If the only things certain in life are death and taxes, Andy Wong has got you covered for at least one.
The accountant at Crowe MacKay is striking out on his own and opening a new storefront tax consulting business in downtown Yellowknife.
Wong’s practice will focus on personal tax, corporate tax and estate planning, and will be located at 5016-47 Street.
Wong, who starts a new column in News/North on Monday, hopes his new business will “kick the service level up a notch.”
The North is a unique place, as far as taxation goes, in both dollar terms and complexity.
“The northern residency deduction is very complicated, and the dollar amount that is involved is not insignificant,” Wong said this week.
“So if you understand the inner workings, you stand to benefit financially, and if you don’t, you’re going to lose money, it’s that simple.”
The Northern residency deduction consists of an amount a resident can claim for living in a Northern region, and may also include a travel benefit for up to two trips, depending on a resident’s employment agreement.
Wong says that Northwest Territories residents who are entitled to it frequently don’t claim the travel deduction.
Eligible northern residents, he said, can claim, typically, up to about $1,000 for accommodation, meals and transportation for two trips anywhere.
Though not as complex as the travel benefit, the Northern housing deduction also creates confusion among taxpayers.
Wong says the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does not always administer Northern deductions correctly.
“I know this may sound surprising, but the fact is, they don’t understand the rules,” he said.
Part of the problem, said Wong, is that the CRA doesn’t have a tax centre that specializes in Northern claims, and many CRA outlets aren’t particularly well-versed in the Northern residency deduction.
Wong said Winnipeg has relatively strong Northern tax knowledge.
In addition to consulting, Wong taught university-level accounting in China and presented tax seminars to the Certified Public Accountants Association
After 31 years in public practice, Wong will open his new business, Tax NT, on Dec. 1.