Payroll – In-House or Service Provider?

PayrollAs payroll calculations and T4 preparation become more specialized each year, clients frequently ask the question; should we do payroll in-house or should we subscribe to a service provider? As owners and bookkeepers try to make sense of the ever changing rules regarding taxable benefits and T4 reporting, there are a number of considerations.

If you want to keep the payroll in-house you can use the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA)  payroll deductions online calculator, subscribe to desktop payroll software like QuickBooks or Sage, or use one of the cloud based payroll systems.

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Changes to QuickBooks 2013 Payroll Expiry for 2014

QuickBooks 2014 ChangesQuickBooks has changed the payroll automatic updates cut-off at the calendar year end, December 31st, if your QuickBooks version is not the same year as the new calendar year. So, for example, if you subscribe to the monthly updates, including payroll, and you’re working in QuickBooks 2013, the payroll expiry date no longer extends to June 2014.

You will now either need to download or install QuickBooks 2014 or manually download the 2014 Canada Revenue Agency payroll updates from the QuickBooks website.  Either way, the update is effective to June 30, 2014.

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Gifts for Employees – The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Way

bigstock-close-up-of-man-hands-holding--47323045You want to reward your employees for their hard work and loyalty during 2013.  Here are ideas and tax issues you need to be aware of when giving gifts to employees and the CRA way of accounting for those gifts.

1)    Gift – Award or Reward

  • A gift has to be for a special occasion such as a religious holiday, a birthday, a wedding, or the birth of a child.
  • An award has to be for an employment-related accomplishment such as outstanding service, employees’ suggestions, or meeting or exceeding safety standards. It is recognition of an employee’s overall contribution to the workplace, not recognition of job performance.

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2 Ways Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Can Help You!

CRA HelpLast week I spent two intensive days learning about all the 2013 tax updates.  As to be expected, a lot of the information dealt with the changes implemented by the Federal and Provincial governments for the 2013 tax season and proposed changes for 2014.  But instead of dwelling on the tax dollars we all need to pay, I thought I would share 2 ways the CRA might be able to help you when something has gone off the correct path.

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CRA Announces First Time Donor Super Credit (FDSC) for Individuals

Maureen Burleson - Certified Professional BookkeeperIn 2013 the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recognized the need for additional support for charities by introducing the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit (FDSC) in the budget.  This non-refundable FDSC will help supplement the Charitable Donation Tax Credit (CDTC) for individuals.

I am sure you have noticed the Grand Prize Lotteries advertised on TV, fundraisers seeking donations outside high traffic stores and the general mailing and social media requests – ‘Tis the season for giving.  And while some of the giving is in hopes of winning a new home or a flashy car, others purchase and donate with the intention of the good cause they believe in or have been affected by.  The general concept is giving to help support the community or international not-for-profit charitable organizations.  With cut-backs on all fronts donations is helping keep some of the doors open for the smaller organizations. And it is in response to this that the CRA made this allotment.

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9 Questions to Test Your Understanding of Your Bookkeeping Software

The Montana Group bookkeeping services NewmarketI recently wrote and passed a two hour bookkeeping exam.  It’s not that I felt the need to test my knowledge after all these years.  The purpose was to get my CPB designation (Certified Professional Bookkeeper).  The designation was one of many requirements I needed to meet in applying for a mentoring program being offered in partnership with IPBC and Ron Baker of Verasage, sponsored by Sage. And, while answering the exam questions, I started thinking about the clients we do QuickBooks training with.  Whether the accounting software indicates it’s simple to learn or you’ll pick it up quickly, there’s a certain amount of bookkeeping knowledge required to be competent.  If you’ve started working on an accounting software package and you’re struggling, you could have been tricked into thinking all you needed to know was how to operate a mouse! So, I thought it might be helpful to provide 9 bookkeeping questions to test your understanding of your bookkeeping software; to help you determine if it’s the software causing you the challenges or that you possibly need a little more guidance in the fine art of bookkeeping. (The answers are at the end of the last question).

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5 Interesting Items I learned at the 2013 IPBC Conference

Image credit: pressmaster / 123RF Stock PhotoI’ve just spent 5 days at the 2013 IPBC Conference in Mississauga, Ontario.  IPBC stands for the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada. The first two days were an intense learning symposium with Ron Baker and Ed Kless, both with Verasage.  Verasage is a think tank for professional-knowledge firms and our symposium was titled “Bookkeeper of the Future”. There were also more than 45 educational presentations to choose from, covering legal and government issues as well as software training and coaching.  Needless to say after the 5 days, I came away exhausted and well informed.  Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to implement and share everything I learned.  So let’s start here with 5 interesting items I learned at the conference.

1.  Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) – NPOs do not have to register federally or provincially to acquire its tax-exempt status. But if it receives taxable dividends, interest, rentals or royalties totaling more than $10,000 in the fiscal year, it has to file a T1044.  A T1044 is also required if the total assets of the organization were more than $200,000 at the end of the immediately preceding fiscal period. Once a T1044 is filed for the NPO, it must be filed for every subsequent year, even if the financial situation changes from the requirements above.

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6 Things The Montana Group Learned from Our Co-op Student

The Montana GroupNear the end of February this year, I took on the responsibility of a co-op student from the York Region District School Board. As a co-op placement, their time was at no cost to me.  I was very hesitant initially since there were as many bad experiences I’d heard from other employers as there we good experiences.  I told the high school counselor that was looking for placements that the student would be treated the same as any adult looking for a full-time position.  That meant a full interview after I reviewed the resume, and a police criminal check was required. This was not going to be a body that filled a chair 4 afternoons a week. I needed a fully committed worker with an aptitude for numbers and willingness to learn and work.  The learning part included QuickBooks, an introduction to Personal Tax Returns and dealing with clients in person and on the phone. As we were going into tax season, there was no time available for someone who wasn’t committed to their success and that of the business. What I didn’t anticipate were all the things The Montana Group would learn from our co-op student, itemized below in 6 points.

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Look For the Wagemark Label

wagemarkI recently read an article by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star about the Wagemark label.  This was introduced in Toronto July 17th of this year by founding director Peter McLeod. On July 24, 2013 it was mentioned on a New Zealand post.

The concept of it is “to create a common standard for wage-responsible businesses”. To display the Wagemark insignia a company must pay its chief executive no more than eight times the amount its lowest paid worker earns. The article also went on to say that currently the chief executives of Canada’s top 100 corporations, make 235 times the average worker’s pay. Wagemark certified organizations commit to capping top compensation at eight times the wage of their lowest paid decile (definition of decile – I had to look it up)  of employees.

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Canadian Parent’s Guide to the Student Moving Expenses Tax Deduction

11774830_sI know from the experiences of my nieces and nephews, and brothers, that it is a major event when the young adults move away for school.  It’s not just the emotional and tuition costs but also the selection of the new home. In addition, the transporting of furniture and the associated costs can play havoc with a parent’s budget.  I’ve mentioned the Moving Expenses Deduction available for personal tax returns to family, friends and clients but very few seem to want to take advantage of it when preparing personal tax returns for the students.  Some of the reasons for ignoring this potentially valid tax savings are; I didn’t keep the receipts, it’s too complicated, it’s not going to help me, or I don’t know where to start.  So as the exodus from family homes begins in a month or so, I thought I would share the simplified version of preparing for and the preparing of the Moving Expenses Deduction (CRA form T1-M).

Who qualifies?

If you move to study courses as a student in full-time attendance at a university, college or other educational institution that offers courses at a post secondary school level, you would qualify. The institution can be in Canada or not.

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