5 Things to Teach Your Kids About Taxes Early

There will come a time when your kids ask you how babies are made, why the sky is blue, and why they have to come home by curfew. One thing your kids probably won’t ask is about taxes — or at least not until it’s too late. It’s important to teach your kids about taxes early so they can be well prepared to file their returns and to create an efficient tax strategy. Not sure where to begin? Start with these 5 things every child should know about taxes.

Where Taxes Go

Taxes are a strange topic for children to understand because they can’t see where the money goes.  All they see is how much money is being deducted on their sales receipts or pay stubs, so they often struggle to understand the purpose of taxation. To best explain it, discuss the places and services where taxes are used for, such as for maintenance and upkeep of local parks, playgrounds, hospitals, roads, bridges, and schools. This will help them understand why taxes are essential and what they are used for without getting too technical.

The Different Types of Taxes

Children also struggle to grasp the different types of taxes that need to be paid. To help them become more familiar with the tax process, we recommend providing examples of all the various types of Canadian taxes, like the federal, provincial, and municipal government taxes on your income statement, the sales tax on a receipt, property tax on your assessment, and the tax to move goods across the border if you’ve ordered anything overseas. That way they can see exactly how tax is deducted and get a better sense of what to expect as they grow older and need to manage their taxes on their own.

The Impact on Earnings

It’s also a good idea to teach your kids about how taxes will impact their take-home pay before they receive their first pay stub. This will help prevent them from being caught off guard once they get their first paycheque and notice that it’s less than their hourly rate. Also, show them how to calculate all the deductions, so they know how to inspect their pay stubs in case of accounting errors.

All About Refunds, Payments, and Returns

When you’re working on filing taxes for your teenager, it’s also a great time to teach them about the process. Show your kids how to fill out the income tax return by using their paycheques and income report so they can get a clear view into the filing requirements. In addition, explain what happens if they underpay/overpay and what kind of tax breaks/penalties they could encounter.

Explaining taxes to your child is the easy part. Understanding all the tax implications when your child is a dependent, or when the Kiddie Tax applies, and what family tax breaks are available, can often be very confusing. Fortunately, with smart tax planning and a tax optimization strategy, you can increase your personal wealth and keep more money in your pocket. When you’re ready to improve your tax management strategy, contact us at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. We know the ins and outs and how they can be applied to minimize the effects of taxation for you and your family.

5 Key Pieces of Effective Tax Optimization

There’s one thing that you can’t avoid no matter how hard you try, and that’s taxes. Tax adherence is a responsibility of every Canadian citizen, no matter how much money you make or what type of work you do. While you can never escape taxes entirely, you can take advantage of methods made to minimize them to reduce the burden on you and your family.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of tax you pay out to the government throughout your years, review these five components of effective tax optimization and keep them in mind for the future.

Income Optimization

There are a number of income optimization methods that you can utilize to help minimize your taxes. For one, you can engage in income splitting with your spouse to transfer the tax liability from the higher-income earner to the lower one. You can’t legally “split” your income amounts per se, but there are a number of ways to utilize this strategy without penalty such as: creating a spousal loan, contributing to a spousal RRSP, or establishing a family trust.

Tax Efficient Investments

There are a number of registered accounts that you can take advantage of to defer your taxes into the future. If you’ve maxed out on your limits, you need to find other places to shelter your money. An expert financial consultant can help you maximize your tax-efficient investments most effectively by strategically distributing your income and investments across your RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, and a number of other tax-sheltered options like your life insurance policy.

Business Management

One tax efficiency strategy that can help you keep as much of your income as possible is expense management. Learning how to claim expenses correctly can increase your tax efficiency and reduce both your personal and corporate tax bill. Corporate clients can also take advantage of optimizing salaries and dividends, estate freezes, and other advanced methods to minimize taxes.

Tax Deductions

Another effective way to reduce taxes is to take advantage of all the possible deductions and credits on your income tax and benefit return. Deductions, such as retirement and CPP contributions, moving expenses, child care expenses, support payments, student loan interest, and tuition expenses can all be claimed for tax credits. In fact, there are over 90 deductions and tax credits that you can claim in Canada that will put more money back into your pocket each year.

Investment Strategies

Higher net worth Canadians that have a lot of money tied up in investments will often find that the tax on the interest can become substantial if they don’t have a proper strategy in place. A professional advisor can provide you with a number of strategies that can reduce your capital gains and lower your investment taxes to optimize your returns.

A professional and experienced financial advisor can work out the most effective strategy for your personal and corporate tax optimization. Their expertise ensures that your finances will adhere to the newest regulations and follow all legal practices to avoid penalties and unlawful misconduct.

Our experts at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. will enjoy crafting the best tax strategy for your particular needs to ensure that the best approach is taken to enhance your success.

5 Investment Strategies Which Can Lower Your Taxes

Are you tired of paying through the roof in taxes? Let us show you some simple investment strategies which can lower your taxes and put more of your money back in your pocket.

Defer Your Taxes

One way to lower your taxes is to defer them into future years. The reason to do this is it’s smarter to pay taxes when you’re in a lower tax bracket during your retirement years. Deferring also puts the control of when you pay the tax in your hands and not the CRA’s. One way to take advantage of tax deferrals is by investing in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). With an RRSP, you can contribute up to the allowable yearly amount and grow your money tax-free — you’ll only have to pay the taxes when you pull out the money, thereby paying those taxes at a presumably lower tax rate.

Make a Spousal Loan

Another investment strategy designed to lower your taxes is to make a loan to your spouse (who is in a lower tax bracket) to buy investments. The loan has to be issued at the CRA’s prescribed interest rate, but then it can be used to invest in stocks, real estate, etc. You’ll still have to claim it as income and pay taxes on it, but it will be taxed at a much lower rate. Plus, you can also deduct the interest, so it’s a great way to save on your taxes.

Divide Your Taxes

Income splitting can help you spread your income among more than one taxpayer. Although the government has historically been tough on income splitting, making it illicit for couples to pool their income, there are still strategies available to take advantage of dividing your taxes. For example, you can legally participate in pension splitting, invest in your spouse’s lower-income RRSP(s), or engage in CPP retirement savings splitting without being penalized by the CRA. You can also reduce your taxes by creating a corporation or partnership to earn business income or to pay family members through the business.

Buy Stocks with no Income

If you purchase stocks that do not pay a dividend, you won’t have to report investment income each year. The idea here is to hold the stock as long as possible, because once you sell it, you’ll have to pay capital gains on the stock. Luckily, you can defer these too. For instance, you can defer capital gains tax by owning a small business. Anyone who owns a qualified small business is entitled to an $800,000 capital gains exemption upon the sale of the shares. This amount can be claimed by any family member involved as long as they’ve held shares in the company for at least two years.

Invest Where it won’t be Taxed

When you’ve met your RRSP and TFSA contribution limits for the year, you’ll have to find another place to tax shelter your money. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can park your money to experience income growth without being taxed yearly. One of the easiest ways to avoid taxes is to buy a primary residence. As the value of your home appreciates, the money will grow over time, tax-free.  This is just one of the many ways of investing without being taxed.

To find out about more specific investment strategies which can lower your taxes, talk to one of our expert advisors at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. today. We’ll show you exactly how you can save thousands of dollars each year on your taxes through strategic planning and tax optimization.

6 Common Myths About the Canadian Tax System

No one is exempt from paying taxes in Canada! Surprisingly though, many Canadian citizens aren’t’ fully aware of how the tax system work – they have a general knowledge and know how much they are taxed – but they don’t really understand the details. Many people actually believe common myths that have been kept alive for decades. Here are some of them.

If I’m In The Second Tax Bracket, I Pay 20.5% Of My Income

In Canada, the way taxes are calculated is somewhat complicated. If you make less than $46,605, you are taxed at the low rate of 15%. But those in the second tax bracket will be taxed at 15% up until $46,605 and then at 20.5% for the remaining amount up to $93,208.

This incremental approach also applies to the remaining tax brackets. So, for instance if you make over $202,800 you would pay:

  • 15% for the first $46,605
  • 5% between $46,605 up to $93,208,
  • 26% for income between $93,208 and $143,489
  • 29% for income between $143,489 and $205,842
  • 33% for income over $205,842.

If I Pay Federal Tax, I Don’t Have To Pay Provincial Tax

Every Canadian is expected to claim tax for both. In all provinces and territories, except Quebec, the Provincial and Territorial Tax rates for 2018 are calculated in the same way as the Federal Tax Rate. The only difference is that the exact tax rates used will vary by province. You can find the current rates here.

I Can Transfer Termination Pay To My RRSP For Free

Unfortunately, if you lose your job and are issued termination pay, this amount will also count towards your income. Only if you’ve been employed by your company since before 1996, can you be able to transfer any of the termination pay to your RRSP at a tax-free rate.

My Bonuses and Rewards are Not Taxable

The above are considered employee benefits that are indeed taxable and need to be added to your income. This includes any personal bonuses, trips, prizes, and awards. Luckily, most taxable benefits will be included in your statement of employment, but if you’re not sure what exactly qualifies, make sure to talk to a professional who does.

The Employee Stock Options I Purchased are Tax-Free

This is another common myth. If you purchased company shares at a price less than fair market value, the difference should be included in your income. And if this pushes you into a new tax bracket, you will be required to pay taxes at the new rate as well.

All Investment Incomes are Taxed the Same Way

Having a tax strategy is crucial because not all investment incomes are equal and all are taxed differently. It is recommended to allocate assets which generate revenue and are heavily taxed into tax-sheltered investments. Having a professional on your side to help you create a plan that will reduce your taxable investment income, can help put more money in your pocket and keep your tax bracket at an affordable level.

Understanding precisely what contributes to your income and what you can do to reduce your taxes can improve your wealth portfolio. At The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd., we can help you do just that. By creating an effective tax plan, we can help you to increase your personal wealth and provide you with the support you need to achieve your financial goals. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

How Does Estate Planning Reduce Probate and Taxes?

Do you know what happens to your estate after you pass away? After death, your executor is responsible for securing all your assets, paying your debts, and applying for probate. Although there isn’t an estate tax in Canada, there are other fees that exist to process and probate your will. And like all other debts, income tax has to be paid by the estate first, before people can inherit the assets. Luckily, estate planning can help to reduce the probate and fees associated with your will. Here’s what you need to know.

When is Probate Required?

Your executor will need to apply for probate if you pass away with any outstanding debts. This is also necessary if there’s property not being passed on to a spouse or common-law partner, or if there are any accounts or investments without a beneficiary. Probate is also recommended to prove the executor is the appropriate person to carry out your last testament and to provide institutions with the proof needed in case your will is contested. To apply, the executor will need to visit the province’s probate court and pay the necessary costs. Each province sets their own fees, which is usually a flat rate or a percentage of your assets. For instance, in Ontario, the probate taxes are calculated as $5 per $1000 of estate assets up to $50,000 and $15 per $1000 of estate assets over $50,000.

What Taxes Should Be Paid?

All income that is earned from the beginning of the year to the date of death is to be reported on the final tax return. This will also include any capital gains tax on your assets and taxes on your RRSP or RRIF. When you pass away, the government assumes you have sold everything and regards all of your assets as disposed of for tax purposes.

How Can Estate Planning Reduce Fees?

Implementing estate planning strategies can help to reduce the tax hit that will be left to your estate. For one, if you leave your assets to your spouse or create a joint ownership, you don’t have to pay capital gains taxes or tax on your assets. Moving assets outside of your estate by setting up a trust to hold legal title or a private company to own your assets will also ensure they will not go through probate. However, it’s important to note that each province has different rules and fees, so it’s always best to talk to a professional who can guide you through the process and ensure your state planning goes as intended.

At The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd., we provide strategic wealth planning that is tailored to your individual needs. We can set up an estate plan that will reduce your probate and taxes and provide your family with the assets you had intended to leave behind. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

Understanding the Tax Implications of Family Gifts and Loans

It’s not uncommon for parents to financially support their children well into their twenties and sometimes even in their thirties and forties. With the Canadian housing market being increasingly difficult to enter for first time buyers, parents are becoming more involved with helping their children afford a down payment and more. Some even assist their kids with investment money to start businesses and to help with investment instruments. And while all this may seem harmless, difficulties can arise if parents don’t understand the tax implications of family gifts and loans. Let’s take a look at what we mean.


Create Clear Intentions

If you loan your child money or present it as a gift, make sure you get the correct documentation. With a loan, you will need a promissory note, loan document, or registered mortgage on the title of their home. With a gift, you should always collect a deed of gift, or make it in writing. By not having clear documentation about your intentions, your wishes won’t be clear, and you could end up with tax implications, regardless of your intentions.


Giving Cash Gifts

There is no tax in Canada for cash gifts that you give your child. However, if the cash is intended to help them pay for a home or for any other capital like stocks or shares, there will be tax implications for you. This is to prevent people from trying to pass on assets to their children to take advantage of the child’s tax rate as opposed to paying at the higher tax bracket.


Buying Your Child A Home

If you decide to give your child money for a down payment, pay their monthly mortgage bills, or buy a home outright for them, you will have certain tax implications. For one, if you buy a home for your child the law sees it as if you sold it to them at fair market value. You will be expected to pay the capital gains, not your child.


Loaning Money

When you loan money to your child and charge them an interest rate, you will still need to declare any interest you earn on your tax return. If your child is using that money to purchase a home, and they are taking out a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Insurance, they will need to pay a surcharge since the down payment money was borrowed. So be selective on how much interest you plan to charge them.

Family loans and gifts can be very complex to navigate, so talk to us at The Beacon Group at Assante Financial Management Ltd. We can help you get over your financial hurdles and understand all the tax implications in relation to gifts and loans.

Maximizing Tax Deductions as a Parent

As a parent in modern society, it can be difficult to make ends meet given how low the Canadian dollar is and the multitude of expenses related to raising a child. However, there are several ways to minimize tax deductions and make life easier for yourself, your spouse, and your children. Here’s how to do it.

Apply for Benefits

When tax time rolls around, fill out the RC66 Canada Child Benefits Application. This used to enable parents to apply for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which was worth a maximum of $6,400 annually per child 6 years old or under, and $5,400 per year for each child between 6 and 17 (note that these amounts reduced when family net income exceeds $30,000). However, the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), and the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) replaced the CCB in 2016. This means that CCB does not to be applied nor is taxable, but adjustments can be requested. You may also apply for the Child Disability Benefit (CDB) if applicable. Parents have the option of registering online as well, or even upon registering a birth. The biological mother is considered the primary caregiver, so all social benefits are directed to her, but the lower-income parent must report the income on their return regardless. Same-sex parents are permitted to designate a primary caregiver in their application to ensure that they are eligible for benefits, also.

Claim Expenses

Fees and expenses paid for by parents for child care while at work, school, or during research need to be claimed to help create comprehensive and accurate tax-deductible figures so long as the child is under 16 years old sometime during the year (this rule doesn’t apply to children with disabilities, however). The more that you include, the likelier it will be that these deductions will decrease in size. Then, attach Form T778 Child Care Expenses Deduction to your return, bearing in mind that the lower-income partner is required to claim expenses unless if enrolled in studies, suffering a long-term illness, imprisoned, or separated.

Claim Credits

While adding expenses to your forms, be sure to include those that could be credited upon your return. Children’s Fitness, Disability, and Family Caregiver amounts are examples of creditable expenditures. For sports (refundable) and arts (non-refundable) program fees, up to $500 and $250 per child under 16 (18 if disabled) can be claimed, respectively. To transfer a child’s Disability Amount to your return, use line 316 of the federal worksheet to ensure accurate calculation, followed by line 318 to calculate how much can be transferred to you, followed by entering the total on line 318 of Schedule 1. To claim the Family Caregiver Amount if your child has a long-term illness or is infirm but not necessarily disabled, include a signed doctor’s statement that details when the illness or impairment began, its expected duration, and that it makes the child depend more on personal assistance than children of their age group. Enter the number of children you are claiming for in box 352 and multiply by $2,121, then claim the calculated result on line 367.

With these adjustments applied to yours and your spouse’s return (if applicable), you can expect a decrease in tax payments and a higher payout than usual from the CRA. If you require detailed information or guidance or would like to discuss further tax planning strategies, The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. is ready to lend a helping hand.

Salary vs. Dividends – Which is Right for You?

Many business owners are unsure of whether to opt for salary-based earnings or payments in dividends. There are various advantages and disadvantages between the two, and it is important to research whether or not one of these options is suitable for your business. By comparing salaries and dividends, we can clarify the differences between the two.

CPP and RRSP Payments

Being paid a corporate salary means that you will be able to contribute towards an RRSP. This is a result of you having a personal income, and it means that you’ll also be paying into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to secure a financially bolstered retirement. However, take into consideration the fact that as salary is 100% taxable as opposed to dividends (the latter taxed at a lower rate), you’ll need to pay both portions of the CPP as an employer and employee.

With dividends, you won’t be required to make regular CPP payments, which can help to save money, though it may be best to invest anyway as it can increase what you are entitled to upon retirement. Also, the logging of payments is a relatively simplified process compared to that of salary-based earnings that entail setting up payroll accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency and filling out extra paperwork. That being said, by receiving dividends you forfeit the ability to make RRSP contributions as a result of not having any income.

Tax Deductions and Increases

When it comes to taxes, salaries are seen as a burden due to the fact that they are 100% taxable. This means that your personal income is subject to higher rates and a smaller return. Additionally, you may not be able to carry back a business loss in future years when paid via a salary, which is quite the reverse if you were earning in dividends. That being said, owning a corporation that pays in salaries and bonuses enables for greater company tax deductions.

Dividends are taxed at a much lower rate than that of salaries, resulting in lower personal tax rates. This can enable for easier budget management, greater savings, and opportunities for investment in order to bolster income flow. However, it can also remove some personal income tax deductions, such as those for child care expenses.

Limitations for Small Businesses

It is important to bear in mind that the Small Business Limit is $500,000, which relates to income tax deductions available to private controlled Canadian corporations (CCPCs). On many occasions, salaries and bonuses are paid to ensure a corporation’s earnings don’t exceed this amount, with dividends being utilized if further income is required. This is due to the fact that after a business exceeds this figure, it pays much more in taxes.

Depending on cash flow needs, your income level, predicted company income for the year, and RRSP and tax deduction importance, salaries and dividends both offer a wide range of pros and cons. It is highly recommended that you consult with a financial advisor from The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. who can help you determine which option is more suitable for your situation and discuss other tax planning strategies to put more money back in your pocket.

Making Financial Sense Out of Stay-at-Home Parenting

When you and your spouse decide to start a family together, you have to make an important decision together: will both parents return to work, or will one remain as a stay-at-home parent? While there is no right or wrong answer, it is crucial that you first weigh whether or not it is suitable from an earnings and expenses-related standpoint.

Guaranteeing Sufficient Income

The most important thing to do is work out a budget with your spouse in advance of making such a change. It is important to ensure that the household can remain financially secure with a sole breadwinner. Factor in additional bills, investments, and savings to determine whether opting to be a stay-at-home parent is a viable option. Staying at home will also shift expenses; you’ll save on gas and lunches out, but you’ll have whole new expense categories for diapers and baby clothes.

Taking into consideration the age of your children, hours that they’re home, and amount of attentive care they require (special needs, etc.), the stay-at-home spouse may be able to work part-time or launch a home-based business. This can help to maintain a steady income flow as home office-based expenses and other legitimate costs associated with a home business are tax-deductible.

Saving Opportunities

If you are looking to save on expenses as a household, having one parent remain at home with the children can be a blessing in disguise. The biggest contributor is the lack of daycare costs, which in Calgary top $1000 per month per child. Child care for infants is even more expensive. If the family unit includes an older parent or in-law in need of consistent support, there may be an opportunity to save even more money. Having someone at home helps to reduce for care-related expenses either via facility or home care.

Tax Planning and Maintaining Insurance Coverage

Income-splitting opportunities are ripe for the picking for households with a stay-at-home spouse and the other being the primary source of income. The main breadwinner can contribute towards a spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Additionally, they have the option to give funds to the spouse with a lower income to invest in their own Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Combined, expect a considerable deduction on taxes. Clever spousal loan strategies involving higher earning spouses lending money to their lower-earning partner to invest and be taxed at a lower rate are also applicable. In this sense, having a stay-at-home spouse can allow for lower taxes and higher return rates.

These savings may be important in regards to maintaining adequate insurance coverage. With one spouse no longer earning an income, it is more crucial than ever that the appropriate amount of insurance is readily available to cover the cost of replacing their services. Also, you may want to consider critical illness insurance to compensate for whoever remains at home with no income being ineligible for disability insurance.  

By considering your options and weighing the pros and cons appropriate for your income and expenses, becoming a stay-at-home parent may be more of an opportunity than a burden. Making sense of the financial aspects of such a lifestyle change is important to maintain a sound future, and reaching out to The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. to speak with one of our financial advisor will help make sense of it all. Feel free to contact us if you require further assistance with financial planning, investment planning, tax planning, and insurance planning with stay-at-home parenting in mind.

4 Small Business Owner Tax Tips

Being an entrepreneur is quite different from working for a large company in many ways. One particular way that stands out from the rest is the responsibility to maintain and file taxes. Unless you happen to own an accounting or auditing firm, there may be more questions than answers when it comes to how to complete and record everything to do with taxes successfully. Although tax season happens once a year, it is a round the calendar job to keep track of every dollar spent and ensure that taxes are adequately claimed to help bring down your taxes owing. Here are some tips for small business owners that are sure to help you sort out your tax situation.

Keep Every Business Receipt

Although it may seem like a daunting task to begin with, it is imperative that you save every meal, gas, parking, equipment purchase, and any other receipt which has a relationship to your business. It’s easier to rifle through your many business receipts than to not have them and not be able to claim them when the time comes.

Be Mindful of Meal Prices

It is absolutely permitted to claim meals as part of your business expenses, however be mindful of the cost. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is cracking down on business meals submitted for tax write-offs that are more than $100 per person. To avoid catching the watchful eye of the CRA, do not submit any meal receipts where more than $100 is spent on each guest.

Convention or Furthering Education Programs

It is expected that conventions or furthering education programs directly related to your field should be attended and can be deducted as a tax write-off. The key to remember is that only reasonable expenses will be accepted. If there is a three-day conference held somewhere where travel is required, however you decided to stay for seven nights and have a vacation out of the time away, it is only possible to submit three nights as a business expense.

Knowing What Can Be Deducted

Having the knowledge of what is an acceptable deductible and what is unacceptable is an important part of taxes. If taxes are not your area of expertise, it will be beneficial to you to speak to someone who is an expert in the field.

As a small business owner you likely wear multiple hats. When it comes to taxes, however, it’s best to have a professional help you out. At The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. there will always be someone available to assist you with managing your small business taxes.