Retirement planning can be a complex process for us all, but if you are the owner of a small business it may can get even more complicated, due to the various factors and circumstances that you have to take into consideration. A common mistake made by small business owners is reinvesting extra money to grow their business, at the expense of putting it aside to save for their retirement.
Although there is no magic formula for getting started on a retirement strategy for your business, there are some general principles which might help you to get a handle on the steps that you need to take. One of the key ideas is the consideration of both your business and your personal finances and how to structure and integrate the two in order to create a robust retirement financial strategy.
Here are some tips on how to get started on a retirement plan.
- Set aside time to plan for the future – It’s important to make retirement planning a priority, or you run the risk of never getting around to it. A professional financial planner can help you to assess your personal circumstances and create a personalized plan that suits you and your business, with the right balance between saving and reinvestment to help your business to grow.
- Think about your future retirement income – Here are the main sources of retirement income that small business owners usually rely on:
- Equity held in your business – If your business is successful, you are likely to benefit from equity from it in your retirement. Selling your company is an option, particularly attractive to some as, in some cases, you could benefit from the lifetime capital gains exemption on the sale. Of course, finding the right person to run your business in the future is easier said than done. A clear succession plan, created in advance of your retirement, can help you to ensure that business continuity will be affected as little as possible and will give you peace of mind as you approach your retirement. You may also want to consider using the expertise of an accountant or mergers and acquisitions specialist to help you to value your business correctly and also look after your interests when liaising with potential purchasers.
- Alternatively, you may choose for your children to inherit your business, or you may decide to retain ownership of dividend-paying preferred shares in order to maintain an ongoing source of income.
- Registered plans – A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) can offer personal tax deductions on your contributions, plus your savings will grow as tax-deferred whilst in the plan. In addition, tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) can be a useful way to save tax-free in particular circumstances.
- Consider offering a retirement savings plan to your employees – Paying your statutory contribution of the Canada Pension Plan is just the minimum – many small businesses choose to offer their employees enhanced pension contributions as an incentive or employee benefit. For example, you could match their RRSP contributions to a set limit, to help their retirement nest grow more quickly. Alternatively, you could offer a benefit plan with an investment contribution package from an insurance company, which can be a more straightforward and cost-effective choice.
- Be sure to diversify – As a small business owner, you should avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket, financially speaking, as this could leave you vulnerable to changes in the market. Try to diversify your investments and spread your funds in order to protect yourself and engage the help of a professional where necessary to help you to do so.
In summary, it’s important to remember that retirement planning is a process which is unique and personal to your own and your business’ circumstances and there is no uniform approach which works across the board. Take time to take stock of your current situation, as well as your goals for the future and this will help you to create a retirement plan that is right for your needs, both current and future.
Working with a professional to help you to make sense of your finances can be a wise move, but for this relationship to work effectively it is important that you understand what to expect from your financial advisor.
What can your financial advisor help you with?
- Defining your financial goals and creating a step by step plan or strategy to achieve them.
- Planning for the future, including for retirement, future education or housing needs.
- Choosing the mix of investments and assets that suit your goals, lifestyle, time horizon and appetite for risk.
- Building a solid estate for your family to inherit in the future.
- Choosing the most tax-efficient methods of saving and investing.
What should your financial advisor inform you of?
- The range of services that they offer and how much and by which method you will compensate them.
- Your mutual responsibilities and obligations towards each other.
- What the planning process will look like and the documents that they will provide you with.
What will your financial advisor need from you or need to ask you about?
- What your financial goals are.
- What your personal circumstances – such as your marital status, any dependents, your job, earnings and tax situation.
- Any investments or assets that you currently have – such as registered accounts, workplace pensions, property etc.
- Your appetite for risk and investment preferences.
- Information on your income and also your outgoings, including debts such as mortgages, loans or credit cards.
- Whether or not you have a will, and its contents.
- Your estate and inheritance planning situation.
If you’re looking to achieve your financial goals, talk to us. We can help.
It’s that time of year again, when many of us sit down to complete our income tax return and hope that we have done enough preparation to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Unfortunately, there are a number of complexities that can cause us problems – here are a few of the most common issues experienced by individuals when submitting their tax returns:
Expenses relating to medical expenses such as prescriptions, dentures and many more can be claimed for a non-refundable tax credit. You should also be aware that you can claim for yourself, your spouse or common law partner and any dependent children under the age of 18. You can also claim for certain other individuals whom you can clearly evidence are dependent on you (and the list of such individuals has recently been widened and can include grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews).
You can claim tax credits for qualifying charitable donations that you made in 2017, though they are subject to an annual limit at 75% of your net income. You may also be eligible for a provisional donation tax credit. To receive such credits, you must supply a charitable donation receipt as evidence of your donation.
What’s more, there is a new formula for calculating the federal tax credit, depending on the value of donations. This is as follows:
1. 15% of the first $200 of donations
2. 33% of donations equal to the lesser of the amount of taxable income over $202,800 or the amount of donations over $200
3. 29% of total donations not included in the two stages above.
Public Transit Pass
Although this credit ended in the 2017 federal budget, it can still be claimed for the time period of January 1 – June 30, 2017. There are a range of eligible passes, including passes allowing unlimited travel within Canada, short term passes allowing unlimited travel for five days of which at least 20 days’ worth are purchased during a 28 day period and electronic payment cards.
Interest Expense and carrying charges
Interest on money borrowed to earn business or investment income is generally deductible, however interest expenses incurred on money borrowed to generate a capital gain is not tax deductible.
Carry forward information
Take note of the notice of assessment from your previous year’s tax return as it will contain important information that will apply to the submission of your current year’s return, such as your RRSP contribution limit and any carry-forward amounts.
Remember that you may be required to submit receipts alongside your electronic return at a later date, as requested by the CRA.
Child care expenses
Child care expenses include payments made to caregivers, nursery schools, day care centres and camps and other similar institutions. The deduction is usually best claimed by the lower earning spouse.
The deduction is the lesser of the following three:
· the total qualifying child care expenses which have been incurred
· $8,000 for each child under the age of 7, as well as $5,000 for each child between 6 and 16 and $11,000 for each child for whom the taxpayer has claimed the disability tax credit.
· two thirds of the income earned by the individual making the claim.
If you owe money when your income tax return is complete, the only way to delay payment is to delay the filing until the April 30th deadline. Alternatively, if CRA owes you money, then file as early as possible.
If you are seeking ways to save in the most tax-efficient manner available, TFSAs and RRSPs can both be effective options for you to achieve your savings goals more quickly. However, each plan does have distinct differences and advantages / disadvantages. Let’s take a look at their key features:
- While a TFSA can be used for any type of savings, an RRSP is used exclusively for retirement savings.
- You can enjoy tax free withdrawals from your TFSA due to the fact that you make your contributions after you have paid tax, whereas the opposite is true for withdrawals from your RRSP (except in the case of lifelong learning plan and home buyers’ plan)
- TFSA contributions aren’t tax deductible whereas RRSP contributions are i.e. with an RRSP, you can deduct the contributions that you make from your income when you file your tax return.
- It is required that you use earned income to contribute towards your RRSP but this is not the case for your TFSA.
- You can continue to contribute towards your TFSA for as long as you like, whereas you must close your RRSP and stop contributing towards it when you turn 71 and purchase an annuity or convert it to a RRIF with the savings that you have made within the plan.
- You are able to specify your spouse as your beneficiary with both your TFSA and your RRSP, however there is a key difference with how your savings are treated upon your spouse’s death. With an RRSP, there will be taxes payable upon the monies left in the plan by your children who inherit it, whereas with a TFSA, tax is only paid on the increase in the value of the plan since the date of death in the year that it is inherited by your children. What’s more, no tax is payable if the value that they receive is less than the value of the TFSA at the time of death.
In summary, your individual circumstances will dictate which plan is the most appropriate for you, depending on your tax position and withdrawal intentions. The primary difference between both plans is the timing of the taxes payable i.e. if you want to defer the payment of your taxes, particularly if your marginal tax rate will be lower in retirement, an RRSP may be more beneficial for you. Alternatively, if your marginal tax rate will be higher when you plan to make withdrawals, a TFSA may suit you better.