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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November 29, 2021

Taxpayers have up to 10 years to fix incorrect returns

It’s truly surprising how many people are behind in their tax filing obligations—for multiple years in some cases, it seems. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering what options you have, particularly as we roll into December.

Taxes Ignoring the issue could be particularly expensive, unless you know how to take advantage of Taxpayer Relief provisions, says Evelyn Jacks, author of Essential Tax Facts: Simple tips for preparing your 2010 tax return and saving money the rest of the year.

If you’re not able to pay your taxes, the CRA offers payment options and may even waive some of your tax debt by approving your application for Taxpayer Relief. And, sometimes, going back in time can work in your favour.

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November 23, 2021

Should Canada have a guaranteed annual income?

Does it make economic sense to provide each Canadian with a guaranteed annual income?

Cheque Sure, the question sounds like the latest topic from the Saint Ignatius debating club, but many analysts believe that the answer is yes, according to the Globe and Mail. 

This week, a House of Commons committee on poverty released a report proposing a guaranteed basic income for Canadians with disabilities, on the model already available to seniors. Earlier this year, a similar report outlined how such a scheme would work for all low-income Canadians.

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November 22, 2021

Tax boomers to death, suggests controversial columnist


Much ink has been made shed about the recent cover story in The Atlantic that challenges baby boomers to save the economy.

“The Boomers’ Last Chance,” shouts the cover headline, followed inside by a story entitled, “The Least We Can Do.”

And what’s that, you ask?

Well, according to columnist Michael Kinsley, it’s time for all those greedy boomers to help pare down the national debt rather than help their parents recycle the family money through bequests and inheritances.

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November 16, 2021

Small businesses fight for refund of EI premiums

You’ve probably seen or heard the ads warning that many small businesses are unnecessarily paying EI premiums on family members who work in the business since they won’t ever be able to collect benefits.

The rule is that if a family employee is paid about the same and works roughly the same hours as other workers with similar jobs, then EI premiums should be deducted and the person is eligible to claim EI benefits. Sometimes though, ineligible relatives end up paying for something they’ll never enjoy.

This is why they should fight back, say services like Grant's International, GoFoRefund and ei-refund, which will intercede on your behalf with the government, fill out the necessary forms, and help you collect your refund.

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October 26, 2021

Are red light cameras simply a hidden tax?

Across the country, more and more intersections are sporting cameras designed to catch vehicles running red lights and reduce traffic accidents.

Earlier this year, for instance, the City of Ottawa doubled – 33 intersections across the city are now being monitored for red light infractions, up from 18 sites – the number of intersections equipped with cameras to nab careless drivers who run red lights.

But are these robotic photographers really up to the task of prevention or are they simply municipal fund generators?

It's currently a $325-fine for running a red light in the nation’s capital – $490 if you blow through a school zone.

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September 28, 2021

HST fallout: Does anybody really care anymore?

We’re almost three months into Ontario’s new 13% harmonized sales tax and consumers are still confused about the rules.

Many are complaining about being nickel and dimed to death when it comes to applying the tax on certain items inappropriately or, in other cases, finding out that they’re not saving nearly as much as they thought when using coupons.

Others claim that the HST is taking a bite out of tourism and that real estate sales are also drying up as a result. Even though existing homes aren’t affected, many buyers rushed to buy them under the mistaken impression that HST applied, thus helping to push up prices.

And then there's the jump in the size of those monthly hydro bills and, of course, the price of gas.

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August 24, 2021

When boomers ruled the earth

Christopher Buckley’s satirical novel ‘Boomsday’ takes place in a not-so-distant future in which the U.S. is facing a multi-trillion-dollar deficit and massive tax hikes to pay for the retirement of all those resource-hogging baby boomers.

Fed up with shouldering the burden of this pampered group of ‘wrinklies,’ Buckley’s 29-year-old protagonist devises a plan: Pass a law urging and handsomely rewarding boomers to kill themselves — suicide is to be known as “voluntary transitioning — at the ripe old age of 70.

Of course, he was just kidding around. But those worried about aging boomers’ effect on the welfare state aren’t — not by a long shot. Predictions for the nation’s health care system have been nothing short of apocalyptic.

Here’s the latest: Four in every five Canadians believe that the demands placed on the health system by aging boomers will result in reduced access and lower quality care, according to a recent study by the Canadian Medical Association.

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August 16, 2021

Underground economy on the upswing: report

Here’s a big shock: Most Canadians have, at some point, paid cash for goods and services to avoid paying tax.

A recent poll found 19% of respondents take advantage of under-the-table opportunities just about every chance they get. Another 38% said they don’t do it regularly, but have done it once or twice. Only one-quarter of Canadians said they would never pay cash in order to get a tax break.

Ontarians are most likely to take advantage of the underground economy by paying cash while residents of B.C. and Atlantic Canada are least likely, the numbers suggest.

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June 28, 2021

Ottawa offers relief to unsuspecting TFSA holders

Some 70,000 Canadians who recently received surprise tax bills for putting too much money into their new TFSAs may be getting a break.

The offending investors inadvertently exceeded the $5,000 contribution limit because they made frequent deposits and withdrawals or transferred sums among TFSAs at different institutions.

They didn’t realize that you can’t withdraw your savings and tax-free profits, then later put the same amount of money back into the account, or to another account, during the same calendar year.

And now they're very sorry.

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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...