Thursday Thirteen: 13 Tax-Related Things That Confuse Canadians.

I came across this interesting article from the Globe and Mail newspaper called “10 Tax Related Things that Leave Canadians Stumped”, and while I suggest you read the original article, I have used this article for inspiration to provide 13 Tax-Related Things that Confuse Canadians.

  1. Why can’t spouses file joint income tax returns as they can do in the US?
  2. Why are parents only allowed a transfer of $5,000 of their child’s unused tuition, education and book credits?  The parent is often the one who paid the costs of tuition, should they not be able use all of it?
  3. If I received an actual dividend of $1,000, why do I report $1,380 on my tax return ($380 is called a “dividend gross-up” and the purpose of grossing up a payment is to bring the dividend back up to the amount of money the corporation earned before it paid corporate tax.
  4. Why must child care expenses be claimed by the lower-income spouse?  Understanding that the motivation behind this child care deduction is to get people with children back to work to help drive the economy, but the way this deduction is written it is claimed by the lower-income spouse based on 2/3rds of their income.  By doing this, the deduction is constrained by that spouse’s income.  Should it not be based on the higher-earning spouse so that the family could often get a larger child care claim to offset the costs and since it’s being paid, why are they not allowed to claim it in full in each and every case?
  5. When one spouse has a tax refund and the other owes money, why can’t you net the refund and tax payment against each other? Again, this would simplify our tax system and reduce the administration and paper work for the CRA, but the privacy rules are cited for this not happening. but should the situation be different – a spouse with a debt – and they are all over that!
  6. Why do people hold on to their investments too long before converting them, resulting in a capital gain becoming a capital loss?  Yes, the tax on capital gains is 23% but paying tax on a gain is much better than losing money, isn’t it?
  7. How is it that the CRA never knows when people move when they are looking for missing filings or returns but they always know where I am when they need to send a legal warning letter or register a lien against a property.?
  8. Why do people pay no attention to the RRSP contribution limit information on their income tax assessments when planning their contributions for the year, usually at the last-minute in March? An individual’s RRSP contribution limit for the upcoming year is printed right on the Notice of Assessment for the prior year and can be found through the “My Accounts” section of the CRA website.
  9. Why can self-employed people claim mortgage interest as a home-office expense while employees cannot? If you have an employer that requires you to work from home and they sign a T2200 form saying so, why should an employee’s deductible expenses be restricted in comparison to a self-employed person’s?
  10. Why can I deduct my car expenses when I drive directly to my client’s office from my home – but when I drive to my own office to work with the client via teleconference or telephone, why is the mileage considered personal?
  11. Why is the maximum childcare expense set at $7,000, when the monthly child care cost far exceeds $1,000 in many cities? It drops to $4,000 for children aged 7 to 16.
  12. If the CRA send me a refund cheque in error – their error – and whether I cash it or not, they charge me penalties and interest when they recover it?
  13. How a CRA audit deemed to be a “random” audit where the auditor states that they are not looking for anything, always has something behind it which caused it.  Why can’t they just say, “You’ve been snitched on”, or “You claimed an expense with a fake invoice” or even “You took cash from your business and deposited it into your personal account.”  That way, knowing the gig is up, the auditor could transfer all like issues over and assess and give the person a warning that will have meaning.

Can anyone answer any of these?

 

Time will tell.

Be Proactive: 6 Easy Steps to Reduce Taxes for the 2014 Tax Year… in 2014.

I know, I know.

You have not yet filed your 2013 personal income tax returns here in Canada and already some former Canada Revenue Agency Collections Expert (me) is pushing you to think about your 2014 personal income tax filing.

Well, of course I am.  We are 3-months into 2014 and any time is the right time to help taxpayers save on taxes for the current — and future — years.

Here are 6 quick ideas to get you thinking about ways to save taxes in 2014 starting today!

1. Reduce tax deductions at source.

As I have mentioned before, a tax refund is a sign of poor tax planning equivalent to loaning the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) your hard-earned income for a year only to get it back after filing your tax return, interest-free.  An easy strategy to minimize or eliminate taxes owing for 2014, is to complete CRA Form T1213, “Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source.”

The purpose of this form is to ask the CRA for reduced tax deductions at source for any deductions or non-refundable tax credits that are not part of the Form TD1, Personal Tax Credits Return. In order to complete this form, all income tax returns that are due have to be filed and amounts paid in full before sending this to the CRA.

In addition the request to reduce deductions through Form T1213 must be made each year, and the CRA will respond within 6-weeks time to advise if the request has been approved or denied.  Once approved, the CRA letter should be handed over to the payroll department who will then reduce the amount of taxes withheld at source. Deductions and credits which will be claimed upon the filing of the 2014 personal income tax return such as RRSP contributions (other than those made through payroll deduction), support payments or child-care expenses should be accounted for.

By planning ahead, you get your “refund” throughout 2014 and they can use that saving to set up and contribute to a RRSP, RESP, TFSA or other long-term investment vehicles aimed at deferring tax.

2. File on time.

Everything.  Always.  This way you do not start the tax year paying back debt, or penalty and interest, for missing a filing deadline by a day or more.  The CRA offers an online installment reminder service whereby you will get an email notifying you that your installments are due.  Use that, set key dates in your calendar or have your accountant notify you in advance.  Just do not miss filing deadlines.

3. Donate funds “in-kind

Consider donating appreciated publicly-traded shares, mutual funds or segregated funds “in-kind” to a registered charity or foundation throughout the year, and not just at year end in order to claim a deduction.  The tax receipt received for these types of donations are equal to the fair market value of the shares or funds donated, and the payment of taxes on any accrued capital gains are avoided.

4. Clear up all balances owing (with the CRA and elsewhere)

Along the lines of point number 2, if at all possible, clear up any amounts owing to the CRA as quickly as possible.  You save money by not paying interest which the CRA compounds daily at a rate around 10%, plus the reduction in stress is well worth it.  Also take into consideration that a debt with the CRA can harm your credit or business relationships, whereas a consolidation loan paying back a bank improves your credit.  Same outcome, but different treatment.

5. Consider Income – splitting loans.

As of January 1st, 2014, the prescribed rate has dropped back down to 1% 1. In a typical income-splitting loan strategy, a high-income spouse (or partner) loans funds at the prescribed rate to his or her lower-income spouse. The investment returns minus the tax-deductible interest on the spousal loan can then be taxed in the lower spouse’s hands. The advantage of advancing a loan when the prescribed rate is low is that under the tax rules, clients need only use the prescribed rate in effect at the time the loan was originally extended to avoid the income being attributed back to the higher income spouse so if the loan is establish during the first quarter of 2014, when the prescribed rate is 1%, they can then use that rate for the duration of the loan, which could be unlimited if there is no fixed term and it’s simply a demand loan.

6. Find a great accountant and investment planner who care about you and your family.

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to know if your accountant or investment adviser are meeting your needs, and the way I answer that is to ask you when the last time you spoke to their professionals about you.  When was the last conversation you had with them about you, your family, your work, dreams, goals, aspirations, and about the kids, any side business you have or want, or even about how you get to work or who pays the mortgage of private school tuition for the kids.

If you have never had this conversation then you must be 100% on top of all new legislative changes to be sure you are taking advantage of all deductions and tax credits available and when you hand over your file at tax time, be comfortable knowing that what you are getting is a tax return.  No more, no less.

A  good accountant and a good investment adviser take the time to know you and advise you, send you suggestions, recommendations and tips on ways to save money, invest, reduce taxes, and can help guide your financial future.  You should want to call your financial professionals when you are looking to make a decision that could impact your finances and don’t be alarmed if they don’t know the answer right away.  A well researched answer is much more valuable than an off the cuff opinion.

 

These 6 things should help you get moving in the right direction in 2014 and as always, should you have any questions, concerns or comments, all you need to do is send me an email to info@intaxicating.ca or comment on a blog post here, or at http://www.intaxicating.ca and an answer will be coming your way.

If you wish to inquire about our services. you may do so via the above email address or by call 416.833.1581 and let us guide you through your tax problem, right to its resolution.

inTAXicating.  Where experience counts!

 

Ready to File your 2013 Personal Income Tax Return? Do you have all your slips?

Are you ready to file your 2013 Personal Tax Return here in Canada.  Are you chomping at the bit to get your refund?  Before you push forward and get that return in, have you checked to make sure that you have received all the tax slips you should be getting?

Are you sure?

In my world, I found that the best way to ensure my clients – and myself – have received all our required slips is by preparing a spreadsheet of what slips I received the previous year – identifying which member of the family it belonged to, when it was received and then stapling that list to the box of file folder that I use to house all potential tax-related materials for the year.  At tax time, it’s an easy checklist to make sure all is in order and that I am not filing without all my paperwork.

Not that there is a huge problem with doing it this way, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does receive copies of all the slips you receive and they use their copies to re-assess you if you do not amend your return, but there is that opportunity for things to get delayed, and next thing you know it, you have a balance owing to the CRA and they are charging you penalty and interest.  It can easily escalate from there!

As well, for 4-years I was the Tax Manager for Computershare Trust Company of Canada / Computershare Investor Services and was responsible for the preparation, filing and submission of tax slips to the millions of investors Computershare kept track of, so I understand more than anyone the importance of getting slips out to the holders on time, and accurately, and then to the government on time and without penalty.

So here is a copy of my list of slips, their mailing date from the provider.

RRSP – If you were one of the many who used the March 1st, 2014 deadline to make your contribution for 2013, then you would be receiving that slips beginning March 15th.  All other RRSP contributions which were made prior to the 60-day extended period saw their tax slips mailed beginning at the turn of the calendar.  They are T4RSP slips and RL2′s for residents of Quebec.

T5 / RL3 and NR4′s begin to get mailed January 17th.

T4RIF / RL2 withdrawals from a RRIF, are mailed the 3rd week of February.

T5/RL3 for investment interest income coming from a mutual fund are mailed the 3rd week of February.

T3 / RL16 reporting dividend income from mutual funds are mailed by the 3rd week of February.

Receipt of contribution from an estate rolling over funds to a spouse produce a T4RSP / T4RIF / RL2 – issued for receipt of contributions from an estate rolling over funds to a spouse – sent  out the first week in February

T4A / RL1 are issued for RESP withdrawals and are produced and mailed the first week in February.

NR4′s showing income for non-residents of Canada are mailed the 3rd week in February.

If during the year you received Employment Insurance (EI), Old Age Security (OAS) or Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments, you can follow this 3-step process to make sure everything is in order and get your tax slips online directly from Service Canada;

Hope this helps!

Happy filing.

inTAXicating Tax Services for all your tax needs and specializing in providing solutions to your tax problems.

416.833.1851

info@intaxicating.ca

I am Writing a Book to Help Canadians Deal With Tax Problems. Preview Inside.

I have always wanted to write a book to help Canadians deal with tax problems, or tax debts with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

There is no better time than the present, so here is a preview;

Chapter 1.

Call me!

Chapter 2.

If you have a tax debt, tax problem, are behind on filing, made errors on your return, missed deductions or slips or if you owe money and cannot pay. You need a straight shooter who can tell you what to do and do so without costing you an arm and a leg.

Welcome to my company.

It is my goal to help each and every Canadian who has a tax problem through either a free 15-minute consultation, a one-hour meeting or through engaging my services.

I’m going to tell you what you need to know and not what you need to hear. If you are exposed to the CRA, I will tell you. If you are not legally required to pay a debt, I will tell you that too.

What I won’t do is mislead you into thinking that the CRA spends all day searching your keywords looking for you, unless you have done something criminally wrong, then I am recommending you speak with one of Canada’s top tax lawyers who will treat you in the same no-nonsense manner.

I also won’t lead you to believe that I have an army of former CRA staff at my disposal or that the CRA likes being referred to as the “taxman”. They do not.  My network of CRA tax experts is vast and reside all over Canada.  I have friends still working in the CRA and many who have left.  I firmly believe that knowing what questions to ask is much more valuable than the answers given.  I know what questions to ask, and I will ask them for you.

I do, however, have 10-years of experience at the Canada Revenue Agency – as a collector – and as a resource officer, field officer, team leader, and I have significant experience in fairness / taxpayer relief, managing the Director’s Liability and s.160 inventory, and for 5-years, I trained the collections staff at Canada’s largest Tax Services Office how to do their jobs.  I cannot and will not list all the areas of the CRA that I worked in, because I wanted to learn, experience and help taxpayers while working there and I still want to do the same now that I am on the other side of the negotiating table.

Common sense tells me that if you have a tax, collections, or enforcement problem, you do not need a trustee, or a tax lawyer, or an accountant, but you need a former CRA collections expert to steer you clear of trouble.

Don’t let the CRA or other “tax” firms decide that you need to go bankrupt. You decide!

If you need forms filed with the CRA, or tax returns prepared for individuals or businesses, I work with the best accountants and accounting firms who share my philosophy of putting you first.  Together we make sure your past filings are accurate and that you have claimed the correct amounts legally allowed.  We don’t add things or make up deductions because that is what gets you in trouble.

My firm is Toronto-based, however accessible throughout Canada and around the world – as my clients have found out.

I’m not going to pull out a horse and pony show and try to entice you with fancy expensive ads which I will need to charge you extra to pay for – but I’m going to listen, process, and advise you what to do based on my experiences and based on 17-years of handling matters with the CRA, IRS, Revenu Quebec and with WSIB and the CRTC.  I spent the majority of my time at the CRA working on the corporate side, so GST/HST, payroll, corporate tax and personal taxes are all in my areas of expertise.

I will tell you what the CRA is doing, and what they will be doing next. It’s nice to be a step ahead!

And throughout this whole process, you have to understand that the CRA will be working with us to resolve your tax matter and not working against us. It’s what they get paid to do. The only difference is they do it with us and not against us.

Conclusion:

So, why reach out to me? Why not!

I can be reached at info@intaxicating.ca, or by phone at 416.833.1581.

Get the Largest Tax Refund Possible! Fast! Yikes!!!

After spending close to 11-years working in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), I have a pretty good idea what gets people into tax trouble.

Okay, I know exactly what gets people into tax trouble, and while it’s nearly impossible to list all of the reasons, I can tell you that there are ways to get you out of tax trouble which many of the people I come across on a daily basis have never considered.

I can honestly say, without any prejudice that I believe a main part of the problem has to do with targeted advertising this time of year, towards tax filing season and which is aimed at people who equate getting their money back fast through the quick, cheap filing of tax returns.

The ads go something like this;

“Get the Largest Tax Refund Possible”.

“Get the Most Back.”

“Get the Most You Are Entitled To.”

“Get your Money Back Now!”

Just hearing those advertising slogans scare me, and it should scare you too.

Getting money back from the government at tax time, does not mean what you might think it does. You are not getting money from the government because you fell into a threshold, but what you are doing is getting your money back from the government. Your money that you overpaid (or were over-deducted at source) which the government kept during the year – held interest-free in fact – which you are asking for back.

Amazing.

It’s akin to lending someone money for a year – they use it, or invest it and make money off of it – and then a year later you ask for it back and you get it, while they made money off of it.

So how does this tied into tax debt?

History has shown me that people do not wake up in the morning and decide that they want to start carrying a balance owing to the Canada Revenue Agency.  Nobody wants to worry when they go to use their debit card that there might not be funds there as a result of a CRA bank garnishment, or when they go to sell their home find out that there is a lien on it.

Tax problem occur over time and as the time passes and interest accumulates, people find their ability to deal with it declines and before you know it, the amount owing is massive and the CRA is breathing down your neck.

So imagine if after rushing to have your tax return completed – so you can get back a couple of hundred dollars – you find out that you owed money instead.  Now you have a tax problem.  A tax problem that you have not budgeted for.  Now in collections, you have time find a way to pay off this amount owing, and fast, before the CRA takes legal actions.  You can ask friends and family for money, or consider a second job to pay that off.  It can be done, it can take time, or it can snowball and you become a chronic tax debtor in the eyes of the CRA.

Now the fun starts.  Visits to your house, your employer and notices to your bank or clients all run the risk of causing you long-term embarrassment.

If only there was a solution available to help out the repayment.

Well, there is.

This scenario could be completely different if you have taken the time to speak with an accountant, or a reputable tax firm and knew in advance that you might owe and together you had the opportunity to determine the best way to handle this impeding debt by placing money into your RRSP, or applying for, and claiming deductions to reduce your amount of taxes owing at year-end.  With a good accountant, your tax planning is not just for the current year, but also for future years.  

Wouldn’t that make more sense?

One of the first questions I ask a prospective client, or anyone who comes to me for tax advice, is who completed your tax return and what are their credentials.  It’s important because I have taken tax returns which owned $3000, $4000 or $5000 each year and turned them in to $4000 and $5000 credit returns just by claiming deductions and tax credits available to those taxpayers.  Nothing illegal and nothing which would cause the CRA to reject the claim.

So instead of rushing to have your return completed for $40 or $50, think about spending the extra money this year and take advantage of an accounting firm which will sit with you, determine how to minimize your tax expenditures for this year and for future years.  Pay what you owe and not a cent more, and if you’re getting money back every year find out why.  Learn which deductions you may be eligible for and start keeping your receipts.  Take control of your year-end tax filing and stop sending the CRA penalty and interest revenue.

If you already have a tax problem, you need to have tax experts review your prior year tax returns to look for missed deductions and credits.  With a simple amending of the return, your balance could be reduced or wiped out completely.  This really is the best way to start paying back / down a tax debt!

It’s what I do.  For you.

It’s worth the money!

If you are looking for an alternative, please feel free to reach out to me here in the comment section, or email me at intaxicatingtaxservices@gmail.com.

Reminder: T4′s and T4 Summaries are due February 28th to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

I’m worried.

Not for me, but worried for you. I’m worried that you have forgotten to prepare the T4 for your employee, or nanny, and that you will not be able to submit the T4 with the T4 summary to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by the February 28th deadline.

If you have not completed the T4 or T4 summary yet and are weighing your options, I have some information you need to consider.

First, provided you have been making regular remittances to the CRA, you already have the information you need to submit to the CRA.

Secondly, if you have been making regular remittances the CRA will have sent you a code which allows you to complete the T4 and T4 summary online and which allows you to file online.

Third, if you let the deadline slide by, you are going to pay a penalty.

Say what you will about the Canada Revenue Agency, but they ask and they listen. If you have had the opportunity to attend a CRA information session (or be on a panel as I have) you know that the CRA wants to know what bothers people and how they can improve things. They really do.

In the good old days, when I worked at the CRA, late filing of a T4 was a minimum $100 penalty (plus interest) and late filing of a T4 summary was a minimum $400 penalty to a maximum of $2500.

The CRA has instituted a new administrative policy that applies to certain information returns to ensure that late-filing penalties are charged in a manner that is both fair and reasonable for small businesses. The penalty is the greater of $100 or a penalty determined as follows:

Relieving administrative policy – penalties
Number of information
returns (slips)
Penalty (per day) Maximum penalty
(100 days)
1 – 5 Not applicable $100 flat penalty
6 – 10 $5 $500
11 – 50 $10 $1,000
51 – 500 $15 $1,500
501 – 2,500 $25 $2,500
2,501 – 10,000 $50 $5,000
10,001 or more $75 $7,500

Of course, if you have to get it done by the 28th and you are close on figures, you can always send them your best estimation and amend the return at a later date.  You won’t get hit with the late filing penalties unless your figures are WAY off from the real figures and the CRA feels you sent these numbers to in some way circumvent the rules.  Interest will continue to apply.

Hope you filed on time.

inTAXicating: Nominated for the 2013 Canadian Blog Awards

I just learned that inTAXicating has been nominated for the 2013 Canadian Blog Awards – under the law category.Canadian Blog Awards badge

If you would to see the other blogs nominated in the other categories or if you would like to vote for inTAXicating, you can follow the link here; http://cdnba.wordpress.com/

Voting ends February 22nd, 2014.

The Canadian Blog Awards are a great way to recognize Canadian blogging talent. By taking the time to read other Canadian blogs and through your voting you are supporting Canadian writers.

I checked out many of the other nominated blogs and voted in each and every category as a way to give back.

Thank you in advance and please keep reading, commenting and asking questions!  Also don’t forget to visit my webpage at http://www.intaxicating.ca for help with all your tax concerns.