Working with a professional to help you to make sense of your finances can be a wise move, but for this relationship to work effectively it is important that you understand what to expect from your financial advisor.
What can your financial advisor help you with?
- Defining your financial goals and creating a step by step plan or strategy to achieve them.
- Planning for the future, including for retirement, future education or housing needs.
- Choosing the mix of investments and assets that suit your goals, lifestyle, time horizon and appetite for risk.
- Building a solid estate for your family to inherit in the future.
- Choosing the most tax-efficient methods of saving and investing.
What should your financial advisor inform you of?
- The range of services that they offer and how much and by which method you will compensate them.
- Your mutual responsibilities and obligations towards each other.
- What the planning process will look like and the documents that they will provide you with.
What will your financial advisor need from you or need to ask you about?
- What your financial goals are.
- What your personal circumstances – such as your marital status, any dependents, your job, earnings and tax situation.
- Any investments or assets that you currently have – such as registered accounts, workplace pensions, property etc.
- Your appetite for risk and investment preferences.
- Information on your income and also your outgoings, including debts such as mortgages, loans or credit cards.
- Whether or not you have a will, and its contents.
- Your estate and inheritance planning situation.
If you’re looking to achieve your financial goals, talk to us. We can help.
One of the age-old financial quandaries asked of financial advisors is “shall I invest in property or funds?”. Predictably, the answer is not at all straightforward and depends on many factors, including your own financial style, personality and circumstances. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each choice to help you to be better informed about which could be the most lucrative option for you:
Benefits of investing in funds
It’s all too easy to go along with the generally-accepted myth that investing in property is a sure-fire way to secure your financial future. After all, house prices have appreciated in general terms for several years now and have become a very popular way for young people to invest for the future – this could also be, in part, down to the fact that their parents have benefited from the property booms of the past and made their own money this way, therefore presume the same will work for their children.
It’s fair to say, then, that investing the stock market is a much less common and popular way for people to invest their money. Despite market crashes, long term fund ownership is hands down the greatest creator of wealth in history and high quality funds generally not only increase their profits every year but also pay out increased cash dividends too.
Other advantages of fund ownership include the fact that you can diversify your portfolio easily, borrow against your funds easily and also benefit from the fact that funds are much more liquid than real estate, giving you maximum financial flexibility.
So, why do fewer people invest in funds than real estate?
It could be due to the two market crashes that have occurred since 2000, making people wary of getting involved in what they perhaps see as a complex and inherently risky way to make money. Many fail to take the long-term view of funds and the fact that, to financially benefit in the best way, you need to ride the highs and lows for a number of years to get a good return on your initial investment.
Another reason could be the fact that many people underestimate the real cost of home ownership. Additional costs such as maintenance, insurance and mortgage interest must be factored into investment calculations but are often not, making property a seemingly more attractive investment option.
Drawbacks of investing in funds
You really have to be in this game for the long term to see your money grow consistently and many people don’t have the discipline or patience to hold their nerve and keep their money in the same place for a prolonged period. This can often result in cashing in one’s funds too early and missing out on long term benefits. Similarly, because the prices of funds can fluctuate so much, many are too nervous about investing and don’t see the opportunities to purchase more funds at reduced prices to benefit them in the long term.
Benefits of investing in real estate
Many individuals in their twenties and thirties who are just starting out thinking about how best to secure their financial future feel more comfortable with investing in property and the notion of “owning one’s own home” – likely brought about by their parents’ influence, as discussed above. They perhaps feel more confident in the process, terminology and philosophy of real estate and believe that they are more likely to succeed in this area.
Another benefit could be the fact that, by purchasing a property, you feel that you own something tangible, as opposed to the money invested in funds and shares which could be said to exist only online or on paper.
Finally, many take comfort from the fact that it is potentially harder to be defrauded in relation to real estate as there are so many varied, physical checks that one can perform to verify the facts, such as property inspections, tenant background checks etc, whereas with funds, a lot of trust has to be given to the management company or auditors.
Drawbacks of investing in real estate
There are a number of hidden costs to real estate, particularly if your property is unoccupied for a period of time and you are still liable to pay taxes, maintenance etc. It’s also true that the maintenance of a property can be a time consuming as well as an expensive business, due to the requirement to deal with routine as well as emergency issues.
What’s more, it’s true that the actual value of real estate hardly ever increases in inflation-adjusted terms, therefore the returns can be healthy but the true value of the property doesn’t actually change. It’s due to this that many feel that investing in funds is a much more solid and lucrative way to receive good returns.
Talk to us, we can help you determine what works best for you.
It’s that time of year again, when many of us sit down to complete our income tax return and hope that we have done enough preparation to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Unfortunately, there are a number of complexities that can cause us problems – here are a few of the most common issues experienced by individuals when submitting their tax returns:
Expenses relating to medical expenses such as prescriptions, dentures and many more can be claimed for a non-refundable tax credit. You should also be aware that you can claim for yourself, your spouse or common law partner and any dependent children under the age of 18. You can also claim for certain other individuals whom you can clearly evidence are dependent on you (and the list of such individuals has recently been widened and can include grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews).
You can claim tax credits for qualifying charitable donations that you made in 2017, though they are subject to an annual limit at 75% of your net income. You may also be eligible for a provisional donation tax credit. To receive such credits, you must supply a charitable donation receipt as evidence of your donation.
What’s more, there is a new formula for calculating the federal tax credit, depending on the value of donations. This is as follows:
1. 15% of the first $200 of donations
2. 33% of donations equal to the lesser of the amount of taxable income over $202,800 or the amount of donations over $200
3. 29% of total donations not included in the two stages above.
Public Transit Pass
Although this credit ended in the 2017 federal budget, it can still be claimed for the time period of January 1 – June 30, 2017. There are a range of eligible passes, including passes allowing unlimited travel within Canada, short term passes allowing unlimited travel for five days of which at least 20 days’ worth are purchased during a 28 day period and electronic payment cards.
Interest Expense and carrying charges
Interest on money borrowed to earn business or investment income is generally deductible, however interest expenses incurred on money borrowed to generate a capital gain is not tax deductible.
Carry forward information
Take note of the notice of assessment from your previous year’s tax return as it will contain important information that will apply to the submission of your current year’s return, such as your RRSP contribution limit and any carry-forward amounts.
Remember that you may be required to submit receipts alongside your electronic return at a later date, as requested by the CRA.
Child care expenses
Child care expenses include payments made to caregivers, nursery schools, day care centres and camps and other similar institutions. The deduction is usually best claimed by the lower earning spouse.
The deduction is the lesser of the following three:
· the total qualifying child care expenses which have been incurred
· $8,000 for each child under the age of 7, as well as $5,000 for each child between 6 and 16 and $11,000 for each child for whom the taxpayer has claimed the disability tax credit.
· two thirds of the income earned by the individual making the claim.
If you owe money when your income tax return is complete, the only way to delay payment is to delay the filing until the April 30th deadline. Alternatively, if CRA owes you money, then file as early as possible.
Several key changes relating to personal financial arrangements are covered in the Canadian government’s 2018 federal budget, which could affect the finances of you and your family. Below are some of the most significant changes to be aware of:
The government is creating a new five-week “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for new fathers to take parental leave. This would increase the EI parental leave to 40 weeks (maximum) when the second parent agrees to take at least 5 weeks off. Effective June 2019, couples who opt for extended parental leave of 18 months, the second parent can take up to 8 additional weeks, at 33% of their income.
The government aims to reduce the gender wage gap by 2.7% for public servants and 2.6% in the federal private sector. The aim is to ensure that men and women receive the same pay for equal work. They have also announced increased funding for female entrepreneurs.
Effective for 2021 tax filings, the government will require reporting for certain trusts to provide information to provide information on identities of all trustees, beneficiaries, settlors of the trust and each person that has the ability to exert control over the trust.
Registered Disability Savings Plan holders
The budget proposes to extend to 2023 the current temporary measure whereby a family member such as a spouse or parent can hold an RDSP plan on behalf of an adult with reduced capacity.
If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
BC Finance Minister Carole James delivered the province’s 2018 budget update on February 20, 2018. The budget anticipates a surplus of $219 million for the current year, $281 million for 2019 and $284 million in 2020.
Corporate and personal tax rates remain unchanged.
The biggest changes are:
- Elimination of Medical Services Plan (MSP Premiums) effective January 1, 2020
- Addition of the Employer Health Tax (EHT)
- Provincial Property Taxes
The Employer Health Tax and Medical Services Plan premiums:
Effective January 1, 2020, the Medical Services Premium (MSP) will be eliminated. In last year’s budget update, MSP was reduced by 50% effective January 1, 2018. Starting in 2019, the budget introduces the Employer Health Tax (EHT). The EHT is to help fund the elimination of the MSP premiums.
The Employer Health Tax will be calculated as a percentage of payroll:
Provincial Property Transfer Taxes
Effective February 21, 2018, the following will occur:
- The provincial property transfer taxes (PTT) will increase to 5% (from 3%) on residential property values above $3 million.
- The PPT applies to foreign purchasers of residential properties in BC will increase to 20% (from 15%) and the tax will extend to include the Fraser Valley, Capital, Nanaimo and Central Okanagan Regional Districts.
- There is a new speculation tax on residential property in BC. This tax is targeted at foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay income tax in BC. Starting in 2018, it’s a rate of $5/$1,000 of assessed value, in 2019, this will increase to $20/$1,000.
There will be a new affordable child care benefit that will reduce child care costs by up to $1,250 per month per child by 2020. The new benefit will apply in September 2018. Families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 or less will receive the full benefit, (up to the cost of care) while those who make up to $111,000 will receive a reduced amount, scaling based on income. The government will be releasing an online benefit calculator to help parents budget.
The budget will provide up to $350/month directly to licensed child care providers to reduce fees. They will be the following:
- Up to $350/month for group infant/toddler care
- Up to $200/month for family infant/toddler care
- Up to $100/month for group care for children aged 3-5
- Up to $60/month for family care for children aged 3-5
To learn how these changes will affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
If you are seeking ways to save in the most tax-efficient manner available, TFSAs and RRSPs can both be effective options for you to achieve your savings goals more quickly. However, each plan does have distinct differences and advantages / disadvantages. Let’s take a look at their key features:
- While a TFSA can be used for any type of savings, an RRSP is used exclusively for retirement savings.
- You can enjoy tax free withdrawals from your TFSA due to the fact that you make your contributions after you have paid tax, whereas the opposite is true for withdrawals from your RRSP (except in the case of lifelong learning plan and home buyers’ plan)
- TFSA contributions aren’t tax deductible whereas RRSP contributions are i.e. with an RRSP, you can deduct the contributions that you make from your income when you file your tax return.
- It is required that you use earned income to contribute towards your RRSP but this is not the case for your TFSA.
- You can continue to contribute towards your TFSA for as long as you like, whereas you must close your RRSP and stop contributing towards it when you turn 71 and purchase an annuity or convert it to a RRIF with the savings that you have made within the plan.
- You are able to specify your spouse as your beneficiary with both your TFSA and your RRSP, however there is a key difference with how your savings are treated upon your spouse’s death. With an RRSP, there will be taxes payable upon the monies left in the plan by your children who inherit it, whereas with a TFSA, tax is only paid on the increase in the value of the plan since the date of death in the year that it is inherited by your children. What’s more, no tax is payable if the value that they receive is less than the value of the TFSA at the time of death.
In summary, your individual circumstances will dictate which plan is the most appropriate for you, depending on your tax position and withdrawal intentions. The primary difference between both plans is the timing of the taxes payable i.e. if you want to defer the payment of your taxes, particularly if your marginal tax rate will be lower in retirement, an RRSP may be more beneficial for you. Alternatively, if your marginal tax rate will be higher when you plan to make withdrawals, a TFSA may suit you better.
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