April 06, 2021

The costs of being a gay couple

For years, gay activists have lamented the fact that same-sex couples shoulder health, legal and other living costs that heterosexual couples don’t have to worry about.

GayIn Canada at least, some of this disparity has disappeared now that same-sex couples generally have the same social and tax benefits as heterosexuals in common-law relationships.

But, with all the election talk centring around a host of “family” tax credits, it’s only a matter of time before someone starts revisiting just what constitutes a family unit and what that means in financial terms. 

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April 05, 2021

Will you spend or save that tax refund?

Many Canadians look forward to a tax refund with great anticipation. They consider it a tax-free windfall that they can spend without feeling guilty.

Tax We’re so anxious to do so that hundreds of thousands of us choose to receive our tax refund on the spot, generally paying as much as 10 cents on the dollar for the privilege.

Most advisors decry the practice, arguing that an instant refund is a stupid to pay to access your own money and that getting a refund in the first place means you've already provided the government with an interest-free loan.

Instead, they argue, you’d be better off waiting a couple of weeks and then using any refund to pay off debt or get started on some sort of rainy day fund

But not everyone sees things that way.

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March 30, 2021

Filing your taxes online? What program will you choose?

As the filing deadline approaches, most of us are thinking about getting our taxes done quickly and, increasingly, that means going online. 

Tax Not that there are a lot of early adapters when it comes time to settle up.

In fact, only about 56% of tax returns were filed online last year. That leaves close to half of the population either using pen and paper, or the automated telephone method, Telefile.

The CRA would rather you file online than mail in your return because it saves them a fortune in data processing fees. And, if you’re expecting a refund, it will certainly speeds things up.

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March 02, 2022

Where to go when the tax man simply won't listen

In case you missed it, J. Paul Dubé, who became Canada’s first Taxpayers’ Ombudsman in February 2008, has been reappointed for another five years.

Taxes For many beleaguered taxpayers, this is a good thing as Dubé, a former criminal defense lawyer, can help them resolve individual service complaints and deal with a somewhat opaque system.

Dubé's office will review a complaint only after all the CRA's internal complaint resolution mechanisms have been exhausted, however.

As well, his brief is limited to service-related complaints, not issues relating to tax policy or program legislation or matters that are before the courts.

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March 01, 2022

Where's the best place in the country to live?

If you've ever wondered about picking up and moving, you've probably thought long and hard about what makes a community a good place to live.

MoneySense's most recent ranking of Canada's Best Places to Live attempts to tally every important aspect of numerous communities in Canada, taking into account weather, jobs and home prices – as well as public safety and access to health care.

At the top of the list you’ll find Ottawa, Kingston and Burlington. Bringing up the rear, cities to avoid include La tuque, New Glasgow and Williams Lake.

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February 03, 2022

Homeowners band together to fight increased property taxes

While New Westminster, B.C.'s residential property assessments went up by more than 9 per cent overall, some homeowners have been hit with a much higher increase.

James Crosty, a local citizen advocate, saw the assessed value of his condo increase by a whopping 52 per cent, prompting him to reach out to neighbours and band together to appeal their assessments.
You might want to do the same.

Keep in mind that it's one thing to explode over an unexpected jump in your bill and quite another to crawl through the labyrinth of assessment procedures -- most of which vary sharply among provinces, and even from city to city.

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January 27, 2022

Billions lost through tax loopholes and preferences: Report

In spite of the extensive free advertising the program received from suppliers like Home Depot and Rona, it seems relatively few Canadians took advantage of the much hyped Home Renovation Tax Credit on their tax returns last year. 

In a report outlining the billions of dollars Ottawa gives up in targeted tax credits, Department of Finance officials admitted that only three-quarters of the $3-billion set aside for the high-profile program ever got paid out.

Is it time to forget these types of tax credits altogether? Definitely, says Toby Sanger, senior economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees

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January 06, 2022

Should the ultra-rich pay more taxes?

Okay, forget this post’s title for a second.

169849_tax Because, to sit here and ask if the rich should pay more taxes is kind of a loaded question. It’d be like wondering, “Does Stephen Harper have a helmet for a head of hair?” or “Should the Russian World Junior squad hire its own team orthodontist?” Doesn’t really promote an honest, thorough discussion.

Yet, surprisingly, there’s one to be had here. On paper, it makes sense to charge the rich through the nose on taxes, but is that the way the world should really work? Let’s look through each side of this:

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December 21, 2021

Watch out for year-end fund distributions

With the stock market continuing to push higher and lots of cash on the sidelines, somebody must be thinking of getting back in. But, if you’re going the fund route rather than buying individual stocks, you may want to hold off just a bit longer.

Fund companies will be making their year end distributions over the next few days. And, if you’re not careful, you could get stung with an unexpected tax bill by buying in too soon.

If you decide to invest in a certain mutual fund before the record date, you may be subjecting yourself to the same tax burden on the distribution as those who bought the fund at the beginning of the year.

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December 14, 2021

Yes, Virginia, that HST cheque actually is in the mail

Ontario is now sending out the second of three Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit cheques to those who qualify.

Dalton The temporary relief plan was introduced by the McGuinty government to help take some of the sting out of the HST, a controversial tax change that took effect last July, and win back the hearts and minds of Ontario voters.

The benefit goes out in three instalments with a total maximum of $300 for individuals and $1,000 for families, including those headed up by single parents. Most consumers can expect their current cheque to be $100, whereas families will get $335.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...