You Be The Boss

It’s a sunny day and you are ready to get the yard work done. You stop for breakfast to enjoy the fresh eggs from the farm down the road.  Going out the door, you notice the broken handle on the rake. A trip to Tom’s hardware store down the road is needed.  Then the water pump breaks and a plumber is needed. We depend on others to help us through the day, the plumber, Tom and the farmer.  They are small business owners, three of an estimated 3,000,000 small businesses in Canada.
A business owner may chose to operate as a sole proprietorship or a partnership if two or more owners are involved. Alternatively, you may incorporate.  No legal structure is inherently better than the other.  The best choice depends on various factors.
Proprietors have more issues to consider in preparing their tax returns than employees, investors or pensioners. The focus should be on family planning since business income is an easier type of income to split than income from other sources.  In order to be able to claim expenses and not have it viewed as a “hobby”, the business must have the potential to generate profit. Keep a journal of your thoughts on advertising, opportunities in the market, pricing, financing, etc. Be able to show that you honestly feel that the business will generate a profit for you in case this is challenged down the road. 
Set up a separate bank account for the business. If it is audited by CRA, you will be showing them your business transactions only and not a mix of personal affairs as well.  Auditors are happier when the audit trail is clean and clear. It is important from day one to have a proper accounting system. Your business may be small enough that a manual ledger will suffice. However, as your business grows, you may find that a lot of your time is consumed with running the business and your time to record the transactions lessens. Many sole proprietors use computer based software such as Simply Accounting or QuickBooks to maintain a proper ledger.  These programs are relatively inexpensive and will generate useful information for you to help monitor and plan your business, just as long as the input is done correctly. It is important to speak to a qualified accounting professional when planning your accounting system. In most cases hiring a professional bookkeeper is inexpensive and hassel free.
Sole proprietors report income on their personal returns each year. While taxpayers are scrambling to file by midnight on April 30, sole proprietors and their spouses have a June 15th deadline, although they are still subject to interest on what they owe after April 30. Penalties are charged after that date.   
Maybe you can turn your yard work expertise into a thriving business for yourself! Remember to support the businesses in your neighbourhood and they’ll be there when you need them.

For more info call 905-216-2445, click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit www.vnaccountingsolutions.com .

Self-Employment and Employment Insurance

As owner-managers of your corporations or self-employed individuals, you recognize your exempt status for employment insurance. If you control more than 40% of the voting shares of your company, then you are automatically exempt and do not pay employment insurance premiums. Recent changes in the Employment Insurance Act now allow you to voluntarily opt into the Employment Insurance program to receive special benefits for certain prescribed reasons. These benefits include:
  • Maternity Leave – up to 15 weeks
  • Parental Leave – up to 35 weeks
  • Sickness Leave – up to 15 weeks
  • Compassionate Care – up to 6 weeks
In order to qualify, you would need to opt into the program for a period of at least one year prior to claiming any benefits. It should be noted that you will only need to pay the employee portion of the Employment Insurance premiums and not the employer portion. For 2011, this is $787. Under the new rules, you will be able to opt out of the program at the end of any tax year as long as you have never claimed benefits. If you have claimed benefits, then you will need to continue to contribute as long as you are self-employed.
So is it a good idea to voluntarily opt into the Employment Insurance program? For most of you, I would have to say no. The potential benefits to be received are small compared to the premium cost to be paid. As with everything though, there is always an exception to the rule and this new benefit may be very attractive to some self-employed individuals based on their particular circumstances.
 For more info call 905-216-2445, click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/

Reporting Requirements of Charities & Non-Profit Organizations

The current reporting requirements for Charities & Non-Profit Organizations have left a lot of our clients wondering what exactly they are required to file.  This article is intended to act as a general guideline for the reporting requirements of Charities & Non-Profit Organizations.
Charities:
Under the Income Tax Act, every registered charity has to file an Information Return each year.  The return must be filed no later than six months after the end of the registered charity’s fiscal period.
The Information Return includes:
  • Registered Charity Information Return, Form T3010A
  • Registered Charity Basic Information Sheet, Form TF725
  • List of directors/trustees or like officials, Form T1235
  • List of qualified donees, Form T2136
  • Copy of the registered charity’s own financial statements
CRA will send a Registered Charity Information Return Summary to acknowledge that they have received and processed your return.  A charity that does not file its return can lose its registered status and may be liable for a $500 penalty.
A registered charity must spend a specific amount each year on charitable programs or as gifts to qualified donees.  This amount varies according to the registered charity’s designation and is called its “disbursement quota”.  The purpose of the disbursement quota is:
  • To ensure that most of the registered charity’s funds are used to further its charitable purposes and activities;
  • To encourage registered charities not to accumulate excessive funds; and
  • To keep other expenses at a reasonable level.
Essentially the disbursement quota is in place to ensure that registered charities actively use their tax-assisted donations to help others according to their charitable purposes.  To help registered charities plan their expenditures, the quota is largely based on what happened in the previous years.  Consequently, at the end of one year, a registered charity should have a fair estimate of how much it will need to spend on its charitable programs the following year.
A disbursement excess is created when a charity spends more on charitable activities or by way of gifts to qualified donees than it is required to by its disbursement quota for that year.  A charity can apply a disbursement excess from one year against a disbursement shortfall occurring in the immediately preceding fiscal period.  If necessary, a charity can also draw on a disbursement excess for up to five of its following fiscal periods to help it meet its disbursement quota.
If a charity spends less on charitable activities or by way of gifts to qualified donees than its disbursement quota for that year, it has a disbursement shortfall.  A charity can draw on previous years’ disbursement excesses to cover a shortfall.  If no excesses are available to draw on, the charity can try to spend enough the following year to create an excess that will make up for the shortfall.  Continuous shortfalls can lead to revocation of the charity’s registration.
Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)
A non-profit organization must file a Non-Profit Organization Information Return (Form T1044) if:
  • It received or was entitled to receive taxable dividends, interest, rentals or royalties totalling more than $10,000 in the fiscal period,
  • The total assets of the organization were more than $200,000 at the end of the immediately preceding fiscal period (the amount of the organization’s total assets is the book value of these assets calculated using generally accepted accounting principles); or
  • An NPO information return had to be filed for a previous fiscal period
Once an organization has filed an NPO information return for a fiscal period, it must file an information return for all subsequent fiscal periods, as long as it remains an NPO and regardless of the dollar value of its revenues or the book value of its assets in those later years.
An organization has to file its NPO information return no later than six months after the end of its fiscal period.  If the organization fails to do so on time, the basic penalty is $25 a day.  There is a minimum penalty of $100 and a maximum of $2,500 for each failure to file.  An NPO is not required to include financial statements with the NPO information return.
Unlike charities, there is currently no disbursement quota that regulates where an NPO must spend their revenues.
Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to ensure that their organization is in compliance with the aforementioned reporting requirements.  If you have any questions relating to the reporting requirements of your organization,

Ten financial steps to take before you die

First of all Happy New Year and hope 2011 brings joy, peace and prosperity to you. Now I don’t want to ruin your day, so forgive me for talking about your demise. You see, I have known a few people in the past year who have passed away. I’m often one of the people who receive a phone call from a widow or widower looking for helps three or four weeks after the funeral. Do yourself a favour and get your own financial house in order so that things are easier on your family after you’ve gone. Here are the top 10 things to consider.
1. Your will
When you pass away, your family should look after the funeral or memorial first, but then they’ll have to focus attention on finding a copy of your will. Make sure your will is up to date and make sure your executor knows where to find the executed copy, and knows which lawyer prepared it for you.
2. Your assets
Your executor will have to gather information on what assets you owned at the time of your death. Make sure you prepare a complete list today and update it annually. Make sure your family knows who your financial advisers are since they may look to those advisers for help in dealing with your assets after you’re gone.
3. Funeral costs
Your family will be in a fragile state emotionally when you pass away. It may be difficult for them to negotiate funeral costs at that time. Solve this issue by planning your funeral today. You can even prepay for your funeral if you want. Visit a local funeral home to discuss it.
4. Bank accounts
If your spouse shares a bank account jointly with you, he’ll be able to access the cash immediately after you pass away. Joint bank accounts make sense for this reason. Consider making the bank account(s) used for day-to-day expenses joint accounts. Also, ensure that any corporation bank accounts have more than one signing officer so that those accounts can be dealt with efficiently upon your death.
5. Life insurance
If you own any insurance policies, make sure your family knows the name of your insurance adviser. Further, make sure at least one insurance adviser knows about every policy you might own, whether he sold it to you or not; ask him to keep a record of this information for you. This will make it easier to ensure all policies are paid out upon your death.
6. Government benefits
Three types of benefits may be available to your surviving family members. If you’ve contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, there will be a death benefit (a one-time payment, to a maximum $2,500), a survivor’s pension (a monthly pension paid to your surviving spouse, averaging about $300, but which can be as high as about $560), and a children’s benefit paid to a surviving child (a monthly benefit of about $215 a month per child under age 18 or up to age 25 while still a student). Your family must apply for these benefits after you’ve gone.
7. Registered plans
Any registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) owned by you at the time of your death can generally be transferred on a tax-free basis to a registered plan in your spouse’s name (or to a dependent who is a minor or has a disability). Simplify things for your heirs by reviewing your named beneficiaries today to ensure the right people will receive these assets when you’re gone.
8. Employment matters
Your family should call your employer to determine whether there are any amounts owing, such as salary, vacation pay or bonuses. They should also enquire as to whether the employer can pay any amounts as a tax-free death benefit (up to $10,000 can be received tax-free where it is considered a death benefit in recognition of an employee’s service). Let your family know this, and let them know who they should contact at your office in the event of your passing.
9. Your debt
Have you purchased insurance to pay off your debts in the event of your death? If you’re insurable, make life easier for your family by doing this. Term insurance (the cheapest) is just fine if the debt has a term to it and is expected to be paid off in the future.
10. Summary of information
Much of the information you’ll want to provide about assets, contact names, and so on, should be summarized in one document. Ask your lawyer or funeral home if they can provide a document for gathering this information.

Tax Issues for Online Business in Canada

Many companies today have a presence online or they are conducting business completely online. While that’s great for increasing sales and profits, it does pose many tax issues.
Country of Tax for Online Business
The first tax issue for online business in Canada is: “In which country does my online business have to pay tax?”
That depends on where your internet business is incorporated. For example, if your online business is incorporated in the United States, then it would have to pay tax in the United States. (Certain states in the United States, such as Delaware and Nevada, do not impose any state taxes whatsoever.)
However, the Canadian tax authorities want their fair share of tax. So, if you are living in Canada and are conducting your online (internet) business primarily from Canada, then the Canada Revenue Agency will impose tax on the profits from your online business even if it is incorporated outside Canada. The reason being is that the Canada Revenue Agency will argue that the mind and management of your online business is located in Canada and therefore should be subject to Canadian income tax. Therefore, you must be careful when selecting the jurisdiction of incorporation for your online business in Canada.
It is very important to consult an Accountant before incorporating your online business in Canada. For more info call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/.
HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) –for Online Business in Canada
The second major tax issue that online businesses in Canada need to address is the harmonized sales tax (HST).  HST is applicable at a rate of 13% on product sales and services sold by online businesses to Canadians. Most provinces in Canada impose harmonized sales tax.
It’s very important for online business owners to track Canadian sales and non-Canadian sales. More specifically, your sales tracking system must be able to identify the country of residence of the customers that purchased your products and services, in order to ensure that HST is properly charged on Canadian sales.
If online business owners in Canada do not have such a tracking system, then the Canada Revenue Agency will impose HST on all sales made.
Harmonized sales tax on online businesses in Canada is a very important tax matter. For more info call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/.
Intellectual Property and Tax for Online Business Canada
The third major issue for tax on online businesses in Canada is intellectual property.
The most valuable asset for an online business in Canada is its intellectual property (IP), including a website or software. It’s an excellent idea to have your IP held by one corporation, and to have your other business assets held by a different corporation.
If you own more than one IP, you could consider creating a separate corporation for each IP owned.  This will enable you to sell a particular IP without having to sell your entire business.
Furthermore, what’s great about the Canadian tax system is that capital gains of up to $750,000 on the sale of Canadian private company shares are not subject to income tax. So when you are selling the shares of a corporation that owns a particular IP, you will not have to pay income tax on the first $750,000 of profit on the sale.
You should consult with an accountant when developing the tax structure for your online business in Canada. For more info call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/.
Scientific Research and Experimental Developmental Tax Credits – Tax for Online Business in Canada
The fourth issue for tax for online businesses in Canada is Scientific Research and Experimental Developmental Tax Credits, also known as SR&ED.
For online businesses in Canada that are developing software or IP, the Canada Revenue Agency offers a government grant of up to 60% of the money spent on salaries, subcontractors, equipment and related expenses incurred. For more info call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/.
CRA Targeting Online Businesses
The fifth major issue for tax for online businesses in Canada deals with the Canada Revenue Agency’s recent administrative position
It appears that the CRA is aggressively auditing online businesses, especially those conducting business on eBay, for unreported income. For more info call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit http://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/.

RRSP: Do I want it? Do I need it? What are its advantages?

What is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan?
A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (“RRSP”) is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that is registered with the federal government. The concept behind it is that you contribute an amount to an RRSP and, in return, you receive a tax deduction for the amount of your contribution. Contributions to the plan can be invested in a variety of underlying investments such as stocks, bonds, savings deposits, or mutual funds to name a few. Investment income earned within the plan on the invested assets is not taxed. Once you withdraw funds from the plan, you must include the amount of withdrawal as income on your personal tax return.
Benefits of Contributing to an RRSP
Contributing to an RRSP is a step toward retirement planning and maintaining your standard of living upon retirement. The contributions made to an RRSP will result in a tax deduction resulting in a tax deferral. Then at retirement, when your income is reduced and in a lower tax bracket, you will withdraw funds from your RRSP which will then be included as income on your personal tax return.
A person can also contribute to a spousal RRSP. This is a plan that is registered to the spouse of the contributor. The contributor makes the contribution to the spousal RRSP and obtains the corresponding tax deduction but the spouse will withdraw the funds at a later date and include the withdrawal on their personal tax return as income.
Contributions – When to Start and How Much?
I recommend that you start as early as possible. Although the peak years of income earning are between the age of 30 and 60, the earlier you begin contributing, the more benefit you will receive from the compounding of investment income.
The annual contribution limit is equal to 18% of the previous year’s income up to $22,000 in 2010. In addition, any unused contribution room carry-forward and may be used at any time. The maximum that you can contribute can be found on your Notice of Assessment. You are allowed an over-contribution of $2,000 but any amount exceeding this limit will result in a penalty of 1% per month of the over-contributed balance.
Contribution Deadline
Contributions may be made anytime during the tax year and 60 days into the following year to apply to the current year’s income. Therefore, you can contribute to an RRSP until March 1, 2011 and receive the tax deduction on your 2010 personal tax return.
When Can I Withdraw My RRSP?
An RRSP is designed as and more effective as a long term investment. However, should a person need part or all of their RRSP savings before retirement, you can withdraw an amount at anytime. The amount of your withdrawal must be reported as income on your personal tax return in the year of withdrawal.
You can also withdraw funds from your RRSP for the Home Buyers Plan (HBP). This allows an individual who is a first time home buyer to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSP to build or buy a home. The benefit with the Home Buyers Plan is that the withdrawal is not included in income for taxation purposes. You have to repay all withdrawals to your RRSP for the purposes of the HBP within a period of no more than 15 years. If you do not pay an amount that is due within a given year, that amount will be included in your income.
As you can see, an RRSP is a win-win situation. To receive the most advantages from one, it is best to start contributing as early as possible. If you have any questions regarding an RRSP, please call 905-216-2445, click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visithttp://www.vnaccountingsolutions.com/

Mortgage Insurance: Bank vs Life Insurance Company –What is the difference

I remember signing the mortgage documents while moving into my new home and was amazed how the bank tied the mortgage insurance questionnaire into the contract. I had to take a second look to make sure that I had read the document properly. I forgot about how easy it is to get mortgage insurance within that contract and got angry that I had to sign that portion of the contract anyway (even though I refused the mortgage insurance).
Before becoming an agent, I refused the mortgage insurance because was always told to do that – As an agent, I feel it necessary to outline the difference between the bank and insurance companies – so that you can take control of your own destiny for your spouse and /or kids.
Newsflash: Mortgage insurance is life insurance: The coverage usually declines over time as your mortgage decreases (I would recommend other options than declining benefit, but this isn’t the article for that and it also depends on your personal situation)
Below are two lists outlining some of the key differences between getting the mortgage insurance from the bank and taking out your own life insurance policy through a life insurance company. Read them over, ask any questions that come up and make an informed decision. For most of us, our home is our biggest investment – let’s make sure it is still there for our family should the unexpected happen. Need more information? Call 905-216-2445 click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit vnaccountingsolutions.com.
1. (Typical) Bank Mortgage Insurance Policy Features:
The policy:
Is a group policy.
You don’t own it.
You have no control.
Is underwritten at claim time.
Can be cancelled by the bank and/or the group underwriter.
Is non-transferable to another bank or mortgage.
Coverage:
Is equal to the outstanding mortgage amount – as your mortgage decreases, your coverage decreases very few additional benefits can be added
Premiums:
Not Guaranteed
Payout:
Money goes to the bank
2. (Typical) Life Insurance Company Insurance Policy:
The Policy:
Owned by you.
Can only be cancelled by you – in writing or if you stop paying for it.
The policy is transferable.
The policy can be convertible to whole life insurance (depending on the policy you choose).
The policy is underwritten at the beginning – if you are approved, then you are covered.
Coverage:
Can decline with your mortgage (but seriously – many people don’t choose this option – level coverage is pretty common in my experience)
You can get benefits like: disability waiver of premiums, critical illness rider etc.
Premiums:
Are commonly Guaranteed – you would enter into a contract that is 10 or 20 years of level costs and coverage
The Payout:
Goes to whomever you wish it to go to. For example: If you want the funds to go to your spouse and if they wish to pay off a portion of your mortgage then they have that flexibility.

Super Year-end Tax Tips

When it comes to saving money on taxes, small changes yield big results. By doing a lot of little things, you’ll be able to keep more for yourself rather than pay more than you need to in taxes.
Here are some strategies to help reduce or defer your tax hit:

Use capital losses to offset capital gains

It may be time to sell off any investments that haven’t done well. By selling them at a loss, you could offset any capital gain taxes owing from investments that have done well. Rather than thinking of this as giving up, consider it as changing a losing game that not only results in immediate tax savings, but also frees up capital for other investment opportunities.
Expert tip: Remember to keep in mind the superficial loss rule — Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) way of discouraging investors from selling securities for a loss only to buy them back within 30 calendar days.

Make your charitable donations

In the spirit of holiday giving, this is a great time of year to support your favourite cause. You will also gain a tax credit.
Donations can be pooled together as a family and claimed by one spouse — or you can hold onto them for a period of five years. Combining them will result in a higher credit.
You can also gift publicly traded securities (including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and segregated funds) that have appreciated in value. Since capital gains taxes do not apply on the eligible amount of publicly traded securities donated to registered charities, you’ll get the tax credit, but you won’t have to pay the tax on the capital gains.

Contribute to an RESP

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is an excellent way to save for your child’s education and receive the Canada Education Savings Grant and any provincial education savings plans that are applicable.

Take advantage of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit

Your kids’ fitness programs are beneficial to them — and to your tax bill. “This federal, non-refundable tax credit has a maximum allowable expense of $500 for children under the age of 16. It’s intended to encourage kids and youth to be more active — which is always a good thing. If you haven’t used up your limit, consider signing them up for a qualifying physical activity after school, on weekends or over the holiday break.

Review your 2009 notice of assessment

Your notice will give you information on your 2010 contribution room for your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Saving for retirement should be one of your financial priorities. While you have the first 60 days of 2011 to make contributions that can be claimed on your 2010 return, knowing your amounts will help you maximize contributions and give you time to decide if an RRSP loan is worth your while.

Other claims to consider

There are also other claims you can make for the 2010 tax year that can save you money. Start gathering your receipts now and you’ll save yourself from the annual April tax panic! For example:
1.     Moving expenses — if you’re eligible
2.     Public transit passes
3.     Fees associated with investment management
4.     Interest paid on borrowed funds to invest in non-registered accounts
5.     Safety-deposit box fee

You can find more information on what you can and can’t claim on my blog Save $$$$: Tax write offs for small business .

Advice for families: Divide, deduct and defer

Don’t think of yourself in isolation; rather, think of yourself as a family unit and how you can maximize your tax savings as a unit. Look for ways to divide, deduct and defer income taxes.
According to our expert, in most cases, the higher-income earner should claim all expenses. On the other hand, the lower-income earner should do the investing, as they will be charged at a lower tax rate for any gains.

Why getting a refund can be a bad strategy

If you’ve been getting a tax refund, it may be time to rethink your strategy. Getting a tax refund shouldn’t be seen as a forced savings tactic. If you regularly contribute to an RRSP, rather than waiting for the refund upon tax filing, consider applying to the CRA to reduce the income tax deducted by your employer on your paycheque — so that you can make better use of your money throughout the year.
If you need more info; Call 905-216-2445, or click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit vnaccountingsolutions.com/

Not Filing your Tax returns???????

Do you have late or past due tax returns that you need to file?  Don’t wait any longer, and contact your accountant, as there are many advantages to catching up with the taxman.
This article addresses the top 5 reasons to file your past-due or late tax returns:

1.  Get  refund

In many cases, you may be eligible for a tax refund, which you can only receive by filing your tax return.  A tax refund may result because of RRSP contributions made, child care expenses incurred, large amounts of taxes withheld from your paycheque, and many other reasons
So make sure you file your late, past due tax returns to collect your tax refund cheque.

2.  UCCB & CCTB

The Universal Child Care Benefit ($100 per month per child) and the Canada Child Tax Benefit are only paid to those individuals have filed their tax returns.  Therefore, if you have children and haven’t received any UCCB or CCTB payments thus far, make sure you file your overdue tax returns.  Likewise, CCTB payments may stop being paid to you if you have past due tax returns.

3.  Reduce interest and penalties

If you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency, procrastination won’t help to reduce the amount you owe.  In fact, interest will accrue at an annual rate of 5% and penalties can amount to 17% or more.
Therefore, if you owe money, please make sure that you file your past due tax returns to minimize any interest or penalties.

4.  Applying for a mortgage or loan

When applying for a mortgage or loan, the bank will want to see your latest Notice of Assessment to verify your income.  If you don’t have that available, because of overdue tax returns, you may be out of luck for your next home purchase or loan.

5.  Demand notice from the CRA for late, past due tax returns

The CRA will send a demand notice to file your returns, followed by an “Arbitrary Assessment”, if the returns aren’t filed.  An arbitrary assessment means that the CRA will assess your return based on the information they have received, and will not provide for any deductions that you may be entitled to.  In other words, an arbitrary assessment is the worst-case-scenario and results in an overstated tax balance.
Additionally, the Canada Revenue Agency has the power to garnish your wages for overdue tax balances, seize your bank accounts and even seize your property.
To make sure you don’t end up in a situation where the CRA is confiscating your property, it’s advisable to file your late, past due tax returns and seek the advice.
Need more info; Call 905-216-2445, click info@vnaccountingsolutions.com or visit vnaccountingsolutions.com

Accountants and Charities

What do accountants bring to the table for charitable donations? I would like to make the case for a special kind of support, something that will help EVERY charity and something that comes naturally with accounting training and experience.

The difficult fact that each charity faces is that nobody wants to support administrative costs. Governments don’t fund this area, nor do foundations or private individuals as a rule. Yet every charity spends a significant amount of time and money on administration: paying the rent, keying in the payroll, buying insurance, etc.

As accountants, we are arguably experts on administration. We track it. We analyze it. We minimize it. We research it. And we appreciate it when it’s done well.

So many not-for-profit organizations I’ve worked with actually underspend on administration. They use obsolete computers and inadequate software, forcing them to spend too much staff and volunteer time on admin. Often staff are not sufficiently trained in standard packages like word processors and spreadsheets, so too much time gets spent on the otherwise normal processing of transactions and reports. Others are lucky enough to have an endowment cover at least part of the administrative costs, but they are a small minority.

Sometimes this skimping on administration leads to self-defeating results. It takes resources to write grant proposals, report to donors, mount events or create fundraising campaigns. As any salesperson will tell you, you have to spend money to make money.

Administration is not exciting. Most people would rather see their money go towards a scholarship, a key piece of equipment or research into curing a disease, but with our specialized training and experience, accountants are different. We know how important effective administration is, how the very success of the charity may depend on it.

So, please consider marking your next donation to your favorite charity, “For ongoing administration”. Your donation will get the attention it deserves!