When the CRA comes calling

Refunds and reassessments

Around this time of the year, most taxpayers who filed a tax return in April will be receiving a Notice of Assessment, perhaps with a refund cheque, or what’s worse, a Notice of Reassessment, often with a demand for more tax payment. It’s important to deal with these issues, because each can have an impact on your tax planning for the year. READ MORE

Making retirement income last

Managing income streams tax efficiently

Many people on the cusp of retirement are wondering whether they’ll outlive their retirement nest egg. Even those with hefty savings tucked away in Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Tax-Free Savings Accounts have expressed their concerns to me about becoming destitute in advanced old age and have thus decided to delay CPP and OAS payments while putting off RRSP maturity until the very last possible day of the year in which they turn 71. Is this really necessary? When should you turn on the retirement income taps, and how long will your money really last? READ MORE

What to do with the kids in the basement

The failure-to-launch syndrome

More than one in three Canadians aged 20 to 34 are living with their parents according to the most recent census results from Statistics Canada. Worse yet, parents are still financially supporting them. That can lead to a series of problems, including threatening parents’ retirement nest eggs. READ MORE

Be sure to claim all your credits and deductions

Don’t leave money on the table

Are you taking all the tax deductions and tax credits you’re entitled to? If you’re a do-it-yourself-type, you may be missing out on some lucrative tax savings because you’re not claiming everything you should, even if you’re using top-quality tax-preparation software. READ MORE

Investment expenses you can deduct

Sorry, it’s a short list

Tax-filing season is upon us, and at this time of the year I get many questions about the kinds of expenses that investors can deduct. Novice investors, especially, have a kind of starry-eyed idea about deducting everything from their subscription to an investment newsletter to the fee they paid to their tax preparer to interest on money borrowed to invest. Unfortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) long ago twigged to this type of thing, and the list of the deductible investment expenses (called “carrying charges” if you want to get technical) has dwindled and become very circumscribed. Here’s a quick review of what’s allowed and what’s not. READ MORE

The role of a financial advisor

Differentiating from robots and algorithms

In this era of robo-advisors and artificial intelligence, it’s easy to believe that the expert, professional flesh-and-blood financial advisor has gone the way of the horse and buggy. It’s even easier to believe if you buy into the aggressive marketing by online portfolio management services that implies a human financial advisor basically sits back, collects fees, and buys a new luxury car every year. Of course, this grossly misrepresents what real advisors (as opposed to algorithms) actually do for their clients. So here’s a quick refresher on what to expect from a “real” financial advisor. READ MORE

Fraud prevention: recognize these 3 financial scams

How to avoid becoming a victim

March is fraud-prevention month in Canada, and unfortunately thousands of Canadians continue to fall victim to scams perpetrated online and by phone, often losing tens of thousands of dollars or in some cases, their entire life savings. Here’s a look at three of the most notorious financial frauds that are still widely active in Canada, and how to avoid becoming a victim. READ MORE

Junior achievement: Teaching financial literacy

More important than ever in a digital world

As society transitions increasingly to cashless transactions, using smartphones and online channels to pay for goods and services, parents have a bigger challenge than ever in teaching children the basics of financial literacy. How do you impress upon younger children the principle of “value” – the idea that the things you buy don’t just magically appear because you can tap, click, or swipe a device. It may sound daunting, but there are some basic principles that never change. And the sooner you start teaching these to your kids, the sooner they’ll become financially literate. READ MORE

Hearts and flowers…and finances

Financial advice for happy couples on St. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is that annual hearts-and-flowers fest that can be gushingly romantic, to say nothing of stressful. It’s also a time when many proposals of marriage are made – and accepted. Once that initial excitement subsides a bit, it’s time to get down to the brass tacks of planning the wedding. But it’s also a good idea to set aside some time to talk about your financial future together. Here are five tips I offer newly-engaged couples. READ MORE

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