Personal Tax Return Checklist

Here at Danielle’s SOS Financial we are committed to providing you with the largest tax refunds you deserve and finding every tax deduction you are eligible for.

To make sure you don’t miss something, and to help you get every deduction and credit you can, we’ve prepared this handy checklist.

Essentials and General Items

  • Current contact information, including SIN numbers, of the entire family
  • Last year’s tax return
  • Last year’s spousal return
  • Last year’s notice of assessments for the entire family
  • Key life events in recent years – marriage, child, new home, etc
  • Child care expenses
  • Investment income T5 slips
  • Medical, dental and other private health care expenses
  • T2202A for tuition and education amounts
  • Public transit passes
  • Details on any matrimonial or child support payments, if applicable
  • Direct Deposit information, if changed from last year
  • TFSA statements and contribution receipts
  • RRSP statements and contribution receipts
  • Confirmation on foreign property holdings
  • Information on any property, stocks or other assets bought and sold
  • T4E for income from Employment insurance
  • Charitable donation receipts
  • Interest paid on student loans
  • Political contributions

Employees

  • T4s, T4As, T4RSPs, T4RIFs and other tax slips
  • T2200 for Home Office eligibility signed by employer
  • Home Office expenses: utilities, mortgage, stationary, other purchases, etc
  • If eligible for motor expenses, details on kms driven for work
  • Professional dues, insurance, union dues (not reimbursed by employer)
  • Moving expenses (not reimbursed by employer)
  • Tools purchases documentation for trades people
  • If commissioned salesperson, documentation for advertising, promotion, meals & entertainment and other expenses
  • New motor vehicle purchase details and other motor vehicle expenses
  • Legal expenses related to employment or child support amounts

Small Business Owners & Sole Proprietors

  • Software backup of bookkeeping records
  • Manual records of sales and expenses if books are not kept in a software
  • Partnership agreement, if applicable, along with profit sharing perentage
  • Vehicle expenses used in business – vehicle cost, mileage, maintenance, etc
  • Key contracts and agreements summary or soft copy of conracts
  • Details on capital assets purchased and sold during the year
  • Home office expenses, similar to employment section above
  • Inventory count records – last year and end of current year, if applicable

Rental Property Owners

  • List of units owned with address and ownership percentage
  • Expenses on each unit, categorized by expense type – such as, mortgage interest, real estate agent fees, utilities, cleaning fees, management fees, property tax, office expenses, etc
  • Copies of all rental agreements
  • Rental income details for each unit
  • Details on capital additions (greater than $500) categorized by unit

Bookkeeping vs. Accounting

Did you know we do both!

–Bookkeeping vs. Accounting–

If you’re a small business owner, you might be wondering if you need to get a bookkeeper or an accountant – or both.

And now that you understand the need for bookkeeping, you’re might be wondering, “How does it differ from accounting?”

Good question.

The words “bookkeeper” and “accountant” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that determine the main responsibilities of each role.

–Bookkeeping is a Subset of Accounting–

37883981_2140118849644035_5128132333710344192_n.jpgAn accountant, professional bookkeeper, or an employee of the business can do your bookkeeping.

If you’ve just started a business, chances are you’ll be doing the bookkeeping yourself.

This is no bad thing. When launching a new business venture, it’s crucial that you have an intimate grasp of your financial situation. What better way than to do the bookkeeping yourself?

Essentially, bookkeepers take care of the day-to-day financial work.

They keep detailed and accurate financial accounts and use this financial clarity to help make informed business decisions.

–Accountants are Financial Experts–

Accountants are usually qualified, registered members of a statutory association. So they often have titles like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CA (Chartered Accountants).

That’s how they can charge the big bucks.

These experts will use the accounts provided by the bookkeeper. They focus on analyzing the transactions to provide financial advice.

They’ll also use the information in the accounts to file tax returns and other reports.

Whereas bookkeepers handle the day-to-day financial tasks, accountants often step in on a quarterly basis to provide advice and make adjustments.

3 Money Tips to Follow Before Baby Comes

I have found the biggest mistake young families make is not planning prior to the arrival of their children. The fact is, the better you prepare for your financial future before baby is born, the better you’ll be prepared for the unexpected.

New parents do not completely understand or appreciate just how chaotic the weeks, months and years will be after a little one arrives. Between the feedings, attempts to sleep and shifting schedules, the opportunity to sit with a financial professional after the baby is born can feel almost impossible.

There are a few things new families can do before birth to get in good shape for baby.

1. Pay down debt.
The nine months leading up to baby is a great time to pay down debt. Typically expenses are lower in the months leading up to baby’s birth, given diaper costs and baby food have yet to hit the pocketbook. Many clients strive to live on one income to increase their savings and pay down debt. If debt is not an issue, use this time to increase your savings account to prepare for the new expenses such as a car seat, crib, diapers and delivery costs.

2. Review your coverage.
New parents should understand their current coverage and update and adjust it if needed. If the ins and outs of benefits at work are presently a mystery, call human resources for a refresher to understand what medical coverage and maternity leave policies cover.

Review your life insurance and disability income insurance to make sure it meets a growing family’s needs. Term life insurance may be an affordable option for most families and can be purchased for a certain period of time to help protect a family’s financial well-being in the event of an untimely death. Disability income insurance is designed to protect a portion of an individual’s income. The bottom line is that losing the ability to earn an income may make it difficult to make ends meet. Disability income insurance can be a practical solution to help protect a family’s financial security in the event of a disabling illness or injury.

As a parent, don’t guess when it comes to coverage amount, work with a financial professional whom you trust and can help you understand your needs in the event either parents were to become disabled or die.

3. Establish a budget.
Lastly, establish a clear budget prior to the baby arriving so you know how much money is currently allocated to meet financial needs. This will allow you to determine how much money you can allocate to the new expenses such as diapers, formula, day care, baby clothes, etc. or if you need to cut back on certain expenses to keep you from overspending.

By taking the time to review these important topics, you will remove the concern and worry that comes with not knowing what your family has in place. Instead you will find yourself in a position to simply enjoy the special moments as a new parent knowing you have taken steps to protect your family.

Thanks Lifehappens for this article

Keep Them Handy: Budgeting Tools that Work (*2 Min Read)

Budgeting your monthly expenses in order to get the greatest return on your income (and perhaps, even put aside some for saving!) doesn’t have to be extremely hard.

Various budgeting programs are available for use. Money management programs provide you with a usual package that allows you to enter your cash inflows and outflows, categorizes your expenditures, and at times, presents to you analysis of your spending behavior. Through these programs you can also input the various payments you have to make monthly, and subsequently track if you’ve paid your dues on time. Moreover, some programs also offer you a tax form draft that will help you make sure you’re not missing out on any dues or any deductibles, for that matter.

Another budgeting tool that you can utilize are coupons. Various stores and magazines contain coupons that you can use to get discounts on various products. Should there be a need to purchase a particular product for which you have a coupon for, you will end up saving a fraction of what you might have had to spend on a regular purchase.

Lists—whether on a piece of paper, on your cellular phone, or on your personal digital assistant (PDA) will help you keep focused on what you have to buy, and in effect, keep track of the purchases you make. A classic example is your regular grocery trip. Prior to making the trip, plan out the week’s entire menu and identify what food items and materials you need to purchase that are unavailable in your pantry. Then, make a list of other household items that you’ve run out of (or are eventually going to run out of before you can make the next trip to the grocery). Armed with these lists, you can go to the grocery and know exactly where to go and what you’re going to buy. Without these lists, you will walk idly along aisles, and will likely pick up various food items that you won’t likely need in the immediate future, or already have at home.

A filing system is perhaps one of the best budgeting tools you can have in your home. With simple, labeled file folders, you can put together your bills, your receipts, and whatever bank documents are issued to you when you save or pay. By putting together your bills, your credit card receipts, and the like, you are able to keep track of how much you owe and when your payments are due.

Effective budgeting tools are those that best address your needs as a consumer. Create your own budgeting tool or find a program to do it for you—just make sure it suits your lifestyle.

A Little Goes a Long Way: Smart Secrets to Budgeting (*2 Min Read)

There’s nothing more we want than to be able to efficiently manage our money. After all, the money that we want to manage is money that is oftentimes, hard earned. This is where a budget comes in. A budget executed properly, should help you see where your money is going, get more utility out of every buck, and help you save some extra for future use.

The first smart secret to a budget is to set a goal. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to correctly appropriate your income into bills payments? Do you want to put an amount aside for a big purchase or a huge investment? By having a goal, you will be able to shape your budget to best serve your interests.

Secondly, you would want to take note of where your money usually goes. This includes bills, major but regular purchases (like grocery costs, healthcare costs, and the like), and everyday miscellaneous purchases. Only when you list down where you know your money usually goes will you be able to identify which expenses you can do without. Once you’ve identified these regular expenditures, take into consideration what you can cut back on. How much do you spend on your daily caffeine fix in the morning? How much do you spend on newspaper deliveries to your front door? The measly $2 or $5 of these small purchases cumulatively translates to more than $3600 a year! Instead of buying your expensive latte or reading the newspaper on print, put aside the amount you would usually pay for these small routine purchases in a small container. You will be surprised at how much you’re saving out of your older budget.

Being indebted is a vicious cycle on its own. You’re talking about continuous payments, not to mention huge interest rates. The best way to deal with this is to pay the minimum on all of your debts in order to avoid paying extraneous late fees. Whatever cash excesses you may have, you can opt to add on to the payments you make in your biggest debt. This way, you are concentrated on getting the biggest debts first that cost you the greatest interest rates. Doing this progressively, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get off your huge debts.

The last and most important step is to jot down the amount you earn the sum you spend. You can make use of computer cash management programs, or make database sheets of your own. Make a system that works for you and will help you keep track of your monthly budgeting progress.

Guide To Better Budgeting (*2 Min Read)

A budget is basically a money plan, outlining your financial goals. Having a budget, you can well establish and regulate funds, set and achieve your financial objectives, and make advance decisions as to how you want your finances to function well for you.

The main idea in budgeting is for you to put aside a certain amount of money for expected as well as unexpected costs.

Simply put, budgeting means an estimation of monthly home expenses basing it on previous expenses and bills.

The initial step to take in budgeting is to find out how long will your compensation last. Define fixed expenses like car payments, home rental, insurance, etc. Likewise follow up your expenditures thoroughly for a month so you can discover and understand where your funds are going. Through proper determination of your “spending patterns”, you can immediately identify solutions for effective budgeting.

For instance, when you have a steady monthly income of $4,000, you should subtract all your identified monthly bills from that income.

Other bills can be assessed and then subtracted from the amount of your income. The balance that remained after fixed costs can now be your budget in the household. Rather than allocating money for miscellaneous like gas, clothing, entertainment and groceries, financial planning will allow you instead to use proportions or percentages of it.

The strategic solution in order for budgeting to be successful is inflexibility as well as flexibility; there are fixed expenses so payment must be an inflexible factor.

Budgeting will best work when very scarce omissions are made to greater limits. The idea here is to formulate goals and plans, then abide by it as much as you possibly can.

Here are tips on how to budget:

  1. Have good sense of money management. Your attitude is essential. Reach an agreement and compromise and know the significance of reducing expenditures; it all involves a lot of sacrifice.
  2. Plan your situation. Make a listing with your earnings to one side and your overheads on the other side.
  3. Know the difference between luxuries and necessities. List down what you believe as luxuries, with it, split the list in half, crossing out half the list.
  4. Practice frugality but with dignity. You can have fun with little or without spending at all. Rather than going shopping, play with the kids at the beach or at the park.

Budgeting is an effective and fundamental tool that is readily available to everyone. Consider it, and benefit from it.

Tips on How to Teach Your Kids to Save Money (*2 Min Read)

A lot of teens nowadays do not understand the value of earning and spending money. They were not oriented that investing is necessary even if they are still students. As parents, you play a crucial role in this area.

You should be able to teach your kids on how to save money. They should be able to understand the concept of money and investment as early as childhood. This will prepare them to learn money management, as they grow old.

Here are some tips on how you can teach your children how to save money:

  1. Your children should be educated of the meaning of money. Once your children have learned how to count, that is the perfect time for you teach them the real meaning of money. You should be consistent and explain to them in simple ways and do this frequently so that they may be able to remember what you taught them.
  2. Always explain to them the value of saving money. Make them understand its importance and how it will impact their life. It is important that you entertain questions from them about money and you should be able to answer them right away.
  3. When giving them their allowances. You need to give them their allowances in denominations. Then you can encourage them that they should keep a certain bill for the future. You can motivate them to do this by telling them that the money can be saved and they can buy new pair of shoes or the toys they want once they are able to save.
  4. You can also teach them to work for money. You can start this at your own home. You can pay them fifty cents to one dollar every time they clean their rooms, do the dishes or feed their pets. This concept of earning little money will make them think that money is something they have worked for and should be spent wisely.
  5. You can teach them to save money by giving them piggy banks where they can put coins and wait until they get full. You can also open bank accounts for them and let them deposit money from their allowance. You should always show them how much they have earned to keep them motivated.

Money and saving is not something that is learned by children in one sitting. You should be patient in teaching them and relating the value of money in all of their activities. Children will learn this easily if you are patient and consistent in guiding them and encouraging them in this endeavor.