By LeRae Haynes –
Debbie Seland and her staff at QTax bring years of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to every client, supporting small businesses as they start, and as they continue to grow. The most important timely tip for small businesses right now, according to Seland, is the Red Cross money available for revenue lost during the 2017 fire season.
“You can receive up to $18,500,” she said, adding that she knows first-hand how easy it is to apply, and has helped several of her clients collect.
“I understand how the form works, and can help my clients,” she explained. “I started filling out the form online, but kept getting interrupted and kicked off, so I ended up printing off a hard copy, filling it out, and faxing it in.”
She said when comparing July and August to the previous year, her business showed a loss. “Red Cross pays 60% of what you lost; they sent me a cheque for $14,095. This is definitely worth applying for,” she said, adding the deadline is April 18.
Any and all small businesses can apply, as long as it’s your primary income, according to Seland. Anyone from self-employed roofers, hair dressers, and daycare providers to house cleaners, bookkeepers, and dog groomers: if you have a small business, you can apply.
“The application questions are fairly straightforward. If you need help, I will help you fill out the paper work free of charge and get it sent in,” she continued.
One of the things easily overlooked when people who work from home do their taxes is claiming home and vehicle expenses. “You can claim things like utilities, mortgage interest, home maintenance, cellphone, and internet,” she stated.
“For your vehicle, you can claim fuel, repairs, and even the car wash.
“You need to keep a log of kilometres you drive for your business. Keeping track of your mileage is a big thing. Maybe you’re going to get groceries for home, but you also grab paper products, cleaning supplies, or shop or office items. Circle those items on your receipts and keep track of the mileage.”
She said when someone is starting out as a small business, the first thing she hands them is a sheet of paper listing the income and expenses they can claim. What surprises a lot of people is their cell phone.
Another surprise for people is that, for income tax purposes, the kind of insurance coverage you have on your home or vehicle is not relevant.One of the most rewarding parts of her career is helping people grow their small business.
“One client purchased a small business and faced some struggles. The first year, you have a loss; the second year you might make some money, but you have to pay both current taxes and taxes ahead. You might see four years before you see income,” she explained.
“Now this client is at the point where he’s paid up, paid ahead and he will make money this year.
“It’s the best thing to see clients put their heart and soul into their business, and I love giving them ideas,” she continued.
“I think small business shows initiative, that BC shows independence by having so much small business, and that shopping local is getting better.”
As a bookkeeper for small businesses, she helps the owner stay on top of the bottom line. “I have one client who operates equipment in the bush. I would say to him, you’re missing this, and you need that. Get a shoe box, I said, and keep it on the passenger seat, and throw everything in there. You may not need it, but you won’t be missing things,” she said.
“He showed up with a shoebox, which he said cost him $287. Now he’s never missing any paper work. It was just a matter of finding the right way to get him on track.”
She added that some clients want to learn the bookkeeping themselves, which can be great. “Some have the patience to do it and like to know it all first hand,” said Seland.
“Some, though, hate it and procrastinate and it gets out of hand,” she stated. “That’s where I come in.”
The difference between an accountant and a tax pro bookkeeper is that an accountant does things like corporate taxes, audits and reviews, business analyses, and projections, and a bookkeeper does the day-to-day entries, payroll, and GST reports.
At QTax they are tax pros and bookkeepers, and they’re all about small business.
Seland started her own small business eight years ago, experiencing the first few lean years, as well as the five-year mark where things turned around. “I learned about things like pre-paid GST, parking for staff, and hidden costs,” she said. “And when it turned, I saw my vision of what I wanted come to pass.
“When you’re starting a new business, it’s critical to do some research about the kind of business you want to start. You need to talk to other small business owners and start building a network.
“I’ll be your sounding board,” she offered.“I’ve seen a lot of small businesses start from an idea—from a vision. I’ve watched them grow, offering support, encouragement, and ideas, at no charge.”
Last year, a QTax staff member said to Seland, “I totally get your vision. It’s not about the money. It’s about the whole package—helping people with it all. Your vision is the whole person and their life.”
“Money factors in, but it’s not the main factor,” said Seland. “My staff and clients are people, and it really isn’t about the money: it’s about working together.”
For more information about QTax, including applying for Red Cross funds for your small business, preparing your income tax, and getting your business on the best possible footing, phone (250) 392-6502, visit at 118 – 1 Ave N, or find them at QTAX Williams Lake on Facebook.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.