Virtual Accountant — FAQs

What is a virtual accountant?

A virtual accountant is a real accountant who works in the ‘cloud’.   Virtual accounting allows qualified accountants to offer services remotely. Businesses across the Canada are taking advantage of this efficient, flexible, and cost-effective accounting option so that they can meet their business goals by focusing on their core business.

Why would I want to work with you as a virtual accountant?

This would make sense for you if:

  • You find it difficult to get in to see your accountant.
  • You travel a lot.
  • You live in a small community in Alberta or British Columbia and you don’t have access to a professional accountant (CPA).
  • You already have most of your information online.
  • You prefer to work on line.

Who doesn’t this work for?

  • This wouldn’t make sense for someone who is looking for traditional accounting services. Ie: Face to face in person meetings.
  • It doesn’t make sense if you are uncomfortable being online
  • You don’t want to have your data in the cloud.
  • You prefer to pay someone to manage the paper – want to just hand over the ‘shoebox’.
  • You like the paper and aren’t ready to go online.

If I want to work online can I still meet you?

Of course you can.  We can meet online via Skype or you can come to my office in Kelowna, British Columbia.  I also am regularly in Calgary Alberta and would be happy to arrange a meeting while there.

Is my data safe?

Once your data is online you do lose some control over it.  That is an unfortunate side effect of cloud based systems.  Your banking, your credit card information and even the Canada Revenue Agency are all online these days.  Even if you don’t actively put your information on line – it’s there.  To be safe, use only reputable service providers and make sure you have good passwords that you change regularly.

Who are you?

My name is Michelle Duford.  I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and I am a real person. I am registered to provide public practice services (basically tax services) in British Columbia and Alberta.

I live in beautiful Kelowna British Columbia. I have been doing this since 2002.  I have a systems background and I have embraced cloud technology.

Who is working on my file?

All of your work is done in Canada – nothing goes offshore.  You will be working directly with me and my staff.

What kind of services do you provide virtually?

  • Tax returns and yearend financial statements for small incorporated businesses
  • Tax planning
  • Bookkeeping training and review
  • Bookkeeping if you don’t want to do it yourself
  • Personal Tax returns (for corporate clients)

Ok I am in, what’s next how does this all work?

First contact me and let me know what services you want.  All of my services can be found on my website under ‘Services’.  You can even request a meeting under the ‘Contact Me’ menu.

Once we decide to work together, I will send you an engagement letter to sign as well as estimated fees for your file and a list of things I might need.

How do I get my information to you?

There are a number of ways you can get your information to me.

Shared online folders.  This is simple, you copy your scanned information to a shared folder, we use what we need and put the completed documents there for you to sign

I recommend Sync.Com at www.sync.com.  They are based in Canada and provide 5G of storage for free.  The only one in the list that’s 100% Canadian.

While not based in Canada many people are already using the following services.

There are other services out there. As well many cloud based bookkeeping systems let you upload your expenses and bank information directly to your bookkeeping file.  QuickBooks, Wave, Xero for example.

E-courier.ca.  E-courier is more like secure email than a shared folder.  While you still scan in your information, instead of saving to a shared folder it gets sent like an email.  This does not go through regular email channels and is secure so is safe to send things like T4’s, SIN etc.

Are there any online bookkeeping services you recommend?

Yes, while I recommend QuickBooks Online, there are a multitude of online bookkeeping systems you can use.

* Please note that Freshbooks isn’t a complete accounting system, if you use Freshbooks, there is still bookkeeping to be done.

Still have questions?

Send me a email to info@dufordcpa.ca or call me at: 250-763-7923.

Michelle Duford, CPA

 

Warning about Fraudulent Calls from CRA

Here are some recent examples of CRA fraud attempts:

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Caller identifies themself as from CRA and that there has been crimes committed against the CRA and that your file has been submitted to the Federal Court and that there is a warrant out for your arrest.  The call display is area code 647 (Toronto).  Needless to say this is a somewhat distressing call to receive.  If you received this type of call the RCMP Fraud line is 1-888-495-8501.

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The culprits pose as employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Citizenship and Immigration Canada , threatening jail or deportation if fictitious fees or over-due taxes are not paid.

“The victim is then directed to pay the purported fees through e-transfer, money wire transfer or the purchase of pre-paid gift cards, which they are directed to mail to a specific address,” police said in a release.

CRA officials say they are aware of the scam.

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There is also a phone and email scam where a fraudster purports to be a Canada Revenue Agency representative and pressures the potential victim into paying a non-existent debt.

RCMP say they’ve received a number of complaints. Police say people are being called by someone claiming to be from the tax agency who uses threatening and coercive language.

People are also being emailed a link to a website that looks to be the CRA’s and asked to enter personal information.

Police say the revenue agency will never ask for information about your passport, health card or driver’s licence. It will also never leave personal information on an answering machine, or ask you to do the same.

If you want to confirm a call really is from the CRA, call them using a number listed on their website.

Police say you should also ask yourself the following:

  • Am I expecting additional money from the CRA?
  • Does this sound too good to be true?
  • Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
  • Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
  • How did the requester get my email address or telephone number?
  • Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
  • Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?

For more information on these scams and what to do, go to the CRA site at the following link.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/ntcs/bwr-eng.html

You can also talk to your accountant who will be able to act on your behalf and ensure that the call is legitimate.

 

Why use a professional accountant?

Kelowna is a city that attracts new people on a regular basis. Known as being business friendly many people move here and immediately start a new business. Of course one of the first things you need as a small business owner is an accountant. Oh where to start!

Start with a professional, you can’t afford not to.

Unlike many other professionals, anyone can call themselves an accountant. The term accountant is not reserved or in any way restricted. This does not mean that a non-designated accountant is not competent, it only means that they do not have to adhere to the standards of professional accountants.

Professional accountants, CGA’s, CA’s and CMA’s study for many years and are required to pass rigorous examinations before they can use their designations. Additionally, professional accountants are required to keep their knowledge up to date, which is closely monitored by the respective associations. Public accountants must go one step further and attend additional training and are required to carry insurance.

If that wasn’t enough every three years, a mandatory practice review is conducted by the associations to ensure the quality of the work performed meets the high standards that you have come to expect.

Ethics play a very big role for professional accountants. What that means is that you should expect professionalism and strong ethics from your accountant or from other professionals you may deal with.

Most people aren’t aware this but regardless of who prepares your tax return, you are ultimately still responsible for its contents.  You want to make sure that it is done correctly.

For more information on professional accountants you can contact one of the three accounting associations in British Columbia —  Certified General Accountants (CGA), Chartered Accountants (CA) and Certified Management Accountants (CMA).  In 2013 all Professional Accountants in Canada have merged and are now Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA)

Get it done right and use a professional accountant!

I am Chartered Professional Accountant serving small businesses in Kelowna and Lake Country.  Please visit my website at: www.dufordcpa.ca for more information.

 

How to keep your accounting costs down

As a small business, I understand that you are looking to keep your costs down. The easiest way to keep your accounting costs to a minimum is to be organized and not use your accountant as a bookkeeper. Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Get a good bookkeeper (or at a minimum take a bookkeeping course)

If you want to do the bookkeeping yourself, consider moving to the cloud.  If you run a small business check out  www.kashoo.com or www.waveaccounting.com.  However, before you do this, check out my post regarding online accounting systems.

Both of these sites offer ‘free’ online bookkeeping options for small businesses.

If you are more comfortable working off of your desktop QuickBooks Pro is the way to go.

Keep all your documents, and keep them organized !

CRA requires a minimum of 7 years. For more information on CRA’s retention polices click here .

  • Organize your information by type (ie: Bank statements, fuel expenses, CRA statements etc)
  • Further refine by month or quarter if you have a lot of expenses)
  • Mark on your invoices and bills how they were paid (ie: chq #, company visa, personal debit) and when.
  • If not showing on bill or invoice indicate what was purchased.
  • Keep a travel log of your business travel if you use the same vehicle for both personal and business.
  • Mark on your business lunch receipts who you took for lunch and why.
  • Make sure the receipt is in your business name.

Whatever you do, don’t put your receipts in a box or bag and drop them off to your accountant.  Your fees will definitely go up and you might just be looking for a new accountant next year!

Want to go Paperless?  Check out my post that discusses how to be organized in a paperless setting.

Have more questions?  Feel free to contact me at:info@dufordcpa.ca or visit me on my website at www.dufordcpa.ca