Business owners who can afford to hire a lawyer can avoid paying thousands of dollars in taxes for their businesses.
A new tax law that goes into effect next year makes it easier for them to do so.
The changes, which were put in place in June, will make it easier to collect federal, provincial and territorial taxes.
They’re meant to make it harder for people who use services like software companies and small businesses to avoid paying a portion of the cost of their taxes.
“You have to be very, very careful when you’re dealing with these kinds of tax rules because you’re going to end up paying more than you would otherwise,” said Chris Sarnoff, a partner with law firm Sarnooff & Associates in Vancouver.
He says businesses with up to $25 million in annual revenue will be able to avoid some or all of their federal, regional and provincial taxes.
The new rules will affect businesses with 10 or more employees, and businesses with 15 or more staff.
The federal government is also extending the maximum number of tax years a business can keep under the new rules to five years.
It will apply to all businesses in Canada, regardless of size, regardless if they’re located in a municipality or not.
Some businesses will have to wait a few more years before they can start paying their taxes again, which could result in a loss of as much as $20-million in the process.
It’s also possible the new system could lead to businesses losing the right to deduct certain expenses from their tax bills.
“It’s a huge win for business owners,” said Kevin MacDonald, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of British Columbia.
“There’s a lot of ways for businesses to be able get the same or higher tax rate.”
He says the changes are expected to cost businesses around $15 billion to $20 billion over the next 10 years.
The rules, which go into effect on Jan. 1, also mean it’s easier for people to file tax returns electronically.
Business owners and businesses can now submit their returns online to the government’s online filing platform, or to a central service.
If you’ve never filed your taxes online before, you can do so through the federal government’s Tax Information Centre.
For businesses, the changes will also allow them to keep track of whether their business is eligible for the provincial, territorial or federal tax credits they can claim.
If they’re eligible, they can use that information to adjust their tax rates to ensure they pay as little as possible.
Some people may think they can save a lot on taxes by avoiding paying tax, but it’s important to remember the rules are designed to be temporary and will last only a few years, said MacDonald.