Free is always good, especially when it comes to professional advice during tax season. A variety of government bodies, associations and websites offer help gratis or for minimal cost, just when your business needs it most. Here are some of the resources available to help you get it right.
Canadian Tax Foundation: This non-profit research organization analyzes personal, corporate and international tax and government-finance matters. It publishes a broad selection of analysis and commentary on current issues in Canadian and international case law, tax policy and finance. Its recently published textbooks, Tax Policy in Canada and Taxation of Private Corporations and Their Shareholders, offer introductory overviews, analysis and practical information. Tax Policy in Canada is also available as an e-book ($50) and can be downloaded up to five times. Many of the foundation's publications are distributed free to its members. Membership costs from $30 for students to $375.
Canada Revenue Agency: The feature My Business Account allows business owners, including partners, directors and officers, to access their GST/HST, payroll, corporation income tax, excise tax and other accounts online and make payments. The agency's mobile app, CRA Business Tax Reminders, allows business users to create custom reminders and alerts for key CRA due dates related to instalment payments, returns and remittances. The CRA website also includes tax tips and newsletters for business. You can subscribe to its RSS feeds or follow CRA on Twitter – @CanRevAgency. If you have questions, there's an e-Services Helpdesk for businesses, available Monday to Friday in English and French: 1-877-322-7849. The Complaints and Disputes section offers information about objections and appeals under Ontario's Corporations Tax Act.
KPMG Law: The consultancy's affiliated law firm offers articles and tax publications free on its website. The Canadian Tax Adviser feature offers news and analysis, while Tax Facts 2015-2016 offers corporate tax tables, hard-to-find facts and figures and information relevant to corporations. If you're using an iPhone or Android smartphone, you can use the KPMG Tax Hub Canada app free for timely tax news.
Turbo Tax: The maker of tax software provides basic information online for business owners. The site includes relevant links about credits, incorporation and qualifying expenses.
H&R Block: This chain offers a free small-business tax consultation to incorporated business owners at participating locations across Canada. The Tax Talk feature on their website provides articles and blog posts with advice.
Grant Thornton LLP: Offers an online tax planning guide for 2015-16 with references on the latest developments for businesses and individuals. Also available are federal corporation tax tables for most of the provinces.
Barrett Tax Law: This Toronto-based business offers a toll-free number throughout Canada (1-888-758-2965) where small business owners and the self-employed can schedule a free, one-time consultation with either a tax lawyer or tax specialist in accounting. "We offer a bit of advice and encourage people to try to solve the problem on their own with our guidance," says Dale Barrett, tax counsel and principal, who acknowledges that the majority of callers don't turn into clients. Mr. Barrett's book, Tax Survival for Canadians: Stand Up to the CRA, provides a general overview about tax procedures and the appeals process. "After reading the book, you can do a lot of things without having to get a lawyer," he says.
Michael Atlas, chartered accountant: Mr. Atlas, a Toronto-based CPA specializing in international tax, offers a blog devoted to Canadian international tax issues. You can also follow him on Twitter (@_matlas) for updates on new articles. Mr. Atlas is the author of Canadian Taxation of Non-Residents.
Income Tax Act of Canada: This document is where you can find basic rules and calculations used to determine income taxation, including your liability for tax. Find it on the government's Justice Laws website, which has implemented a new search engine and options to narrow down search results.
Finance Canada: The website of this federal department provides up-to-date information on tax-related business concerns or details on the federal budget for 2016. Archived news releases go back to 1995.