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Discussion on: Canadians Beware! The Personal Service Business

j_at_canosie profile image
Jay C Author

hi Idog
Sorry for the late reply. I just wanted to share some of the things I've researched and forward the information I've gotten from accountants.

Technically speaking, not all penalties are prorated to how much profit a company makes (i.e. a company can get penalized for x amount regardless of their net profit/loss). That being said, even as a PSB, you can write off salary as an expense. Since most developers have low operating costs, if you write off most of your income as salary, then the amount of bad-business deductions you can get penalized for is low.

Though I have heard similar concerns regarding side projects, I'll share with you what I've been told. You have to show that you are 'putting in effort' in obtaining additional clients. It is very normal for legit freelancers to have 1 or 2 major anchor clients and a number of other small clients. The income distribution between their anchor clients and 90% of the rest can be quite significant- but they are still non-PSB. It comes down to how you operate and carry out business.

As a contractor I know what you might be going though. Many companies require contractors to become incorporated. If your operating costs are low you can take your accountants advice and declare that income as coming from PSB sources. There might not be a significant difference in your take home pay.

Different accountants and lawyers have different perspectives on the subject - but many have their own agenda as well when they recommend different things. In the end, it comes down to the nature of your business and risk tolerance.

If it's your first year as contracting, it is very common for freelancers to have just one client - so the risks of having your corporation be tagged as a PSB is low...unless you have unusual expenses.....

idog profile image

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the information. Till now I've been a freelance developer for more than 1 year, and things have been more clear for me.

As you said, one accountant also expressed the same thing, for example, you need to show that you've been looking for new clients actively, and you can also do some side project, even it is as small as fixing a PC for a friend...

I'd say that this rule itself is not very fare for software developers. For other jobs like plumber, one will have a lot of clients by nature. But for developers, usually one takes a big project, that requires one to sit in client's office working together with other developers or contractors. In this case, it's difficult to keep another major client, unless one finishes one project and goes into another one.

But I will keep doing this anyway, as it gives one a lot of freedom at work (for example, you don't need to attend most of the meetings, and also don't need to consider most of things other than the work itself). I had been working as permanent employees all the time until I started this contract job. I found that I could hardly work in one job for more than 2 years for various reasons, and this new style suits me quite well :-)