Business Owners

Business owners are increasingly recognizing the key importance of implementing employee benefit plans in their organization

Business owners are increasingly recognizing the key importance of implementing employee benefit plans in their organization and this is an area that has grown considerably in recent decades. Employee benefits comprise all of the additional things that you offer to your employees on top of their regular salary, which could include pension contributions, health cover / insurance policies, training and education programs etc. Employees are more and more interested in the total benefits package that a potential employer can offer them, rather than just being focused on a binary salary figure and recognizing and understanding this cultural shift in the modern working world is crucial to maintain your ability to recruit and retain the right talent for your business.

Many employees value the benefits that their employer offers, considering them an integral part of their take home pay, none more so than health cover. This benefit can provide financial and emotional security to your employees and their families, without the need for them to complete any health requirements to be on the plan. They are likely to benefit from a preferable level of cover and the plan may even provide them with insurance products such as long-term disability cover, which can be harder to gain outside of a group plan. What’s more, group plans often offer out-of-country emergency healthcare for employees which has the potential to save them money on personal travel insurance products.

Not only do these benefits provide a sense of security to your employees, they can also help them to feel valued as part of your organization, which may in turn foster higher morale and increased motivation within their roles. It is therefore worthwhile for business owners to encourage their teams to recognize the fact that the benefits package that you offer should be considered as an integral part of their take home pay, alongside their actual salary.

Talk to us, we can help.

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It has certainly been a busy week in terms of announcements regarding financial policies for small businesses. Following the series of proposed tax reforms that the government announced back in July, various tweaks and changes have subsequently been made, owing, perhaps in part, to confusion and frustration expressed among the small business community. We have provided a brief summary of the changes in this article and infographic.

It has certainly been a busy week in terms of announcements regarding financial policies for small businesses. Following the series of proposed tax reforms that the government announced back in July, various tweaks and changes have subsequently been made, owing, perhaps in part, to confusion and frustration expressed among the small business community. This week Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has made further clarifications and adjustments to his original set of proposals, aiming to bring more of a sense of balance to the plans. Like all policy changes, the detail can be a little overwhelming, so here is a summary of the key points for your reference: 

  • The government intends to honor a commitment made prior to the election, to reduce the small business tax rate from 10.5% to 9% by the year 2019. 
  • Morneau confirmed that the government has scrapped the proposal to limit access to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption. 
  • The plans announced earlier in the year to reduce the value of passive investments made by corporations will continue in principle, but with few key changes. There will be a threshold of $50,000 of income per year, which will be excluded from the newly set higher rate of tax. 
  • The government has agreed to “simplify” the rules related to the new plans, to prevent income splitting for family members, who are not active in a business, but the plan will still move ahead in principle. 
  • Morneau has confirmed that the government will still provide good entrepreneurial incentives for venture capitalists and angel investors. The criteria for which still needs to be established. 
  • The proposed rules to limit the conversion of income to capital gains have been abandoned due to the concerns that many related to intergenerational transfers and insurance policies were held inside corporations. 

Of course, this is one area of government policy which is not only constantly changing, but particularly controversial in the current climate, so keep yourself updated regularly on new announcements and news, to ensure your understanding in this area and its potential impact on your family and business. If you have any questions, please talk to us. 

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Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities.

Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities. As a starting point, ask yourself these seven key questions and, if you answer “no” to any of them, it may highlight an area that you need to take remedial action towards.

  • Have you made a contingency plan for what will happen to your business if you are incapacitated or die unexpectedly?
  • Have you and any co-owners of your business made a buy-sell agreement?
  • If so, is the buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance?
  • If you have decided that a family member will inherit your business when you die, have you provided other family members with assets of an equal value?
  • Have you appointed a successor to your business?
  • Are you making the most of the lifetime capital gains exemption ($835,714 in 2017) on your shares of the business, if you are a qualified small business?
  • Are you taking care to minimize any possible tax liability that may be payable by your estate in the event of your death?

Estate freezes

The process of freezing the value of your business at a particular date is an increasingly common way of protecting your estate from a large capital gains tax bill if your business increases in value. To achieve this, usually the shares in the business that have the highest growth potential are redistributed to others, often your children, meaning that they will be liable for the tax on any increase in their value in the future. In exchange, you will receive new shares allowing you to maintain control of the business with a key difference – the value of the shares is frozen so that your tax liability is lower and that of your estate when you die will also be reduced.

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You most likely do, but the more important question is, ‘What kind?’ Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities.

You most likely do, but the more important question is, ‘What kind?’ Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs.  This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it.

Permanent or Term?

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy.

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits. Term life insurance is right for you if you are:

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.
  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.
  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.
  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.
  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments.
  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option.

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs.  You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you:

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.
  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.
  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.
  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.
  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs. A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free.

Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind.

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Working as a partnership between 2 or more individuals is never an easy task, and the situation only gets more complicated when one or more of them exits the business. Protecting not only the business, but your personal interests, as well as your family’s future are very important objectives for any business owner, and should not be overlooked.

Starting a new business venture can be both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. The hopes and dreams of success, financial freedom and being your own boss are accompanied by many uncertainties and risks. To add to some of the anxiety, comes the facts: about half of all new businesses will not be around within the next 5, and only about one third will survive 10+ years. The situation often becomes more complex when there are multiple owners and the future success of a business is at risk if proper planning is not done. The unexpected ‘exit’ of a partner due to death, disability, illness, retirement or just simply that ‘it’s not working out’ can create a very difficult situation for the remaining business owner(s) and the business itself. Many businesses operate under a ‘handshake’ sort of agreement, but those rarely are upheld when the situation starts to get challenging. In order to protect against all of these pitfalls, it is always advised to have the right structure in place to address any potential challenges that may arise. This is done through incorporating a Buy-Sell Agreement between the owners.

What is a Buy‐Sell Agreement?

A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding contract designed to establish a set of rules or actions for the remaining business owner(s) to carry on the business, in the event one of them is no longer involved in the business – this can be due to death, illness, injury, retirement or a simple desire to ‘get out’. In other words, this document dictates how the remaining owner(s) will interact with each other and how the business will operate when certain situations occur. This agreement creates certainty and a ‘game plan’ in case one or more of the partners are no longer able or willing to commit to the business.

Types of Buy‐Sell Agreements

Buy-sell agreements are generally structured as a cross purchase agreement, promissory note agreement, or a share redemption agreement.With a cross-purchase agreement, each shareholder within the agreement agrees to purchase a specified percentage of the shares owned by the departing shareholder, and if it’s due to death, the deceased shareholder’s estate is obligated to sell the shares to the remaining shareholder(s). A shareholder will generally purchase insurance on the life of the other shareholder(s) and on death, will use the proceeds from the insurance to buy out the remaining shares from the deceased shareholder’s estate.With a promissory note agreement, corporate owned life insurance is placed on the life of each shareholder, with the corporation named as the payor and beneficiary. In the event that a shareholder dies, the surviving shareholder(s) purchases the deceased’s shares from their estate using a promissory note. Once the remaining shareholder(s) owns the deceased shareholder’s shares, the company collects the death benefit on the insurance policy with the excess amount above the adjusted cost basis of the policy in the capital dividend account. The company then provides the surviving shareholder(s) a capital dividend which provides the remaining shareholder(s) the necessary funds to pay off the promissory note.Under the share redemption arrangement corporate owned life insurance is placed on the life of each shareholder with the corporation named as the payor and beneficiary. In the event that a shareholder dies, the company collects the insurance proceeds and places the excess amount above the adjusted cost basis of the policy in the capital dividend account. The company uses the proceeds in the capital dividend account to redeem the shares held by the deceased shareholder’s estate. Once that is done, the remaining shareholder(s) takes over the ownership of those purchased shares.Each structure has their advantages and disadvantages and should be reviewed with a legal professional, tax professional as well as a knowledgeable Financial Advisor.

Why the business needs a buy‐sell agreement

A buy-sell agreement is a crucial component of a business that should be incorporated to protect the shareholders as well as the business itself. It is designed to ensure important things are taken care of if someone leaves the business for whatever reason, so that the business can continue to grow and run successfully. A buy-sell agreement offers several key benefits to your business:·        It maintains the continuity of your business by ensuring members get to decide what happens to the business before any problems arise.·        It protects company ownership by laying out a succession plan for departing members. This keeps remaining shareholders from being burdened by untested and unproven successors (like the widow or children of the departing co-owner).·        It minimizes dispute between remaining co-owners and the family of the departing owner by having a strategy in place ahead of time to govern business operations.·        It alleviates co-owner stress and uncertainty by specifically identifying which events would trigger a buyout.·        It protects business assets and liquidity by providing a financial (and tax) plan for each of the different triggers addressed in the agreement.·        It protects the interest of, not just the business entity itself, but also that of the business owners to ensure members (and their families, in the event of death or disability) are handled with respect, courtesy and the utmost fairness.

What to include in the buy‐sell agreement

Since a buy-sell agreement is a legally binding document, it generally should be drafted with a knowledgeable and experienced Legal Professional. Most agreements are started through a generic template, but then are customized for the needs of each business/partner and can be a fairly thorough and comprehensive document. There are several different components of a buy-sell agreement and several different aspects need to be addressed, such as the valuation of the company, ownership interests, buy-out clauses, and terms of payment. The agreement should generally be drafted at the very start of the business, so as to avoid any issues or misunderstandings later on. The agreement will also address certain ‘triggering events’, which are listed below.

Disagreement: Conflict between owners of a business in regards to the direction or management of the business can sometimes occur, and can even push the most successful business off-course. In a situation where no agreement or mediation can be reached, it may make sense to allow for one or more of the partners to be bought out. This would allow the business to continue moving forward and is often referred to as a ‘shot-gun clause’. Sometimes a situation where one owner offers to buy-out the other would also offer to be bought-out for the same value, thus ensuring fair treatment and value of the shares.

Divorce: An owner who is in the midst of a divorce may be bought-out by other partners, to protect the company ownership. A divorce settlement will generally depend on the partner’s share of the business. It’s not uncommon for a family law judge to order a business owner to split his or her interest in a company with the former spouse. To protect the business from this event, a clause should require the shares held by the former spouse of a partner to be acquired by the company or one of the other owners.

Retirement: The value of the business comprises a significant component for the retirement of many business owners. Allowing the remaining partners to reclaim the interest in the business keeps the business intact and provides the retiring partner with a market to liquidate their ownership, thus providing the retiring partner with a cash infusion to enjoy their retirement. There may also be some distinction in the agreement between early retirement and regular retirement and how the shares of the departing owner are to be valued.

Bankruptcy: Borrowing money to expand or grow the company, or to purchase equipment or goods, is common for many companies. However, lending institutions often require personal guarantees from the owners/shareholders of the business. Having one or more owners that are not able to provide this guarantee can lead to higher fees and impact the overall financial well-being and growth of the business. Therefore, a provision should be considered to allow the other shareholders the opportunity to acquire shares of the defaulting shareholder(s).

Disability: An owner who has become disabled and unable to perform their duties can impact the overall well-being of the business. The agreement should address several situations and questions, such as whether the partner will continue to receive a salary, and for how long, or whether they will continue in the day-to-day management of the company.The buy-sell agreement also needs to clearly define what is considered a disability and should include a timeline for which the disabled partner would be given the opportunity to return. Often the business will purchase disability buy-sell insurance and link the definitions to the plan. This has the added benefit of providing an independent third party to determine when the criteria for the buy-out are satisfied.

Death: The death of a partner is an unfortunate and difficult situation for both the family and business partners alike. To deal with the stress of continuing the business, establishing the rules of business continuity upon death provides peace of mind to both the surviving partners and the family of the deceased. The surviving partners benefit from the assurance of not having to deal with an unwanted partner and the family is assured that they will be treated fairly.Generally, all partners/co-owners will be covered by a ‘key person’ life insurance policy, which can be paid by either the company or the other partners, where the death benefit would be used to buy out the deceased owner’s shares (as mentioned above).

Funding the buy‐sell agreementWithout sufficient resources to fund a potential buy-out, the agreement itself can fall apart. The partners need to decide where the money will come from to complete the buy-out – whether it will be the responsibility of individual owners or from the company itself. While not all events can be protected, two can: the death and disability of a shareholder. By using an insurance policy, funds can be made available at the time they are needed, thus minimizing potential liquidity issues, protecting the business and the impacted shareholders, as well as the family of the deceased shareholder. Using insurance provides the protection needed at a fraction of the cost to the alternatives and can provide immediate capital and significant tax benefits.

Working as a partnership between 2 or more individuals is never an easy task, and the situation only gets more complicated when one or more of them exits the business. Protecting not only the business, but your personal interests, as well as your family’s future are very important objectives for any business owner, and should not be overlooked. Although no business can be certain of success, there are strategies and structures that can help protect the business from failure in the future. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced Financial Advisor, Legal Professional and Tax Professional, you can be assured that you can have the proper Buy-Sell Agreement in place so that all parties involved benefit.

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For most of the people, a watertight estate planning means finding the best ways to equip themselves for contingencies, reduce the tax liability for their estate, and signing up for investment plans to ensure that their money continues to earn money for them.

 These 4 reasons will compel you to revisit your estate planning 

For most of the people, a watertight estate planning means finding the best ways to equip themselves for contingencies, reduce the tax liability for their estate, and signing up for investment plans to ensure that their money continues to earn money for them. Undeniably, the components mentioned above underlie at the core of estate planning. However, there are a couple of crucial aspects at the periphery; which, when addressed effectively will provide a layer of protection to your estate planning. Unfortunately, most of the times they either get ignored or else are dealt rather inefficiently.  
 

Here are the four key components that will fortify your estate planning: 

Make a Will 

You never know what tomorrow has in store for you. Therefore, irrespective of your age get a will done first thing first. A survey done by CIBC last year revealed that almost 50% of Canadians do not have a will. It’s a fact that shouts out widespread ignorance prevailing in the arena of estate planning concerning the significance of making a will. Another prominent rationale behind creating a will is that if the deceased one leaves no will behind him/her, the government becomes the ultimate authority to decide how the execution of the estate will take place. In such a scenario, the chances are that your assets never reaches your loved ones for whom you had created it and may go to the wrong people indeed. Creating a will is one of the most emotional decisions of your life. However, they come out best when approached pragmatically. Take some time out of your busy schedule to safeguard the interest of your people. 

Reassess your estate plan when encountered with a sudden life event 

Life is a zigzag graph and never a straight line. Major occurrences might just come across you path in the most unexpected ways and at the most unanticipated times. It could be marriage or divorce. It could be the second marriage. Or else, it could be a sudden financial upheaval or abrupt gains. In such a situation, never forget to reassess your estate plan and make the necessary adjustments that suit your existing situation best. Otherwise also, doing a periodic reassessment of your estate plan keeps you future-ready.

Share your estate plan 

Talk about your estate plan to your loved ones. Share the details of your estate planning with your family. Agreed that managing expectations of one and all and gratifying every member’s desire is a task, which is so hard to accomplish that it never happens. Still, let your kin sneak a peek into your estate planning. You can always reason with your family about your decision and your motive behind it. Besides, they also get a chance to present their opinion to you about your verdict when you are still alive and eating dinner with them.

While planning your estate rather choose your heart than the brains 

However, in your quest to create a mastermind estate plan, do not lose your focus. So many times just to save on paying taxes; you may end up taking decisions that may make you regret later. Let your heart rule when it comes to matters of succession and transfer of your estate. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a review of your estate plan.
 

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One of the financial planning issues that business owners face is how to access their corporate earnings in a tax efficient way. Talk to us to see how we can help you.

One of the financial planning issues that business owners face is how to access their corporate earnings in a tax efficient way.

There are 5 standard methods:

  1. Salary
  2. Dividend
  3. Shareholder Loans
  4. Transfer Personal Assets
  5. Income Splitting

 
There are also unique ways utilizing life insurance and critical illness insurance to access your retained earnings. Please contact us to learn how we can get more money in your pocket than in the government’s.

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered the government’s 2017 federal budget on March 22, 2017. The budget expects a deficit of $23 billion for fiscal 2016-2017 and forecasts a deficit of $28.5 billion for 2017-2018. Learn what the budget means for small business owners

Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered the government’s 2017 federal budget on March 22, 2017. The budget expects a deficit of $23 billion for fiscal 2016-2017 and forecasts a deficit of $28.5 billion for 2017-2018. Find out what this means for businesses.

Small Business

  • No changes to income tax rates
  • No changes to capital gains inclusion rate

Tax Planning using private companies

While no specific measures are mentioned, the government will review the use of tax planning strategies involving private corporations “that inappropriately reduce personal taxes of high-income earners.” including:

  • Income Splitting: Reducing taxes by income splitting with family members who are subject to lower personal tax rates.
  • Regular income to Capital Gains: Converting income to capital gains (instead of income being taxed as dividends)
  • Passive income inside Corporation: Since corporate income tax rates are generally lower than personal tax rates, this strategy can facilitate the accumulation of earnings by owners of private corporations.

For Professionals

The government eliminated a tax deferral opportunity for certain professionals. Accountants, dentists, lawyers, medical doctors, veterinarians and chiropractors will no longer be able to elect to exclude the value of work in progress in computing their income. This will be phased-in over two taxation years, starting with taxation years that begin after this budget.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions

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Working at an organization that offers a pension plan is one of the greatest financial advantages a Canadian can enjoy. Pension plans are designed to provide retirement income and help employees reach their retirement goals and for business owners- help retain key employees. Talk to us for a complimentary review.

Working at an organization that offers a pension plan is one of the greatest financial advantages a Canadian can enjoy. Pension plans are designed to provide retirement income and help employees reach their retirement goals and for business owners- help retain key employees.

Pension plans can offer:

  • Employer contributions
  • Forced retirement savings for employee

There are 2 main types of pension plan:

  • Defined Benefit Plan
  • Defined Contribution Plan

Defined Benefit Plan

  • Retirement income is guaranteed, contributions are not.
  • The pension amount is based on a formula that includes the employee’s earnings and years of service with the employer
  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer
  • The employer is responsible for investing the contributions to ensure there’s enough money to pay the future pensions for all plan members.
  • If there’s a shortfall, the employer pays the difference.

Defined Contribution Plan

  • Contributions are guaranteed, retirement income is not.
  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer.
  • The employee is responsible for investing all contributions.
  • The amount available in retirement depends on how the investment performs including total contributions.
  • At retirement, the money in the account can be used to generate retirement income through purchasing an annuity or transferring the amount to a locked-in retirement income fund.

In summary, a defined benefits plan guarantees you a retirement income and a defined contribution plan guarantees contributions but not retirement income.

Talk to us, we can help.

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