Checklist for new small businesses

This checklist is for people like you who are starting a business. Using the links below, you can get information about your fiscal obligations and their implications. You can also get information on interactions between your business and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Follow the checklist step by step, returning to it after exploring each link. For more information after consulting these links, go to Small business and self-employed.

Before you start

For income tax purposes, we define a business as an activity where there is a reasonable expectation of profit and there is evidence to support that intention. For goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) purposes, a business also includes any activity whether or not it is engaged in for profit and any regular or continuous activity that involves supplying property by way of lease, licence or similar arrangement.

The type of structure you choose for your business has a significant effect on the way you report your income. The business structure impacts the type of tax returns you file each year, and many other matters. 

To find out the impact that your choice of structure might have on your business, consult each of the links below:

Start a business

Are you an employer—Determining if you have employees and requesting a determination of an individual’s employment status.

Business number and CRA program accounts— Getting a unique number for your business to simplify your dealings with federal and provincial governments as well as municipal jurisdictions.

CRA program accounts—Adding one of the available program accounts listed below to your business number (BN). For specific information on any of these accounts, click on the appropriate links below:

Business income and expenses— Reporting business income, business expenses, and completing a statement of business or professional activities.

Keeping records—Knowing what you need to keep, and for how long.

My Business Account—Dealing with the CRA from a secure online portal on various business accounts, including GST/HST, payroll, corporation income tax, excise tax, and excise duties.

E-services for Businesses—Making it faster and easier with our online services to handle your business tax matters. You, your employee, or representative can file your returns, make payments, determine entitlement to credits, register for direct deposit, and do much more.

Business income tax reporting— Reporting your business earnings and paying income tax on those earnings.

Bring assets into a business—Transferring assets from one business structure to another, buying an existing business and establishing fair market value.

File a GST/HST return—Getting information about filing your GST/HST returns.

Payroll—Getting information and forms associated with amounts you withhold from the remuneration and other income amounts you pay.

Corporate income tax returns

Import and Export—Getting information about importing and exporting goods.

Changing your business status— Getting information on how to change a business status and the possible effects of making such a change.

For additional information

For more detailed information, including topics not covered in this checklist, go to Small business and self-employed.

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