Sound financial information and tips were presented by two respected Canadian organizations July 25 in Millet’s community hall.
FBC and the CFIB both presented to about a dozen people on their goals and issues facing small business owners in Alberta and Canada, including farms.
FBC business development representative Dave Horner welcomed those present saying he plans many financial information events in the future. Horner said sound financial practices are as important in rural areas as urban, and the relationship between farms and small businesses is strong.
Horner said he sees the CFIB as the “tax attack” part of the presentation, and the FBC as the “tax saver” end.
Town of Millet mayor Tony Wadsworth also welcomed guests, saying Millet has recently hooked into a new water supply, has a new subdivision agreement and recently annexed new industrial lands. He said being centrally located makes Millet attractive.
Director, provincial affairs Amber Ruddy gave an overview of what the CFIB does for small business and some issues facing business owners.
She said the CFIB was formed in 1971 during a tax protest; some fellow in the federal government was proposing a 50 per cent tax on small business. The CFIB has 700 farm members in Alberta and CFIB meets with thousands of small business owners across the country every week.
She noted the CFIB has three main roles: advocacy, business resource counseling and savings programs.
Looking at some feedback, Ruddy stated the #1 concern of small business owners is tax load; a close second is debt. In the farm community, regulation/red tape is the primary concern and Ruddy used the Alberta government’s Bill 6 as an example.
Ruddy said the situation for small business owners and farmers hasn’t gotten better as years passed; she showed a video clip of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking to CBC, where he claimed many small business owners are “wealthy Canadians” who are exploiting tax loopholes.
The CFIB lobbies governments intensely to ensure the right of small to medium sized business are recognized and not forgotten. For example, she pointed out the WCB has surplus funds which the Alberta government apparently plans to give to unions for safety training.
Other areas for concern for the CFIB include OHS reviews, WCB reviews and the $15 minimum wage.
She showed a graph of a survey CFIB recently conducted of their members, asking them how confident they are that the Alberta government is committed to improving the business climate in the province. The results showed 92 per cent responded they were not confident.
She noted the CFIB is membership-driven, and fees depend on how many employees a business has.
FBC representative Bryon Spence spoke next, and stated the organization began 65 years ago and is also membership-based. He said FBC specializes in optimizing tax returns for small to medium sized businesses.
Spence said small business, including farms, need to know as much as possible about tax law, as 54 per cent of Revenue Canada’s time is spent on small business.
He stated that some of the top triggers of an audit include late filing, filing a return with errors and claiming a consistent loss and could make an audit more likely.
Some tips for small businesses include keeping good records, which must be kept for six years and probably should be kept for 10 and keep itemized receipts and remember the ink fades on till receipts over time. Spence said photographs of receipts are acceptable.
He noted that 80 per cent for tax laws are open to interpretation and actually tend to favour the taxpayer.
Some more tips for small business owners include staying organized, filing on time, keep business and personal accounts separate, being aware of all available deductions, track your mileage, make mortgages tax deductible, know when to lease and when to buy, time capital gains and losses to reduce overall tax burdens, open a high interest savings account for income tax and GST, invest wisely using RRSP and TFSA and know the advantages of incorporation.
More information about the organizations is available online at FBC.ca or CFIB.ca.