Tax Tips for Moving Expenses Published!

I’m proud to have another of my “Tax Tips” articles published in the Cowichan Valley Voice magazine! Tax Tips for Moving Expenses appears in the March 2018 issue. Check it out!

-Alicia Loewen


Scam Alert! Don’t fall for fake CRA eTransfer

I’m sharing this from last year becuase this scam is making the rounds again! It also comes in a text message eTransfer format.

A client sent me this screenshot today of an email that looks like an eTransfer from CRA. This is a scam used to steal your banking info. The real CRA will only send payments by cheque or pre-authorized direct deposit.


Simple Tips for Financial Freedom – PART 2

Welcome to PART 2 of Simple Tips for Financial Freedom! If you missed PART 1, check it out here.

The key to having financial freedom is to get your money to a point of positive cash flow. If you are making a decent income but you still live paycheque to paycheque, it is because you have negative cash flow

Cash Flow is an accounting concept, but it can be illustrated simply, as follows:

Incoming Cash (Paycheques) – Outgoing Cash (Bills & Spending) = +/- Cash Flow

Many people think that they just need to make more money to get ahead. This often backfires, because as their income increases, people tend to spend more money and take out bigger loans. Here are my tips for pulling yourself out of that negative debt circle!

Don’t buy a home that will make you “house poor”. 

There is a great divide between what the bank will allow you to borrow and what you can reasonably afford. A standard affordability metric is that you should only be spending 35% of your income on housing costs (including utilities, home insurance, and property tax). Here is a fun/depressing mortgage affordability calculator! The term house poor refers to the situation where a person has over-extended their personal budget to buy a house. Someone who is house poor may appear to others to be doing well financially because they have the trappings of wealth, but they are probably struggling to pay other bills because they are up to their neck in mortgage payments. Just because the bank will lend you X dollars, does not mean that you should borrow X dollars. When you are shopping for a house, determine what your budget will be beforehand and then stick to it unequivocally. Don’t even view houses that are over your budget because you will be tempted to go over!


My 1st house was the cheapest on the market! What, you mean, yellow and brown does not say “curb appeal”?

If you get a chunk of unexpected money, put it against your debt.

I know, I know. This one is awful! It’s painfully boring, but if you are serious about getting out of debt quickly, you need to put any “extra” lump sums against it. Maybe your employer gives you an annual bonus or you get a tax refund: pay that against your debt right away. Think of it this way, that money wasn’t part of your regular monthly budget so you aren’t going to miss it! Paying monthly amounts against debt is great, but its a very slow process, so you can really speed up the timeline with lump sum payments. If you absolutely cannot stomach paying the full amount, set aside 10% and allow yourself to buy a special “treat” with that. This one sucks in the short term, but it will be worth it over time.

Pay off the highest interest loans first – The Debt Avalanche Method

Once you’ve sorted out your monthly budget, determine the maximum amount that you can put towards your debts in a month. Next, order your debts by interest rate from highest to lowest (exclude a mortgage) and indicate what the minimum required payments are. If you don’t know the interest rates you are paying, now would be a good time to find out those details.
Here is a sample situation:

Personal Line of Credit 21% – Minimum payment $0
Credit Card 19.5% – Minimum payment $100
Auto Loan 7% – Minimum payment $300
Student Loan 5.5% – Minimum payment $150

Let’s say in this example, you had determined from your monthly budget that you could afford to pay $800/month against all debts. What you would do is pay the minimum payments on everything other than the highest interest rate debt. Attack that high interest loan with the largest payment you can! This is called the Debt Avalanche Method, which I prefer because you will pay the least amount of interest over time. Another option is the Debt Snowball Method (see infographic below) and this may be preferable if you know that you are a person who needs to see a quick return to be motivated to follow through with something.

Student Loan Infographic

Let’s see how that avalanche goes!

Personal Line of Credit 21% – Pay $250
Credit Card 19.5% – Pay Minimum payment $100
Auto Loan 7% – Pay Minimum payment $300
Student Loan 5.5% – Pay Minimum payment $150
TOTAL $800

Now this is where the magic happens! Once that Personal Line of Credit is paid off, you continue to pay $800/month but redistribute the maximum to the next highest interest rate loan.

Credit Card 19.5% – Pay $350
Auto Loan 7% – Pay Minimum payment $300
Student Loan 5.5% – Pay Minimum payment $150
TOTAL $800

Auto Loan 7% – Pay $650
Student Loan 5.5% – Pay Minimum payment $150
TOTAL $800

Student Loan 5.5% – Pay $800
TOTAL $800

BOOM! This strategy will pay off your debts the fastest and will result in paying the least amount of interest over time! You can set the payments as automatic bill payments in your online banking to help you stick to the schedule you’ve created.

Focus on the big picture. 

It can be very difficult to stick to a debt repayment plan if you are watching people around you go on vacations, buy new vehicles, and nice homes. It may feel like everyone else has more money than you, when in reality, they probably just have more debt than you.

People often say “money can’t buy happiness” but how many people’s actions follow that sentiment? 

I’ll tell you what does bring happiness: less stress and more time spent with the people you love. Be grateful for what you do have and focus on your goals and dreams for the future. Imagine what it would feel like to go on a vacation that you had saved cash for, and to not be fighting with your spouse about the credit card statement, and to drive around in a car that was fully paid for. It will be a struggle and you will have to make sacrifices, but it will be worth it.

Notice that I didn’t title this article Simple Tips for Financial Success. It’s called Simple Tips for Financial Freedom, because that’s how I feel.


How Cloud-Based Bookkeeping Can Grow Your Business

Many small business owners are frustrated by their current bookkeeping system. You are either spending valuable time to do it yourself, probably on a spreadsheet or struggling with software you haven’t had full training on, or organizing and delivering stacks of paperwork to your bookkeeper every month.

What we do at Coastal Tax and Accounting Services is radically different from traditional accounting firms. By using the best cloud-based accounting software and a hand selected combination of apps tailored to your business, we provide a solution for your books that goes beyond basic record-keeping and tax compliance.

What is “Cloud-Based”? It means online, a software that you log into from a web address from any PC or Mac computer, tablet, or phone. It means your financial data is stored on a secure online server that is automatically backed up. It means you see what your accountant sees and numbers are updated in real time. It means you can burn your file cabinet and never keep another paper receipt or print out a bank statement ever again. Seriously.


Here are a few more of the many benefits of making the crossover to the cloud…

  • Issue invoices to your customers when you are away from the office.
  • Accept credit card payments through a simple “Pay Now” button on your invoices that are emailed to the customer.
  • Use your smartphone to take pictures of expense receipts… then throw them away! Do not organize them by date, by expense category, or by vendor. Just take pictures of any receipts you have and be done with it.
  • Stop logging in to multiple sites every month to find your bank statement, credit card statement, utility bills, telephone bills, etc. Have those bills automatically fetched for you through a secure portal and shared with your accountant.
  • Stop wasting time and gas driving to your accountant’s office to drop off paperwork.
  • Never pay for another software upgrade – online software is automatically and constantly updated to the newest version.
  • Have peace of mind that your financial data is backed up on secure online servers. Never worry about a hard drive crash or pay for backup storage.
  • Sync with your existing apps such as Google Calendar, PayPal, Square, Shopify, Dream Payments, and many more!

For a free consultation on Monthly Cloud-Based Bookkeeping packages offered by Coastal Tax please fill in the inquiry form. This helps us get to know your business a bit before meeting and also provides more information on the services we offer!

Welcome to the future!

-Alicia Loewen

How to File Your Taxes Without Leaving the House in 5 Easy Steps

See how easy it can be to file your taxes with Coastal Tax! Traditional accounting firms will require you to come in for appointments during the work day to drop off slips and sign forms, but this model doesn’t work for everyone. At Coastal Tax, the majority of returns are done entirely online! Contact Alicia at for more info.

Woman using phone and relaxing at end of the day with feet up

Tools Required: Printer, Scanner or good quality camera phone/tablet

STEP 1:  Email an inquiry to describing your tax situation to set up an initial phone call with Alicia.

STEP 2: You will receive an invite to our online client portal Intuit Link which is a secure site where we can share documents back and forth. Coastal Tax will have created a custom tax checklist and questionnaire for you to respond to. We do need your SIN to create the account. You are able to sign in to Intuit Link from your phone and take pictures of any slips you have and attach them to the checklist items. We have posted a short video about Intuit Link here.

STEP 3:  If you have a small self-employed business or rental income, we have an Excel template that you can use to summarize your income and expenses. Otherwise, provide us with your Balance Sheet, Income Statement (Profit & Loss), and General Ledger from your bookkeeping records.

STEP 4: There are a few CRA authorization forms that we will need you to print out, sign, and then upload scanned copies to Intuit Link. If you don’t have access to a scanner we recommend the free app Scannable by Evernote. If you have a decent camera phone this will convert a picture into a nice clear PDF file for us to submit to CRA.

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Pour yourself your favourite drink and wait for Coastal Tax to do the work. Maybe go on a ski holiday for the weekend or you could whip up that new curry recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Finally get to folding that mountain of laundry and take the dog/cat/pygmy marmoset for a walk. You’ll probably get a few follow up questions from Coastal Tax to make sure that everything has been covered.

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STEP 5:  Review the PDF tax summary you will get from Coastal Tax and let us know that you approve. Send your payment for our invoice via Interac eTransfer, Mastercard, or Visa and you’re done! You will receive an EFILE confirmation number shortly after and a PDF copy of your full tax return to keep on file.

Review the Tax Checklist now to get organized. If you need to catch up on previous years see the post Tax Tips for Late Filers!


Alicia Loewen, Coastal Tax