Blogs list

Michael Citrome - Barrett Tax Law Firm - Michael Citrome

Bad Debt? Could Be Worse - Sponsored Article The Income Tax Act is the Federal legislation that governs income tax in Canada. It’s a big, complex piece of legislation that is constantly being updated, not in the least because it is one of the government’s most important tools for steering Canada’s economy. Want Canadians to save for their retirement, buy homes or replace their computers? The Income Tax Act is there to promote it. Investing? Know Your Rights  One of the policy objectives of the Income Tax Act has historically been to encourage Canadians to invest in small business. The lifetime capital gains exemption for small business corporations is a well-known example of the Income Tax Act making it possible to profit from the sale of your business to the tune of over $800,000 of tax-free capital gains. But what about the dark side of business investments – when you lose money? The Income Tax Act has created a special category of loss, called an Allowable Business Investment Loss or ABIL (pronounced like “able”), that makes the loss of certain investments a little more bearable, if you fit into the category.  Not All Losses Created Equal So first of all, what’s a loss? Logically, you’d think it means the opposite of income. But in Income Tax, there are different kinds of income, and so there are also different kinds of losses. Most investments, when you profit, give rise to a capital gain. Capital gains are treated differently from other forms of income. For one thing, unlike ordinary business income, generally only…

Photo : Michael  Citrome October 12, 2015

David Lowdon - Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall LLP - David Lowdon

Better Capital Raising Opportunities for Small Businesses and Start-ups - Sponsored Article A New Family, Friends and Business Associates Exemption for Ontario The first source of funding for many small businesses or start-ups is the owner’s network of family, friends and business associates.  While other jurisdictions have a prospectus exemption catering to this fundraising opportunity, for several years Ontario has not. The Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) recently announced a new prospectus exemption for investments by family, friends and business associates (the “FFBA Exemption”).  The FFBA exemption came into effect on May 5, 2015. The FFBA Exemption recognizes that existing networks of family, friends and business associates may be the most cost-efficient way for early stage companies to raise capital without disclosure requirements or intermediary involvement.  It will likely broaden access to capital beyond what is currently available under the existing Private Issuer exemption and it replaces Ontario’s much narrower Founder, Control Person and Family Exemption.  It will also increase investment opportunities for investors who are closely related to the corporation but who would not have qualified under previously existing exemptions. The FFBA Exemption introduces two new requirements.  First, an issuer will be required to submit a report of exempt distribution to the OSC.  In addition, a risk acknowledgement form must be signed by both the investor and the issuer.   The FFBA Exemption has the following key conditions: It is available to both reporting and non-reporting issuers but is not available to investment funds. The exemption applies to a distribution of any security by an issuer or selling security holder. There is no limit on…

Photo : David  Lowdon June 12, 2015

Amy Alksnis - BrazeauSeller.LLP - Amy Alksnis

Qualified Disability Trusts - Sponsored Article Special estate planning considerations arise when disabled beneficiaries are involved, in part to ensure that they have sufficient resources to satisfy their particular needs while at the same time protecting entitlement to governmental disability benefits that are subject to asset tests in most provinces. A common planning technique that has been used for this purpose is the use of a “Henson trust” since, as a fully discretionary trust with the disabled beneficiary as one of multiple potential beneficiaries, it provides the ability to control the level of income being received by the disabled beneficiary so as to not jeopardize their entitlement to these asset-tested benefits. Until January 1, 2016, Henson trusts established under a person’s Will were taxed at graduated rates of tax. As of January 1, 2016, new and existing testamentary trusts (trusts established under a person’s Will and arising as a consequence of their death) are now subject to tax at the highest marginal rate on income generated in the trust. There are two exceptions to this new state of affairs: the newly introduced concepts of the “Graduated Rate Estate” and the “Qualified Disability Trust” (QDT). A Henson trust may or may not qualify as a QDT, and if it does not, any income earned within the Henson trust will be taxed at the top marginal rate. In order to be considered a QDT, certain requirements must be met. First of all, there must be at least one “electing” beneficiary. An electing beneficiary is someone who receives the federal disability tax…

Photo : Amy  Alksnis January 18, 2016

Barbara Sinclair - BrazeauSellerLLP - Barbara Sinclair

Cash-in-lieu of Parkland Amendments Approved By Planning Committee - Sponsored Article Ottawa City Council will be considering changes to the City’s cash-in-lieu of parkland dedication policy when it meets in September, 2015.  As a condition of development or redevelopment of land, the City may require that a certain portion of land proposed for development be conveyed to the municipality for park or other public recreational purposes.  Section 42 of the Planning Act for Ontario and the City’s current policy permits a developer to make a cash payment to the City when it is not possible to dedicate land in the area where its development is proceeding.  Land conveyed to a municipality under Section 42 is required to be used for park or other public recreational purposes, but it can also be sold by the City for cash. The dedication of parkland by a developer works best for subdivisions where space and planning allow for surplus land for public spaces to be incorporated as part of the development, but it is not always suited to high-rise projects on small sites with little extra land to provide surplus green space.  As a result, the City can take a cash contribution from a developer, in lieu of the provision of surplus land. When a developer provides a parcel of land to create a park, it is generally close to the development generated by the residential units.  However, when the City accepts cash-in-lieu of parkland dedication, there is no guarantee the money will be used to create or improve parks or open space in the area of the…

Photo : Barbara  Sinclair August 31, 2015

Mark Scott - TUC Managed IT Solutions

Benefits of Onshoring - Sponsored ArticleMany companies, when thinking of outsourcing their Service Desk, automatically assume they have to do it offshore. We naturally feel that there are a lot of benefits in any type of outsourcing, if done carefully and correctly, but here at TUC we really believe there are less risks and more economic benefits to outsourcing within North America (or “onshoring”).In North American society today there is a stigma associated with offshore Service Desks. Rightly or wrongly, even if the offshore Service Desk is performing well, it creates a negative reaction from the end-user as soon as they realize that they are talking with someone offshore. Most native English-speaking customers are more comfortable speaking with a Service Desk agent who is fluent in English and understands the culture and environment. With a North American Service Desk, language and cultural barriers are eliminated, as most North American Service Desk agents will be native English speakers and share the same culture. These interactions tend to result in greater customer satisfaction and positive impressions about the services being received.A mainland call center will also be easier to visit, making it more accessible for hands-on training and management purposes.  Here at TUC, some of our contracts require the supporting teams to frequently visit the customer sites for continuous training. This also helps the agents to learn about customer culture, environment and also meet other support groups and end-users for better understanding of processes.Some consumers who have concerns about security issues may be more willing to divulge personal data when dealing…

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Photo : Mark Scott August 18, 2014

Shareef Korah - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Shareef Korah

Enhancing Immigrants’ Essential ‘Soft’ Skills – a win-win solution - Sponsored Article Finding and keeping workers with the knowledge and skills needed to get the job done is critical for today’s businesses. Learning more about the nine essential skills used in nearly every job can help you reap the benefits of effectively engaging immigrants at work.Many employers recognize that immigrants have the technical skills required to complete workplace tasks, but often find that they lack the equally valued “soft skills”, such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork, to excel at work.A pilot project led by Bow Valley College, Success in the Workplace: Essential Skills Training for Immigrant Professionals, found that this “disconnect” between the skills workers thought they needed (technical) and those their employers wanted (soft skills) often faded once both learned about the importance of essential skills.Essential skills offer employers a common language that can help both employers and employees identify skills gaps and support essential skills development to increase job potential. Integrating essential skills into business practices does not have to be time consuming or complicated. For example:•    The Vocabulary Building Workbook can be used with immigrant workers to boost their communication skills – both oral and written – through a variety of exercises that teach new words commonly used in the Canadian workplace. •    The Working with Others Tip Sheet is an easy-to-follow tool that offers practical tips to help improve workers’ teamwork skills.Businesses that effectively attract, retain and engage skilled immigrants benefit from increased innovation, productivity and overall competitiveness. Boost your success by tapping into this vital source of talent – and…

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Photo : Shareef Korah January 20, 2014

Jonathan Cohen - Shapiro Cohen-Jonathan Cohen

Holy .cow!! - Sponsored ArticleThe deluge of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) has begun! Top level domains are the ones after the dot. Examples:-    .com-    .org-    .travel-    .netAlmost 2000 new applications for TLDs were filed in 2012/13 with ICANN. One of ICANN’s many duties is to ensure healthy competition in the Domain Name System (DNS) for registrars and the adequate meeting of the changing/growing needs of consumers as the internet continues to expand in size and importance. Certainly the huge number of acronyms developed and used in the ICANN world is some testimony to its growth and the increasing levels of separate expertise one needs to operate effectively when advising about the DNS.After years of debate, discussion and compromise between different players in the internet space (governments; business; technical; non-commercial; registrars; registries; IP), the Board of Directors of ICANN reached a decision to open up the “root”— the actual electronic highway along which all material, data etc. travels at light speed — to an unlimited number of new TLDs including International Domain Names (IDNs) in languages that are NOT written in western (Latin) alphabets. These include Russian, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and many more around the world. It was a difficult technical challenge to make these non ASCII domain names work properly in a system designed for English speakers by English speakers but the ICANN Board understood early on that if the DNS was to really work globally and not end up ‘fracturing’, implementation of IDNs as soon as technically possible had to be a priority. That time…

Photo : Jonathan Cohen December 16, 2013

Victoria Boddy - Brazeau Seller LLP - Victoria Boddy

Move Over! - Sponsored Article The phrase “move over!” is more than something angry road-raged drivers shout at those they’re driving behind—it’s now the law. Since 2009, drivers have been legally required to switch lanes and “move over” for emergency vehicles. As of September 1, 2015, this law has expanded to require drivers to move over for tow trucks and bicycles as well. This change could not come sooner, with the increasing number of cyclists being struck and “doored” by drivers, and the recent run down of a tow trucker driver on Highway 417. Bill 31, also known as the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, enacted various amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, including the requirement that drivers move over for tow trucks and bicycles. Drivers travelling on the same side of the highway as an emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its lights engaged must now slow down, proceed with caution, and move into another lane (provided the move can be made safely). These precautions are to ensure that drivers do not collide with the emergency vehicle or tow truck or endanger any person outside of the emergency vehicle or tow truck. Failure to abide by this new law will result in a fine between $400.00 and $4,000.00. Drivers passing a cyclist must now leave at least a one-metre distance (measured from the right side of the vehicle to the left side of the cyclist, including all projections and attachments) until safely past the cyclist. A failure to do so will result in a $110.00 fine…

Photo : Victoria Boddy September 14, 2015

Sheema Khan - Shapiro Cohen - Sheema Khan

Patent Landscape Analysis: Don’t Plan Without it - Sponsored Article Research and development (R&D) is usually key to the growth of small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). Often, the SME has one or more niche products out in the market, with others in the pipeline. However, poor strategic planning of future R&D activities – or worse, none at all – often leads to the demise of SMEs. This can be mitigated, if not avoided, by the use a valuable, but underused tool: the patent landscape analysis (PLA). A PLA will outline what type of opportunities for growth are available in a certain sector, whether the opportunity lies in a crowded space, and who will compete with these opportunities. In addition, the PLA will indicate which countries have high R&D activity, and subsequently, have a high market potential. Perhaps most valuable is the information about emerging technology clusters and sub-clusters in a given sector. Take for example, the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) sector. A PLA provides a patent filing timeline, which shows a marked increase in patent filings since 2006, due primarily to the drastic increase in gas prices from 2004-2009. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has the highest R&D activity, as the Obama administration has implemented many programs to increase innovation in the hybrid vehicle market. Next is Japan, followed by Germany. China is seventh in the world, in terms of patent filings in the hybrid vehicle sector, due to the fact that it is the only provider of rare metals (dysprosium and neodymium) that are currently used in electric motor systems of hybrid vehicles.…

Photo : Sheema Khan February 17, 2014

Lisa Anna Palmer - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Lisa Anna Palmer

Managing Inclusion from the Middle - Sponsored ArticleMany organizations invest a great deal of time and effort in the hopes of creating an inclusive work environment. They have top down initiatives to assess organizational maturity, communicate corporate values and highlight senior management commitment. They have bottom-up initiatives led by employee councils to promote and celebrate the spirit of diversity. These efforts make a great deal of business sense and are important elements of a sound Inclusion Strategy. Then, why is it that HR and senior management within these same organizations are so often left scratching their heads to figure out why they are not achieving the desired results? Support ‘Managers in the Middle.’Middle managers are the ones who have to juggle competing priorities and oversee operations while fighting day-to-day fires. What’s more, times of fiscal restraint are placing added pressure on Ottawa’s managers with regards to employee motivation and engagement.  Overworked middle managers are the people that senior management, HR and employees rely on to implement the lion’s share of inclusion initiatives.  They are the gateway to the organization as they do the majority of hiring, communicating, requesting of accommodations, and managing of performance, etc. At the end of the day, middle managers can have the greatest impact on the success of initiatives designed to effect cultural change. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of managers at all levels from a range of organizations. The vast majority are on side with creating inclusive work environments and leveraging diversity. By the same token, many are still at a loss for how…

Photo : Lisa Anna Palmer September 09, 2013

Byron Pascoe - Brazeau Seller LLP - Byron Pascoe

Ensure Confidence in Your Contracts - Sponsored ArticleBefore you sign a contract on behalf of your business, read it and ensure you understand it. Not following this rule can lead to missed opportunities to protect your business, among other avoidable negative consequences.To assist with understanding your contract, below are broad comments about a number of contract clauses and considerations. Depending on the nature of your contract, the following, among other factors, may be considered by your legal counsel when reviewing a contract offered to your business or while preparing a contract that you will offer to another party. With an understanding of your business, industry, and the deal being considered, your legal counsel will write and / or negotiate your contract to ensure your priorities are met and your business is protected.Duties: If you want the power to hold the other party accountable to what they agreed to do for your business, ensure their responsibilities are clearly detailed.Terms of Payment: If one party is paying another, what amounts are being paid? When are the payments due? What penalties, if any, will there be for late payments? If your business is paying another, should some money be held back until milestones are successfully reached to reduce the risk that you are overpaying?Costs: Your business might be responsible for none, some, or all of the expenses related to the contract. Regardless of the arrangement, it should clearly be provided in writing to help avoid confusion.Definitions: Key terms used in the contract should be clearly defined. If your business must deliver a product or…

Photo : Byron Pascoe September 09, 2013

Marianne Kayed - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Marianne Kayed

Tips for Effective Cross-Cultural Interviewing - Sponsored articleLooking to hire? How do you avoid missing out on great talent? Let’s look at this scenario… the pressure in the room is palpable - both parties are exchanging information and assessing their ‘fit’ for an employer-employee relationship.  The recruiter– we will call her Barbara , says, “Tell me about yourself.” Across the table, Samir, an expert civil engineer and a newcomer to Canada begins his response with “Sure… well… I am the youngest of six children, married and have two young children.  I was raised in the outskirts of Tehran…” After learning the details of Samir’s ancestry and family life, a discouraged Barbara glances down at the interview guide in front of her.  She has written nothing on her paper.  The interview concludes shortly thereafter, and Samir doesn’t receive a call back.Everyone involved in a job interview strives to get it perfect. As an employer you obviously want to hire the right person for the job. Current demographic trends indicate that immigration is increasingly accounting for net growth in the Canadian labour force. This presents opportunities for employers but at the same requires that employers review their recruitment processes and tools in other that they do not miss out on great talent.  As an employer/recruiter it is important to recognize that: •     Some newcomer job-seekers have never been in a job interview before.  A job interview can be daunting for even the most experienced job seeker, but for many new immigrants, responding to interview questions is a brand new skill that has…

Photo : Marianne Kayed August 12, 2013

Bill Caswell - Caswell & Co.

A Team of Two - Sponsored ArticleConfusion exists in many enterprises about who is responsible for whom, who is to do what, who has authority over this or that, who is to blame, and which deliverables are needed to ensure a successful job.A simple concept called “A Team of Two” quickly reduces confusion down to a much better order.  Here is how it works.Every business situation is viewed as a team of two: worker and supervisor.1.    When a problem arises, the team of two must ask: “What does this team of two have to do to move things, problems or a situation forward?”  It is about ‘us’, not ‘you’ – a team of two.  There is no room for blame – but rather positive action to move things forward.2.    Since it is a team comprised of supervisor and worker, it is the job of the worker to please the supervisor – i.e. provide what the supervisor expects.3.    Therefore, it is the job of the supervisor to inform the worker, clearly as to what is expected.4.    Just as important, it is the job of the worker to figure out what the supervisor expects, to enquire, adjust, and adapt.  It is that simple.  Why the worker?  Because it is the worker that stands to suffer most if the job does not work out.  This is not ‘fair’ or ‘right’ but it is a simple fact of the hierarchical situation.  (Not unlike the contraception issue between men and women)5.    The supervisor should rate each employee weekly, if the supervisor is pleased or not,…

Photo : Bill Caswell January 13, 2014

Maria Belen - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Maria Belen

Reflections on Multiculturalism Day from an engaged employee - From an early age, I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve the public good.  In his life, he served as a politician at the municipal level, advocating for the land rights of the poor people in the Philippines.  The decisions that I made in high school and into university were all based on working towards this goal.  As a young professional in my twenties, I am proud to say that I have joined the ranks of the Canadian federal public service, an organization which I deem to be prestigious in every sense as I see and am immersed in the hard work, drive and passion that many of my peers bring into their day to day.The public service is a behemoth organization that touches so intricately the life of each Canadian. It strives in its hiring practices to recruit not only the best and most qualified candidates, but to also ensure that its workforce reflects the diversity that can be found across the nation.In my department, diversity is a valued aspect of work-life culture.  My organization boasts of robust communities and networks that support the growth and development of employees.  For example we have three separate networks for Managers, Young Professionals (Youth) and Student-Employees, as well as community networks for Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Visible Minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.  Championed by top-ranking executives, these networks of belonging are places where employees can develop professionally, meet in social settings, engage senior management on a wide arrange of issues, foster…

Photo : Maria Belen June 10, 2013

William Hinz - Brazeau Seller LLP - William Hinz

Freedom Has Its Limits - Sponsored ArticleTestamentary freedom, namely the right to leave your property to anyone you choose upon your death, is a highly-valued and cherished concept in English common law.  The concept of testamentary freedom is based on a philosophy of the primacy of individual rights which has dominated legal and political thinking in common law countries.   It is interesting to note that, in contrast, in civil law jurisdictions such as France and many other European countries, there is no testamentary freedom.   One’s estate must pass on death in fixed proportions to various family members similar to what happens in Ontario if a person dies without a will.    In Ontario, the Family Law Act and the dependant relief provisions set out in Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act provide that a married spouse and other dependents of the deceased have a right to a certain share of the deceased’s estate otherwise the will can be contested. But what about an adult child or a common law spouse who is already financially independent?  Do such individuals have a right to receive a share of the deceased’s estate?    The court had to wrestle with this issue in the recent case of Morassut v. Jaczynski Estate (2013 ONSC 2856).  Danny and Bonnie lived together as common law spouses for 12 years.  Bonnie controlled one of the most valuable car dealerships in Ontario.  Danny, who had previously worked in Bonnie’s car dealership, described himself as Bonnie’s “house-husband”.  He managed the family household and acted as the project manager in the…

Photo : William Hinz December 16, 2013