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Six tell tale signs of a CRA scammer

Although I’ve spoken about these CRA scams in a past post, I think it’s important to stress them again especially since CRA scammers have been on the rise (particularly during tax season).  In fact, from January. 1, 2017 to February. 26, 2018, there have been 111 incidents of citizens falling prey to the CRA frauds and leaving scammers with $311,736.21 from these citizens 1.  According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre  (CAFC) only fewer than 5 % of victims report being scammed. The CAFC states that many individuals are likely too embarrassed to report that they got scammed.

Related: Edmonton fraud victim describes evolving CRA, Bitcoin scam: ‘I became a crazy lady’

In the past, vulnerable seniors or new immigrants (some of who may not yet be very familiar with how the tax system works) were more likely to be victims of these scams. Yet, the CRA frauds have become so sophisticated that even police who have been contacted by these scam artists, state that the calls are relatively believable and realistic. Detective Linda Herczeg who works with the Edmonton Police Service’s Economic Crimes Unit, states that the CRA scams are “getting better….it’s expanding and growing. It’s not going to stop.”

In some instances, targeted individuals have reported “that their telephone call display reads ‘Police’, ‘CRA’, or ‘Government’, with a phone number. With today’s technology, the fraudsters do have the tools to make their scam look extremely believable and they are well versed in convincing people that they are legitimate.”

One good example of how vulnerable individuals are not the only victims of scam artists is Tom Kane’s story.  74 years old, Kane who is a Toronto resident, has taught computer technology at Centennial College for 22 years. He is currently retired and takes photography night courses at Ryerson. Although he teaches people how to protect themselves against phishing and other computer fraud, he has fallen for the CRA scam and got conned to transfer $5,000 to CRA scammers in Bitcoins.

How does a thoughtful, articulate person become a victim of the CRA scam?

Kane recalls in hindsight that he “simply panicked when [the CRA scammers] threatened with the arrival of the police. He came to Canada as a draft dodger in the 1960s after growing up in Chicago, where, he says, he developed a distrust of cops. Even after paying the scammers, he was hesitant to return home thinking the police would be lying in wait.” He states, that “All the signs were there that it was a fraud but they scared the living daylights out of me. My sensibility just went poof. From the first call in the morning until I got home, I was basically operating in a state of panic.”

So how can we prevent these scams from happening? Detective Linda Herczeg states, We need to educate people. We need to give them the tools they need to deal with it.”

Here are 6 telltale signs of a CRA scam artist:

  1. CRA will not ask you to provide specific personal information like a bank number and passwords so if CRA calls and requests such info, know that it is a scam and never provide personal information on incoming calls.
  2. CRA will never request payment via iTunes or other gift cards or Bitcoin or a money service business. This is also a red flag for a CRA scam. Scam artists request payments via these methods because it makes them very difficult for police to track and investigate.
  3. CRA will never text message you, email you or leave you voicemail messages. Instead, CRA will send you a registered letter. CRA will also only email you if you request information.  CRA impersonators commonly leave a voicemail which is a clear warning sign that you are targeted.  
  4. CRA will never use threatening or aggressive language, demanding that you pay up or else you may go to jail or be deported. These aggressive and threatening modes of communication are meant to put you in a panic mode which may cause you to feel fraught with anxiety,  and deplete you of the resources required to stay fully in the present.2 This panic mode is precisely what’s needed to not think rationally about the situation and hand over your money to CRA scam artists.  So in such cases, it’s best to hang up the phone and contact the CRA to verify whether you owe back taxes or are entitled to a refund.
  5. CRA does not threaten that police have been dispatched.
  6. Since the CRA scams are sophisticated and have the ability “to hide a call’s origin and make it appear to be from legitimate government offices or financial institutions,” it is not enough to simply look up the caller id number and see that it matches the CRA number.  Call the CRA by accessing their phone number from the CRA website and then verify the status of your account.

According to Constable Scott Davis, Public and Media Relations Officer, the best way to deal with the CRA impersonators is to end the call as quickly as possible by simply hanging up on them. “They may call back but when they realize that you are not falling for their scam they will move on.”.3

If you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud or have received deceptive telemarketing, you should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit CRA fraud website. Follow these steps if you’ve been defrauded.

If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.  S&P Accounting Services has experienced Chartered Accountants and we serve clients in Toronto and other cities in the GTA which include, North York, Thornhill, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer:

We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

Are you looking for a tax accountant in Toronto to help you with your tax return?

You may be eligible for free tax services

If you are looking for a tax accountant in the Toronto or North York area, yet have a simple tax situation and modest income, you may be eligible for free tax services.

In fact, there are many community organizations throughout Canada that have volunteers completing tax returns for eligible individuals. These tax clinics are made feasible through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).

You might qualify for theses services if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

1. What is a modest income?

Modest income means that your family income is less than the amount shown in the chart below. Verify with the community organization in your vicinity to see if you are eligible as some organizations have different eligibility requirements. 

Family size Total family income
One person $30,000
One person with one dependant $35,000 (add $2,500 for each additional dependant)
Couple $40,000 (add $2,500 for each dependant)

2. Do you have a simple tax situation?

In general, your tax situation is simple if you have no income or if your income comes from these sources:

  • employment
  • pension
  • benefits such as CPP, disability, CCB, EI, social assistance
  • RRSP
  • support payments
  • scholarships, fellowships, bursaries or grants
  • interest (under $1,000)

Your tax situation is not simple if you:

  • are self-employed or have employment expenses
  • have business or rental income and expenses
  • have capital gains or losses
  • file for bankruptcy
  • are completing a tax return for a deceased person

In such circumstances, you may wish to seek advice and assistance from a tax accountant.

3. When are these free tax services offered?

Volunteer tax preparation clinics are generally offered each year between February and April but many are operating all year at various locations across Canada.

4. Where are the tax preparation clinics located?

Here is a list of free tax preparation clinics in:

5. What to bring to the tax preparation clinic?

 In order for volunteers to complete your income tax and benefit return for you, make sure to bring your:

  • Tax information slips
  • Receipts
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Identification

Volunteers need the above items to prepare your income tax and benefit return.

7. How do you get your slips?

You can visit Service Canada‘s secure site to get access to your current year and prior year old age security (OAS), employment insurance (EI) and Canada pension plan (CPP) tax slips electronically. 

For more information, see Information slips – T4 and other slips.

8. What if I require assistance with my taxes and don’t qualify for assistance from one of the free tax clinics?

If you require assistance with your taxes and are not eligible for assistance from one of the free tax clinics, you may contact S & P Accounting Services. We are a full-service accounting firm handling taxation, bookkeeping, payroll and accounting. We happily serve clients in North York, Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and other cities situated in the GTA. If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer:

We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

 

 

Unsure if you should hire an accountant early on in your business?

Hiring an accountant early on could be advantageous for a number of reasons.

In this article, I discuss why this is the case, as well as eight tips that could help you start your business off on the right foot.

  1. When you decide to start your own business, an accountant could provide you with sound financial and strategic advice. An accountant can suggest how you can apply for a loan, as well as how you can get tax refunds and credits, business grants and financing. For more information about credits, benefits, and incentives, check this useful resource page from Canada.ca, as well as this page by the Ministry of Finance.
  2. When starting a business you have to decide which type of business structure is most suitable for your business needs. The four different business structures are: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and co-operative. The structure that is most appropriate for your business is dependent upon a number of factors which include: the type and size of the business, the risks involved, the number of people employed, the geography covered, as well at the tax situation of the business owner. An accountant could help explain which business structure is most appropriate for your needs. For information about the advantages and disadvantages of each business structure, read this article by Canada Business Network.
  3. Also, prior to starting your business, you need to register your business with several different levels of government. One question you might ask is, do you register your business on a provincial or federal level? This is a good question to ask a chartered accountant. This useful page by Canada Business Network provides an overview of the key registration requirements that may apply to your business.
  4. There are specific rules and regulations that every business must follow and there are different regulations and standards for every industry. For instance, daycares have different regulations, permits and licensing requirements than importing companies and these regulations can change over time. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations.  A professional accountant could direct you to the most relevant and current resources that will help you determine which regulations and standards apply to your industry. For more information about regulations, licensing and permits, read this article by Canada Business Network.
  5. When starting a business, are you required to register with a GST/HST account? When do you file for your GST and when do you pay? A chartered accountant will also advise you on these matters, as well as the advantages of registering with a GST/HST account. For more information about how to register for a GST/HST account, check Canada.ca.
  6. When starting a business, it is highly recommended that you open a business bank account that is separate from your personal account. A good accountant will explain the requirements of opening a business bank account and why it is critical to keep the business account separate from your personal one. For instance, having a business account not intertwined with your personal account could help you keep track of how profitable your business is and help you make financially sound decisions based on your business income and expenses. Muddling up your personal and business expenses could also make it more difficult to file your taxes.
  7. Bookkeeping and accounting are a significant part of any running business. At the start up phase of the business, you need to know which documents you should collect and how to establish a good filing system for all your receipts and invoices.  Whether or not you decide to conduct the bookkeeping yourself or prefer to hire a bookkeeper, it may be advantageous to ask a professional accountant about how to bookkeep. This article by Canada Business Network outlines the benefits of keeping organized records and the types of records to keep.
  8. Lastly, there are numerous accounting software systems such as QuickBooks, Peachtree and Xero, which could assist new business owners to keep track and monitor the key metrics of their business such as sales and expenses. An experienced accountant could suggest which accounting software is most recommended and user-friendly. This article by Business News Daily discusses the best accounting software for 2017.

In summary, there are many different factors and steps involved in starting up a business. Hiring a good accountant or at least seeking advice from an accountant is critical even in the beginning phases of a business. 

We are a full-service accounting firm handling taxation, bookkeeping, payroll, and accounting. We happily serve clients in North York, Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and other cities situated in the GTA. If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

 

Disclaimer:

We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

Can I get a tax deduction for eating gluten-free food?

If you suffer from celiac disease, you may be eligible to get a tax deduction for eating gluten-free food. Here is advice from a Toronto Chartered Accountant.

According to the Canadian Celiac Association, it is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada are affected by celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Currently, there is no known cure for this disease, yet it can usually be effectively treated and controlled with “strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life”. This requires knowledgeable dietetic counseling and frequent ‘updates’ as commercial food contents change.

Gluten-free products could be quite expensive and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is aware of this. If you suffer from celiac disease, you may be eligible to claim the incremental costs related to purchasing gluten-free food as a medical expense.

What is the incremental cost? And how is it calculated?
The incremental cost is defined as the difference in the cost between gluten-free products compared to the cost of similar products containing gluten. It is simply calculated by subtracting the cost of a product with gluten from the cost of a gluten-free product.

For instance, if a gluten-free loaf of bread costs $5.50 and a loaf of whole wheat bread costs $3, you could write off $2.50 as a medical expense on your income tax return.

What if several people are sharing gluten-free products with me, yet I am the only one who has celiac disease?
According to the CRA, “if several people eat the product, only the costs related to the part of the product that is eaten by the person with celiac disease may be claimed as a medical expense.” For example, if you split your loaf of gluten-free bread with a friend or your spouse, you may only claim half of the expense or $1.

What documents do I require to support the claim?
The CRA states, “Do not send any supporting documents. Keep them in case we ask to see them later.”

You will need to keep all of the following:

  1. A letter from a medical practitioner that certifies that you have celiac disease and cannot eat gluten.
  2. Receipts for each gluten-free food product to backup all your claims.
  3. A summary of each food product that was bought during the 12-month period for which the expenses are being claimed.

What is an example of ‘a summary of each food product’?

Food product: Bread
Number of products bought (for the 12-month period): 52
Average cost of product with gluten: $3.49
Average cost of gluten-free product: $6.99
Incremental cost: $6.99 – $3.49 = 3. 50
Amount to claim: $3.50 x 52 = $182.00

This table is based on a sample provided by the CRA website.

Here is a celiac disease medical expense worksheet. It is intended to help you document your gluten-free purchases. It is beneficial to print several of these sheets off and keep a file with this worksheet and your receipts together. This worksheet was taken from the Canadian Celiac Association.
In summary:

  1. The incremental cost of gluten-free products is an eligible medical expense.
  2. Eligible products are generally marketed specifically to the gluten free diet.
  3. Other products can also be eligible if they are used by the person with celiac. disease to make gluten-free products for their own use. These include, but is not limited to, rice flour and gluten-free spices.
  4. The gluten free tax deduction is only eligible with a medical note with a diagnosis of celiac disease.
  5. A summary of each purchase of gluten free products must be kept on file.
  6. A receipt for each purchase must be kept on file as well.

Related: Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your tax return


About S & P Accounting Services

S & P Accounting Services is a professional accounting firm situated in North York, Ontario. We are chartered accountants with extensive experience with audit, review, tax and bookkeeping. We strive to operate in accordance with our principles of quality, professionalism, and integrity and are dedicated to excellent service.  We aim to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality of financial, tax and accounting services and advice. We happily serve clients in Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and in other cities in the GTA.

If you have any questions or inquiries about our accounting services, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer: We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.