently measuring their height against the wall fixedly checks in on their progress, and your eyes fill with water. You really made it.

Your email  inbox is flooded with fan mail. It’s wonderful and scary. You want to respond to all of them, even the creepy ones, you want to be Superman/Wonder Woman/the Hulk combined, deliver on your promise of top-notch service but you need help.

You can finally afford it, but who do you hire: an employee or a contractor?

We recommend that before you hire anyone as an employee you start them out as a contractor for a trial period. This way you can test them out and make sure they work well with you, are reliable and will not steal business from you before committing to a long-term agreement.

Once the initial trial period is over, ask yourself the following questions to give some clarity when trying to determine the best way to proceed with your expansion:

What is the nature of the project?

Will you need to control the time of those who help you and the sequence in which they complete tasks?

  • Yes- Then you need an employee
  • No- Then you can consider a contractor

Are you supplying all of the equipment?

  • Yes- Then you need an employee
  • No- Then you can consider a contractor

Do you need a very specific task completed?

  • Specialized tasks are often completed by contractors however if it is an ongoing specialized task then you may want to consider hiring an employee.

How long will I be this busy?

Do you have a higher workload because you have taken on a short term, labour intensive contract?

  • Yes- Then you can hire a contractor
  • No- Then you should consider hiring an employee

Financial responsibility

Will the payment of the person you hire depend on you receiving payment for the overall contract?

  • Yes- Then you can hire a contractor
  • No- Then you should hire an employee

Training

Do you plan on providing training?

  • Yes- Then you should hire an employee
  • No- Then you can hire a contractor as they should already be trained.

What are the Financial differences

If you hire an employee

  • You must match your employee’s CPP which is 5% of their gross earnings.
  • You must pay 1.4 times the EI amount that the employee pays.
  • You must remit taxes on behalf of the employee.
  • You must supply your employee with the equipment necessary to complete the job.

If you hire a contractor

  • They are responsible for paying their own CPP and taxes.
  • They supply their own equipment.
  • You cannot fire them without paying out the contract, they also cannot quit without finishing the contract.

As attractive as it may appear to hire a contractor over an employee you must make sure that your contractor is considered a contractor under the rules set out by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or you risk experiencing heavy fines.

Stayed tuned for next week’s post where we will discuss the CRA employee or contractor checklist in more detail.

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.

Refer a construction client, get a gift card

construction_blog‘Tis the season for construction! That’s right, October is construction and trades month at Homeroom, which means we’re turning our focus on YOU, owner of a construction business. The time is now to get those books organized.

Over the next few weeks, this blog will be filled with helpful tips pertaining to your unique and complicated industry. We’ll discuss the basics such as Cost of Goods Sold, inventory, and how to price your services to ensure you’re covering your bases. We’ll also break down the difference between an employee and contractor, and how to deal with payroll.

But wait, you’re not in the construction business, but know people who are, you say? We want to hear from you too! If you refer a prospective client in the construction or trades industry to us and they book an intake call in October, you get a $10 gift certificate to your favourite coffee spot. All they need to do is say who referred them during their intake call and we’ll get in touch with you.

So stop delaying and start getting organized!

 

 

 

Get your ship in order before tax season!

Vancouver Bookkeeper(s), Tax Return Service Vancouver, Small Business Bookkeepers in Vancouver, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks, Jennie Moore,

Photo of Jennie Moore courtesy of TD Accounting Services

(Guest post by Ontario-based bookkeeper Jennie Moore)

Yes, for those of you who are candid like me, the title is a play on words!

And I’m sure you get the message: Organize your stuff before giving it to your income tax preparer. Let me guess, you vowed last April that you would get your books in order and be a good little taxpayer.

But you didn’t, right? I’m not going to shame you. You’re likely already feeling guilty. But now it’s time to report to Sergeant Jennie Moore. You are now entering Bookkeeping Boot Camp!

Are you up for the challenge? Grow up and take control. Follow these steps and your income tax preparer will become your new BFF.

  1. Day One: Collect all of your source documents (i.e., sales, expenses, and home office expenses, if applicable)
  2. Day Two: Start with your sales. Organize them by date. Total them and sign off on the tabulation page or spreadsheet to attest they are accurate.
  3. Day Three: Find every expense receipt. Every one! No more excuses. You are not allowed to give your tax preparer more receipts once your tax return is in progress or finalized. Take it seriously.
  4. Day Four: Organize by date and tabulate all of your home office expenses by expense category, like Utilities, Telephone, Office Supplies, Advertising, etc. If you aren’t sure if an expense is deductible, categorize it as “Unsure”. Be sure to include details.
  5. Day Five: Write a list of any changes in your personal life since your last tax return. Your tax preparer isn’t physic! He or she won’t know you had a new baby that keeps you up at night unless you say so. The list is endless. So be detailed: you never know, you might be entitled to a tax credit or deduction.
  6. Day Six: Realize that that was a lot of work! Think of ways to make it easier next year.
  7. Day Seven: Make an appointment to speak to your tax preparer or schedule a drop-off, but understand this is a busy time for him or her. Your tax preparer cares deeply about your personal bookkeeping story — as well as everyone else’s. Avoid drop-ins or multiple emails and calls. Organize your thoughts, document them, and forward a nice package with a lovely bow on it. You may find the turnaround time is much quicker.

Congratulations! You have survived Jennie’s boot camp.

Your challenge: Evaluate every bookkeeping transaction you do and find an easier way of doing it…automatically! Talk to the people in the know. We have the answers. The solutions may surprise you. Stop being afraid!

Now do 20 push ups.

Just kidding.

This post originally appeared on QBO Adventures. Jennie Moore is an Ontario-based bookkeeper. Find out more about her and check out some of her other posts on her blog.

5 Items that are NOT business expenses

A lot of business owners are guilty of keeping receipts for items that cannot be claimed as a business expense. To save money on your bookkeeping, by limiting the amount of time your bookkeeper spends sorting through receipts, leave the following receipts out of your folder.

1. Clothes

You may also be required to wear a certain type of outfit to work on a regular basis such as a suit. However, unless you are buying specific safety gear or are required to wear a branded uniform any clothes you purchase are considered a PERSONAL NOT BUSINESS expense. This includes associated costs such as dry cleaning and laundry services.

I know this is a terrible reality for most of us in particular for all of the office workers out there. As much as we wish things were different (we too would like to get some money back for looking this good on a daily basis) the CRA just won’t budge on this one.

Until the day when we start a revolution by wearing burlap sacks in protest please refrain from sneaking your clothing purchase receipts into your bookkeeping folder.

2. Personal maintenance

When you are the face of your company or the company you work for it’s important to look the part. This can be expense we all know Botox, makeup and personal training isn’t cheap!!

That said the CRA wants you to be beautiful on your own dime. Clearly this faceless monster doesn’t understand the pressures of being a local celebrity.

Again until we find a way to make them understand how important looking and feeling good is when you are a business owner please keep these receipts out of your bookkeeping.

3. Groceries

Eating is expensive!!! It would be really nice to get some of that money back on your food consumption especially considering that majority of your eating takes place while working.

Twice a year you can throw a party and claim it as a business expense. Keep that in mind when gathering your receipts.

Anything more than that is just groceries for your family, you know it…we know it…and the CRA will know!!

 

4. Solo Meals

So you ordered Subway for one during your lunch time “business meeting”…hmmmm interesting. Unless you went Dutch, which we know you didn’t, you can’t claim single meals as a business expense without running the risk of having it rejected during an audit. In addition your three daily trips to Starbucks don’t count as business meetings.

The best way to protect yourself and prove that your “meeting” is legitimate, in the event of an audit, is to write the name of the person you were meeting on the meal receipt.

Rejection = Penalties and interest

5. Personal items, trips & gifts

Did you really purchase that tent for your business trip to Pemberton? We may accept this as true if you are a journalist who works for a local paper that rewards you with love not money, or more logically a tour guide. But when the average business owner adds this receipt to their folder the bookkeeper will automatically assume it is personal unless you make a note claiming why it is a business expense.

Tickets to Disneyland, ski passes, expensive artwork, adult toys and climbing the grouse grind to have lunch will also be filed by your bookkeeper under “I don’t think so” unless you write a convincing argument on your receipt in advance.

 

The main thing to know about bookkeepers is that we want to make sure your expenses are recorded correctly so that if you are audited you have nothing to worry about because all of your expenses are legitimate business expenses that would be approved by the CRA.

To find out more about how we can help you with your business or to determine if you have some expenses that are an exception to the rule contact us today.

Spotlight on Emma- Homeroom’s Quickbooks Queen

Emma 2Emma “the most tattooed bookkeeper in Vancouver” hails from London, England and has been a member of the Homeroom team since 2010. Before finding her true love (Quickbooks) Emma had an extremely varied job history- Wedding Planner, Dreadlock Expert, Apprentice Electrician & Finder of Employment for those with barriers in the DTES.
We felt it was time our clients got to know a little more about Emma.

How would you describe yourself?

Captain Brunhilda- Mighty Warrioress who SLAYS GST returns!!!  Or something like that?  I am cheeky little red-haired princess.  I am a giant nerd.  Yesterday my partner asked me to explain excel and I got OVERLY excited- I raved about all it’s wondrous functions for at least 15 minutes…. I am a nerd.  A BIG nerd.  A nerdy nerdy nerd.

What is your favorite thing about working at Homeroom?

My sisters-from-other-misters also known as the delightful ladies I am blessed to work with.

What are your ultimate personal goals?

  •  Marry Bruce Willis
  • Live in a big pink castle
  •  Get a pink winged unicorn (or a pegasus/unicorn?  A pegicorn? a unisus?).
AND most importantly to be happy and for my son to grow up happy and well-adjusted.

Why do you love bookkeeping so much?

I love how there is no grey area with numbers, they either add up or they don’t!! I also really like stamping all the receipts with the ‘Posted’ stamp because it makes me feel important.

What is the funniest item you have had a client attempt to write off?

Once I had a client try to write off hair replacement therapy.

Describe your ultimate bookkeeping client?

Friendly, challenging and organized.   They should also bring me presents.  Especially cupcakes or chocolate.

You can connect with Emma on LinkedIn or find our more about her through her Homeroom Bio.

How to start your own business in BC

tax_slider

Most people assume when taking the plunge into self-employment by starting their own small business that there are going to be a million forms to sign and government entities that need to be registered with before you are cleared by the CRA to begin working.

But that is not the case at all.

The following breakdown will hopefully clarify just how simple it is (from a tax perspective, because let’s be honest becoming successfully self-employed is no easy feat!!!) to get your new business tax ready in BC.

Trading under your personal name

The quickest way to get your business up and running is to trade under your own name (eg. Teya Mali trading as Teya Mali).

From the CRA’s perspective when you trade under your own name you can begin trading immediately and no business registration is necessary.

All the CRA cares about in this instance is that you are honest come tax time and declare all of your income and expenses correctly.

Trading Under A Business Name

Trading under a name other than your own isn’t quite as simple and does require some paperwork. However, it is still not as overwhelming as you may think.

You can have your business up and running in four easy steps.

  1. Firstly you need to register your business name. This can be done for a cost of $30 through the BC Registry One Stop BC service.
  2. Determine your business structure. Do you want to be a sole proprietor, partnership, or incorporation? (If you are a solo entrepreneur working from home, I would highly recommend that you start off as a sole proprietor to keep things simple. You can always incorporate later. There are MANY rules (that are governed by penalties) that you need to comply with once you become incorporated. So again, I recommend that you hold off until your business has expanded).You can register your sole proprietorship for $40 through the BC Registry One Stop BC service
  3. Determine if you need to charge sales tax. If you are selling retail products, you will need to register for PST. Homeroom can do this on your behalf or you can register yourself on the BC Government site.  (Please note: until you have incurred SALES of $30000 in a calendar year, you ARE NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER FOR GST so save your money and wait)
  4. Apply for a business licence. The application fee is $50 with an annual fee that varies depending on your location.

Although getting your business set up correctly with the CRA is a relatively simple process you must remember that your paperwork doesn’t necessarily end there and that you still need to consider your insurance needs, budgets, inventory tracking, invoicing and of course bookkeeping.

We recommend checking out Small Business BC Website which is a great online resource with a lot of helpful information on how to start a small business.

Additionally we recommend that you begin keeping all of your business related receipts from the moment you decide to venture out on your own. Even if you haven’t started making sales, you can still write-off business expenses as you develop your idea . That said, you should note that you can only write of an expense in the year that it occurred, so make sure you talk to your bookkeeper in advance and plan the best time to make larger purchases.

Self-Employment; The possible answer to your job search woes

Self-employment

Photo courtesy of David Martyn Hunt

In our current economic climate the chances of finding a job doing exactly what you are trained to do, or would like to do, can at times seem impossible. The market is competitive, wages are decreasing and quite often the battle to find the ideal position leaves you feeling deflated and pessimistic.

However, in my opinion it is not all doom and gloom!!

I believe that if you have a marketable skill, and you feel that you are disciplined enough to work from home (to keep your overhead low) you may just be able to create your dream job by going out on your own.

That’s what I did. Now I have 3 employees, 65 clients and enough work to keep me strapped to my computer even while on holiday! (Not that I am complaining)

Don’t get me wrong, starting your own business is not an easy solution but thankfully we are lucky enough to live in a country where the growth and development of small business is encouraged, making it a viable option.

So now that this blog post (which was Item number 433 on my to-do list) has compelled you to take the plunge towards self-employment, the next question I should answer is:

‘What do you actually need to do to get started?’

Here are Teya’s top 3 tips (say that 5 times fast)

  1. Get some memorable business cards printed (I recommend a thick card stock with rounded edges)
  2. Perfect your elevator pitch (describe what you do and your competitive advantage in 30s – 1 min)
  3. START NETWORKING.

How to grow your idea into a business

  • Make sure you tell all your friends and family what you are doing because they will be your first clients.
  • Be persistent and don’t give up hope.
  • When you get your first client, WOW them.
  • Don’t forget to ask for referrals.
  • Talk about your business (even if it isn’t really a business yet!) to EVERYONE you meet. You never know who can give you a huge break.

The best advice I received was from a local successful entrepreneur and Author, Steve Jagger. He suggests that as a new entrepreneur you should always ACT AS IF… you have a hugely successful company even if you are just starting and have no clients.

If you are confident no one will know the difference.

I will never forget the first networking event I went to, I was SUPER nervous and desperately wanted to make a lasting first impression.

I later discovered (through friendships that had formed as a result of my attendance to that event) that I had convinced everyone there that I was very experienced and had a viable company. The actual fact was that I had printed business cards from my computer the night before, and didn’t even have a single client.

I really do believe that the possibilities for success are endless. So long as you are prepared to work hard.