Record-keeping can be a nightmare for small business, particularly considering the implications of getting it wrong. The vast majority of larger businesses have teams or external suppliers to keep track of tax information, payroll, HST and other crucial elements, but this isn’t always possible for smaller companies.
In fact, many small businesses use a fairly simple program such as Microsoft Excel to keep track of important information, but this can come with risks – particularly given the previous examples of Excel errors costing businesses huge sums of money.
To help you in keeping effective records, let’s start with what documents and information a business should provide to its accountant in order to file its business taxes, specifically payroll, HST and income tax:
- If you do your bookkeeping yourself, provide a softcopy of your records
- A copy of all your Bank statements for the year.
- A copy of all your business credit card statements for the year.
- Cancelled cheques, cheque stubs and bank deposit book for the year
- Copies of all invoices issued
- List of Accounts Receivables
- List of Bad debts
- List of year-end inventory (including the cost)
- Invoices for capital assets purchased during the year (e.g. computers, furniture etc.)
- Details of assets disposed of during the year
- Copies of all expense receipts
- List of Accounts Payable
- Details of all bank loans
- List of all payroll payments during the year showing gross amount, withholdings and net amount paid.
- Mileage log
- Record of any expenses you paid for the business
Tips on recordkeeping
It is very important to have a record keeping system in place from the first day of business operations. To ensure you’re using a suitable program, consult with your accountant on how to keep the records they will need, and the best ways to provide them with this information.
After your tax filing deadline, consider filing your income and expense receipts in “tax” folders, as opposed to putting them in categories. If you are audited, then all the data used in the tax return is in one place. You simply pick up the folder, and hand it to the auditor. You can use tabs to separate the docs in the categories on the tax return.
We would also strongly recommend you utilise electronic record-keeping, as opposed to holding only physical copies of all your documents. This will make them far easier to organise and search, and will give you back-up copies in the event of fire, theft or loss.