Is there a relationship between common sense and taxes?
Each year when it comes time to prepare my return, I realize how little I think about my tax situation during the rest of the year. I seem to lack any sort of common sense when it comes to dealing with my taxes. Do you have any general advice for people like me trying to "do the right thing" in any tax situation that may arise during the year?
Unfortunately, you're not alone in your "seasonal" approach to considering your tax situation. Many people have a once-a-year relationship with their tax professional, which can result in the improper handling of important tax documents and sometimes-costly financial decisions. When it comes to handling your tax situation during the year, you will find that a little common sense will go a long way.
Here are some general common sense tips to handling all things tax-related pre- tax season and during the "off-season":
Don't assume all your tax paperwork is correct.
Check all your tax slips you receive for accuracy. Many tax slips are prepared by data processing companies that merely process your tax information as raw data. Mistakes have been known to occur. Although your employer or financial institution should be checking these forms for accuracy, it's a good idea to double-check these forms against payroll stubs and monthly statements from the payer.If you find a discrepancy, notify your employer as soon as possible to the error corrected and reported to the appropriate taxing authorities.
Gather possible ALL relevant tax documents for your tax preparation.
Don't avoid taking legitimate deductions out of fear of "raising red flags" that may cause your return to be audited. Filing a complete and accurate return is required and is your best defense against an audit.
Don't make decisions solely on potential "tax breaks".
All good investment or business decisions should be able to stand on their own before tax breaks are considered. A change in the tax law can be disastrous (and costly) when you are stuck in an affected investment (can you say "abusive tax shelter"?).
Seek planning advice from a tax professional.
Probably the best investment decision you can make is to seek out the services of your tax professional. In most cases, the amount you are charged for good tax advice is a fraction of the resulting tax savings.
Consult with a tax professional before responding to CRA notices.
If you receive a notice from Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA”) do not automatically assume that it is accurate and mail them a check. Many notices are inaccurate or merely require additional explanation to justify. Tax professionals have the knowledge and experience to recognize areas where additional explanation or documentation may reduce or eliminate the assessment stated on the notice.
If audited, consider your appeal rights.
Although CRA auditor may not bring it to your attention, the end of an audit is be no means the end of the road for your tax case. Appealing an audit decision can many times put your case in front of a more experienced agent who may better understand the issues and your position on them.
Taking a little time during the year to consider your tax situation and invoke a little common sense can pay off with substantial tax savings and the avoidance of unnecessary expenditures. If you need any additional assistance throughout the year, please do not hesitate to contact the office for guidance.
The information presented in this document is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon to replace professional advice. Before acting on this information, talk with a professional advisor as laws and regulations are constantly changing. Readers accept full responsibility; no document found here is a substitute for a consultation.