Salary vs Dividend

As a business owner, you have the ability to pay yourself a salary or dividend or a combination of both. In this article and infographic, we will examine the difference between salary and dividends and review the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When deciding to pay yourself as a business owner, please review these factors:

  • How much do you need?

  • How much tax?

  • Other considerations including retirement and employment insurance.

How much do you need?

Determine your cash flow on a personal and corporate level.

  • What’s your personal after-tax cash flow need?

  • What’s your corporate cash flow need?

How much tax?

Figure out how much you will pay in tax. Business owners understand that tax is a sizeable expense.

  • What’s your personal income tax rate?

Depending on the province you reside in and your income, make sure you also include income from other sources to determine your tax rate. (Example: old age security, pension, rental, investment income etc.)

If you decide to pay out in dividends, check if you will be paying out eligible or ineligible dividends. The taxation of eligible dividends is more favorable than ineligible dividends from an individual income tax standpoint.

  • What’s your corporation’s income tax rate?

For taxation year 2020, the small business federal tax rate is 9% . Please also remember, if you pay out salary, salary is considered a tax-deductible expense, therefore this will lower the corporation’s taxable income versus paying out dividends will not lower the corporation’s taxable income.

Other considerations

If you pay yourself a salary, these options are available.

  • Do you need RRSP contribution room?

As part of this, it’s worth considering ensuring that you receive a salary high enough to take full advantage of the maximum RRSP annual contribution that you can make.

  • Are you interested in contributing to the Canada Pension Plan?

This is unique to your circumstances and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the amount of contributions makes sense.

  • Do you need employment insurance (EI)?

For shareholders owning more than 40% of voting shares, EI is optional. There are situations worth careful thought such as maternity benefit, parental benefit, sickness benefit, compassionate care benefit, family caregiver benefit for children or family caregiver benefit for adults.

The infographic below summarizes the difference between Salary vs. Dividend.

We would also advise that you get in touch with your accountant to help you determine the best mix for your unique situation.

Financial Planning For Self-Employed Contractors

Financial Planning for Self-Employed Contractors

Being a self-employed contractor can bring you a large cash flow and the satisfaction of being your own boss – but it can also make financial planning more complicated than being an employee.

When creating a financial plan, Self-employed contractors need to keep the following in mind:

  • Cash flow management – Knowing what money you have moving in and out of your business is essential. You never want to suddenly find out you are short on cash, especially if you are considering expanding your business.
  • Tax planning – Tax planning can be complicated for self-employed contractors. Working with a professional can help ensure you are aware of your options, such as claiming the correct tax deductions and the most tax-effective way to pay yourself.
  • Attracting and retaining good employees – Employees are looking for more than just a good paycheque; they also want a robust benefits program, work-life balance, and pension plans.
  • Risk management – You must protect yourself if something happens to you, such as being injured or falling ill. The best way to protect yourself is with the right insurance, such as disability, critical illness, and life insurance.
  • Retirement planning – As a self-employed contractor, this is a must as you won’t have a company pension plan to fall back on. You can’t work forever, so it’s essential to have a variety of income sources during your retirement years, including RRSPs, TFSAs, and an Individual Pension Plan (IPP).
  • Succession planning – This type of planning is critical and can be triggered by various events, including divorce, retirement, and your illness or death. You must put a plan in place that covers what will happen if any of these events occur. In addition, it’s essential to have the financial resources to ensure the plan can be successfully enacted.
  • Buy-sell agreement – If you are a self-employed contractor working with a partner, you must have a buy-sell agreement. This agreement stipulates what will happen if one partner leaves the business for any reason. Buy-sell agreements can be funded in various ways, including via life insurance.

The best way to ensure you’ve got a solid financial plan is to work with a good team who has your best interests in mind. No matter what aspect of financial planning you are interested in – from tax planning to succession planning – we can help you get started. So call us or contact us online today to get started!

Five Ways To Withdraw Money From Your Business In A Tax-Efficient Manner

Five Ways To Withdraw Money From Your Business In A Tax-Efficient Manner

You have worked long and hard to build up your business, and now you are ready to withdraw money from your business’ bank account. But you don’t want to get hit with a huge tax bill. So here are 5 ways to withdraw money from your business in a tax-efficient manner.

1) Pay Yourself And Your Family Members

You can pay yourself a salary from your business and pay any family members who work in your business. However, the salary you pay family members must not be excessive – it must be in line with what they would receive for doing the same work elsewhere.

You and your family members will be taxed at the regular personal marginal tax rates on your salaries. However, your corporation can make a deduction based on salaries paid when determining taxable income.

2) Pay Out Taxable Dividends

You can use dividends to distribute money from your corporation to both yourself and family members if everyone holds shares in your corporation. However, when distributing dividends to a shareholder, it is critical to consider both the tax on split income (TOSI) rules and the corporate attribution rules before any distribution is made.

  • TOSI rules – Under the current income tax rules, the TOSI applies the highest marginal tax rate (currently 33%) to “split income” of an individual under the age of 18. In general, an individual’s split income includes certain taxable dividends, taxable capital gains and income from partnerships or trusts. – Canada.ca

  • Corporate attribution rules – Corporate attribution rules may result in additional tax if a transfer or loan to a corporation is made to shift income to another family member. This can result in additional tax for the individual making the transfer or loan.

3) Pay Out Capital Dividends

Another way to pay out dividends is via your corporation’s capital dividend account (CDA). Money in your corporation’s CDA can be dispersed to Canadian resident shareholders as a tax-free dividend, but be sure you are clear on what can legally be allowed in your CDA before you do this.

4) Adjust Your Salary And Dividend Mix

Keeping the right mix when paying yourself a salary and paying yourself via dividends is essential. You need to consider various factors – such as your cash flow needs, earned income for RRSP contributions, and any impact on taxes and other regulatory requirements – paying out salaries and dividends can have.

5) Repay Any Outstanding Shareholder Loans

If you loaned money to your company in the form of a shareholder loan, now may be the time to have your company repay that loan. Any money you receive to settle your shareholder loan will be paid to you as a tax-free distribution.

The Takeaway

Regardless of why you need to take cash out of your business, it is crucial to plan how to withdraw the money so you can do it in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this, which is why talking to a professional advisor is so important.

We can help design a tax-optimized compensation strategy for you. Contact us to set up a meeting today!

When and Why You Should Conduct an Insurance Audit

As our lives grow and change with variable circumstances, new additions, and job transitions, our needs for insurance will also evolve. Additionally, economic fluctuations and external circumstances that influence your insurance policy will need frequent re-evaluation to ensure that you are making the most appropriate and financially favorable decisions. Perhaps you aren’t sure whether you should conduct an insurance audit or not. The following scenarios are usually a good indication that you should thoroughly assess and review your current policy contract: 

  • Bringing new life into your family? A new baby may not only prompt you to adjust your beneficiary information, but it is likely to change or influence your coverage needs.

  • Changing jobs? Probationary periods may not provide the same level of disability or accident insurance.

  • Is your policy nearing the end of its term? Be sure to compare prices for new policies as they can sometimes be more affordable as compared to renewing the current plan.

  • Has your marital status changed? Your insurance policy will likely need updating to reflect such.

The specific type of insurance policy you carry as well as personal details certainly influence coverage and premium prices, so if any of the following factors apply to you, be sure to update your policy accordingly. You might be eligible for a rate reduction. 

  • Changes to your overall risk assessment like smoking cessation, dangerous hobbies, high risk profession etc.

  • If you have experienced improvements to a previously diagnosed health condition.

  • Do your policy’s investment options still fall in line with current market conditions?

  • Have you used your insurance policy as collateral for a loan? Once that loan is paid off, collateral status should be taken off the policy.

Insurance policies generated for business purposes should also be regularly reviewed to make sure the policy still offers adequate coverage to meet the needs of the company and includes the appropriate beneficiary information. With life happening so quickly, it can be easy to forget about keeping insurance policies up to date, however, major changes can have a profound impact on coverage and premiums. Be sure to conduct insurance audits often to ensure your policies are still meeting your needs. 

Contact us to see how we can help. 

2021 Year-End Tax Tips for Business Owners

2021 Year-End Tax Tips for Business Owners

Now that we’re approaching the end of the year, it’s time to review your business finances. We’ve highlighted the most critical tax-planning tips you need to know as a business owner.

Salary and Dividend Mix

As a business owner, one essential part of tax planning is determining the right mix of salary and dividends for both yourself and your family members.

The following are the main options you can consider when determining how to distribute money from your business:

  1. Pay a salary to family members who work for your business and are in a lower tax bracket – This enables them to declare an income so that they can contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). You must be able to prove the family members have provided services in line with the amount of compensation provided.

  2. Pay dividends to family members who are shareholders in your company – The amount of dividends someone can receive without paying income tax on them will vary depending on the province or territory they live in.

  3. Distribute money from your business via income sprinkling – This is shifting income from a high-tax rate individual to a low-rate tax individual. However, this strategy can cause issues due to Tax On Split Income (TOSI) rules. A tax professional can help you determine the best way to “income sprinkle” so none of your family members are subject to TOSI.

  4. Keep money in the corporation if neither you nor your family members need cash – Taxes can be deferred if your corporation retains income and the corporation’s tax rate is lower than your personal tax rate.

No matter what strategy you take to distribute money from your business, keep in mind the following:

  • Your marginal tax rate as the owner-manager.

  • The corporation’s tax rate.

  • Health and payroll taxes.

  • How much RRSP contribution room do you have.

  • What you’ll have to pay in CPP contributions.

  • Other deductions and credits you’ll be eligible for (e.g., charitable donations or childcare or medical expenses).

Compensation

An important part of year-end tax planning is determining appropriate ways to handle compensation. The following are the main things to consider:

  1. Can you benefit from a shareholder loan? A shareholder loan is an agreement to borrow funds from your corporation for a specific purpose. The interest from the loan may be deductible if the proceeds of the shareholder loan were used to produce income from business or property.

  2. Do you need to repay a shareholder loan to avoid paying personal income tax on the amount you borrowed?

  3. Is setting up an employee profit-sharing plan a better way to disburse business profits than simply paying out a bonus?

  4. Keep in mind that when an employee cashes out a stock option, only one party (the employee OR the employer) can claim a tax deduction on the cashed-out stock option.

  5. Think about setting up a Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA) to help fund you or your employee’s retirement.

Passive Investments

One of the most common tax advantages available to Canadian-Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC) is the Small Business Deduction (SBD).

For qualifying businesses, the SBD reduces your corporate tax rate. Keep in mind that the SBD will be reduced by five dollars for every dollar of passive investment income over $50,000 your CCPC earned the previous year.

The best way to avoid losing any of the SBD is to make sure that the passive investment income within your associated corporation group does not exceed $50,000.

These are some of the ways you can make sure you preserve your access to the SBD:

  1. Defer the sale of portfolio investments as necessary.

  2. Adjust your investment mix to be more tax efficient. For example, you could choose to hold more equity investments than fixed-income investments. Only 50% of the gains realized on shares sold is taxable, but investment income earned on bonds is fully taxable.

  3. Invest excess funds in an exempt life insurance policy. Any investment income earned on an exempt life insurance policy is not included in your passive investment income total.

  4. Set up an individual pension plan (IPP). An IPP is like a defined benefit pension plan and is not subject to the passive investment income rules.

Depreciable Assets

Another tactic you should consider for year-end tax planning is to hasten your purchase of any depreciable assets. A depreciable asset is a type of capital property that you can claim the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) on.

These are two of the best ways to make the most of tax planning with depreciable assets:

  1. Make use of the Accelerated Investment Incentive. With this incentive, some depreciable assets are eligible for an enhanced first-year allowance.

  2. Purchase equipment such as zero-emissions vehicles and clean energy equipment eligible for a 100 percent tax write-off.

Donations

Another essential part of tax planning is to make all of your donations before year-end. This applies to both charitable donations and political contributions.

For charitable donations, you need to consider the best way to make your donations and the different tax advantages of each type of donation. For example, you can:

  • Donate securities.

  • Give a direct cash gift to a registered charity.

  • Use a donor-advised fund account at a public foundation. A donor-advised fund is like a charitable investment account.

  • Set up a private foundation to solely represent your interests.

We can help walk you through the tax implications of each of these types of charitable donations.

Make the Most of Covid-19 Relief Programs

While some COVID-19 relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) have ended, others are still available. See if your business can benefit from any of the following relief programs:

  1. Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP). This program will continue to run until May 2022. If your business is eligible and continues to experience a decline in revenues as compared to pre-pandemic levels. In that case, the CRHP will provide support to assist in hiring new staff or increasing the wages of your existing staff.

  2. Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program. This new program provides wage and rent support to eligible businesses such as hotels and restaurants with an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 40% over the first 13 qualifying periods for the CEWS and a current month revenue loss of at least 40%.

  3. Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program. This provides rent and wage support of up to 50% for eligible entities. Eligible entities must meet two conditions – an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 50% over the first 13 qualifying periods for the CEWS and a current month revenue loss of at least 50%.

  4. General support in the event of a public health lockdown. If there is a public health lockdown and your business loses sufficient revenue, your business would be eligible for support at the same subsidy rates as the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.

  5. Know what’s included as taxable income. If you received assistance from the government assistance programs, including the CEWS, CERS, and CRHP, this assistance is taxable as income.

Get year-end tax planning help from someone you can trust!

We’re here to help you with your year-end tax planning. Book some time with us today to learn how you can benefit from these tax tips and strategies.

Do you REALLY need life insurance?

You most likely do, but the more important question is, What kind? Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it. 

Permanent or Term? 

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy. 

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are: 

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.

  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.

  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.

  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.

  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments. 

  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option. 

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you: 

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.

  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.

  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.

  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.

  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind. 

Group Retirement Benefits

Working at an organization that offers a pension plan is one of the greatest financial advantages a Canadian can enjoy. Pension plans are designed to provide retirement income and help employees reach their retirement goals and for business owners- help retain key employees.

Pension plans can offer:

  • Employer contributions

  • Forced retirement savings for employee

There are 2 main types of pension plan:

  • Defined Benefit Plan

  • Defined Contribution Plan

Defined Benefit Plan

  • Retirement income is guaranteed, contributions are not.

  • The pension amount is based on a formula that includes the employee’s earnings and years of service with the employer

  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer

  • The employer is responsible for investing the contributions to ensure there’s enough money to pay the future pensions for all plan members.

  • If there’s a shortfall, the employer pays the difference.

Defined Contribution Plan

  • Contributions are guaranteed, retirement income is not.

  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer.

  • The employee is responsible for investing all contributions.

  • The amount available in retirement depends on how the investment performs including total contributions.

  • At retirement, the money in the account can be used to generate retirement income through purchasing an annuity or transferring the amount to a locked-in retirement income fund.

In summary, a defined benefits plan guarantees you a retirement income and a defined contribution plan guarantees contributions but not retirement income.

Talk to us, we can help.

Government of Canada to allow up to $400 for home office expenses

For the 2020 tax year, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary flat rate method to allow Canadians working from home this year due to Covid-19 to claim expenses of up to $400. Taxpayers will still be able to claim under the existing rules if they choose using the detailed method.

Eligibility

From the canada.ca website:

Each employee working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses.

To use this method to claim the home office expenses you paid, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020

  • You are only claiming home office expenses and are not claiming any other employment expenses

  • Your employer did not reimburse you for all of your home office expensesWhat if your employer has reimbursed you for some of your home office expenses

You need to meet all of the above conditions to be eligible to use the Temporary flat rate method.

New eligible expenses

For the detailed method, the CRA has expanded the list of eligible expenses that can be claimed as work-space-in-the-home expenses to include reasonable home internet access fees. A comprehensive list of eligible home office expenses has also been created.