Monday, 24 December 2012

Small Businesses Can Be Subject to a Wage Garnishment From The CRA Too…But How?

Starting a successful small business takes hard work and perseverance. Unfortunately, small business owners are one of the largest groups that find themselves with tax problems.
One of the main reasons why small business owners commonly run into trouble with the CRA is because it is tough starting a business and generally in the first couple of years small businesses are not really profitable. In many cases, small business owners don’t pay for bookkeepers and simply collect their receipts all year long. Then, at the end of the year, these owners go to an accountant with what records they have or attempt to do the returns on their own.

This can result in incorrectly declared expenses and income that can end up costing the small business owner dearly in a re-assessment or audit.

Other times, small business owners misunderstand filing requirements and fall behind filing returns. In some extreme cases, small business owners do not set aside their H.S.T. and then find that it is impossible to pay it when tax time comes.

When things reach a breaking point and the CRA begins pursuing the small business owner to collect the tax debt, there are many collection methods - similar to when they collect from a consumer. Just as they can freeze a business bank account, they can also freeze a business owner’s bank account. Typically, when an individual has a tax debt and is employed, the CRA will send a wage garnishment to the employer directing the employer to forward a percentage of the individual’s earnings to the CRA. When a small business owes money to the CRA the CRA can send a notice to the business’s clients, directing them to forward the proceeds of all invoices to the CRA.

With an individual, HR departments are generally used to receiving wage garnishment notices from the CRA. For small business owners however, this can have a lethal impact on a business and a business owner’s reputation, as many clients and companies may not want to deal with a supplier who has a tax problem.

A small business owner who has a tax problem must act quickly to avoid the consequences of CRA collection/enforcement action. Tax problems are usually financial problems, requiring a financial solution. At the end of the day, tax debt is debt like any other debt, only the CRA has greater collection powers than regular creditors which creates a major sense of urgency.

If you are a small business owner with a tax problem you definitely want to come up with a plan before you face the embarrassment of having your clients notified that you have a CRA debt and are facing a possible 100% garnishment of your receivables, which can cause irreparable financial hardship. If the worst has already come true and your receivables are already being garnished you still may be able to stop it.

Working with a good financial consultant who routinely works with individuals and small businesses who have problems with the CRA is your first step towards a meaningful solution to your tax problem. 

For more information about how to avoid or stop a garnishment of your receivables please contact DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit

Monday, 17 December 2012

Late Filing of Income Tax Returns – How Late is Too Late?

With tax time right around the corner, some folks are already getting their receipts in order. Others however are not so concerned with filing their taxes on time because they are already late filing for previous years. If you find yourself in the latter group, you may want to think about changing your tax filing strategy.  

Latefiling of income tax returns is a slippery slope, often with a snow ball effect. Unfortunately, those hardest hit with income tax problems are small business owners. This is for a few primary reasons:

1.       The owner doesn’t have the “know how” when starting out to keep solid records and when tax time comes he is lost.

2.       The owner doesn’t have the money when starting out to hire an accountant and instead tries to do the taxes himself and makes mistakes or gives up because he finds it too challenging.

3.       The owner spends trust monies, such as H.S.T., and doesn’t want to file because they will have to repay the money.

4.       The owner knows that there will be money owed but has no way to pay it. 

Here is the problem. It is not against the law to owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency. It is illegal to not file your tax returns. Like most problems, a tax problem with not go away by itself and will continue to grow over time. 

You see, the most common penalty that the Canada Revenue Agency uses to penalize a later filer is a financial penalty. First, when you file your tax returns late you will be subject to a penalty. This penalty will grow each time you repeat the offence. For example, if the first year you filed late was in 2009, the second year you filed late was 2010 and the third year you filed late was 2011 you would be assessed a late filing penalty in 2009, it would then be greater in 2010 and greater again in 2011. In addition, interest will continue to accumulate on the debt. 

Many individuals think that if they don’t file it will buy them more time to come up with a plan to pay the tax debt. This doesn’t work. Eventually, over time, employers file tax slips, your clients will file T4A income slips or declare the income paid to you as expenses and the CRA will be in a position to estimate your income. It is very common for the CRA to perform what’s called a “notional assessment,” which is essentially an estimate of what they believe you earned and the corresponding tax debt, interest and penalties that you should owe. 

Once this occurs the CRA will proceed with collection action against you, which could include a wage garnishment, freezing your bank account, contacting your clients, and more… 

If you have a tax problem, what you need is a financial plan. Your first step is to work with a financial consultant who specializes in tax debt to help you determine if in fact there is any way that you can reasonably pay your tax debt once your returns are filed. If the answer is one of the following: a) yes, in instalments; b) yes, if the interest was frozen; c) yes, if the amount of the debt was reduced; or c) no, I simply can’t, then believe it or not there are financial solutions to help you deal with your tax problem, avoiding the stress and embarrassment of having the CRA come after you. You have to make the decision to take the first step towards facing your past due returns and the tax debt you will owe if you want to have an opportunity to put your past due taxes behind you. 

For more information about what to do if your tax returns are past due or how to deal with a tax debt please contact DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit

Monday, 10 December 2012

Stopping Collection Action before the Holidays

The holidays should be a time for joy and family, not a time to be stressed out about your finances and trying to deal with bill collectors. Bill collectors are employees of collection agencies, and it doesn’t matter to them what time of the year it is. If a bill collector has been hired to collect a debt he or she will proceed with collection action.

When bill collectors begin collection action you may feel powerless to stop it. Stopping collection action is difficult, and before you can do it you have to educate yourself about what types of collection action are legal. You also need to have a plan to deal with the debt. This way, when you begin taking steps towards stopping collection action, you have something to propose to your creditors to satisfy them so that you can enjoy your holiday without worrying about your debt.

Generally speaking, the number one tactic that collection agencies deploy is communication. They will communicate with you by phone and by mail. The agency may call you several times per/day, in the evenings and on the weekends. For those of you who live or work with others who don’t know about your debt, this can be very embarrassing.

Some collection agencies have paralegals on staff and have the ability to sue you. In this case, stopping collection action can become even more difficult because the court is involved. With that being said, it is possible to stop collection action being taken against you, even if the collection agency has sued you on behalf of your creditor.

Certain communication from collection agencies is acceptable, while other forms of communication are not. Excessive phone calls, leaving personal information on voicemail or threats are all tactics collection agencies are not allowed to use when collecting a debt. Collection agencies in Ontario are regulated by the Ministry of Consumer Services. On the Ministry of Consumer Services website you can learn about your rights and even lodge a complaint if you believe that a collection agency has violated them.

Now, if you have debt that has gone to collections you cannot ignore it. While you may be able to stop some collection actions, the debt will not simply go away. Owing that money is not the only thing to think about, as collection action can have long-term implications on you and your family. You need to have good credit these days because everyone checks credit. Having bad credit and debt can impact your ability to get a job, buy a home and even open a utility account or bank account.

There are programs available which are effective at stopping collection action, even if the collection has a judgement against you or plans to or is garnishing your wages. These programs can also help you get rid of your debt and rebuild your credit. This is why it is so important not to ignore your debt over the holidays and look for ways to deal with it once and for all.

By working with a good financial consultant, you can have your credit and finances reviewed to see what options are available to you and you may find that you can start the New Year collection free.

For more information about stopping collection action and how to deal with your debt please contact DebtCare by visiting or call 416-907-2582.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Post-Holiday Debt Consolidation… Bah Humbug!

This holiday season is forecasted to be a big one in the area of personal spending. This trend has been gradually increasing over the last few years, especially in the area of e-commerce spending, and retailers are gearing up for the boom.

Over the holiday season, so many families find themselves using their credit cards to make ends meet. The holiday is a special time with the family and the last things people want to think about during that time are mounting credit card bills or debt consolidation.

The challenge and reality is that credit cards are the most expensive way to shop for the holidays and ignoring your finances through the holiday season can have devastating long-term impacts. With some planning and guidance you can navigate the holiday season with less debt and with a financial plan moving into 2013.

If you have credit cards, then by now you likely know how expensive they can get. You may still be carrying debt left over from last year’s holiday season. The interest is what makes credit cards so expensive. Because minimum required monthly payments are set so low on credit cards, and because the interest compounds monthly (12 times per year), once a credit card debt accumulates it becomes very difficult to pay off. Even low rate lines of credit are difficult to pay off, not just because of the interest rate but because of the way the interest compounds.

For example, if you owe $3000 on your credit card and your interest rate is 17%, that means your monthly interest is $42.00. This will mean that you will have to make significantly more than your minimum payment to pay your balance down. If you accumulated the debt thinking that the minimum payments on your credit card were manageable, chances are you have realized that this is not the case. In reality, it can take years to pay off a debt, even one as small as $3000, by just making the minimum monthly payments. Once the interest begins accumulating, it will begin to consume most of your minimum monthly payment.

Some people find themselves in so much credit card debt that even managing the minimum monthly payments becomes challenging. No one finds themselves in this situation intentionally and it usually happens over a period of time. Paying them outright is often impossible, as things always come up, such as car repairs, children's back to school costs, and of course – at the most expensive time of year – all of that holiday spending.

A debt consolidation can be a vital part of a strong holiday financial plan. By consolidating your debt into a single monthly payment you won't have to pay all of your credit card bills over the holiday season, thus freeing up some much needed cash flow for holiday shopping. Because a debt consolidation involves consolidating your debt into a single monthly payment, you will sail through the holidays without bills from creditors and will be able start the New Year with one, low, single monthly payment.

Choosing the right type of debt consolidation is very important. Some debt consolidations bear interest or are over long terms, whereas others can freeze the interest you owe on your debts. The right debt consolidation solution for you will largely depend on your own personal financial circumstances.

For more information on holiday debt consolidation and to see if you qualify please contact DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit