How An Accountant Can Help With Shareholder Disputes

Corporations can be complex entities.

While setting up a corporation is relatively easy, having “too many cooks in the kitchen”, so to speak, can create disagreements and heated arguments.

Whether disputes arise due to the shareholders’ vested interest in the company, or a proverbial “hot head”, dealing with these disputes can be lengthy and costly.

With the help of our certified accountants, Liu & Associates can help you navigate these disputes by gathering pertinent information regarding your corporation.

Keep reading to learn more about how shareholder disputes are resolved and how an accountant can help:

What Happens When Shareholder Disputes Arise?

Most businesses in Canada have one or more owners or shareholders.

Because shareholders hold a stake in the company, disputes among shareholders and business owners can lead to considerable disagreement and complicated litigation.

This means that a corporation can file taxes, borrow or lend money and can sue and be sued.

Shareholder disputes arise when the owners and managers of a business argum among themselves.

Shareholders and owners have the final say when it comes to making decisions that will affect the business.

The rights of the shareholder include the right to vote at shareholders’ meetings, the right to attend these meetings and the right to all information regarding the affairs of the corporation.

When these rights are not respected, a shareholder can sue the shareholders or owners who failed to respect them.

Most shareholder disputes must be resolved through arbitration instead of by the courts.

The process can be messy and expensive, requiring the support of a lawyer or litigator.

However, accountants can be highly beneficial in resolving these situations as well.

How Can an Accountant Help During a Shareholder Dispute?

During a shareholder dispute, accountants can act as either a receiver or inspector.

Receivers and Inspectors

As a receiver, the accountants are put in charge of the stakeholders’ interests by taking possession of the assets in a dispute.

Receivers can also conduct an auction between disputing shareholders which results in one shareholder buying the other out. They can also sell or liquidate the business and divide the proceeds to the respective stakeholders.

As an inspector, the accountant’s job is to gather information and report the discovered facts. This can include examining financial records, gathering information from officers and employees about the company’s affairs and completing a business valuation.

Business Valuation

Business valuations are conducted by the accountant during a shareholder dispute to determine how much the shares are worth so that a sale can be facilitated.

This is a complex process that requires a solid understanding of a host of valuation principles and application.

Income Tax Returns

Most income tax returns define shareholder equity and its changes for each year.

However, even if this is not reflected on the return, having an accountant review the income and expense information is helpful and can identify situations where returns don’t match up.

Oftentimes an innocent oversight, this issue can sometimes be a deliberate omission and having this knowledge is useful during litigation.

Financial Statements

Quarterly or monthly financial statements should be reviewed to identify any discrepancies between the records and income tax returns.

A qualified and professional accountant can review these documents to ensure there is no deliberate wrongdoing.

Mitigate Shareholder Disputes with Liu & Associates

Our accounting firm can quickly put together a team of experts to analyze taxes and business valuation, as well as use forensic accounting, to help you with your shareholder dispute.

When it comes to legal issues and litigation, a company’s worst enemy is being unprepared.

Trust our staff of professional accountants at Liu & Associates to provide you with our comprehensive understanding and investigative abilities to help you mitigate shareholder disputes.

Contact us today!

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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