CRA Income Tax Debt and how it Affects Small Business Owners

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Categories:Finance Taxes

It’s tough to be a small business owner. Many small business owners really struggle the first few years that they are in business. When trying to build up a business there can be times where the business does well and times when it does not. Where sole proprietors are concerned their business income is almost one and the same as their personal income. While a sole proprietor can write off business expenses, the revenue that is left must be declared as personal income on her CRA income tax returns.

Small business owners, especially sole proprietors are the group that is by far the most at risk of running into trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency. Small business owners may not have the revenue at the beginning to afford bookkeeping services and often do not plan from the "get go" to set aside money to pay their Canadian debt. It is sometimes hard to estimate what one might earn in a year and CRA income taxes are usually due on an annual basis. time can be shocking to small business owners because not only is it more expensive for an accountant to prepare returns for an individual and a business but small business owners sometimes underestimate what they will actually have to pay.

One very common example of where small business owners can run into trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency is when they collect HST on behalf of the government. HST is trust monies that must be paid to the CRA and often small business owners will remit their HST on an annual basis. Time and time again we have seen small business owners who don’t set aside their HST money because they are certain that they will be able to pay it when the time comes to file their CRA return. If the business is not doing well when time rolls around, coming up with the money to pay the HST may be a more difficult prospect than what they anticipated.

At this point usually one of two things will happen; the small business owner will miss his or her filing deadline fearing what the CRA will do when they process the HST return and then learn that the small business owner doesn’t have the money to pay or he or she might look for expenses to reduce the amount of HST owed. The latter is where huge problems can happen. Aggressive preparers may be able to make your return result in an amount that you feel you can pay, however this can land you in big trouble if the CRA decides to look into your books.

The worst thing small business owners can do if they are worried about their CRA income tax debt is fail to file or manipulate their books. Both actions are illegal and can create a legal problem beyond the financial problem they would have had, had they filed their returns on-time and transparently.

No one goes into business wanting to have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency but it happens. Bad things happen to good people and usually tax problems don’t escalate because the person intentionally set out to create them.

The most important thing to do if you are a small business owner who has a tax problem is face it and work with a consultant to get your finances straight. consultants are not tax preparers and are able to look at a business’s finances to come up with a strategy to help the business deal with its CRA income tax problem. Michael Goldenberg

Hope Dauber