National News

Tax pain? There's an app for that

By Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Taxes may foster fear and panic among many small and medium-sized businesses owners in Canada, but a new government initiative aims to make them less of a pain in the app.

A new mobile application released Thursday by the Canada Revenue Agency for Apple iOS, Google Android and BlackBerry allows business owners to create alerts for payments, returns and remittances.

Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay introduced the app in Vancouver, saying the technology was developed after members of the business community told government they wanted convenient reminders by a mobile device, not by mail, about agency deadlines.

"It is more about just trying to help small business focus on what their priorities are, which is their business, and not having to get all these paper reminders and be in a bit of a panic," she said.

The free download — a first for the agency — is available on the CRA website and at app stores.

Findlay said the app is recommended for small and medium-sized businesses with annual revenues less than $20 million and fewer than 500 employees.

Laura Jones of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the app is a less formal and more modern way to remind people about their tax obligations.

"A letter from CRA can be a bit scary," she said. "Even if it is just a reminder about filing, it can give you that sort of moment of panic."

The app may sound like a small thing, but most small businesses have fewer than five employees and do not have administrative assistants, she said.

"They are juggling an awful lot of different obligations from various levels of government, as well as their own obligations to their customers and their employees. So something as simple as having a reminder can make a big difference in your day."

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