Archive of ‘Taxes’ category

Should You Use Hubdoc to Organize Your Receipts?

| Business, Small Business, Taxes

Should You Use Hubdoc to Organize Your Receipts?

You’re looking for a way to keep your receipts organized and the tools that I mentioned in this post (Shoeboxed, Receipt Bank, Evernote) just aren’t enough.

You need something more robust that will keep track of ALL of your documents. So what do you do?

I recommend using Hubdoc.

Like all software and tools, it’s not perfect, but after using the most popular tools on the market with my bookkeeping clients, this one has the majority of what I need.

My clients send everything to the software, it inputs all of the numbers for me and I just check for category and accuracy.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • iPhone and Android mobile app – Like the other tools, Hubdoc has its own mobile app so you can take pictures of physical receipts.
  • Alternative methods of sending receipts – You can also email digital receipts and scan documents to upload them to the site.
  • Integration – It connects to all of your bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, etc. You don’t have to do anything because everything connects and is accounted for. Plus, it works easily with my favorite bookkeeping software Xero. You can also connect it with QuickBooks Online,, and box.
  • Automatic syncing – Once you have all of the categories you want set up, your receipts will be automatically synced to the correct one. Yay for ease.

Here’s what I think could be better:

  • Inaccurate recognition – Sometimes the software doesn’t know what the receipt says, so it will send that receipt to a “failed” list. When that happens, it won’t automatically sync into the correct category.
  • Currency confusion – For some reason, it can’t understand the differences in currencies. My Australian client’s receipts always get defaulted to the American dollar, which is super annoying because I have to go in and constantly correct it.


  • Founded in: 2011
  • Free trial: Yes! 14 days.
  • Price: $20 (USD) per month

Overall, I’m really happy with how much time it saves me, the ease of using the software for me and my clients, and the price.

Have other questions about Hubdoc? Leave them in the comments below!

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3 Alternatives to Keeping Your Receipts in a Shoebox

| Bookkeeping, Small Business, Taxes

Alternatives to Keeping Your Receipts in a Shoebox

One receipt laying on your desk is not so bad, but 127 receipts from the past six months? Yeah, that takes up a liiiiitle more space.

This applies to digital clutter, too. If you keep all of your digital receipts and invoices in your email inbox, I’m looking at you.

So, if you’re having trouble figuring out how to organize your receipts so you’re not scrambling again at tax season and spending hours inputting data, I have some suggestions.

Here are 3 alternatives to keeping your receipts in shoeboxes, on countertops, and in your wallet.

3 Online Tools for Organizing Your Business Receipts

1) Shoeboxed

Unlike what the name suggests, this app does not help you keep your receipts in a shoebox. It does, however, provide a smart way for you to scan in your receipts and organize them online.

Once you download the app to your phone, you’ll be able to save images of receipts. Other cool things you can do with Shoeboxed?

  • Organize invoices
  • Track your mileage
  • Save business cards
  • Archive receipts from Gmail
  • Create expense reports

If you’d rather not scan in the receipts yourself, you can send them in using what they call a “magic envelope”.

Here’s what I like about it: So many things. The scanning process takes all of the data into the system for you, so there’s no data entry required from you. I like that it integrates with the accounting software that I use, like Xero and WaveApps. (They also integrate with Quickbooks, Evernote, and a variety of other tools.) I also really like that all of the data is verified by a real human being. That means there is less room for tech bugs getting in the way and messing up data about your expenses. Oh, and once the info is in the system, you can search all of it by entering keywords.

Here’s what I think could be better: A couple things. Shoeboxed doesn’t automatically integrate with Freshbooks. You have to download the csv file and upload it to Freshbooks, which adds another admin task to your plate.

Price: between $15 – $69 per month

Free Trial: Yep! 30 days.

Multicurrency: Yes.

Founded in: 2007

2) Receipt Bank

Receipt Bank is a tool that’s geared toward accountants and bookkeepers who are managing their clients’ receipts.

You can upload receipts via a mobile app, through email, or by uploading them directly from your computer. Plus, they accept all kinds of file types — jpg, png, doc, pdf, tiff, zip, etc.

From there, their software takes the data from your documents, inputs it, and categorizes it in the cloud.

What I like about it: It integrates with Dropbox, Xero, and Freshbooks, and I like the easy setup.

What I think they could do better: You have to review all of the data inputted to make sure it’s been coded correctly, which is more likely since it’s not reviewed by a member of the Receipt Bank team. It doesn’t integrate with WaveApps or Zoho Books. Finally, I ended up moving from Receipt Bank to Hubdoc because I needed the ability to take bank statements.

Price: between $25 – $55 per month

Free Trial: Yep! 14 days.

Multicurrency: Yes.

Founded in: 2010

3) Evernote

If you’re looking for a free solution to receipt organization, you can use a workaround with the app Evernote.

All you have to do is create a notebook for receipts, take a picture of the receipt using their photo capability in the app, and then add some text to the note.

Then, if you want to find the receipt in the future, you can search for it using Evernote’s full-text search feature.

What I like about it: You can clip receipts from your email using Evernote’s web clipper, and you can search for text inside the images, which is pretty cool.

What I don’t like about this solution: You still have to input data into your bookkeeping software. It’s not great for companies that are handling a lot of transactions because the data entry will pile up. I’d recommend using something more robust like the tools above or Hubdoc.

Price: FREE up to 1gb of data.

Have questions about other receipt organization apps? Let me know in the comments below.

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{Small Business Tutorial} How to Set Up Tax Rates in Xero

| Small Business, Taxes, Tutorial

{Small Business Tutorial}: How to Set Up Tax Rates in Xero











Xero is a fantastic cloud-based accounting software for small businesses, but if you’re not an accountant or a bookkeeper, it can get confusing really fast.

And if you really want to be able to use it to benefit your business, you’ll want to make sure it’s set up correctly. That way, your sales are accurately recording and you’re not overpaying at the end of the year in taxes.

One of the things I see small business owners struggle with when they’re managing their books DIY is setting up their tax rates in Xero.

This is something you MUST do before report your good and services tax (GST) and your harmonized sales tax (HST). Luckily, it only takes six steps to get it set up correctly. After that, we’ll go through how to fill out the government form for GST and HST step-by-step.

How to Set a Default Tax Rate

Before reporting GST/HST,  you must first set up your tax rates in Xero.

1) From the Dashboard, go to General Settings

2) In General Settings, click on Tax Rates

3) Click on New Tax Rate

4) A popup will appear where you can enter your tax rate. In this example, I’ve written GST 5% which is Canada’s Goods and Services Tax at 5%. Click Save.

TIP: If your business is in the US, you can enter your State and Federal taxes the same way.

5) What I like to do for myself is create separate tax rates for my purchases and sales. It will help when you look at reports. Stay tuned!

How to Look at a Sales Tax Report

6) From the Dashboard again, let’s take a look at the Sales Tax Report!

7) Here’s a Sales Tax Report for US and Canadian companies. The numbers on the far right are the ones that will go on the Sales Tax report (Canada).

Positive numbers are the tax attributed to sales. Negative numbers are tax attributed to purchases.  To lessen the confusion, I entered the tax rate for purchases and sales separately, so you can see them more clearly on the report.

How to Fill Out the Government Form

Click here to view the government form. It may be different for your province or territory. If you’re in a different country, like New Zealand or the US, I recommend consulting your accountant about this form.

1) Find out your total sales for the period. In this example, it would be Jan 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017. That number goes on line 101. You can find your total sales in the Profit & Loss Report

2) From the sales tax report, tally up all the GST/HST collected from Sales.  In this example, $73.06.  Enter that on line 103.

3) Enter any adjustments to tax on line 104.

4) Add lines 103 and 104.

5) From the sales tax report, tally up all the GST/HST from purchases (amounts in brackets). In this example, $14.02. Enter that on line 106.

6) Enter any adjustments to tax on line 107.

7) Add lines 106 and 107.

8) Subtract line 108 from line 105. $73.06-$14.02 = $59.04

9) If you have other credits applicable, enter them on lines 110 and 110. Add those amounts and enter it on line 112.

10) Subtract line 112 from line 109. Enter on line 113A. In this example, $59.04

11) If you have other debit applicable, enter them on line 205 and 405. Add them together and enter on line 113B.

12) Add lines 113A and 113B. In this example, $59.04.

13) For lines 114 and 115, if your amount is positive, like in my example, you owe the government $59.04. If it were negative, then you would be owed the balance. To have a balance owing to you, you would need to have more input tax credits, tax attributed to purchases for your business, that is greater than the amount you collected for your sales.  

So now you know how to set up the tax rates and how to fill out the form, but you may be wondering what kind of purchases you can claim for your business. If that’s where you’re at, enter your email address below and you’ll get access to an exclusive tax guide where I highlight common (and some little-known) deductions for lowering your tax bill at the end of the year. You’ll also get access to a worksheet for figuring out what to pay yourself.


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Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Sales Tax & Income Tax

| Business, Business Basics, Small Business, Taxes

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Sales Tax and Income Tax

As tax season approaches, I bet your list of questions has been growing. How much am I going to owe the government? What deductions can I take advantage of? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH TO DO?

I hear you. But let’s take it back a few steps because there are some things to know when it comes to taxes.

First, there are two major kinds to know about: sales and income. What are the differences between them, and why do you have to know them?

Before I jump into the nitty-gritty of what they are, knowing the difference between these two can help you make much better decisions for your business. That way, you charge enough for your products and services and you’re not surprised when tax time rolls around, forcing you to charge your credit cards to cover what you haven’t saved.

For the most part, this advice applies to Canada, but there are some resources for the United States. Okay, enough chatter. Let’s talk taxes.

What to Know About Sales Tax

Sales tax is the tax associated with goods and services.

For example, tax added to groceries, all of your candles and jewelry from online shops like Etsy and Ebay, or services like getting the plumbing fixed. We pay extra for almost every purchase we make every day.

For most people, that’s where it ends.

However, once you begin a business, you’re also responsible for charging Sales tax and giving it back to the government. That’s why I mentioned in the post about how much to pay yourself that not all the money you receive in business is your money.

If you make over $30,000/year in Canada, then you must charge %5 GST (goods & services tax).  

Depending on your province, either PST (provincial sales tax) or HST (harmonized sales tax). I know, lots of acronyms. Stick with me here.

I live in Quebec, so I charge %5 GST and %9.975 PST.

You can check if your province has harmonized sales rates by clicking here.

If you live in the United States, check out this resource from the Tax Foundation.

What about digital products?

Because the number of people doing business online is expanding so quickly, many countries around the world are still catching up and haven’t created tax laws for digital goods yet.

If you sell digital products in Canada, then digital products are subject to tax and follow the same rules as if you were selling a tangible product. You can learn more about that here.

In the US, it depends on your state. For example, a state like Nevada considers digital goods tax-exempt while a state like Colorado considers the products taxable. Take a look at this list to check your state.

What to Know About Income Tax

Income tax is based on your total gross sales for the year, which are the sales before your expenses.

We pay those at the end of the year, and they’re determined by percentages set out by the government. Find your tax rate by clicking here.

In an employee situation, those income taxes are deducted right off your paycheck. You don’t really have to worry about it.

In your business, though, you are once again responsible for paying those taxes. (II know, it’s the price we pay for being able to work in pajamas and eat out of the Nutella jar whenever we feel like it.)

If you don’t pay it, the government will start charging you interest the day after taxes are due (April 30). That’s not a situation you want to find yourself in, so plan ahead.

If you operate a business in Canada, you can estimate how much taxes you will be owed here: Simple Tax Calculator

If you operate a business in the US, you can use this calculator: Self-Employment Tax Calculator

Now, here’s the most important piece of advice I can give you in this article.

Once you have an estimate, start saving portions of your income every month. That way you’ll be prepared at tax time. I recommend opening a separate bank account just for taxes. You can read more about that here: 3 Must-Have Financial Pieces to Run Your Online Business

If you want ideas on how to reduce your tax owing, check out the tax guide by signing up for the free bookkeeping resources library.

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Heads Up: There’s a New Canada Child Benefit

| Finances, Small Business, Taxes

New Canada Child Benefit 2016

In July, Canada instituted the new Canada Child Benefit. The government claimed that nine out of 10 families would see a benefit, and that it would help lift 300,000 children out of poverty. Some families, uncertain of the new benefit, felt that they were losing out as the old system was universal, and the new system is income-tested.  

What will the new benefit do?

The new Canada Child Benefit gives a family earning less than $30,000 the maximum benefit of $6,400 per year / per child under the age of 6, and $5,400 per year / per child between the ages of 6 and 17. And as a family’s income goes up, the benefit per child / per year goes down, and families earning over $200,000 will have their benefit eliminated completely.

It’s still unclear how much families will receive between the two income levels, but the calculation is based on your federal tax form and specifically, line 236.

CBC News explains it thusly:

“A high-earning family with a lot of deductions may come in just low enough to receive some of the benefit. A single parent making the same individual income as a married parent may receive more benefits than the two-income household.

In calculating family net income for CCB purposes, the former Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) income are subtracted from your taxable income.

In other words: the monthly UCCB payments families received until now aren’t padding the income on which the new amounts are based.”

What is the new benefit replacing?

Because one of the aims of the new CCB is to simplify things, it replaces several other items including the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), National Child Benefit, income splitting for families and the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, and Children’s Arts Tax Credit, which has led to some families feeling like they’re missing out. However, the new child credit is non-taxable income, so you may be better off come filing time than under the previous system.

What should you do?

Changes in tax code can be tricky to figure out and hard to plan for. And if you were provided certain benefits under the old system, it can seem like you may be losing out. But having a clear idea of your income, budget, and overall finances can help you in the years ahead.

If you don’t already have a handle on your household finances, now is the time to take control so you can start to plan for the unexpected.

To help you see what your benefit will be you can use this simple calculator or a more precise calculator from the Canada Revenue Agency.

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Tax planning Simplified: Personal Deductions

| Bookkeeping, Budget, Business, Creatives, Finances, Small Business, Taxes



I’ve prepared taxes for all of my adult life and now I prepare taxes for clients around my area in Canada. In doing so, I’ve learned a few things that have helped make my refunds grow every year. In this post I’m going to let you in on a few deductions everyone should be taking advantage of if you’re not already. Again, this information is for Canada only.

For individuals

As soon as you start earning a wage, open up an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Pension.) When you put aside the maximum amount allowed per year (check your Notice of Assessment) then you reduce your net income, thus reducing your tax owing. Income from RRSP is taxed only when it is withdrawn and will earn higher rates of interest than a regular savings account. You can check at your local bank to open an RRSP.

Home Buyers Plan

For new homeowners, you can take your RRSPs, tax free, and put a down payment on your new house! This is for first time homeowners only and you have five years before having to pay back your RRSP and the good news is that payback is simple. It goes right onto your T1 General under “HBP.” This amount gets subtracted from your TOTAL RRSP contributions.

Child Care Expenses

Whether your child is in 7$/day daycare or private daycare, you can deduct the fees incurred for daycare. To take advantage of this deduction, you will need the social insurance number for the daycare provider.

Donations and Gifts

Did you know that by giving a tithing to some churches you can enter them as a donation? It is also better to claim donations over $200 and you don’t have to claim a donation in the same year. If you have one donation this year of $100 and next year you expect the same, you can claim the $200 on next year’s return. You can also claim any type of charitable donation that gives an appropriate tax receipt and not just churches.

Children’s Arts Tax Credit

You can claim up to $500 of fees paid per child in regards to artistic, cultural, recreational, or developmental activity. This includes private lessons in music, art, and tutoring. For example, I had a tutor for my son to help with speech development and was able to use this credit for those sessions.

Children’s Fitness Amount

You can claim up to $1000 of fees paid per child in a physical education program. This includes hockey and soccer teams, skating, golf lessons, horseback riding, sailing and bowling.

Medical Expenses

There are limits to what we can get our insurance companies to pay for such as dentistry. I keep all of my dental bills and enter them as a medical expense. Here is a big list of eligible medical expenses you can deduct.

These are just a few of the deductions available to Canadians come tax time. Look them over and see if you’re eligible to use them in your tax planning. These expenses are ones that I have used in my adult life and have helped me in getting a refund each year.

Next time, I’ll go over deductions you should be taking for your business.

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Tax Time: Hiring a Tax Professional

| Bookkeeping, Budget, Finances, Small Business, Taxes


Does the date April 30th, give you the hives? Are you allergic to filling out tax forms? Scared of what you’ll find in the numbers? If you’ve read my last post about filing your taxes yourself and broke out into a cold sweat, have no fear, because this week I’m focusing on hiring a tax professional to do your taxes for you.

If on the other hand, if you want to file your own taxes, take a look at last week’s post for how to go about it in a calm and timely manner. And while there are many similarities between the U.S. and Canada on how to hire a tax professional, this post is focused on how to go about it in Canada. Let’s get started!

While hiring someone to do your taxes can be a stress relief, you still want to do your due diligence when hiring a tax professional. You’ll need have your 2014 bookkeeping closed out and you’ll need to be prepared to answer questions about your business activities.

If you have a bookkeeper already, they are a great place to start in terms of looking for a tax professional. More than likely they are willing and able to file your taxes for you. After all, they already know the ins and outs of your finances and it could make the process a whole lot smoother.

If you don’t have a bookkeeper, a great place to start looking for a tax professional is via your friends. Ask for referrals from people you know. Chances are your friends have a tax professional they trust. You can also inquire of your business peers who they use to file their taxes. This is another great place to get a trusted referral and more than likely one who already understands your type of industry which can be a boon when discussing business activities.

When you hire a tax professional, you will be paying for a service, so keep this in mind and within your budget. You want to make sure that the person you are hiring is reputable and knowledgeable. You don’t want to have your Grandma or Uncle Phi file your taxes because they’ll do it for cheap.

You’ll also need to start looking for a tax professional as early as possible. You don’t want to wait until April to try and find someone. If you do, it will be much harder as April is a very busy time and they may not have room in their schedule to fit a new client in. You may also end up having to spend more money since April is right up on the filing deadline.

It’s best to start looking for someone at in February and no later than March. If you weren’t able to get a referral from a friend or business colleague you can look online or in your phone book for tax preparers. You’ll need to make sure that the tax preparer has a tax filer number, which means they are registered with the government and are allowed to do this type of work and every tax preparer in Canada needs to be registered for E-file to file taxes.

You may want to inquire of their schooling and look for an accounting diploma, but know that even H&R Block preparers may not have a specialized accounting diploma. They will have had extensive training though and be certified through their company.

You will also need to know what type of relationship you will want with your tax preparer. Will you want an ongoing relationship? Then you may want someone who you’ll meet with one on one and know that they will be doing the work. On the other hand, a service center such as H&R Block will have a handful of people trained in tax preparation, but you may not know who actually performs the data entry.

Compare price vs services. Do you need more than just tax data entry? For example, do you have a business to report? Do you also want advanced tax planning? You need to know what you need as some tax preparers only do just that, prepare taxes. You must ask if they will also advise you on tax deductions if you need that type of service. You’ll also need to look for a preparer that will be able to do business taxes, as not all preparers will be knowledgeable about business taxes.

Once you find a tax preparer that you like, you’ll need to come into your meetings with them prepared. Have all papers ready, like your T4’s, RRSPs, investment income, rental costs, and Statement of Business Activities if applicable. Most tax centres and possibly some tax preparers will have a form to fill out with questions about your situation, and have suggestions on which forms to bring. You’ll also need to know about your previous year’s filings. If they don’t ask about your previous tax year, that is a red flag.

You may have several meetings when you hire a tax professional. You’ll make an initial appointment to go over all your documents. Then another meeting once the tax has been prepared. You’ll have to go in to sign and file the final forms. Your tax preparer will explain your tax return process and they’ll file your return in front of you.  If you’ve picked a professional for their advanced tax planning services, they will advise you on your retirement calculator and discuss any further tax planning for next year and possibly beyond.

Your tax preparer will be able to send your return electronically, via E-file. But you always have the option to take the return papers yourself, and mail them to the government. Keep in mind though, that refunds are generally received a lot sooner if filed electronically. You will also be able to receive a refund quicker if you have applied for Direct Deposit!

Once everything has been signed and sent off to the government, you should receive a Notice of Assessment, which will have your limits for RRSP deductions, and the assessment of the return itself. The government will determine if your return was prepared properly and whether a refund or balance due was declared.

Don’t forget! You must also keep all your papers for 6 years after filing. The papers for your current taxes don’t get sent through Efile, so keep those handy in case the government asks for them. Your tax preparer will only keep a copy of the return – so you should keep all of paperwork, including a copy of your return.

Hopefully the process of finding and filing your taxes with a tax professional is smooth and easy. Keep up the good work by getting a jump start on tax planning for 2015. In next week’s post I’ll go over some deductions that you should be taking advantage of.

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Tax Time: Filing Yourself

| Bookkeeping, Budget, Business, Creatives, Finances, Small Business, Taxes



It’s almost that time of year again: tax time. Instead of making it one of stress and pain, let’s try and see it in a positive light. You’ve done all your bookkeeping from 2014, so that means you’re in good shape to power through completing and filing your taxes. Your books should be up to date as of December 31, 2014, if your fiscal year is the calendar year. If you’re still completing your 2014 books, you should do that first before moving forward with filing your taxes.

If you need a refresher on how to close out your books for 2014, I recommend going through all of the End of the Year Wrap Up posts to catch up.

Next you’ll need to decide if you’re going to do your taxes yourself using an online software like H&R Block or uFile, or if you are going to hire a tax professional to do your taxes for you.

In this post, I’m going to focus on how to do your taxes yourself. In the next post, I’ll go over how best to hire someone to do your taxes for you. I should also note, that this post is going to talk about filing taxes in Canada. While there are many similarities to the U.S. process, I’m going to cover my country only.

To get started doing your taxes yourself, you’ll need to decide which software you want to use to file electronically. You could choose H&R Block or uFile. uFile is the system that I prefer. You are able to file your taxes using the paperwork that is available at most Canada Post outlets, but lets save the trees eh?

Once you decide which software you will be using, you will need to gather a couple of things. First, have all of your bookkeeping from 2014 handy. You are going to be referring to the numbers here. You will also need to fill out form T2125 “Statement of Business or Professional Activities.” If you are on payroll from other work, you will also need all of your T4 slips, which will be mailed to you by your employer. And lastly, you will need your RRSP or Retirement Registered Saving Pension receipts, mailed from your participating bank or fund.

Now that you have everything, the software will guide you through your taxes. Follow step by step entering the information the software asks for including your employment or business income, personal activity numbers and any other information the program requests.

At the end of the program it will check for errors and will give you a chance to correct them before you send. Once you’ve done this, you will need to tell it to submit your taxes to the appropriate government (Canada or Quebec if applicable). The transmission via Netfile will verify that it was received as accepted or not.

You won’t need to submit any physical paperwork, unless asked but it is important to keep all your records for at least 6 years.

At this point, if you haven’t already, you should go online and register for “My Account.” It will let you know the status of your taxes. You will also receive a Notice of Assessment stating the status of your return. Here is where you will also see if there are discrepancies between your calculations and their calculations. See “How to obtain a copy of your notice of assessment or reassessment” You will also be able to see how much money you will receive as a refund or the amount that is due. My Account is also where you can see your RRSP limits. You don’t want to go over the amount you are allowed, otherwise you will owe more money.

If you do end up owing money, it behooves you to pay right away (by April 30th). If you don’t, the government will add interest on any unpaid balance. So you want to pay off your tax burden as soon as possible.

If you are expecting a refund, it will take a while to receive unless you apply for direct deposit which will come in under four weeks. It can take six weeks or longer if you opt to receive your refund by check.

If you are due a refund, congratulations. Now it’s time to think about what it is you want to do or get for your business that you’ve been holding off on. This is a great time to invest back in your business or take a vacation. I usually get the one thing I’ve been saving for all year and a tax refund is the perfect way to go about it.

Do you have any tax preparation questions? Let me know in the comments.

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