As the newest Partner at Sloan Partners, can you tell us about what you do here and what you enjoy the most?
I joined as a Partner in September and am very excited to be a part of the team at Sloan Partners. What I do here ranges from various assurance engagements, personal and corporate tax returns, to tax planning and strategy. I focus on small businesses, owner managed businesses and small corporations. While I am able to assist clients with a variety of accounting services, what I most enjoy is the planning and strategy aspect of my job. It is an opportunity for me to get to know the client and his/her individual needs and goals, and contribute to the achievements of those goals. While I am striving to expand my client base, I am also very focused on building long-lasting relationships with my clients.
What are the top tax mistakes made by business owners, and what can they do to avoid them?
A lot of business owners attempt to do everything themselves, in particular for owner managed, small businesses. While they may in fact be able to do a simple tax return, they are often going to miss on opportunities for tax planning or be simply unaware of new taxation rules and credits where your tax and accounting professional can add a lot of value. In addition to that, another commonly made mistake is not providing all the facts about your current situation to your tax professional. You need to offer them all the details, from your family situation to your investments. Despite the fact that the details may not mean anything to you, they are related in one way or another which may assist your tax professional to minimize your tax burden. If you do not speak openly with your tax professional, you will not be aware of all the tax opportunities for credits that you’re entitled to, or on the flip side, you may be too aggressive and taking deductions you’re not entitled to.
Are there common tax credits that people don’t apply for even though they could?
Something like the disability tax credit is a pretty common credit that people often do not know about. In particular, many are not aware that they can qualify for this credit even if it is not them with the disability – it can be someone that is dependent on you, and you can get that tax credit on their behalf. Other examples are credits related to children, home buyer’s credits, Public transit etc. There are many different tax credits and rules regarding their application, but it’s hard for those who do not have professional support to be able to benefit from them.
Can you explain what “strategic tax planning solutions” are and give an example?
As many clients know, taxation is not just about how much tax you are going to pay this year. It can have a financial impact for many years to come, and through strategic tax planning, I am able to manage the tax impact in order to better cater to individual circumstances and goals. Strategic tax planning solutions are essentially tailor-made plans aimed to assist a client in realizing their unique financial goals. When I understand what a client is trying to achieve, I am better equipped in advising them on the correct tax options. For example, with businesses it’s always a good strategy to see how you can bring your family into the business and how you can leverage the family structure in order to minimize the overall tax burden. There are options when it comes to income splitting with your spouse and with your children as a way to reduce your overall taxes. That’s something I always try to look into because you can save a lot of money that way.
You also have experience building and running your own web-based business, what was it like being in that role?
Running a small business gave me a completely different perspective because I was responsible for everything and I was personally invested. I gained invaluable experience in management as well as customer service. I got firsthand knowledge of how to run a business and all the complexities that go with that. Unlike in the professional world where your role is defined, as a business owner you are responsible for everything from managing the business, payroll, advertising, taxes, collections, to inventory and deliveries. I now understand what business owners have to deal with, which is a great perspective to have when I deal with my clients.
What was the most important lesson you learned running your own business that you now tell your clients?
It’s about managing your money and budgeting, you need to be on top of your collections and your accounts receivable, because if you don’t collect, you can’t pay your bills. You must look several months ahead to know your cash requirements and projected flows. Developing relationships with your clients is extremely important – if your clients are invested in you, you are going to be doing business together for many years to come. I would say that these are the most important lessons.
Alon Roitberg is a Partner at Sloan Partners and has over 12 years of experience as a Chartered Accountant. He provides accounting, assurance, and taxation services to small-medium sized businesses and owner-managed businesses. Contact Alon today to discuss your tax needs.