Get Ready for Filing Season… starting now!

taxes
Get ready for tax filing season… NOW

Now that the calendar has turned from 2012 to 2013, it’s time to get ready for filing your 2012 taxes.  There is no better time to start getting ready than today!  Below you will find some suggestions to help you get started with all of your End-of-Year reporting and tax requirements.

Right away, it never hurts to set up a meeting with your accountant early enough so they still have time to spend with you.  Your accountant will be able to asses your fiscal situation and advise you on things such as your retirement plan, charitable contributions and other deductions that might lower your tax bill, either for 2012 – like making RRSP contributions, or things you can arrange early in 2013 to get you up and running for the year.

Before you meet with your accountant, however, there are some things you should gather and have ready for the meeting:

  • Property tax bills for the year – especially if you use any of your home for business, then you’ll need to know the approximate square footage of your home and the room(s).
  • Letters and receipts relating to charitable donations made in 2012, which must include the monetary value of your gift to the organization, the date and year of the donation and that organizations charitable number (meaning they are legitimate).
  • Relevant reports from whichever of the online bookkeeping tools you are using to capture data.  Be sure the information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • If you hand-write your checks, make sure you have all your receipts and that they are detailed enough to categorize the expense.
  • Medical deductions for the year, if you qualify.
  • Retirement Account information – are they maxed out, have you stayed within the amount available?
  • Bonuses and Gift(s) information – Keeping in mind that employers tend to show their appreciation to their employees by issuing bonuses / giving gifts towards year-end and these are considered taxable benefits.
  • Insurance – Now is also the time to review all of your insurance policies. Life insurance, health insurance, even homeowner’s insurance need to reflect your life situation accurately. Major life changes like marriage, divorce or the arrival of a new baby (or 2) require changes in coverage.  A new job that requires you to travel for business means you have to change your car insurance policy.

Your accountant should also be able to help you keep track of what you received last year in the way of slips and returns and thus advise you what to expect this year and when it should come so that you don’t have to wait until the last-minute to file.

You should also get a box or magazine box and set it up in your office for all the tax information to reside in until you need it at year-end.  There is nothing worse than forgetting to gather something or losing a record at year-end.

End-of-Year preparations don’t have to be stressful and if you need a little more help, you could always hire a bookkeeper to reconcile your chequebook / online purchases with your bank statements among many other things which can simplify your life by keeping your data organized, which ultimately saves time for your accountant (and that saves you money!).

Happy filing!

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Intaxicating and the 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards

My blog, Intaxicating has been nominated for the 2012 Ninjamatics Canadian Weblog Awards.  What a great way to end up 2012.

I have always felt that as Canadians we need to speak up more and promote our own blogging talents.  We live in the best country in the world and as Canadians we pride ourselves on being a little on the shy side, a lot on the polite side and not as “in your face” as some other countries in the world, which makes the kind folks at Ninjamatics so awesome for doing all of us Canadian bloggers a favour by creating and hosting these awards.

It is an honour to be nominated.  I went through the categories and there are some incredibly talented bloggers writing on the web who deserve much more attention than they have received to date.

Intaxicating has been nominated in two categories;

Business & Career; and

Topical

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards

The Ninjamatics’ 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards are a juried competition which means — no voting – so I don’t have to ask (or beg) people to vote for me.  Yay.

The nominees shortlist will be announced on January 15, 2013, and the winners will be announced on January 31, 2013.

A running blogroll of the nominees is kept on the Ninjamatics website throughout the year so that they can continue to highlight Canada’s blogging talent.

Intaxicating is the tax blog for Intaxicating Tax Services, a firm specializing in assisting people and corporations who have tax problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the IRS, the MRQ or with WSIB.  With 17-years taxation experience, 11 years with the CRA, there is no better firm to represent you than the one who taught CRA collectors how to collect.

2012 Canadian Weblog Awards nominee

The Canada Revenue Agency Informant Leads aka “Snitch” Line

You have come to this blog for more information on the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Informant Leads or Snitch Line.  Yes, the line does exist and if you are looking for the number in order to use it, that number is 1.866.809.6841.

You may have heard me speak on CFAX1070 about the CRA Snitch line, or possibly you heard my interview on CBC.ca regarding the existence and use of this line.  If you have not, then let me take a moment to clear the air on this line.  The Informant Leads line does exist.  In fact, it has become such a popular tool for finding new collection sources that it’s increased volume of calls can be directly attributed to a reduction in the need for collections staff / auditors and investigators who were responsible for digging up new leads.

It is absolutely not possible for someone to call the line, make up a story and have someone investigated.  Anyone who states that does not know the purpose of this line and obviously has no experience working in the CRA.  To say that is irresponsible and fear mongering.   The CRA will act on leads but there must be some proof provided.  Simply asking for your neighbour to be audited because they drive a nicer car than you is not going to begin years or investigations-hell for them.  If, however, you purchase an item from a retail establishment, and are charged taxes, but you notice that the teller never ran the purchase through the till, then you can be assured that they are pocketing the taxes instead of remitting it to the CRA.  Or, if you notice on the receipt that they have charged you the wrong rate of tax, then you need to notify the CRA.

In one case, while I was working at the CRA, I purchased a large ticket item from a local store only to find out later that the taxes on the bill totaled 28%.  I went back to the store to ask for it to be corrected, only to have them advise me that it was a “US cash register” and that the rate was incorrect.  I took the receipt into the office hoping to launch an internal investigation but was told it would be 6-weeks before they were able to look at it.

So I walked over to a phone beside my desk, called the snitch line, explained the issue and after providing the receipt as proof, found that an investigation was launched the next day and heard through the grapevine that over $200,000.00 was recovered from the company.

That is where the snitch line can be put to good use.

If, however, you hear your neighbour bragging about how much money he makes under the table and he lives way better than you do?  You can call the snitch line.   Or if your ex-spouse is unwilling to file their outstanding tax returns because it would mean they would have to increase child support payments, then you can call the snitch line.  The CRA will take the information, begin with an internal investigation to see if there is merit, then possibly drop by the home or business to get a feel for whether an audit is required or if a net worth assessment is needed.

At the end of the day, the intention of the snitch line is to provide a direct link to the CRA’s Audit department and it assists the CRA as they use these “tips” to recover funds from professional tax avoiders.

Key words the CRA likes to hear includes;

Their names, their address, an amount of unreported income greater than, say $50K, maybe a second set of books, or 2nd property in the name of their cat…

It never hurts to call.

It always hurts to not call.

This line is anonymous and believe it or not, the majority of “tips” come from exes who are left holding the bag while their ex-spouses are living it up.

I figured I would post this since it is the most frequently asked question I get.  Yes a line exists and yes it gets acted on… and fast if the dollar amount to be recovered is high.

I have actual experience seeing this line work and I know for certain of instances where people have called this line in effort to discredit or attack someone and at the end of the day, the CRA  has investigated that person or party and punished them for making a false claim.  Those in glass houses should never throw stones.

Snitch Logo

The Canada Revenue Agency is actively looking for Offshore Accounts too…

I have received confirmation from a senior official at the Canada Revenue Agency that the CRA is in fact actively investigating individuals suspected of being involved in the recent offshore account problem overseas.  Thus far, no one has been named publicly and my source at the CRA has confirmed that each person contact thus far has willingly come forward to pay amounts owing in full and that the number of people thus far targeted by the CRA totals less than 100.

The list remains private because the CRA does not want to tip-off those involved that they are coming for them, nor do they want to admit that they are severely short of qualified staff needed to make arrangements with these taxpayers and their numerous numbers of representatives.

The CRA suspects that the list is available elsewhere and that it might be coming to light sooner than many wish which could hurt the CRA and will certainly shame those involved.

The CRA will certainly be looking for additional offshore funds with speculation abound that there will be incentives down the road for taxpayers and financial organizations to disclose to the CRA situations where an individual or organization is placing it’s assets out of the reach of the CRA for tax evasion purposes.

Stay tuned!

In-TAX-icating

In-TAX-icating.

Definition:

a: To excite or stupefy by taxation to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished

b: to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy… about taxation.

Passionate about Taxation.  Passionate about helping you!

Could a Canadian FATCA be in the works?

Since this case broke in February, governments around the world have been investigating the possibility that their citizens have offshore accounts set up mainly to avoid paying taxes.  Germany, which as of late 2008, is leading the international crackdown on tax evaders, has reportedly collected up to 250 million euros from more than 200 tax evaders who have turned themselves in, and  from 330 citizens who wrongly believed they were on the list of accounts stolen from LGT Group (the largest family-owned private wealth and asset manager in Europe, owned by the Prince of Liechtenstein and thought by many to be the factor behind the US crackdown on tax evasion through their FATCA legislation.

When prompted for a comment regarding Canadians, the CRA refuses to comment.

The CRA would not even throw the press a bone by offering how many Canadians are involved, if the CRA is investigating, and if the CRA would accept voluntary disclosure from those involved in order to help them come clean without the fear of penalties and / or prosecution.

One can wonder if the silence is a result of a crack team of CRA staff who have known about and are working on resolving the Canadians attached to this list, or whether this whole situation came out of left field and the CRA is scrambling to get more information before they can respond publicly.

For those of you who are unaware, this came to light when in February when a former LGT computer technician name Heinrich Kieber stole and sold account information of about 1,400 wealthy clients to the German foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst.  Germany then shared the data with other countries which triggered an international crackdown on tax evasion.

Kieber, for his part, has been given a new identity and placed in witness protection in an undisclosed country.  During a hearing in the US, surrounding US citizens’ use of banks in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Kieber answered questions and outlined the extensive efforts and schemes enlisted by the bank to ensure secrecy.

Swiss banks will now refuse to hold offshore money from US citizens and the US plans on suing the bank.  This is just the beginning!

Should Canada follow the lead of other countries investigating their citizens who have accounts in Liechtenstein?   Those countries have made public the number of people who have stepped forward and declared their offshore income.  Is there is reason why Canada remains quiet?

Only time will tell.