We have been filing Income Tax Returns for a large client base for over 30 years. We have experience dealing with all areas of income tax services, including preparation of your return, filing “Adjustments” to previous returns, filing late returns, and explaining the issues and costs involved. We can help when the Tax Return becomes too complicated, or you no longer want to take the job on yourself.
For some people, dealing with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is not an experience they treasure; but, with your authorization, we can talk to CRA on your behalf and straighten out any issues or misunderstandings that may exist. We are your advocate and can explain and translate correspondence from CRA, and answer any questions you may have.
For your assistance and convenience, we have created a list of possible items you may need to help you plan and organize your various slips and receipts for the tax season. Download our Tax Checklist.
Most small business owners do not want to look after their own bookkeeping, let alone complete their own income tax return. For most small business, the “shoebox system” works fine, and we are able to take that information and produce the necessary documents for filing your tax return. Once the “shoebox system” is no longer satisfactory, we can set up a computerized bookkeeping system and help your small business stay on top of filling the GST returns, payroll remittances and other activities required.
Some common small business issues:
- GST review, preparation and filing
- All monthly reporting
- Financial statement review
- Financial statement analysis
- Income tax preparation and filing
Download our Business Expense Summary Worksheet; this form can help with fiscal year-end report completion or can be used for monthly record keeping.
Corporate Taxes can be a complicated matter which can lead to many questions, and we can assist in answering them. We can also assist with the many procedures required to keep a corporation rolling forward. We find that, because of continual changes in the corporate tax arena and the ever-present possibilities of something new arising, there is a constant need to touch base with your accountant throughout the year to review and update information, and to chart the corporate direction. This includes reviewing financial statements, planning dividend allocation, reviewing capital gains and possible exemptions, and linking these issues with your own personal tax return so you get the best possible tax outcome.
Some common corporate issues:
- Tax preparation
- Tax planning
- Shareholder structure
- Issues regarding dividends
- Linking corporate returns to personal returns
“To incorporate or not to incorporate?”
We get this question a lot and I am afraid the answer is not that simple because it depends on the individual and his or her tax issues. The two main reasons to incorporate are: 1) lower tax rates, and 2) decreased liability (in some cases). Let us know your specific situation and we can explore the question of whether or not to opt for incorporation.
We, at The Shipley Group, are a unique position to assist you with your estate planning. Since we have notaries on staff, we are very familiar with Will structures and their effect on the flow of money through an estate. Thus, we can help ensure that any funds pass to the beneficiaries with the best tax advantage possible. Estate planning encompasses many different areas, and can become complicated very quickly. What we can do is step back, look at the big picture, and suggest changes that can, hopefully, make the process simpler. If your needs exceed our expertise, we can refer you to other professionals to assist with designing the best possible plan.
Some common estate Issues:
- Capital gains on your final return
- RRSP/RIF management upon death
- What will happen with pensions?
- Do you need a trust?
- The effect of the Probate process on your estate
- Role of your executor
The Preparation of an annual trust return can be a straightforward process in some cases, as simple as the preparation of annual financial statements and the filing of an annual trust return. However, as with any tax matters, the process can become complicated quickly and the liability for the trustee can be significant.
Some common trust return issues:
- Date of filing the trust
- What type of trust is it?
- Financial Statements required
- Role of the trustee
Bill Paying Service
Over the last several years more and more people have been requesting this service. As our population travels more frequently, and also ages, there needs to be someone paying the bills along the way. In most cases, there are children or friends to take on this task; however, a lot of people are not comfortable placing this responsibility on family or friends and would prefer to place it in the hands of a capable professional. It can relieve a huge amount of stress for an individual or a family to know this is being handled competently on a continual basis.
Some common issues with bill payment services:
- Number of bills
- Urgency of payments
- History of payments
- Power of Attorney – do you have one?
- Re-direction of mail
Preparing a Last Will and Testament ensures that, after you die, your assets are distributed according to your wishes. In the absence of a Will the courts may appoint someone to distribute your assets and can decide who the beneficiaries of those assets will be. Wills also provide an opportunity to appoint guardians for minor children, indicate your preferences regarding burial/cremation/service/ceremony after death, and name charities as beneficiaries.
We will register your Will with the BC Vital Statistics Agency, and will need to know the specific location where it will be kept (e.g. safety deposit box, home safe, etc.). Please ensure you have a secure, fire-proof place to store your original Will. Your executors will need to be able to access the original, not a copy, when the time comes. If you are using a safety deposit box, we recommend making it joint with your executor, or someone else you trust, to ensure it can be accessed when needed. We will provide you with a copy of your Will that you can keep on hand for your reference, or to review from time to time.
Powers of Attorney
Preparing a Power of Attorney enables you to appoint a trusted person to look after your affairs in the event you become mentally incapable due to accident or illness. It is also common to prepare a Power of Attorney if you will be out of the country for an extended period of time, or if you are a student moving away to attend a post secondary institution. This document allows your spouse, family member, friend, or legal representative to handle a variety of transactions on your behalf such as banking, vehicle or home insurance, utilities, property transfers and many others.
Powers of Attorney have changed significantly in the last couple of years and are now a more flexible document. You have the ability to appoint alternate attorneys who may act in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling. We can also customize paragraphs according to your circumstances and preferences as well as indicate restrictions within the document to limit certain transactions.
What will I need for my Will or Power of Attorney appointment*?
- Picture identification
- Full legal names and current addresses of anyone being mentioned in your Will/Power of Attorney (i.e. primary and alternate executors, beneficiaries, and attorneys)
- Copy of existing Will/Power of Attorney (if you have one)
- Copy of title or most recent Assessment (if you are a property owner)
*You will need 2 appointments with the notary. Please allow for an hour long appointment each visit. We find that, when discussing estate planning matters, most appointments take between 45 to 60 minutes.
The first appointment will be to gather the required information and answer any questions you may have. The notary will ask you a series of questions in order to tailor the document(s) to your specific needs. We then prepare the document(s), and the second appointment will be to review what we have prepared, make any changes if required, and complete the signing.
We advise you not to make unnecessary copies of your Power of Attorney (POA). Your POA is a legal document, and your Attorney will require the original in order to act for you. A copy is not sufficient. Any agency requiring a copy of your POA (e.g. your bank, insurance company, care home, etc.) can make their own copy from the original and return the original to you. We strongly advise that you not relinquish the original POA to anyone. If your POA gets misplaced you will need to complete a new one, and this may be difficult if you are travelling, incapacitated and/or deemed incapable of executing legal documents. Please keep your POA in a secure location, and advise your Attorney where is stored and how they can access it if they need it.
The best time to do a Power of Attorney is when you are healthy.
Representation Agreements are designed to allow an adult to appoint a representative, or multiple representatives, to make decisions regarding health care, personal care and routine management of financial affairs. It is possible to appoint one representative to handle all areas, or multiple representatives with areas of specific responsibility. As with Powers of Attorney these documents are flexible and can be customized.
Authentication / Certificate of Identity / Apostille / Legalization
Any of the above terms can be used to describe the process of validating documents for use in a foreign jurisdiction. The Notary will prepare a Certificate of Identity, also known as a Form 10, (view sample), attach any required documents, such as an affidavit, criminal record check, or identification documents, and send the package to the Society of Notaries. The Society of Notaries will authenticate the Notary’s signature. Subsequently documents are forwarded to the Consulate of the relevant foreign country for certification. In some cases the documents may also need to go to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs Ottawa or the office of the Deputy Attorney General.
Fees vary depending on the process required and each client’s situation is different. Each level of certification has a fee, and there is no standard fee charged by Consulates. Our office will require a retainer in advance to cover fees charged by the Society of Notaries, the appropriate Consulate, and the costs of shipping documents via courier. This process can be time consuming. In some cases we have waited up to 8 weeks for return of finalized documents. Please allow a minimum of 4 weeks to complete the legalization process.
We have provided samples of our most commonly used affidavits so that you can get an idea of layout and content. Keep in mind that you should confirm requirements with the person/entity for whom you are swearing the affidavit. When you are swearing an affidavit the name on the affidavit should be identical to that of the identification you are presenting to the Notary.
Consent to Travel Affidavit
Consent to Travel Affidavits are used whenever children are travelling with only one parent, or without both parents. The parent, or parents, who are not accompanying the child(ren) must give their consent for crossing international borders. If you are preparing your own consent to travel letter/affidavit please ensure that you use the full names of everyone involved. Most importantly the children’s names should match their passport. If you are travelling by air it is a good idea to confirm requirements with your airline, or click here for an example of a consent to travel form provided by the Government of Canada.
Affidavit of Support
Affidavits of Support are used for the purpose of confirming your willingness/ability to be responsible for a friend or family member visiting from another country. They are often required by the Canadian Government before a temporary visa is issued.
We often have clients come to our office asking that the Notary sign a letter the client has prepared. If you are attempting to confirm a series of facts it is helpful for you to put these facts into an affidavit form. The General Affidavit sample will give you an idea of how to present the facts in an easy to read format and also provides a space for the Notary to witness your signature.
Choosing a Realtor
Do you need the assistance of a Realtor (Residential or Commercial)? Realtors are licensed by the Province of British Columbia. They work with you to find an appropriate property and guide you throughout the process. They are aware of the present market conditions and property values; they are experienced negotiators and are there to assist you. Review online systems and explore the various properties and their neighbourhoods.
Will you need a mortgage? Will you be working with a chartered bank, private lender, or mortgage broker for your financing? Mortgage Brokers are licensed in the Province of British Columbia and they can assist you in obtaining financing. Your Broker becomes part of the Purchase Process and will work to save you time and money. Remember that a pre-approval is only the first step and once you choose your property there will be further information required by the bank before they give their final approval.
Rental Properties & Property Managers
If you are purchasing a property with the intention of renting it out you may want to use a Property Manager. There are many experienced property management companies in Victoria that offer a variety of services for residential and commercial properties.
The Offer (Contract)
Once the property has been chosen, a legal offer is made to the Seller in writing. Our office can assist with the preparation of a “Contract of Purchase and Sale” or review one prepared by your realtor. The Contract of Purchase and Sale contains several main sections: “Price”, “Deposit Amount”, “Closing Date”, “Adjustment Date”, “Possession Date” and “Subjects to the offer”, as well as a myriad of other sections. It is always best for us to review the contract well in advance of the “Acceptance Date”.
Informing the Team
Once you have made your decisions regarding the property and have chosen the people who will assist you, it is advantageous to let all parties know who is on your team. Let the participants know who the banker or mortgage broker is, who the realtor is, who will be your legal representative, and with whom you have arranged fire and earthquake insurance. Also, let your team know where you (and your spouse/partner) will be during the closing dates of the purchase. This will ensure that the process runs smoothly.
Over the years the time required to complete a real estate transaction has decreased. With improvements in technology as well as an overall increase in the speed and expectations of the public, real estate transactions can now be completed in a couple of days. Having said that, the more time the better as there is less chance for mistakes. It is important to remember that we cannot prepare the bank’s legal documents until we have received instructions from the lender. Therefore, if you are obtaining financing please make arrangements well in advance of the closing date.
Costs to Keep in Mind
- Legal & Agent Fees
- Property & Title Insurance (Survey)
- Property Transfer Tax
- Property Tax (Municipal Tax)
- Good & Services Tax (GST)
- General Tax Issues
For further, detailed information please contact our office and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
A few days before your completion date you will need to sign legal documents in front of a Notary or Lawyer. Please note that if you require bank financing you will need to sign both the bank application documents, (at the bank) and also the bank legal documents (in front of the notary). If necessary, and with adequate time, we can prepare all the required documentation and send a package to you for execution in your present jurisdiction with your own legal representative.
Note: (Two pieces of Identification are required when signing land transfer documents for the Province of BC)
With your own funds, be aware that it can take the bank several days to process any withdrawal requests, especially if the funds are coming out of a mutual fund or RRSP Account. Your funds from the bank can be sent directly to our Trust Account. (Trust Accounts are governed by law and have strict controls over their use).
Once we have all the funds from you and from the bank (if required) and all the appropriate legal documents required to close, we then proceed to registration which is done electronically. Once we have sent funds to the seller’s lawyer we will contact you, and your realtor who will give instructions regarding the key and occupancy.
For more information, including an approximate cost, please contact our office.