The Importance of a Financial Plan

Working with us to create your financial plan helps you identify your long and short term life goals. When you have a plan, it’s easier to make decisions that align with your goals. We outline 8 key areas of financial planning:

  • Income: learn to manage your income effectively through planning
  • Cash Flow: monitoring your cash flow, will help you keep more of your cash
  • Understanding: understanding provides you an effective way to make financial decisions that align with your goals
  • Family Security: having proper coverage will provide peace of mind for your family
  • Investment: proper planning guides you in choosing the investments that fit your goals
  • Assets: learn the true value of your assets. (Assets – Liabilities)
  • Savings: life happens, it’s important to have access to an emergency fund
  • Review: reviewing on a regular basis is important to make sure your plan continues to meet your goal

Updated Small Business Tax Reforms

It has certainly been a busy week in terms of announcements regarding financial policies for small businesses. Following the series of proposed tax reforms that the government announced back in July, various tweaks and changes have subsequently been made, owing, perhaps in part, to confusion and frustration expressed among the small business community. This week Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has made further clarifications and adjustments to his original set of proposals, aiming to bring more of a sense of balance to the plans. Like all policy changes, the detail can be a little overwhelming, so here is a summary of the key points for your reference: 

  • The government intends to honor a commitment made prior to the election, to reduce the small business tax rate from 10.5% to 9% by the year 2019. 
  • Morneau confirmed that the government has scrapped the proposal to limit access to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption. 
  • The plans announced earlier in the year to reduce the value of passive investments made by corporations will continue in principle, but with few key changes. There will be a threshold of $50,000 of income per year, which will be excluded from the newly set higher rate of tax. 
  • The government has agreed to “simplify” the rules related to the new plans, to prevent income splitting for family members, who are not active in a business, but the plan will still move ahead in principle. 
  • Morneau has confirmed that the government will still provide good entrepreneurial incentives for venture capitalists and angel investors. The criteria for which still needs to be established. 
  • The proposed rules to limit the conversion of income to capital gains have been abandoned due to the concerns that many related to intergenerational transfers and insurance policies were held inside corporations. 

Of course, this is one area of government policy which is not only constantly changing, but particularly controversial in the current climate, so keep yourself updated regularly on new announcements and news, to ensure your understanding in this area and its potential impact on your family and business. If you have any questions, please talk to us. 

How to Make the Best of Inheritance Planning

Inheriting an unexpected, or even an anticipated, lump sum can fill you with mixed emotions – if your emotional attachment to the individual who has passed away was strong then you are likely to be grieving and the thought of how to handle your new-found wealth can be overwhelming and confusing but also exciting. One of the best pieces of advice in this situation is to give yourself some time before making any binding financial decisions. The temptation to quickly put the money to so-called ‘good use’ or to rush out and spend it can be strong but you must allow the news to sink in and also take some time to consider your options before you embark on the process of dealing with the inheritance. In the short term, put the money away in a high interest savings account and take time to research and think carefully about your financial goals and objectives and how this inheritance can help you to secure and maximize your financial future in the best way. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with larger sums of money, here are some useful ideas of where to start. 

Reduce your debt burden 

If you have significant or high-interest debts, one of the safest options of all is paying this debt down. Not only will you achieve a guaranteed after-tax rate of return of your current interest rate, it can also add to your feeling of financial security and potentially offer you a more consistent financial picture. Debt often carries with it a significant interest rate – particularly on credit cards and overdrafts for example – so in many cases, eliminating this burden should be considered as one of your main priorities. However, you may like to take careful note of the option below regarding investing the money instead as much depends on the prevailing interest rates and, of course, your appetite for risk, as you may well find an investment option with a potentially higher return more attractive. 

Make shrewd investments 

A particularly effective way of investing an inheritance is to add it to your retirement savings – especially if your nest egg is not looking quite as healthy as it should due to missed savings years for example. Those with lower or less reliable incomes should look upon this option as a great choice in particular. 

Be charitable 

After considering your own future financial needs, giving some of your wealth away to either charities or to family and friends is a good option to share out some of your inheritance to those who could benefit from it. What’s more, donating to charity can also offer you some tax breaks which may reduce your overall tax burden.  Many individuals see this philanthropic route as offering them the opportunity to do something meaningful and rewarding with their wealth and contributing towards their own sense of moral duty and emotional wellbeing. 

Make a spending plan 

Of course, you are likely to be keen to spend some of your wealth on yourself and your family, particularly if your financial situation means that you have previously had to be more careful and prudent with money than you would have liked. A great way to do this is to create a spending plan so that you can enjoy the benefits of spending, without it significantly eating into money set aside for your financial planning goals. You could, perhaps, aim to set aside 10% of the inheritance just for yourself and loved ones to enjoy. The proportion will naturally depend on your circumstances but, in principle, it’s a great idea as it allows you to balance sensible saving and investments with some short-term enjoyment of your wealth. 

Talk to us we can help.

Paying for Medical Expenses

Although we enjoy health care benefits in Canada, there are still some benefits that are not covered by the government. There are a number of ways to pay for these benefits such as directly paying out of pocket, using a health insurance plan or private health services plan or a combination of these structures.

As always, please consult us prior to implementing any of these strategies.

A Summary of Proposed Tax Changes in 2017

The month of July saw a set of proposed tax changes announced by the Federal Minister of Canada which are potentially the most impactful and significant amendments since the large-scale tax reform of 1972. We will go on to describe the detail and impact of the proposals, which fall into three main areas, below. In summary, however, the purpose of the changes introduced by the government is broadly to close the potential current perceived tax loopholes that exist for higher earners and owners of private corporations. In response to the proposals, the government is inviting views and opinions on the changes during a consultation period which will last until October 2 2017.

  1. Changes to Income Sprinkling

If a high earning individual moves a proportion of their income to a family member such as children or a spouse who hold a lower tax rate in an attempt to reduce the total amount of tax payable, this is known as income sprinkling. To mitigate this, the government is proposing to include adult children in the eligibility rules in addition to minors, as well as taking a “reasonability” approach to assessing their income and thus which rate the transferred income should be taxed at. This will mark a change to the current TOSI (tax on split income) rules which currently apply.

 2.  Minimizing the incentives of keeping passive investments in CCPCs

Currently, it can be advantageous for corporations to keep excess funds in a CCPC due to the fact that the corporate tax rate on the first $500,000 of taxable income is often much lower than the tax that would be payable by an individual. The government is moving to make this option less beneficial by the following two initiatives: firstly, by the removal of the option of crediting the capital dividend account (known as the CDA) equal to the amount of the non-taxable portion of any capital gains and secondly by removing the refundability of passive investment taxes.

 3.  Reducing the transfer of corporate surpluses to capital gains

Tax advantages can currently be achieved by the sharing out of corporate surpluses to shareholders through dividends or salaries, which are often taxed at a lower rate than if earned as personal income. This is due to the fact that just 50% of capital gains are taxable.

These are the first significant proposals since 1972, talk to us we can help. If these changes are of concern to you or your client, please send an email to Fin.consultation.fin@canada.ca or send an email to your local member of parliament.

Easy Exit: Business Succession in a Nutshell

Getting into the world of business is a meticulous task, but so is getting out of it Whether you’ve just hit the ground running on your business or if you’ve been at it for a long time, there is no better time to plan your exit strategy than now.  Although the process may seem taxing, we’ve answered a few questions you may have about planning your business succession strategy. 

1. Who do I talk to about this?  

Deciding on how to go about the transition requires careful planning, and you need to consult no less than people who are well equipped to help you out. First, talk to your key advisors such as bankers and financial partners. You could also use some advice from your accountant and lawyers. If your company has an advisory board, better consult them as well. You may also hire a specialist or a consultant, depending on how you choose to go about your business succession plan. 

2. Who should I choose as a successor? 

There are several ways to go about this, and your decision will ultimately be your personal choice. You may pass on your business to a family member or to your top executives or managers. You may also choose to sell it to an outsider. Whichever path you choose, you can also decide on how much you want to be involved in the business after you pass it on. That is, if you want to be involved at all. 

3. When should I inform my successor about my plans? 

While a surprise inheritance may be heartwarming, it’s not the same with inheriting a business. Getting a successor ready—whether it’s a family member or someone from your company—requires careful planning and training. As soon as you’ve chosen a successor, better get started on getting them ready for the big shoes they’re about to fill. This includes helping them equip themselves with the necessary skills, knowledge and qualifications necessary to run your business. 

4. How do I plan the transition itself? 

The transition will be twofold—transferring ownership and handing over the business itself. As far as transferring ownership is concerned, you need to consider legal and financial details. These include valuation, financing and taxation. You also need to consider if you wish to keep your current legal structure (corporation, sole prop, partnership, etc.) or if you (or your successor) would like to change it.  You also need to plan how to prepare various stakeholders in the business for the transition. How will you prepare your customers, clients, and employees? What would be their level of involvement? Make sure that you put different strategies in place in order to ensure transparency and consistency in communicating changes in your business, especially something as drastic as succession. 

5. Now that I have a business succession plan ready, can I go back to business as usual? 

Not really. Your business and your customers’ needs may change over time. This means that you need to keep reviewing and adjusting your plan as your business also evolves. 

Sole Proprietorship or Incorporation

 Should I incorporate? That really depends on your situation and needs. Before making a decision, please consider the advantages and disadvantages of a sole proprietorship versus corporation.

Setup Costs:  
Sole Proprietor: Setting up your business is pretty simple and costs are low.  

Corporations: High Setup Costs

Administrative Costs:
Sole Proprietor: Costs are usually less than that of Corporation 

Corporation: More administrative work is required including annual reports with the corporate registry and corporate tax returns.

Business Losses:  
Sole Proprietor: If your business loses money, the losses can be written off against your other income 

Corporation: Business losses can’t be written off against other income of the shareholders.  

Control:
Sole Proprietor: As a proprietor, you are in control of all the decision making and receiving all of the profit 

Corporation: An incorporation can be a complicated business structure, ensure you set up classes of shares and decide who are your shareholders and how much control they have.

Liability:
Sole Proprietor: Unlimited liability, you are liable for all your debts and liabilities of your business. If your business is sued, all the business and personal assets are at risk 

Corporation: Limited Liability, this means the liability of the shareholders are usually limited to the amount that they have invested in their shares in the corporation. The personal assets of the shareholders are protected from lawsuits against the corporation.

Taxes: 

Sole Proprietor: Depending on the province or territory, the lowest personal income tax rate paid by a proprietorship ranges from 19% to 26% and this increases with income to the highest marginal tax rate ranging from 39% to 54.8%. If your business is profitable, you will usually be paying higher taxes than if you were incorporated.  

Corporation: A Canadian Controlled Private Corporation pays a lower tax rate on the first $500,000 of active business income because of the small business deduction, depending on the province or territory the tax rate ranges from 11% to 29%. This tax advantage is mainly a deferral of taxes until the profits are paid to the shareholder. If all the profits are paid out to the shareholder, it will be taxed entirely as income of the shareholder.  

Sounds complicated doesn’t it?  

Selling the business 

Sole Proprietors: When you sell your business, you can sell assets and goodwill, any gains will be included in your personal tax return. There is no capital gains exemption.  

Corporation: On the sale of shares of a qualifying small business corporation, there’s a lifetime capital gains exemption that is currently $813,600. There are a lot of differences between a sole proprietor and corporation, it’s important to get your business set up properly, please seek professional advice.  

Ontario 2017 Budget

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the province’s 2017 budget on April 27, 2017. The province’s 2017 budget is balanced, with projected balanced budgets for 2018 and 2019.

Corporate Income Tax Measures

No changes to corporate taxes were announced.

Corporate Income Tax Rates- As of January 1, 2017
Ontario Combined Federal & Ont
General 11.5% 26.5%
M&P 10.0% 25.0%
Small Business* 4.5% 15.0%
*on first $500,000 of active business income
  • Review of tax planning strategies involving private corporations: Ontario intends to review tax planning strategies involving private corporations
    • Income splitting with family members
    • Passive investment portfolio inside a corporation
    • Converting regular business income to capital gains
  • Employer Health Tax Exemption: Changes to prevent the multiplication of Employer Health Tax exemption for CCPCs.
  • Small Business Deduction limit: Parallel changes made to the federal small business deduction by the same amount the federal business limit is reduced

Personal Income Tax Measures

No changes to personal taxes were announced.

Personal Combined Federal/Provincial Top Marginal Rates
2017
Interest and regular income 53.53%
Capital gains 26.76%
Eligible dividends 39.34%
Non-eligible dividends 45.30%
  • Caregiver Tax Credit: This new non-refundable 5.05% credit is available in respect of relatives who are infirm dependents, including adult children of the claimant or of the claimant’s spouse or common‐law partner
  • Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Credit: Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit for all Ontarians aged 65 or older.
  • Property and land tax measures: Adjust the rules on land transfer tax including preventing qualifying purchasers from claiming their spouse’s interest for the first‐time homebuyers refund if the spouse is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

The Importance of a Buy Sell Agreement

Having a buy sell agreement is important business partners. A buy-sell agreement should outline the contingencies for different outcomes, trigger events and  be put in place to protect you. Often Buy-sell arrangements are also insured.

What are the trigger events for a buy-sell agreement?

  • Disability
  • Conflict
  • Debt
  • Retirement
  • Death

Contact us for a complimentary review.

Federal Budget 2017: Business

Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered the government’s 2017 federal budget on March 22, 2017. The budget expects a deficit of $23 billion for fiscal 2016-2017 and forecasts a deficit of $28.5 billion for 2017-2018. Find out what this means for businesses.

Small Business

  • No changes to income tax rates
  • No changes to capital gains inclusion rate

Tax Planning using private companies

While no specific measures are mentioned, the government will review the use of tax planning strategies involving private corporations “that inappropriately reduce personal taxes of high-income earners.” including:

  • Income Splitting: Reducing taxes by income splitting with family members who are subject to lower personal tax rates.
  • Regular income to Capital Gains: Converting income to capital gains (instead of income being taxed as dividends)
  • Passive income inside Corporation: Since corporate income tax rates are generally lower than personal tax rates, this strategy can facilitate the accumulation of earnings by owners of private corporations.

For Professionals

The government eliminated a tax deferral opportunity for certain professionals. Accountants, dentists, lawyers, medical doctors, veterinarians and chiropractors will no longer be able to elect to exclude the value of work in progress in computing their income. This will be phased-in over two taxation years, starting with taxation years that begin after this budget.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.