Small Business Owners: Are You Taking Advantage of Every Tax Credit?

No one likes filing their taxes, but it can be even more overwhelming with a small business. With the last-minute scramble every spring and receipts in every nook and cranny, your taxes might not always be perfect. Unless you’re an accountant, knowing the ins and outs of small business taxes isn’t easy. Here are six tips to make sure you’re not overlooking any credits that can make or break your small business.

1. Expenses

Accurately tracking and claiming expenses are absolutely crucial for a small business. Even small expenses can add up by tax season, and that can make a huge difference for your business. Make sure you know what can (and can’t) be claimed as a business expense. Office supplies, maintenance and repairs, some advertising, and even business licenses and dues can be claimed as valid operating expenses.

2. Input Tax Credits

Input Tax Credits help you recover some of the GST/HST paid out on business expenses. Most small business owners simply don’t take advantage of this, but it can mean serious savings come tax season. If your business has a registered GST number, you’re eligible to reclaim the GST/HST paid on most valid business expenses. When combined with the last tip, this can make the cost of running your business a lot more manageable.

3. Health Plans

Good news: you don’t have to forego health insurance to run your own business. If you’re self-employed, you can deduct the premiums you pay for private health care plans for you and your household. Health plans aren’t cheap, so this is one way to maximize your profit (or at least reduce your spend) every year.

4. Home Business

If you have a valid home office, you definitely need to be claiming it on your taxes. A home office comes with tax write-offs galore, like being able to claim a portion of your rent/mortgage and utilities. It might take a little bit of math, but it’s well worth the effort every year.

5. Deadline

It shouldn’t have to be said, but every year businesses miss the filing deadline and make everything harder for themselves. You start racking up penalty charges every month that you’re late, which could make next year’s taxes even harder. Keep yourself organized, set a deadline, and make it happen. After all, there are only two guaranteed things in life, so procrastinating won’t get you anywhere.

6. Audit

No one wants to be audited when it comes to complex business taxes, but it happens more than you think. Being prepared will make you dread tax season a lot less. Keep all the receipts you need in a filing cabinet and use a spreadsheet to track expenses so you don’t forget any. Don’t forget to keep everything for up to six years in case of a future audit.

Remember: the best defense is always a good offense. If you do a little legwork off-the-hop, you can save yourself a lot of stress, and even more money. Contact me if you want to make sure you’re prepared for this coming tax season.

How to Maximize Your Return: Self-Employment Taxes Made Simple

Being self-employed isn’t easy, and sometimes every dollar counts. Tax season can be particularly stressful, but there are bona fide ways to make sure you’re getting the best return possible on your self-employment taxes so that you can breathe a little easier every spring. Keep reading to find out all of the expenses your business is likely entitled to, so that this year’s self-employment taxes are smooth sailing.

1. Business Expenses

When you’re self-employed, everything you put into running your business is essentially a business expense and can likely be written off. While it might not seem like a big deal to claim your printer paper on your self-employment taxes, these can add up to a serious tax return that can help your business thrive long term. Business operating expenses can include some forms of advertising, office supplies, legal and accounting fees, licenses for your business, insurance premiums, and more. Essentially everything you spend money on to make money should be looked at to see if it can be claimed.

2. Office Expenses

Your home office is a goldmine when it comes to your tax return, and many self-employed people simply aren’t taking advantage of what they are due. Working from home can save you money, but it can also help bump up your tax return this spring. Make sure you’re properly calculating the space you can claim, and don’t forget to include a portion of your utilities, rent/mortgage, and any applicable repairs or maintenance. On top of that, your capital costs like desks, chairs, and filing cabinets are also eligible to claim, so make sure you keep your receipts.

3. Travel Expenses

Being self-employed can mean a ton of travel, which is often overlooked. Everything from flights to conference costs, cabs to meals on the road, and even entertaining clients can be partially or completely claimed. If you use your vehicle for your business, that’s likely a business expense you can claim on your self-employment taxes too, including gas, insurance, and maintenance.

4. Overlooked Expenses

Maximizing your precious tax return is all about making sure you’re not overlooking anything you might be genuinely able to claim. These smaller, often missed expenses can add up to an important amount of money for your business. Examples include the cost of business cheques, health plans for your employees, a cleaning service for your home office, association dues, business loan interest (to certain limits), business vehicle license and registration fees, parking fees for business purposes, and more. Working with an accountant can help make sure you don’t miss any legitimate expenses that you can claim, so that your return is the best it can be every year.

If you want to get the most back at tax time — or at least pay the smallest amount out — contact me today. It’s never too early to start planning for a less stressful tax season.

Everything You Need to Know About Small Business GST Payments

Running a small business in Canada is tough. In fact, it’s so tough that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. So any measures you can take to help your business succeed should be welcomed with wide open arms, and the GST credit is no exception. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s time you find out: businesses can claim back the GST/HST paid on business and operating expenses come tax season, and that can add up to a lot more than chump change. Read on to find out exactly how to get this money back, because your business deserves every leg up it’s entitled to.

1. Eligibility

If you’re a business with a registered GST number, you’re eligible to claim the GST/HST paid on business supplies. This includes everything from desks to paper, which can add up for many businesses. Getting registered for a GST number right from the get-go is a smart idea. You’ll be able to claim back the tax on all the many purchases you’ll need to make when starting up. Claiming back the GST/HST is simple: just enter the amount you’ve paid under Input Tax Credits (ITCs). Next. input the amount of GST/HST collected from customers throughout the year and then deduct the ITC amount. If you end up with a negative number, then kudos to you, you’re eligible for a refund.

2. Deadline

It’s a good rule of thumb to claim your ITCs in the tax season right after the expenses were purchased. This will help keep you organized and ensure you’re maxing out your refunds whenever possible. But sometimes life happens or maybe you just found out about the GST/HST credit.

The good news is that you have up to four years after the claim should have been made to still claim the tax — unless your business had a revenue of more than six million dollars in each of the last two fiscal years. If so, you would have to claim the GST/HST within just two years of the end of the reporting period during which you made the business purchase. The point is, there’s leniency if you forget, which can be a saving grace for hectic business owners.

3. Receipts

Keeping receipts for any tax information is crucial, and a GST/HST refund is no exception. The last thing you want is an audit, so ensure you keep receipts up to four years after you submit. Find tips for storing your receipts and staying organized here.

4. Quick Method

If you don’t normally get a refund of your GST/HST payments, the Quick Method might be for you. It was created to help save smaller business time and money, and can make tax season a little less painful. With the Quick Method, you may be able to pay back a smaller portion of the tax received from customers. This is much easier than adding up all the GST/HST collected and then subtracting the tax paid on expenses. If you have minimal business expenses, this can make filing your taxes a lot simpler.

Find out everything you need to know about the Quick Method here. And remember: if you are at all uncertain about anything, contact me. It’s easier to get yourself in order from the start, than to go back and fix mistakes.

Working from Home: Are You Eligible for a Tax Break?

With more of a focus on work-life balance than ever, more and more people are either working from home or running their business from a home office, but most people don’t know that they could be eligible to claim this workspace on their taxes. Whether you’re self-employed, you work remotely, or your employer requires you to have a home office, you might be able to claim the costs of this home office on your taxes for significant savings. From rent to cleaning costs, your home office expenses could become write-offs and make tax season a little less painful. Find out everything you need to know below so that your workspace in the home is less of a liability, and more of a tool to help your business grow.

1. Home Office

If you’re self-employed or work out of your home, you’re likely entitled to claim a portion of your rent or mortgage on your taxes. This can mean serious tax savings for you, but there are a few caveats: your home office has to be your principal place of business or used for the sole purpose of business (which means that the kitchen table where you sometimes set up your laptop doesn’t quite count), or the space must be used on a regular basis for meeting clients or patients. If you fall into any of these categories, you can claim part of your rent or mortgage. The amount you claim depends on the size of your home office; if it takes up 10% of your home, you can claim 10% of the mortgage (math made easy!). Check here for a detailed calculation method.

2. Expenses

In addition to your rent or mortgage, you’re also entitled to claim valid expenses that go along with having an office in your home. For example, your home office likely uses internet, electricity, water, and more, which means you can claim a portion of those on your taxes. The same proportion rule applies here: if your office takes up 10% of the space in your home, you can claim 10% of the utilities. Regular business expenses like pens, stationery, and stamps can also be claimed, but not capital expenses like desk chairs, desks, or other furniture. Don’t feel like cleaning? A cleaning service for your home office is indeed deductible, so you can do a little less dusting and a little more business.

3. Common Mistakes

There are a ton of common mistakes when filing for home-office expenses, which is why it’s a hot spot for CRA audits. If you can, consult an accountant to make sure you’re crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s, because being audited for your home-office expenses can cause the CRA to audit all of your other claims as well and that’s a hassle no one wants. Some common mistakes are claiming your full mortgage instead of just a portion (a number that big is an immediate red flag) or inflating the size of your home office. While repairs in your home office are definitely eligible, make sure you’re not claiming a family bathroom renovation, or your entire tax claim could be denied. Another mistake is using expenses to create a business loss; if your expenses are more than your net income, you can carry them over to the next year but you can’t use them to take a loss this year.

Taking the time to ensure your taxes are done right the first time around can save you months of hassle, stress, and a potentially crippling tax payment. If you’re sweating just reading this, then it’s probably time for you and I to have a talk. Contact me, and we’ll make sure you’re making the right decisions for your at-home business.

Contractors Beware if CRA Declares You a Personal Services Business

So you’ve gone out on your own and created a small business that you can be proud of. Kudos to you. But what you might not realize is that at any time, the Canada Revenue Agency could take that away by declaring you a personal services business instead of a small business, and this kind of hit isn’t easy to recover from. A personal services business is simply a business that performs services for a company that would usually be performed by an employee of that company itself, but it can mean a world of difference in the eyes of the CRA.

Read on for tax advice that shows exactly why you want to avoid being labeled a personal services business, and what you can do to avoid it to protect you and your business.

1. Employee Relationship

One of the hallmarks of a personal services business is acting like an employee to the company you are providing a service. If the company tells you what to do and how to do it or provides training, chances are you’ll be considered an employee in the eyes of the CRA. But if you pick and choose what work you do and decide how that work is performed, then you have more of a business relationship that the CRA will have a tough time disputing. Either way, expanding your business to service more clients will give you more of a leg to stand on should the CRA come knocking at your door, which is not only smart tax advice but also just good business sense.

2. Small Business Deduction

One of the worst side effects of being labeled a personal services business? Losing the small business tax deduction. Any tax advice guru worth their salt will tell you how valuable this deduction is. It gives small businesses a tax break on the first $500,000 of business income, but this reduced tax rate isn’t given to personal services businesses because they’re considered an incorporated employee. They pay the full tax on their entire income, which can make a significant difference for smaller operations.

3. Other Tax Deductions

Another issue with being labeled a personal services business is that you’re not allowed to claim business expenses like other companies. This means that genuine business costs like supplies, office space, and more can’t be written off and instead come straight out of your business income, which can make a huge difference for smaller businesses.

4. Possible Reassessment

You might have been a small business for years, but at any time the CRA could declare you a personal services business and this could apply retroactively, which is just as dire as it sounds. This could mean a reassessment and a devastating tax bill because of misfiling your taxes for years and claiming the small business Deduction as well as expenses.

For some businesses, this sudden bill could prove crippling, which makes it more important than ever to avoid being declared a personal services business and getting legitimate tax advice. Get more small business tax advice by contacting me. Keeping you in the green, and out of the red is my business.


Common Business Expenses that Can Make or Break Your Business

It is important for businesses both big and small to keep track of their expenses. Even a very small business with only a few employees should understand its financial situation. Ignorance, after all, is not bliss. It’s just expensive.

To help keep track of where money is going to, it can help to map out expenses by category. This will not only help any business plan for the future, but it will also be a big help when it comes to tax time.

While you can’t foresee every single business expense, you can definitely pick out some of the more common ones. These are the biggest expenses, and the costs that reoccur.

Which expenditures am I talking about? Read on to find out.

Location Costs

Businesses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but even the smallest one has location costs. This might include the mortgage or lease on a property, the cost of utilities like electricity, heat, and water, and services like internet, phone, and even property maintenance. These services may be more difficult to record when the business is run out of a home office, but you can calculate a business expense deduction based on the area of the home that is used exclusively for work. Professionals offering bookkeeping services can help entrepreneurs sort these issues out.

Wages, Salaries, & Benefits

A significant portion of a business’s expenses can be the wages, salaries, and benefits of its employees. Because there are different types of employees who may be salaried, or paid by the hour, and eligible for different types of benefits, it can be an intricate puzzle sorting this out. There are business services for entrepreneurs that can be a big help in tracking the complexities of employees wages, salaries, and benefits.

Office Expenses

All businesses need some office supplies. Paper, printer ink, equipment rental, post office expenses, and cleaning supplies are a few of the more common expenses that most businesses will acquire. Depending on your business, there will be other expenses you will need to track that are specific to your industry. If this seems like an overwhelming task, a virtual office assistant can not only help you determine types of expenses but track them as well.

Advertising & Marketing

Marketing your business can make up a significant portion of your business expenses. This might include print or digital advertising, like newspaper, magazine, or online ads, or promotional materials and products. If you attend seminars or trade shows, there will be business expenses to track there. Be sure to consider all aspects of advertising like free samples and even website costs.

Loans, Lines of Credit, & Taxes

Don’t forget to account for loan repayment and maintenance, as well as lines of credit, credit cards, and bank fees. Bookkeeping services can be invaluable help in tracking your expenses in this area. You might also need to consider other fees, like professional associations or trade groups. All of this should be included in your business expenses.

At The End Of The Day

Of course, there will be expenses that you incur that are specific to your industry and instance; however, regardless of your circumstances, it is essential that you track expenses so you can understand the financial health of your business. It also makes tax time much easier. But don’t panic if this seems like an impossible task. Consider the help of professional bookkeeping services or virtual office assistant who offer business services for entrepreneurs. They can not only free up your time so you can focus in on the parts that matter most to you, but they can also help you save money and headache in the long run.

Need help streamlining your business expenses and creating a more robust bottom line? Drop me a line! From administration to bookkeeping, my specialized services for professionals can help.

Should you Use Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Did you know that almost half of small business owners and executives consider bookkeeping and taxes to be the least enjoyable part of running a business?

Despite this dislike, 20% of small business owners still do their bookkeeping by hand, while 46% continue to depend on traditional desktop software, rather than try cloud-based accounting. Some studies have even found that small businesses have been more hesitant to move to cloud-based solutions for accounting than for any other business operation.

It’s true that bookkeeping and accounting can be expensive, complex, time-consuming, and the source of various administrative frustrations. But with the advent of cloud-based accounting software, some of those frustrations could be alleviated.

So, read on to find out whether cloud-based accounting software could make your business more efficient and relieve the burden of bookkeeping from your shoulders.

What is Cloud-Based Accounting Software?

Do you use online banking? Have you ever stored files on Google Drive? If so, you’re already familiar with the cloud. It is a system that allows for the storage of data and software online, instead of on your computer’s hard drive.

The more experience you have with websites and Internet-based software, the less time it will take for you to master the system, especially as many cloud-based accounting solutions are designed to be simple and user-friendly. So, what does cloud-based accounting software do?

Cloud-based accounting software handles your basic bookkeeping and accounting functions. All of the major players in cloud-based accounting software perform the same basic functions: tracking accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, customer and vendor profiles, bank synchronization and reconciliation, bill management, financial reporting, and cash flow snapshots. Many also offer payroll, inventory, quotes, and other services as add-ons, or as part of a package.

Accountants and Software: The Perfect Match

Did you know that ranks accounting/taxes as the #1 task entrepreneurs should outsource to professionals? I couldn’t agree more!
Both business owners and executives agree that accountants are the most important professionals used by small businesses, supplanting attorneys, and bankers.

You might be wondering if accountants are afraid that cloud-based software will replace them. Surely they would see it as a threat? Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Accountants and bookkeepers play a huge role in encouraging small businesses to adopt cloud software. In fact, software companies often market directly to accountants and bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers and accountants tout cloud-based software for so many great reasons. For one, they no longer have to worry about constant software updates/maintenance. Two, it provides business continuity and quick disaster recovery. And three, the biggest benefit often championed by professionals in the field is improved productivity.

By replacing the monotony of data entry and manual reporting with automated solutions and real-time collaboration, bookkeepers and accountants can focus on giving sound business advice to their clients. Cloud-based bookkeeping allows for business owners to have more control and flexibility in their accounting solutions!

Who Are The Major Players?

The most popular cloud-based accounting solutions are Intuit QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Wave. Each option varies in terms of pricing and features, thus some options are appropriate for certain businesses, but not others. This is the reason why ratings for all three tend to be inconsistent, across various reviewers.

Competitors include FreshBooks, which focuses on invoicing and is very popular among freelancers and sole proprietors; Zoho Books, although this software lacks payroll integration; KashFlow, NutCache; and FreeAgent. There are also more advanced and expensive solutions such as Intacct, NetSuite, Financial Force, and Sellsy.

Today, Intuit QuickBooks Online drives 89% of traffic, with Xero and Wave at almost 5% and 4%, respectively. Here at Milky Way VAS, I am a certified QuickBooks Proadvisor, as well as a Xero Certified Proadvisor.

Which Solution is Right For You?

In order to make the proper decision about which cloud-based accounting software is right for your business, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your budget for accounting?
  • How many invoices do you create every month?
  • Does the software need to scale with your business?
  • How many users need to access the system?
  • What reports do you need, and to what degree will customization be required?
  • Do you need payroll services? How many employees do you have?
  • Do you want inventory solutions within your accounting solution?
  • What other software are you already using that you’ll need to integrate with?
  • Do you use a smartphone for business?

As long as you choose an option that suits your business, switching to cloud-based software should make the financial management of your business so much easier.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Access it Anywhere

All you need is an internet connection and a mobile device to access your cloud-based accounting software from anywhere in the world. You can even grant access to multiple employees, meaning team members can quickly and easily complete their work regardless of their physical location. Whether a sales rep needs to add expense receipts, or a project manager needs to check an invoice for a supplier, having cloud-based tools in place makes organizing and accessing important information as easy as taking a picture of a document or searching by vendor, amount, or date.

Added Security

Many people believe that having online-only software is risky, but in fact using cloud-based software actually reduces risk when compared to the average computer-based software program. Why? Well, reputable cloud providers protect your data through the use of passwords and advanced encryption techniques. They also facilitate the dissemination of that data over multiple, highly secured servers. When it comes to PC-based programs, they are more vulnerable to data loss through file corruption and system crashes, and your sensitive information is always at risk whenever it’s stored or transferred externally from one source or physical location to another.

Maintain your Business’ Reputation

As a small business owner, you’re probably very aware of how damaging a software glitch or error can be to your professional credibility. Thus, working in the cloud assuages the downside of service delays and data loss. A host of qualified cloud providers and software developers are always on hand to oversee and resolve any possible issues with their online programs. Not only does this allow you to seamlessly get on with business as usual, but in most cases, it also translates into a significant time and cost savings where program maintenance and repairs are concerned.

The Most Up-to-Date Information is Always at Hand

By using cloud-based accounting software, entries are progressively updated in real time. This means you’ll always be able to retrieve the most up-to-date information available for your business, whether it’s related to payroll, taxes, or cyclical reports. As a small business owner, I’m sure you already see the value in that! Being able to access accurate and timely data is one of the most important factors for making better business decisions.

The Bottom Line

Should you use cloud-based accounting software for your small business? The answer is yes! But if you truly want the most efficient, hassle-free way to handle your small business’ financials, then you’ll not only want proper cloud-based accounting software but also a professional to be in charge of using that software.

At Milky Way VAS, you can rest assured that your business’ books are in the hands of a true professional who actually cares about the success and growth of your business. As a certified QuickBooks Proadvisor and Xero Certified Proadvisor, I make it a point to handle all your bookkeeping needs. From bookkeeping set up, to payroll, to customer invoicing, to tax preparation and filing, your business is sure to benefit from my experience!

I believe in building a relationship with you and your books so that I can understand your business and help advise you about the best choices for your finances. So, if you’re a small business owner in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, don’t hesitate to reach out to Milky Way VAS. I am always happy to answer your questions and figure out all your bookkeeping needs!

Bookkeeping: How and What to Delegate

Did you know a recent study by a U.S. Bank found that 82% of the time, small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management or poor understanding of cash flow? Wow, that’s a really big number!

As a small business owner in a busy urban center like Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, it’s no surprise that you are used to kicking butt all by yourself – handling anything and everything, from creating your sales funnel, to managing your social media. But as your business expands, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the tasks piling up on your to-do list.

If that sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to think about delegating some of those tasks. And you know what the best place to start with is? That’s right, it’s best to start by delegating your bookkeeping!

Why? Because chances are you are a creative, passionate, hardworking solopreneur, but not exactly a stellar numbers person. As we saw from the above survey, having a professional manage your books can mean the difference between a successful business or going bust within five years.

Plus, now that accounting software has moved to the cloud, it’s easier than ever to outsource your bookkeeping without hiring a full-time employee to do so. That means you’ll get the advantage of hiring a professional without paying as much in employee benefits, sick days, etc. Can you say winning?

Entrusting your bookkeeping responsibilities to an external service provider will help ease business-related stress while freeing up time for you to focus on what is most important: growing your business.

Here are five examples of how and what to delegate to an outsourced bookkeeper so that your business can grow and succeed:

1. Weekly/Monthly Transaction Entry

Although this may seem like a simple task, it’s a crucial one! Making a mistake on your sales entries can cost your business, big time. Not to mention that, as the boss of your own business, tedious and recurring tasks are just keeping you bogged down. Free up your precious time by delegating this area to a professional bookkeeper and watch your business grow!

2. Customer Invoicing

Invoices are obviously essential to your business. Without invoicing, you wouldn’t get paid, so it’s extra important to ensure that all your invoices are clear, concise, and accurate. By letting a professional bookkeeper handle customer invoicing, you’ll be able to relax knowing that your invoices are being sent out on time and correctly, as well as being followed up on to ensure prompt payment on time.

3. Payroll

Payroll can get complicated and it’s not something you can afford to make a mistake on if you want to ensure a happy team! Why risk it when you can hire a professional bookkeeper with experience in this area? From timesheet entries, to government remittance forms, to CRA audit support, hiring a professional bookkeeper can really free up your precious time and reduce the logistical stress of having to pay a large team of employees.

4. Reporting

Although reports may seem boring, they’re incredibly important when it comes to painting the bigger financial picture for your business. If you don’t excel in this area, you’ll never be able to harness the true power of accurate reporting. Hire a professional bookkeeper to set up proper reports and handle your year-end reporting. This way, you’ll not only free up your time but you’ll get a second set of eyes to help catch things about your business you may have missed by trying to do it all alone.

5. Taxes

Like they say, there’s only two things that are guaranteed in life – death and taxes. Tax season is going to come, whether you like it or not, so why make it a bigger headache then it has to be? By having a professional bookkeeper keeping track of all your finances, tax time won’t actually be that stressful! Many bookkeepers will handle both federal and provincial filing, and help you with tax preparation. Even if you have an accountant going over the final return, they’re sure to thank you for having a bookkeeper who kept your finances neat and organized all year round!

So now that you know what to delegate to a good bookkeeper, how should you go about finding one?

First, you need to clearly define your bookkeeping needs, then interview on those terms. It’s important to make sure all applicants have experience with your accounting software of choice, or can recommend an accounting software that’s right for your business. Once you have some candidates in mind, check their professional qualifications and memberships, ask for references, and make sure their availability suits your business requirements.

Or instead of going to all of that time-consuming trouble, you can simplify the whole process by hiring Milky Way VAS! Not only do I handle basic bookkeeping tasks, but I got your business covered when it comes to payroll, customer invoicing, financial reports, tax preparation, and even tax filing! I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Advisor who offers professional cloud-based outsourced bookkeeping.

Not only am I results driven and responsible, but I truly care about each and every one of my clients. If you’re successful, it means I’m successful too!

So what are you waiting for? Contact Milky Way VAS today! I am more than happy to answer all your questions and truly get to know your business, in order to provide the best financial advice and support.

What’s the Difference Between an Accountant and a Bookkeeper?

Are you running a small business in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area? If so, you may be looking to outsource some of your administrative work to a bookkeeper or accountant. But do you know which one your company requires more?

When most people think about bookkeeping and accounting, they would be hard-pressed to describe the differences between each role. It’s true that bookkeepers and accountants do share common goals of supporting your business in different stages of the financial cycle. However, bookkeeping is more transactional and administrative, while accounting is more subjective. Bookkeepers are primarily concerned with recording and tracking your financial transactions. Accountants generally offer you business insights based on the bookkeeping information.

Read on to find out the functional differences between accounting and bookkeeping, as well as the differences between the roles of bookkeepers and accountants. With this information, you will be able to make an informed decision about who you need to hire for your small business!

The Role of a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is the process of recording daily transactions in a consistent way that’s crucial to building a financially successful business.

Bookkeeping consists of:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Posting debits and credits
  • Producing invoices
  • Maintaining and balancing subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts
  • Completing payroll

Keeping a general ledger is one of the main parts of bookkeeping. The general ledger is a basic document where a bookkeeper records the amounts from sale and expense receipts. This is known as posting. The more sales that are completed, the more often the ledger is posted. A ledger can be created with specialized software, a computer spreadsheet, or the old-fashioned way – on paper.

When it comes to choosing the type of bookkeeping system you need, it often depends on the size of your business and the number of transactions that are completed daily, weekly, and monthly. All sales and purchases made by your business need to be recorded in the ledger, with certain items needing supporting documents.

Here at Milky Way VAS, I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Advisor. I use these cloud-based programs to offer your business professional outsourced bookkeeping.

The Role of an Accountant

Accounting is a process that takes the financial information organized by a bookkeeper or business owner and uses it to generate financial models. The process of accounting is more subjective than bookkeeping, which is mostly transactional.

Accounting consists of:

  • Preparing adjusting entries (recording expenses that have occurred but aren’t yet recorded in the bookkeeping process)
  • Preparing company financial statements
  • Analyzing costs of operations
  • Completing income tax returns
  • Aiding the business owner in understanding the impact of financial decisions

The process of accounting provides reports that bring crucial financial indicators together. The result is a better understanding of actual profitability and an awareness of cash flow in the business. Accounting turns the information from the ledger into statements that uncover the bigger picture of your business and the path it is on. Business owners will often look to accountants for help with strategic tax planning, financial forecasting, and tax filing.

A Cross-Over in Roles

Since the advent of accounting and bookkeeping software, some parts of the accounting process have simply been absorbed into the bookkeeping process. For instance, here at Milky Way VAS, I don’t just handle the basic bookkeeping. I do it all! From accounts payable, accounts receivable, and bookkeeping set up, to tax filing and tax preparation – when you hire Milky Way VAS, you’re getting a complete, efficient service that doesn’t require multiple people for the job.

But you know what else?

I care about each and every one of my clients.

I believe in building a relationship with you and your books so that I can understand your business and go the extra mile to offer advice about the best choices for your finances. Your success is my success, and I’ll go above and beyond to ensure that you’re making all of the best choices when it comes to your small business in Toronto.

The Bottom Line

Organized financial records and properly balanced finances are the key to any successful business. In fact, 30% of small businesses fail within two years because their expenses far outweigh their profits. When you hire Milky Way VAS, you’re basically saving money because we’ll stay on top of your books to make sure that never happens to your small business.

So, if you were sitting there debating between an accountant or a bookkeeper, why not hire Milky Way VAS and get the best of both worlds? I’ll be happy to handle payroll, customer invoicing, and so much more! Even if you already have an accountant on staff, I’m more than happy to liaison with them.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Milky Way VAS. I am more than happy to answer your questions and build a plan for all your financial needs.

So You’re Looking for the Best Bookkeeper in the GTA?

Are you looking for the best bookkeeper in Toronto or in the Greater Toronto Area?

If you’re running a small business in Toronto or the surrounding area, you’ve probably realized that keeping your books balanced yourself isn’t the best use of your time. In such a busy city, there are just so many things that an entrepreneur should be focused on to achieve business growth, but administrative work isn’t really one of them.

Smart Business Decisions

Bookkeeping is one of the smartest things for a business owner to outsource. In fact, hiring a bookkeeper for your small business could actually save you money. Why? Because making mistakes can really add up. That’s why you’ve probably heard that 30 per cent of small businesses fail within two years; this happens because the expenses of these businesses outweigh their profits. A great Toronto bookkeeper can help you understand your numbers so that you’re on top of your financials and the situation never escalates to that kind of cash crunch.

A great Toronto bookkeeper just makes sense. Unless you’re a stellar numbers person and administrative superstar, invoicing, accounts receivable, balance sheets, and taxes are probably always nagging at the back of your mind, preventing you from focusing on sales, service delivery, and outstanding customer service. A pro will take charge of your books and keep your numbers in tip top order so that you don’t have to worry or stress about what needs to be done; your bookkeeper can keep you abreast of your business’ financial health and take a load off your shoulders.

It’s understandable that taking the leap to outsource your bookkeeping for the very first time can be scary! Relinquishing your finances requires trust—both trust in the individual you hire and their processes.

A great bookkeeper is more than just a human calculator. They’re someone who will join you as a committed extension of your team; a professional who is committed to your success. They won’t just run the numbers, they’ll also get to know your business intimately so that they can help make a positive impact on the growth of your business overall.

Qualities of a Great Bookkeeper

Of course, bookkeepers in Toronto require certain qualifications and skills, but what are the personality traits that you should keep an eye out for when hiring a bookkeeper? Most people can do the work at a basic level—after all, you started out doing it yourself at some point—but the question is, who is going to go the extra mile and do it really well?

Obviously, skills such as professional expertise and tax knowledge are a must, but what makes a bookkeeper go from basic to an integral member of your team?

The best traits to look for in a GTA bookkeeper are:

  • Detail oriented
  • Organized
  • Attention to follow up
  • Ability to provide advice
  • Honesty
  • Ability to prioritize
  • Passion for numbers
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Puts your business first

These traits will make sure that:

  • Statements are verified
  • Stray invoices are investigated
  • Files are kept neat and orderly
  • Payments are constantly followed up
  • Items are allocated to the correct accounts
  • Unusual items are looked into
  • Paper is organized regularly
  • Your bookwork is treated as if it was their own
  • Your cash flow is managed

When you’re scouring the Toronto area for a great bookkeeper, you’ll want to keep these traits and skills in mind because it will save you both time and money. If your bookkeeper accomplishes everything listed above, not only will you save time related to financial management, but you’ll also free up more time to focus on growing your business. With all that time saved, you can see that investing in bookkeeping will actually save you money in the long-term.

Here at Milky Way VAS, I am a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Advisor. I offer professional cloud-based outsourced bookkeeping that encompasses all the skills and qualities that I’ve outlined above—perfect for your small Toronto-based business! Not only can I handle basic bookkeeping, but I also offer payroll services, bookkeeping setup, customer invoicing, and government filing. I provide a complete, efficient service so you won’t need multiple people to do the job.

And you know what else?

I really care about my clients.

I believe in building a relationship with you and your books so that I can understand your business and help advise you about the best choices for your finances. Your success matters to me, and I’ll go out of my way to ensure that you’re making all of the best choices when it comes to your small business in Toronto.

So, if you’ve asked yourself, “do I want a basic bookkeeper or do I want to partner with someone who will really care about my business, becoming an integral part of my team who is dedicated to my success?” then you definitely shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to Milky Way VAS. I am more than happy to answer your questions and ascertain all your bookkeeping needs!

Trust me, once you’ve found a great bookkeeper, you’ll never look back!

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