Translated by Loretta Murphy
Born in Orleans, France, Daniel Fernandes is the product of a Portuguese mother and a French father, but he has a Brazilian accent. He is one of the busiest accountants in the Toronto Portuguese-speaking community, and his success is well deserved. He arrived in Canada in 1989, after he wrote to the Canadian Embassy in Portugal where he lived and was accepted by Immigration. Initially, he worked with insurance but soon realized that the community needed accounting professionals. He wasted no time. He took several post-secondary courses, became specialized and has been working as an accountant since 2003. At this time of year, when individuals and companies begin to prepare their tax returns, Daniel spoke with the Wave to provide some important tips.
Wave – First, what are the most important steps to avoid problems with the Canadian Revenue Agency?
Fernandes – The main thing is to save all your documents. If a person is employed by a company, they can deduct a few things, but there isn’t much concern about their statements because employers submit their respective forms as well. But the self-employed have to be more careful because they are more subject to government verification and questioning. So you may want to keep all documentation in relation to revenue received during the year, as wells as expenses paid. For example, in construction, a carpenter can deduct nails, tools, some clothes, and cell phone expenses. Business owners can deduct fuel, insurance and vehicle wear and tear. If you have a home office, you can deduct rent, electricity, water, telephone, gas and even repairs to the property. But it is important to have all the documents properly filed, since the self-employed receive the most government communications for checks and this control is important because, unfortunately, some people abuse the system. So in summary, it requires organization, record keeping, document archiving, and always making sure that everything is properly recorded, without fail, because whenever a taxpayer claims an expense, they must be prepared to prove it.
Wave – Many Brazilian immigrants, as well as Portuguese, even if they have lived in Canada for several years, still receive some kind of income in Brazil or Portugal, through rents and pensions. Do you have any recommendations for these people?
Fernandes – The law now requires that all people residing in Canada must declare worldwide income, so if you have revenue in Brazil or Portugal, you have to declare it. There are treaties that can reduce and or avoid double taxation. To prevent problems in the future, the essential thing is not to hide anything.
Wave – We’re still in February, the deadline for submitting Income Tax returns for most taxpayers is April 30, but you recommend not leaving everything to the last minute …
Fernandes – That’s right. Employees should prepare documentation for deductions, for example, Metropass expenses, receipts from donations (to churches, charities etc.) and bank statements. Because companies have until the end of February to submit employee income statements, it’s a good idea to have everything ready since March is the busiest month for accounting services. Business owners have until June to declare, but they need to be aware of the fact that if there is tax to pay, they will pay interest if they only declare at the end of the term. We recommend that those who can, file their declarations as early as possible.