Here we are in the middle of March already and before you know it we will all be making a mad dash to the post office to mail our tax returns, or pressing the submit button if we file electronically.
I have always found that if you are organized you can save a lot of grief and stress. Nothing is worse than diving into bins and boxes of receipts at the last minute while trying to meet the deadline. This is expecially true if you own a small business. If you are an employee and just have a T4 and maybe an RRSP slip you can just buy one of those programs at the grocery store and easily file your return. For a business the complexity goes up by a factor of about 10. Keeping track of all your business expenses while recording all your revenue requires at least the use of an Excel spreadsheet and preferably some business software like Sage 50 . The Sage software enables you to keep on top of payroll, expenses, and revenue although there is a fairly steep learning curve with the software.
If you are an individual that gets a T4 from a company, then I do recommend tackling the project yourself either with an old fashioned paper return or the $30 software you get at Superstore. If you have a small business, then I would recommend you hire an accountant to this work for you. You can track everything yourself with the spreadsheet or Sage 50 software but get the accountant to file the return for you. There are a lot of things that you could screw up, and unless you want to spend several days or weeks learning about dividends and capital cost allowances, an accountant will be worth the money. Especially if you were to make mistakes for several years and then have to go through an audit - then the mess would just be multiplied.
I spoke to Daniela at Padgett Business Services Calgary and she recommended paying for all of your business expenses on a company credit card and keeping all those receipts. This way there will be no personal items on the credit card and it will be easy to categorize the business expenses for the tax return. She also reiterated that being organized can save you money as well because if you come to her once a year and throw a pile of receipts on her desk, it will cost you a lot more than if you have everything neatly laid out for her. The alternative is of course that you see her regularly and she keeps everything in order on a monthly basis. You can find all kinds of great accounting information at Calgary-accounting.com
They also have an Edmonton accountant at www.edmontonpadgett.com