Are There Any Tax Implications for an Inheritance in Canada?

In some countries, inheritance taxes are imposed upon an amount inherited by a person from someone who has died. That person is responsible for paying tax on whatever they receive. Fortunately for us in Canada, inheritance taxes do not exist when it comes to receiving an inheritance from a loved one.

Instead, the estate of the deceased pays the taxes before any money or value is transferred to the beneficiary. This means that, in the end, the beneficiary should not have to worry about taxes.

While this may reduce the initial value of the estate, it certainly provides peace of mind to beneficiaries and loved ones who would otherwise shoulder the burden of any owing taxes, interests or penalties.

Who Inherits the Estate?

Who inherits the estates all depends on whether or not the deceased left a valid will. An estate is considered to be everything that a person owns when they die, including their property and their debts. A will is a legal document that describes who will inherit the estate after the owner of the will passes away.

With a will, the estate is distributed as per the directions of the will after taxes and expenses are paid and settled. If, however, the deceased did not have a valid will, then government-imposed rules are applied:

  • If there is a surviving spouse but no surviving descendants, then the spouse receives the estate.
  • If there are surviving descendants, and no surviving spouse, then the descendants receive the estate.
  • If there are both surviving descendants and a spouse, the spouse receives the household furnishing and the spousal preferential share (a specified amount from the estate before other distributions are made). The spouse then receives half the remainder of the estate, with the other half split between descendants.
  • If there are no descendants or spouse, the estate goes to other relatives based on a government-imposed distribution schedule.

Filing the Deceased’s Final Tax Return

After a person passes away, their tax return is filed and any owing taxes are paid by the estate. This is done by the deceased’s legal representative, which is usually an executor or estate administrator. This individual also notifies the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and Service Canada of the date of death and forwards any necessary documents.

The final tax return and owing taxes are due on April 30th if the deceased passed away between January 1st and October 31st. Otherwise, they are due six months after the date of death.

Any owing income tax is paid by the estate first.

Clearance Certificate

After the deceased’s taxes are filed and settled, a Clearance Certificate needs to be requested from the CRA to confirm that all taxes have been paid. A Clearance Certificate confirms that the estate has paid any taxes, interest and penalties owed.

A Clearance Certificate is necessary because it allows the legal representative to distribute the inheritance to any receivers without the risk of being personally responsible for any amounts owing.

Distribution of Inheritance

After the Clearance Certificate is obtained, the executor distributes what remains of the estate in accordance to the will. The entire process from death to receiving inheritance can be a lengthy process, as wills have to be verified, items appraised and taxes filed.

Ultimately, the beneficiary will never have to worry about paying taxes on any amounts received.

Is it Ever TOO Late to File Taxes?

a-business-owner-checker-her-watch-while-on-her-way-to-fule-taxes

Whether you owe money to the government, or are expected a refund on your taxes, it can be too late to file your taxes.

The deadline for filing taxes in Canada is April 30th. If that date falls on the weekend it is then moved to the next business day. While you can file your taxes any time throughout the year, there are certain consequences for filing late.

These consequences depend entirely on whether or not you owe taxes to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) or if the CRA owes you a refund. Either way, filing late can cause serious disruptions in your finances.

If You Owe Money

If you owe money, and do not file your taxes or file them late, you can face a hefty penalty on the amount owing.

When you file late, or not at all, the CRA charges compound daily interest starting on the day after the due date (usually May 1st) on any unpaid amount. This includes any unpaid amounts from previous years.

The penalty for filing late is 5% on the total amount owing plus 1% for each month the return is late. This interest is calculated up to 12 months past the due date.

For example, if you owe $10 000 and file your taxes 5 months late, the CRA will charge 5% interest on the owing amount plus an additional 5% (1% for each month late). This means you will ultimately owe $11 000 on your taxes.

If You Are Owed Money

If you have money coming your way, you have up to 10 years to complete your return and receive your refund. Beyond that deadline, your refund is lost and cannot be claimed.

However, filing late even when you are receiving a refund may cause delays with your spouse or common-law partner if their refund depends on information from your return.

Another delay can occur if you receive benefit payments, such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit or the Working Income Tax Benefits, or a GST credit. Your payments may be interrupted since your eligibility is determined by your reported income.

Finding Out if You Owe Money or Not

In order to determine which set of consequences you could potentially face, you need to know whether or not you will be owing money to the government. You can do this one of 3 ways:

  • Calculate your taxes via government provided forms.
  • Use online software to calculate your taxes.
  • Have a company provide a free estimate.

However, if you are taking the time to fill out the necessary forms to determine whether or not you owe money, you may as well file the taxes. Even if you do owe, delaying the inevitable will only increase the interest on the amount owed.

Even If You Owe Money, You Should File As Soon As Possible

Despite whether or not you can pay the owing amount by the due date, you should file your taxes on time. Luckily, the CRA can work out a payment arrangement so you can make smaller payments over time until your debt is paid.

If you don’t, you are looking at that accruing interest on the unpaid amount beginning immediately after the tax filing deadline.

While ignoring the problem may seem like a good way to make it go away, letting your taxes sit in limbo will only make matters worse down the road – whether you end up paying large interest rates or lose out on GST credits and benefit payments.

Not Sure What to Do?

Contact us today to speak with a dedicated professional who will be more than happy to address your current situation and determine your tax-related needs.

Is There a Penalty for Filing Taxes Late if You Owe Nothing?

a-blue-mouse-sitting-on-a-stack-of-late-tax-return-documents

In Canada, there are no fees or penalties if you file your taxes late – as long as you don’t owe anything.

The main consequence of filing late when you owe nothing is a delay in receiving any returns you are owed. The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) simply holds your refund until you do file. Filing late may also cause delays with spouses and common-law partners in which the calculation of a tax refund depends on information from your return.

Also, if you receive benefit payments, such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit or the Working Income Tax Benefit, your payments may be interrupted since your eligibility is determined by your reported income.

Alternatively, there are serious financial consequences to filing late, or not filing at all, if you owe money on your taxes.

Tax Filing Deadline

Canadian tax returns for any specific year must be filed by April 30th of the next year. The only exception are returns for self-employed individuals, who have until June 15th of the following year.

Late Filing Penalties

If you owe money on your tax return, and file late or not at all, the CRA will charge compound daily interest starting on May 1st on any unpaid amounts. This includes any unpaid amounts from previous years.

The penalty for late filing is 5% on the total amount owing plus 1% for each month the return is late up to 12 months.

For example, if you owe $10 000 and file your taxes 5 months late, the CRA will charge 5% interest on the owing amount plus an additional 5% (1% for each month late). This means you will ultimately owe $11 000 on your taxes.

Tax Payers Relief Provision

Life happens and filing previous tax returns, or paying any taxes owed, may be hindered by unfortunate life situations. The CRA administers legislation called the “Tax Payers Relief Provision” that gives the CRA discretion to:

  • cancel or waive penalties or interest,
  • accept late tax filing,
  • reduce the amount owed.

This provision can apply to taxpayers who have filed late due to extreme circumstances, the inability to pay or financial hardship. These exceptions are granted based on review of individual cases by a CRA agent.

This means that just because you are having a hard time filing or paying your taxes doesn’t mean you will automatically be granted this provision. You must prove your situation to the CRA.

What to do if Your Taxes are Late

Even if you’ve missed the filing deadlines, it is extremely important that you file your taxes anyway! Ignoring the problem does not make it go away and the sooner you file, the less you have to pay in interest penalties.

If you owe on your taxes but cannot pay by the due date, you can work out a payment arrangement with the CRA so that you can make smaller payments over time until your debt and interests are paid.

The CRA will grant a payment arrangement if you can show that you have tried to pay the debt by borrowing money or reducing your expenses. They may require proof of your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.

Should you miss a payment during the payment arrangement, the CRA may revoke the arrangement.

Have questions about filing your taxes late or on time? Contact us for more information!

What’s Best For Business Owners: Salary or Dividends?

bills-and-coins-in-red-envelope-sitting-on-a-tableIf you have chosen to set up your small business as a Canadian corporation, you have a couple of options when it comes time to pay yourself and any other company shareholders. You can choose to pay yourself a salary, receive dividends, or a opt for a combination of both. There’s no simple answer, so join Liu & Associates as we discuss the pros and cons of each option.

Business Salary

If you’re paying yourself a salary, the payments become an expense of the business. You’ll receive a personal income, and get a T4 at the end of the tax year.

The Pros

    • You’ll be paying into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The more you contribute to CPP, the more you’ll eventually receive once you hit retirement.
    • Your salary reduces the corporation’s taxable income, which reduces how much tax your business will owe each year.
    • When applying for a mortgage, banks like to see steady income. You’re likely to get a better rate if you have a salaried income vs a dividend one.
    • With your personal income, you’ll be able to take advantage of other investment opportunities such as a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a tax-free savings account (TFSA).

The Cons

  • Your salary is taxable. It’s possible that giving yourself a salary could increase your personal tax burden.
  • You’ll have to do payroll. To keep things above board, you’ll need to set up a payroll account with the CRA and file all the necessary paperwork that comes along with such an account.
  • If your company’s profits vary from year to year, a salary could cause you tax problems down the road if you aren’t able to carry a business loss one year.

Dividends

Dividends are payments to shareholders of a corporation that are paid from the after-tax earnings of the company. Dividends are declared, and cash is transferred directly from the company’s account to a shareholder’s personal account. The business will need to prepare T5s for anyone who has received dividends.

The Pros

  • Dividends are taxed at a lower rate than a salary would be, which can result in paying less personal tax.
  • By not paying into CPP you’re keeping more money in your pocket today.
  • Transferring dividends is a pretty simple process! There’s no need to register for payroll – just declare a dividend and transfer the cash.
  • You can claim dividends anytime.

The Cons

  • By not contributing to CPP for as long, you will be entitled to less when you decide to retire.
  • Because you don’t have a personal income, you aren’t able to take advantage of RRSPs or TFSAs.
  • Dividends can exclude you from certain personal tax deductions.

Chat With An Expert

When it comes to deciding whether to pay yourself or other shareholders with a salary or dividends, it’s best to chat with a professional. Your choice will be impacted by a host of factors, like your current income level, your age, and the company’s projected income. An accounting professional will take all of this into consideration and help you draw up a plan for continued business growth and success.

For expert advice, call the team at Liu & Associates today.

 

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How To Work With The CRA To File Tax Returns From Previous Years

Computer-chair-and-desk-full-of-filesWhatever the reason may be, sometimes people fail to file their tax returns on time, or in some extreme circumstances, ever! Failure to submit your tax return can have some nasty consequences, including hefty fines and penalties. If you find yourself in this situation know that not all hope is lost; the good news is that there is a way to file tax returns from previous years in Canada. However, how you handle the situation will depend on your circumstances. Read on to learn about what options you have if you need to file tax returns from previous years.

Scenario 1: You Think You Might Owe the CRA Some Money

If you believe that you will owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it’s best to file your late taxes sooner rather than later. As mentioned above, you risk facing sizable penalties and interest charges on any unpaid tax debt. The longer you wait to file, the more you’ll owe. Don’t think just because the CRA hasn’t contacted you that they’ve forgotten you – eventually they will come to collect. So what do you do?

  1. Speak to a professional. A tax accountant can help you through the process of sifting through paperwork and organizing it to submit to the CRA. They can also give you advice on any penalties that you might face.
  2. Ask about the Voluntary Disclosure Program. The CRA has created a program called the Voluntary Disclosure Program which provides Canadians a second chance to correct their taxes or submit any returns that were never filed. There are certain conditions that must apply, but if you qualify for the program, you can get relief from prosecution and certain penalties.

Scenario 2: You Don’t Think You Owe Any Money

Even if you are quite sure that you don’t owe the CRA any money, it’s still important to file your tax returns each year. Failure to do so could mean that you’re missing out on credits and benefits that could end up with the CRA giving you money! Examples of these include GST credits and child benefit payments.

Unless you are 100% sure you don’t owe any money, it’s still worth it to chat with a tax professional before filing to ensure you have a good understanding of your situation. Otherwise, it’s as simple as submitting the tax return late. The CRA allows you to use the same methods for filing that you would use to file your return on time. You can use a tax preparation software, mail in a return prepared by a professional, or complete the CRA’s General Income Tax and Benefit Package and mail it in. If you don’t owe any money, there are no penalties for late filing.

Searching For Tax Help?

Have you let your tax filings slip? Don’t worry! The team at Liu & Associates can help. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our tax experts.

 

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2019 Tax Changes: What To Expect

2019-in-sparkling-numbersAs 2019 comes into full swing, it’s bringing some tax changes with it that will have some big impacts on Canadians and small business owners. With income tax being the top expense for most Canadian families, it’s worth it to be aware of what’s going to change in 2019. Read on as Liu & Associates highlights a few of the major changes you’ll see in 2019 when it comes to your income taxes.

Why Do Tax Rules Change?

Taxes can change for a number of reasons. People often see changes to taxes when a new government comes into power, when a government is trying to win favour with voters, or when a loophole is identified. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the tax landscape so you are aware of the changes and how they might impact you. Worst case scenario, you could face a reassessment or penalty from the CRA if you fail to take into account the new tax rules when filing your next return.

Increase In CPP Premiums

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums will be on the rise for the next five years due to a program enhancement plan. What does this mean for you? You’ll notice more money off your paycheque going to CPP. The good news is that you’ll eventually get to reap the benefits of this extra money in retirement.

Decrease In Employment Insurance Premium

While CPP premiums may be increasing, employment insurance (EI) premiums will going the opposite direction. Employment insurance premiums are being decreased by four cents for every $100 of insurable earnings. This is the second year of decreases to EI premiums.

Decrease In Small Business Tax Rate

Small business owners can rejoice the fact that their tax rate is going down from 10 to nine percent. Similar to EI premiums, this is the second year we’ve seen decreases in the small business tax rate. This reduction makes the combined federal-provincial-territorial average income tax rate for small businesses 12.2 percent, which is the lowest in the G7. Tax savings means more money to reinvest in your company.

Changes To The Working Income Tax Benefit

The Working Income Tax Benefit is a refundable tax credit that helps to give tax relief to low-income individuals and families. At the start of 2019, the program was renamed the Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) and was enhanced in order to put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and encourage them to stay in the workforce. To keep things easy, the CRA will automatically determine if you’re eligible to receive the CWB and assess your tax return as if you’ve already claimed it, even if you hadn’t upon your original filing.

If you need help filing your 2019 tax return, contact the team at Liu & Associates today. Our experts are up to date on all tax system updates and will make sure you get the best return possible.

 

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How To Manage An Inheritance

an-accountant-helping-a-client-manage-their-trust-while-sitting-outside-of-a-shopComing into a lump sum of money suddenly, be it big or small, can be jarring to say the least. A sizable inheritance can represent a life-changing opportunity, if managed properly. Follow these five tips to make sure you’re managing your money smart and effectively to keep you financially stable for years to come.

1. Take A Step Back

Because an inheritance usually comes with a loss, it’s important for you take time to deal with your grief. You don’t want to be making any major financial decision when you’re in an emotional haze.

The second thing you need to do is take a reality check. Before you go quitting your job or booking a flight to Europe, you need to think realistically about what your inheritance is going to do for your life. $90,000 might seem like a lot at the time, but that’s not enough to sustain you and your family for 25+ years. You need to consider whether your new found fortune is going to rewrite your financial goals, or simply just help you reach some of your existing goals a bit sooner.

2. Pay off Debts

Using your inheritance to pay down or pay off any current debts can help you to reduce your expenses and save you money that would go towards interest down the line. When choosing which debts to pay off first, always pick the loans with higher interest rates first, like credit cards, personal loans, or car loans, before paying off a lower interest rate loan like your mortgage.

3. Prioritize Your Goals

Identifying your financial goals will help you determine the next steps you take with your money. Cleaning up any debt should always be a top priority, followed by creating a retirement nest egg. After that the sky’s the limit; others goals may include:

Determining what your financial goals are will help guide you in the types of investments you make, or the types of accounts you open.

4. Splurge Thoughtfully

It’s okay, and even encouraged, to have a little fun with your new money! Depending on the size of the inheritance, your “splurge” will look very different. It could be anything from some new shoes to a new house! Remember: reason and moderation are what it’s all about. Just because you can buy 10 swimming pools doesn’t necessarily mean that you should!

5. Hire Some Help

Depending on the type of inheritance you received (ex. Investments, life insurance, etc.) there may be some hidden taxes you are unaware of. A financial advisor or accountant can help you create a financial plan and deal with any tax implications that might come your way. They will help you understand your inheritance, and can assist you in managing it moving forward.

For help managing your inheritance, trust the team at Liu & Associates. Call today to book an appointment.

 

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Employee Gift Giving 101: What Employers Need To Know

an-employee-gift-sitting-next-to-wheatWhether it’s a staff holiday party, birthday celebration or just a year end gift, there are rules surrounding giving your employees gifts. Follow the rules, and both you and your employees will benefit on your tax return. Gifts that follow the guidelines set out by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are not only tax deductible for you as the employer, but your employees won’t have to declare the cost of the gift as part of their taxable income. Don’t get dinged at tax time just because you were trying to recognize your employees. Read on to learn about the tax rules for employee gifts.

Tax Implications of Gift Giving in Canada

The CRA’s general rule is that all gifts given to employees are considered a taxable benefit. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that will make the gift not taxable. These exemptions include:

  • Employees may receive up to $500 in non-cash gifts each year before the gift becomes taxable.
  • Employer-hosted social events where the cost is $100/per person or less.
  • Gifts in recognition of long service can be given once every five years and are not taxable so long as the value is less than $500.
  • Meals at work-related functions.
  • Small, valueless items such as coffee, snacks, mugs, etc.

The number of non-cash gifts an employee can receive is unlimited as long as the combined total value doesn’t exceed $500 annually. More so, small gifts, such as coffee, plaques, and mugs don’t count towards this limit.

When Does A Gift Become A Taxable Benefit?

There are some gifts that, regardless of the cost, are always considered a taxable benefit. These include:

  • Non-cash gifts that exceed the $500 annual limit. Ex. If you gift your employee a total of $700 in non-cash gifts, $200 of that is considered a taxable benefit.
  • Cash or near-cash gifts. This includes bonuses and gift cards.
  • Reward points that are redeemable towards travel, accommodation, or other rewards.
  • Reimbursing an employee for a gift they selected and paid for.
  • Any sort of gift from a manufacturer given to an employee of a dealer.

Chat With A Tax Professional

The business tax landscape can be extremely difficult to navigate alone. A qualified business accountant can help ensure that everyone in your company gets to experience the joy that is associated with the giving and receiving of gifts. If you have questions about employee gift giving, call the team at Liu & Associates today.

 

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6 Financial Considerations When Growing Your Business

6 financial considerations when growing your businessTaking the next step with your business can be just as vital to its success as your first day of operation. As any owner knows, finances are central to commercial viability– but there is much to consider when growing your business. Keep reading for Liu & Associates’ introduction to the complex financial needs of business growth.

#1: Does your business have the appropriate funding?

Unless you have considerable savings or borrowing power, growing your business requires a considerable influx of capital. If you are searching for investors or elsewhere for funds, make sure they honour your values and share the same vision of the future. Once acquired, every dollar should be accounted for and put to work efficiently in the most impactful areas.

#2: What is your business reputation with its clients?

If you are considering growing your business, it is important to have a strong relationship with your customers. Sales, retention, quality assurance– these are just some of the important aspects of customer service that you should prioritize before expansion. Often, good client relationships will naturally help indicate when your business may be ready for growth.

#3: Does your business have a “brand?”

You may have the funds and a solid customer base, but it is extremely difficult to attract new business without recognizable branding, attractive design and a healthy social media presence. While unique products and services are important, clients are human– they are more likely to choose options with clean and clear design. Also, modern customers favour brands with engaging, non-repetitive online content that is updated regularly.

#4: Is your business ready to evolve?

If you want your business to stick to what it does best and keep doing it well, growth may not be the most prudent option. Businesses only thrive when they are equipped for the demands of their industry– refusing to change means you are more likely to be left behind. Remember: you don’t know what you don’t know! Consider speaking with financial professionals, industry consultants and even other business owners.

#5: Do you want your business’s scope to widen, narrow or remain consistent?

Growing your business does not always mean changing what you do, but it usually changes how you do it. If you plan on taking the next step, consider whether you want to increase your business’s market share or diversify its services. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but your success relies on how ready your business is to tackle the new challenges. If you want to maintain the scope of your products or services, you may want to delay plans for expansion.

#6: What is your business’s long-term goal?

Look ahead five or ten years– where do you see your business? Is it neck-and-neck with competitors? Do you hope to acquire other businesses? Would you rather sell it off and move on to your next project? Each answer to these means a different strategy and plan for growth, but all are attainable with a well-organized, detailed business plan.

The considerations above are only a brief summary of the reality of growing your business. Each point introduces a change that comes with growth– for a comprehensive discussion of their financial consequences, contact or visit Liu & Associates today!

COMPANION CREDIT: Can Pet Expenses be Tax Deductible?

can pet expenses be tax deductibleEveryone thinks their pet is the best… and they are right! This is common knowledge for most animal lovers and owners, but can your animal companion actually earn you tax credits? The short answer is no: Bella, Fluffers or Mr. Pickles likely does not qualify, no matter how good they are at cuddling or looking cute. Still, there are some cases where a portion of buying, training or feeding an animal can be used as a deductible. Keep reading for Liu & Associates’ guide to some of these benefits!

ANIMAL THERAPY OR SERVICE ANIMALS

Usually listed under medical expenses on income tax forms, you may qualify for benefits or credits if you or a dependent requires the assistance of an animal. Consider submitting the necessary receipts if you pay for regular animal therapy or the purchase, training and upkeep of a service animal.

FARM ANIMALS

If you own livestock, herding animals or guard animals in order to operate a business, you very likely can claim a portion of their initial purchase as well as costs of caring for them. Optimizing your tax return is vital for the successful operation of ranches and farms of any size or scale, so do not overlook the benefits and credits available to you.

ANIMAL TRANSPORTATION

Moving residences is one of the rare cases where your family pet(s) could earn you an income tax credit. Since moving means your pet(s) and the necessary supplies need to come with you, there are some accommodations for reporting any related costs. Also: if your business relies on transporting your animals, a portion of your fuel and maintenance costs should always be claimed as deductible.

CHARITABLE DONATIONS

If you give to shelters, rescues or other non-profit animal welfare organizations, always request a tax receipt when eligible. A charitable donation is one of the easiest ways to express your love for domestic animals while earning income tax credit. Costs related to fostering and sponsoring animals for certified organizations may also qualify.

JOBS WITH DOGS

Not just limited to dogs, animal ownership is a multibillion-dollar, worldwide industry– there are countless industries and professions that thrive within it. Always claim any eligible expenses directly related to your job! For example: a dog walker can claim a portion of their fuel and maintenance costs, if they use their personal vehicle to transport dogs to and from their clients’ homes.

The five scenarios outlined above are only some of the ways owning or caring for an animal could lead to income tax deductions, credits or benefits. For a full understanding, contact or visit Liu & Associates today with any issues, complications or concerns!