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Eight CRA fraud prevention tips from an accountant in Toronto

Advice from a Toronto accountant about how to protect yourself against CRA fraud

Over the past few months there has been a rise in Canadian residents falling victim of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scams.  A man in Peterborough was defrauded out of $2,400. Residents in south-central Ontario and Chilliwack, British Columbia have also fallen prey to this scam.

Although, in a previous post, I’ve provided advice about how to protect yourself against tax evasion scams, I think its worth mentioning the importance of protecting yourself against such frauds, especially given the rise of these unfortunate defrauding cases.

In this article, I share with you eight CRA fraud prevention tips that will hopefully help you avoid falling victim of a CRA scam.

Typically, victims of the scams receive a phone call from someone pretending to be a representative of Canada Revenue Agency. The fake CRA representative tells the victims that they owe x amount of dollars or their assets will be seized. Alternatively, theses scams could be communicated by email, text message or on the answering machine.

Here are eight crucial fraud prevention tips from an accountant in the Toronto area

If you receive a call from someone saying that they are from the CRA use these guidelines to help verify if the call is legitimate:

  1. The scammers can be extremely assertive and aggressive. Remember the the CRA will never use coercive language or  be aggressive or try to intimidate you.
  2. The scammers may threaten to arrest you or send you to the police. Remember the CRA will never threaten you to arrest you or take you to the police.
  3. If someone calls you saying that they are from the CRA and asking for personal information and/or asks you to give them money. Do not take immediate action. Hang up and verify the information by calling the CRA through the official phone number.
  4. The CRA will never ask you for credit card information or for prepayments by prepaid credit cards or your personal information by email or text message. So if you receive mail, an email or a text message requesting personal information, know that these are fraudulent and never respond to them. Hang up.
  5. Before you take any action or share any personal or financial information, hang up and call a trusted family member, friend, your bank or your chartered accountant to get a second opinion on the call.
  6. Ask yourself:
    1. Is it really safe to transfer money to someone I do not know?
    2. Is there a legitimate reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
    3. Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return? Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
    4. Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
  7. Ask the caller for their ID and verify the callers ID by calling the CRA directly.
  8. Check that status of your account by either logging in to MyAccount or calling CRA directly.

Is the message that you receive from CRA legitimate? when in doubt, ask your Chartered Accountant

If you are unsure if the phone call, email or text message is legitimate or a fraudulent message, ask your Chartered Accountant. Your Chartered Accountant should know how the CRA communicates with taxpayers and your Chartered Accountant should be able to distinguish between fraudulent communication and legitimate communication from the CRA.

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 inquires, please do not hesitate to contact us.  S&P Accounting Services has experienced Chartered Accountants and we serve clients in 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

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.