Talking tips and taxes with Sunny: An interview with personal tax advisor, Sunny Widerman

Interview by Marta Orellana; copy edited by Louise Standish

Sunny Widerman

Are you self-employed or interested in starting out an exciting new endeavour, but the world of taxes just has you scratching your head?

Learning the basics of running your business means you need to understand how the financial and tax aspects of it work.

Editors BC is looking forward to hosting Sunny Widerman’s informative seminar on this topic, providing you with an easy-to-understand, jargon-free introduction to everything you need to know.

Let’s meet our presenter, Sunny.  

Hello, Sunny. Can you share with us anything about yourself? What do you love doing every day? And what are some of your hobbies? 

When I’m not helping people feel at ease with their taxes, I enjoy cooking, crafting, and making charts. I also sing and play the ukulele—you can find me on YouTube 🙂

Well, that’s pretty cool!

And what do you do at work, on a daily basis? Is there a favourite thing about your job you’d like to share with readers?

As an entrepreneur myself, I do a bit of everything—working on tax projects for clients, training and managing my staff, writing blog posts, and researching—I’m always learning about new aspects of tax law.

My favourite thing about my job is that it allows me to make a little order out of chaos: turning a jumble of numbers into a clean tax return, helping a confused person become a tax boss, and helping the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) understand what’s going on with our clients (and vice versa).

Also, I’ve never seen an Excel workbook I didn’t love.

What drew you to the field you work in? How did you get started?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a tax professional…said no one, ever.

Like a lot of people who find their calling, it was an accident. I was between jobs and consulting with a money-and-tax person to find out what I should do with my tiny severance package. She looked over my tax return to get a sense of my financial picture, and rather than give me investment advice, she offered me a job! Temporarily, you know, until I found something else.

That was twenty years ago.

What has been your biggest success factor?

If I dug deep enough? Great parents, probably.

But more practically, I’m very organized and slightly obsessed with efficient systems. I’ve also been told I’m a little OCD, but just enough to make me good at my job. I’m always driven to get things juuuuuust exaaaaactly RIGHT.

In something like tax preparation, it’s a good personality trait to have. Did I mention how much I love Excel?

(Also, back when I was more hands-on, I used to sing for my clients. So that was a thing.)

What sort of questions do you find most of your freelance or self-employed client have? 

They worry about setting enough money aside for tax, keeping good records, and of course everything relating to the GST/HST.

Do you have any favourite tips or resources you share with some of your freelance or self-employed clients?

  1. Set aside at least 20% of everything you bill so you can pay your taxes.
  2. Register for the GST/HST once you hit $30,000 per year in revenue.
  3. Open any letters you receive from CRA promptly and READ them.
  4. Know your filing deadlines and meet them.

All of this I cover in my tax webinar, and I give out some great take-home materials as well.

So, I hope everyone with questions can attend!

What can one do today to make tax time easier on them?

Set up a simple system for saving your business receipts that you can manage. It doesn’t need to be complicated; a shoebox is fine, so long as you consistently put your receipts in there.

And don’t miss filing deadlines!

These are really great tips! What do you hope attendees will take away from your seminar?

Taxes are something you—yes you…even if you hate numbers!—really can get on top of. You should, and absolutely can, understand what you’re doing, at least in a general sense.

Once you know the basics, it’s just a matter of forming good habits and being consistent, and everything will be fine.

Thank you, Sunny. We look forward to your timely and valuable seminar.


Marta Orellana lives in North Vancouver, BC. She is a copy editor, translator, and proofreader, specializing in Web writing and editing as well as academic and technical writing. Marta is also a French Immersion teacher and a polyglot, whose love of language is what has driven her appreciation for the written word.

Louise Standish works as a wildlife technician for the state of Alaska, where much of her time is spent verifying database entries and compiling and archiving information gathered in aerial wildlife surveys. Past work as museum director and as a news writer and producer in public radio sealed her love of editing. Volunteering with Editors Canada helps (her) keep this interest kindled and offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.

Image provided by Sunny Widerman

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