Sole proprietors are individuals who run their own business and do not have it set up as a corporation or partnership. The biggest difference between them and a corporation is that a sole proprietor does not have separation between their business and themselves. This means that when taxes are filed, all costs that are essential to the operation of the business are tax deductible on the individuals tax return. For example, an electrician who operates as a sole proprietor may earn $80,000 a year in income. However, costs such as materials, vehicle expenses, office space, or marketing (to name a few), are subtracted from the gross income- $80,000 in this case.
If those costs added up to $15,000 in a fiscal year, that sole proprietor really only earns $65,000 of income in the eyes of the lender. That is because the amount they are taxed on is the net income of $65,000 not the gross business income of $80,000. When submitting an application for a sole proprietor, you can either use a 2-year average of the net business income (income qualified) or state the income (stated files) based on history of earnings and the businesses write offs/expenses.
Majority of the time, we take the previous two years of income reported on line 236 of the T1 Generals, add them together, and divide that by two. If a business earned $80,000 of gross income and $65,000 of net income in year 1, and then $90,000 of gross income and $70,000 of net income in year 2, their income in the eyes of the lender is $67,500 ($65,000 + $70,000 = $135,000/2 = $67,500). There is an opportunity to “gross up” the 2-year average by 15%, but that requires a closer look at what the business has claimed as write offs for their business expenses. A gross up of 15% on $67,500 of income would equal $77,625.
Operating a business as a sole proprietor is a small cost when comparing it to a corporation, main reason being there is only one tax return prepared for both the business and the individual. The down side, an individual must pay income tax at the personal tax rate on the entire net income, whether they required all that income or not.
A corporation on the other hand, pays income tax at a different tax rate lower than the personal tax rate. That way, an individual only needs to take the income out of the corporation that they need, decreasing the amount of income tax they pay on their personal tax return (if money is left inside the corporation).
If you are a sole proprietor and are curious to know what kind of mortgage amount you can qualify for, let’s talk!