Discover

Informed. Inspired. Connected.

Our commitment is to keep you informed on new developments in financial planning, provide perspective on global events, inspire thought and give insight on what is important to you and your financial strategy.

COVID-19 Resources

Posted on:

We’ve put together a list of helpful links from trusted resources. If you have any questions about how the pandemic could impact your financial life plan, contact us.

Keep yourself and your family safe.  
Let’s all cooperate to flatten the curve!

 

FEDERAL RESOURCES

PROVINCIAL RESOURCES


British Columbia
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland & Labrador

 

When should you expect to receive your tax slips and receipts?

Posted on:

Below are lists of the most common tax slips and receipts we encounter during tax season and time frames that you can expect to receive them.

Tax Slips

The following chart outlines the filing dates Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires for tax slips to be submitted.

You can expect to receive your tax slips within 5 – 10 days of the CRA filing date.

 

Receipts for RRSP contributions made to Aligned Capital Partners

Source: National Bank Independent Network (NBIN), custodian for Aligned Capital Partners Inc.

 

Meet the Denmarks: Can you get where you’re going without knowing where you are?

Posted on:

We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Life had been particularly busy the last few weeks. The girls were busy with sports, dance and music lessons and April was spending a lot more time with her parents since her Dad’s heart attack last year. The reality of life for the Denmarks is family first. The only time Conrad and April had available for the next meeting was on a Saturday morning and they were thankful June could accommodate them.

June started the planning session with kudos and a question; “Well, you two are proving to be superstar clients! Thank you for providing your financial details so quickly. We have a solid baseline to start our work. How do you feel about the life aligned planning process so far?” April answered first “I can’t believe it was just 3 weeks ago that we started this process. We’ve talked more about our dreams, goals, and finances than we ever have. I feel as if we’re more in tune with what we want in life and with each other.” Conrad added, “I think my stress level is decreasing by the day. There were so many things I didn’t even realize I was worried about until it was on the table for discussion. From little things like realizing the cable bill is getting out of hand to big things like how the business could impact our family – life was starting to feel heavy.” June commented, “It sounds as if there have been some positive developments. Let’s delve deeper and discuss your values in the context of how you make financial decisions.”

This chart ranks the Denmark’s expenses according to their values.

“At the first planning session, we focused on your values. You identified that family, health, and achievement are your most important shared values. The expenses in your plan were ranked according to your values and the lifetime cost for each item. Do these rankings reflect your priorities? Is your spending aligned with your values? Financial decisions usually imply trade-offs. Is it more important to buy the new Dodge Ram this year or create memories with Jordan and Lily by taking your trip to Disney World?”

June continued “Now we’ll review your financial picture to see if you can achieve your life vision if you continue on the current path. By doing this we’ll be able to identify issues and opportunities and design your plan.”

They proceeded to review how their net worth, income-producing assets, and cash flow would change throughout their life. It was clear that their lack of attention to planning for retirement would keep them from realizing April’s dream of retiring at age 60. Unless they could depend on the business to provide their nest egg, they would need to make some changes.

The summary of their current income and expenses showed that April and Conrad have excess cash flow at the end of the month. They need to decide how to use that cash to more effectively achieve what really matters to their family.

Of more immediate concern is risk management. If either April or Conrad passed away suddenly, the family would not be able to count on a secure future.  If April became sick or was unable to run the business, the family’s security would also be at risk. The third risk that surfaced in the discussion was related to the business. June pointed out that the business was exposing them to potential personal liabilities that could be minimized through incorporation. These issues, coupled with not having estate documents in place, were jarring. The kids were at risk. Conrad and April’s sense of urgency was rising.

June remarked, “More questions than answers have emerged out of this discussion. Let’s make a list of the questions to create some ‘what if’ scenarios”. Conrad and April made quick work of listing what was most important to them:

  • What needs to be done to protect our family in the event of a death or a disability?
  • What steps need to be taken to insulate our personal wealth from the business?
  • Are we saving enough for education for Jordan and Lily?
  • Should we focus on paying down our mortgage or should we be addressing other issues first?
  • What do we need to do if we want to travel in retirement?
  • Is there anything we can do to stop paying so much income tax?

Conrad and April left the office and made their way over to The Common to debrief. Even though it was hard to acknowledge the shortcomings in their current situation, they were excited by the emerging opportunities!

Your year-end guide for income tax planning and preparation 2019

Posted on:

Alarm clock on a white table with person in background working on preparing their 2019 taxes for year-end1. Assess your tax-year for planning issues and opportunities

a. How much tax is being withheld at source?

If no tax, or too little, was withheld at source on your RRSP and RIF/LIF withdrawals, employment insurance benefits and/or your CPP & OAS payments, you may find yourself owing additional tax. If you have a tax bill owing of at least $3,000 in the current tax year and either of the two previous years, you will be required to pay tax instalments.

b. Did you experience any significant life changes?

Be sure to make your financial planner aware of these changes – there could be additional benefits or tax implications to plan for.

c. Did you make your contributions?

Although unused contribution room can be carried forward, earlier contributions allow for more time for tax-deferred growth. This may include:

    • TFSA
    • RRSP/SRSP
    • RESP
    • RDSP

Consider setting up pre-authorized contributions in order to ensure that you are contributing to your plans.

d. Do you have taxable capital gains to offset?

If you have sold investments at a gain in your non-registered account this year, consider selling securities with accrued losses before year-end to offset these taxable capital gains. If you sell a position at a loss, the loss can be applied to offset capital gains in the current year or the previous three years. Note that if the security is repurchased within 30 days of the sale, the loss cannot be applied.

 

2. Collect all relevant tax receipts

You may be missing some receipts or have some that are not compliant with CRA requirements. Starting the process of collecting your receipts now allows you to follow-up on any missing information before you file your taxes.

Are you self-employed?

If yes, keep reading, if no skip to “New in 2019”

If you are self-employed, you must be aware of your tax obligations. In addition to the information above, you may also require:

  • Income and expenses for the year: If you do not have accounting software you can use a simple spreadsheet or, if your needs are more complex, you might want to consider an accounting program. We are affiliates of XERO, a small business accounting software. If you would like to discuss this, contact us.
  • Mileage log: If you deduct vehicle expenses related to your business, you are required to keep a mileage log and all relevant receipts.
  • Vehicle expense receipts
    • Gas
    • Maintenance and repairs
    • Parking
    • Insurance
    • License and registration fees
    • Eligible interest charges paid on your vehicle loan
    • Eligible leasing costs
  • Home Office Expenses: If you are a home-based business, you may be able to write off a portion of your home expenses. This may include rent, mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, and home insurance.
  • Capital Cost Allowance (CCA): Consider if you would like to claim your CCA deduction for the year or carry-forward for higher income years. If you disposed of capital property this year, you may have to report your recapture of CCA as income or be eligible to deduct your terminal loss.

New in 2019:

  • The annual TFSA contribution limit was increased $5,500 in 2018 to $6,000 in 2019
  • The Home Buyers’ Plan limit has been increased to $35,000 starting March 19th, 2019
  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was introduced, allowing first-time home buyers who meet the income threshold requirements to borrow 5-10% of the purchase price from CMHC.
  • 2019 changes for Canadian Controlled Private Companies (CCPC) include:
    • Manitoba has increased the small business corporate tax threshold from $450,000 to $500,000.
    • The small business corporate tax rate decreased from 10% to 9%.
    • If passive income earned is >$50,000, the small business corporate tax threshold begins to reduce. At $150,000 of passive income, the threshold is completely eliminated, and no active income is eligible for the reduced small business tax rates.

Meet the Denmarks: Why is it important to gather detailed and accurate financial data?

Posted on:

We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Shortly after their first meeting with Fraser & Partners, the Denmarks received a follow-up email that included a financial questionnaire to collect information about their personal household and April’s business. The email provided secure options for transferring confidential information and documents back to Fraser & Partners. As a computer systems analyst, Conrad appreciated the attention to cyber-security. He knew all too well that regular email is not a safe form of confidential communication.

As manager of the household finances, Conrad was tasked with filling in the questionnaire. It was thorough and he was prepared!

Annual Income:

Annual Lifestyle Expenses:

Annual Family Expenses:

April and Conrad built a new home in 2003 when housing prices were low. The cost at that time was $200,000 and they were able to make a down payment of $25,000 using a combination of wedding gifts and a $10,000 gift from April’s grandparents. At first, it was hard to pay both the mortgage and their student loans, but they persevered. As Conrad filled in their monthly mortgage payment, he thought to himself “we have the capacity to pay off this debt much more quickly now. If only the mortgage prepayment options were more in line with what we could afford to pay…” The mortgage is up for renewal in a couple of months, so this was a topic he wanted on the table for planning.

Primary Home Owned Jointly Conrad 50% / April 50%

Mortgage

Annual Home Expenses

Conrad’s parents had purchased a family cottage back in the 70’s. They wanted their kids to grow up at the lake enjoying all the perks of lake life. Although his parents hadn’t transferred the title to the boys yet, they were thinking about it and Conrad knew this would soon be an asset for their family. He and his brother Ben were already splitting the property taxes and expenses.

Family Cottage – Ownership Conrad’s Parents

Family Cottage – Expenses Conrad 50% / Ben 50%             

Conrad liked to own a truck – you never know when you’re going to need to haul something, especially out at the lake. April, on the other hand, wanted something that was environmentally friendly and practical for chauffeuring the kids around town.

Vehicles

Once Conrad completed entering the information, he continued to collect all the documents as requested:

  • Pay Stubs
  • Banking statements
  • Investment statements
  • Most recent tax returns and Notices of Assessment
  • Mortgage document and most recent year-end statement
  • Household and auto insurance
  • Loan document and most recent year-end statement
  • All insurance policies
  • Employee benefit booklet
  • Will, Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care (Health Care Directive)
  • Balance Sheets & Income Statements for the business

Conrad felt bad as they had no Wills to provide. This had been on their list for a long time and they just never seemed to get around to it. Once April had prepared the information on her business, they submitted it all through the secure portal. Shortly after, the Denmarks received confirmation from Fraser & Partners that the documents had been received and in order. The email also included some options to meet online and verify the information. The Denmarks were excited to see how everything would look.

The Online Meeting

As April rushed home from visiting her parents, she was grateful that the next meeting was online as they both had busy schedules. Conrad pulled out the laptop and clicked on the online meeting invitation.  Seconds later, they heard June’s voice over their speaker and could see her screen on theirs. They stepped through the numbers and it wasn’t long before April noticed something was amiss. “Conrad, you forgot to mention our family gym membership. That adds another $2,000 a year.” Conrad paused for a second, “you’re right. I’m glad we gave this a second look.”

After a few other changes, Conrad and April were confident that the data gathering process had accurately captured their current situation. They could see how the work they had put into it would pay off. They looked forward to analyzing the impact of the numbers in relation to the vision they had carved out in the first planning session.

The next installment of The Denmarks will review their current financial picture to uncover planning issues and opportunities.

CRA wants to know more about your foreign property

Posted on:

Year-end is a great time to start organizing your tax information. Refer to your Fraser & Partners ‘Go-To Tax Envelope with the general income tax checklist on the front that identifies paperwork you’ll need to gather for submitting your taxes. Or, click here to visit the income tax checklist on our website.

The T1135 is a form that is required by CRA for reporting on foreign property. The form is meant to crack down on taxpayers who are avoiding or under reporting their offshore income. It is a supplement to the T3 (Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations) and T5 (Statement of Investment Income) slips.

Are you required to submit a T1135?

The form applies to Canadians who own foreign property with a total cost amount of more than $100,000 at any time in a given year including:

  • foreign bank accounts, shares of foreign companies other than foreign affiliates, shares of Canadian corporations held outside Canada;
  • debts owed by non-residents (including government and corporate bonds), debentures, mortgages and notes receivable;
  • interests in certain non-resident trusts;
  • interests or units in offshore investment funds; if you have Canadian mutual or segregated funds investing outside of Canada on your behalf, in most cases the tax reporting is done by the investment firm;
  • real estate situated outside Canada, other than personal-use property or property used in business; rental property needs to be reported;
  • and other tangible and intangible property such as patents and copyrights situated or deposited outside Canada.

What information is collected on the T1135?

  • Names of specific foreign (financial services) institutions
  • Countries where offshore assets are located
  • Foreign income earned on those assets
  • Maximum cost amount of those assets during the year
  • Month-end values of your holdings for tax reporting

Don’t forget to include this information when you package your tax materials.

 

 

When is the best time to take CPP?

Posted on:

Piggy bank with word CPP. Canada Pension Plan concept.

Without knowing how long we will live, there’s really no right or wrong answer on the best time to start taking Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What worked for your neighbour or your co-worker may not be the best decision for you. Canadians are fortunate to have the flexibility of selecting their CPP start date; but with 120 months to choose from between ages 60 and 70, that decision can be daunting. There are a variety of factors to consider and discuss with your financial planner before applying for CPP.

Here are 4 factors to take into consideration before you make the decision

1. How CPP payments are calculated

The trade-off for receiving CPP early is that your benefits will be reduced. The reduction for collecting your CPP benefits before your 65th birthday is 0.6% per month or 7.2% per year. If you begin receiving CPP benefits at age 60, you’re looking at a permanent reduction of 36%.

Those who delay their CPP past age 65 are rewarded for their decision to wait in the form of an increased pension. The increase is 0.7% per month for every month that you collect CPP benefits after your 65th birthday; totaling 8.4% per year. If you hold off on receiving CPP until age 70, the permanent increase is 42%

If you are unsure of the estimated amount of CPP you will receive, you can request a statement through your My Service Canada Account.

2. How much CPP you will receive at different ages

As of November 5, 2019, the average monthly amount received by new beneficiaries was $664.41 at age 65. Let’s compare how this amount would look if CPP were taken at age 60, 65, or 70:

Comparison of CPP payments taken at ages 60, 65, and 70

You may have heard reference to the breakeven age – the age at which the benefits received would be equal when taken at different ages. Electing to take CPP early means that you receive more payments, but at a lower amount throughout your lifetime. If you choose to begin receiving the reduced CPP payments at age 60, by age 74 you will have received the same accumulated benefits as you would have had you waited until age 65. This is the breakeven age. After this point, it is more beneficial to have taken CPP later. Simply put, if you expect to live past age 74, your accumulated benefits will be higher if you wait until age 65. The breakeven age for taking your CPP at age 65 compared to age 70 is approximately 82 years old.

Bearing in mind only this math, it’s hard to argue against delaying CPP until age 70. The payment at age 70 is a 122% increase from the payment at age 60. By age 90, you’ve received over $75,000 more than someone who began receiving CPP benefits at age 60. So why do more Canadians take CPP at 60 than at 70?

3. Your specific circumstances 

Although the math is quite convincing, there’s more to the decision than the numbers.

One of the biggest uncertainties surrounding when to take CPP is life expectancy. As of 2017, the life expectancy for Canadians at age 65 is 20.8 years. Delaying your pension and receiving an increased benefit into your eighties is enticing but that’s assuming you live a long, healthy life.  And although CPP does offer a survivor benefit for the surviving spouse, the benefit is quite modest with an average CPP Survivor’s Pension for those 65 and older of $302.01 per month as of November 5, 2019. If you are healthy and anticipate living into your eighties, delaying your CPP will maximize your lifetime benefits.  But for many Canadians, receiving a reduced pension is a fair trade-off for the peace of mind of receiving benefits

Another factor to consider is your cash flow needs in retirement. Perhaps you plan on traveling more in the early years of retirement or want to enjoy yourself while you’re young and healthy and find yourself needing more cash flow in earlier years. When you contemplate taking your CPP, it is important to have a clear picture of your retirement income and expenses and determine if gaps exist. Without adequate sources of retirement income, those delaying may find themselves rapidly depleting their retirement savings. If receiving CPP is necessary for you to meet your current spending needs, you may have no choice but to apply for early CPP.

There are many factors that may influence your decision on when to take CPP, including your marital status.  This decision is not isolated but made in the context of your life plan.

4. Tax implications 

If the success of your retirement cash flow plan is not dependent on receiving CPP, but you plan to take it early and invest it for peace of mind, be sure to consider the trade-offs. CPP income is taxable so you will be investing after-tax income. Unless you have contribution room available in your registered accounts, the income and growth earned on the investment will be taxable as well. This, coupled with investment fees charged, makes it difficult to beat the 7.2% you could earn annually by delaying another year before age 65.

Summing it all up

Chart summing up considerations for when to take CPP

Most of us contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) our entire working career, so it’s no surprise that the decision on when to begin receiving CPP benefits is one of the more difficult decisions that we make regarding our retirement.  Although the standard age to start CPP is 65, benefits can be received as early as age 60 and as late as age 70; allowing for a 10-year span to choose a start date. And once that decision is made, you are locked in for life. We take all these factors into consideration in relation to your financial life plan and can look at the bottom line in terms of dollars and cents to help you determine when to start. When you’re ready, you can apply for CPP benefits online.


Meet the Denmarks: Why are your values and life vision so important in the financial life planning process?

Posted on:

April & Conrad pulled up to The Forks on a beautiful sunny day, ready for their first financial life planning meeting with Fraser & Partners. It had been a long time since they had last visited The Forks – so much had changed! They decided to take some time after their meeting to visit The Common for a bite to eat and a flight of beer before browsing the new shops.

They made their way to Johnston Terminal and up to the office on the 3rd floor where they were warmly greeted. They were a little early and fidgeted on their phones in the reception area while wondering what to expect. April and Conrad were uncomfortable talking about money. They had broached the subject before, and it had never ended well.

A few days prior to the meeting, Fraser & Partners had been in touch and requested they visit the website and fill out the Values worksheet. April and Conrad each did this independent of the other and had not discussed their results. They were curious to see each other’s responses and how their values would be used in the development of their plan.

The Denmark family on a holiday at the beach

We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Before the meeting began, April and Conrad were introduced to the entire team. This was a different environment. It was explained that Fraser & Partners works in planning teams that leverage the skills of each team member in a collaborative environment. The team applies varied perspectives, knowledge, and creativity to each client’s financial life plan. This was an interesting concept for Conrad and April, as they had only ever dealt with the bank. This was nowhere near the same process.

The Denmarks’ lead planner (we’ll call her June) explained that the purpose of the first planning session was to clarify their life priorities, build their vision and prepare for the next steps. Conrad secretly wondered when they were going to get to the numbers…

Seated in the meeting room overlooking the Red River, June began; “Let’s start by reviewing your values to determine what is important to you.” June presented the results on the monitor in the meeting room. The Denmarks were fascinated to see how their chosen values differed, but they were not surprised to see “family” listed as a top value for both of them.

April’s Values

Graphic representation of April's values

Conrad’s Values

Graphic representation of Conrad's values

April couldn’t help but blurt out “Conrad, I didn’t know how important security is to you. Are you worried about our finances?” Conrad squeezed his chin as he tends to do when feeling stressed and said “Yes, I have to admit the business scares me. When you come home venting about slow sales on a large order of inventory, I have a secret panic attack, wondering about all the ‘what if’s’. What if you can’t get rid of the stock and are stuck with the inventory loan to pay off – where will the money come from? Our house?” April had no idea of the impact the business was having on Conrad. She responded “You have nothing to worry about – I’m just getting things off my chest. I wish I had known this was causing you stress. I wouldn’t be bringing it home to you…” April had tears in her eyes.

June interjected “This is a difficult but important conversation to have. We’re going to address these issues throughout the planning process. We won’t jump ahead to solutions just yet, there is a lot of value taking this one step at a time.” April immediately felt at ease, but Conrad was still wondering about those numbers…

June went on to explain how the system aggregates their responses to arrive at a number of core family values which become the foundation of their life plan. “When you are clear on what is most important to you, you are inspired to take actions that move you toward your life vision,” said June. Conrad couldn’t help but ask “but what about the numbers? Where do they come into play?” June explained that these core values would help them make decisions about the numbers later. June offered an example:

“Let’s say there is a significant amount of extra income available to your household one month due to booming sales in April’s business. You have the choice of reinvesting the money into the business, contributing to your RRSP, saving more for the kids in your RESP or buying a new car. You and April need to decide what to do. You call us and we run the numbers so that you can see the short and long-term impact of each decision. You can then refer to what is most important to you – your shared values and the vision you have created for your life – to make an informed decision. Your top aggregate values are family, health, and achievements”

April and Conrad smiled – they both felt this accurately represented what is most meaningful to them and Conrad finally understood the impact of this exercise, not only on their financial plan but also their whole life. “I’m in!” exclaimed Conrad.

Aggregate Values

Graphic representation of Conrad and April's aggregate or shared values

“Great!” said June, “Now let’s build your vision and identify where you are currently and what you expect to have and do in the future. As we step through the process, we use a planning tool that has different graphics to help you visualize aspects of your life. Some represent what you have and do now, such as your home and cottage. Others will reflect what you expect to have or do in the future, such as a renovation or a winter vacation.” April and Conrad found themselves energized by the interactive vision building process. They added university for Jordan and Lily and a possible kitchen renovation in 5 years. Although April and Conrad had discussed plans for their future, they had never had the opportunity to design a model of their life.

Model of Conrad and April's vision in planning tool

During the conversation, April excitedly exclaimed that her vision was to retire at age 60 and travel frequently in the first few years of retirement. This was news to Conrad, who envisioned them both working until age 65 and enjoying a quiet retirement at home.

“With my father’s recent heart attack, I’ve started thinking more about what’s important to me. Although I love the challenge of running my own business, I don’t want to work forever. I’d like to make sure I travel while I’m still healthy” expressed April. Conrad rebutted “I can’t see that working. We’ve got a lot of expenses to pay for.” June suggested they not limit any of the possibilities at this point. “Go ahead and think big. Conrad, be sure to add things you’ve always wanted as well. You’re building a shared vision but that doesn’t mean you can’t make provision for individual wants or needs. We’ll deal with the ‘how’ later.” Conrad thought for a moment and then stated, “I really want a pontoon boat!” They all chuckled at Conrad’s excitement and added it to the vision.

After completing their vision, June explained the next step: “Conrad, we’re finally going to get to those numbers. As a follow-up to this discussion, we’ll be requesting that you complete a questionnaire and collect relevant documents. For the next stage of the process, we need to focus on the facts – your current financial picture. April, we’ll need some financial data on your business as well so that we can integrate your business and personal plan. We try to provide tools to make this data collection as painless as possible, but it will take some time and effort on your part. Will you be able to get the information back to us within the timeframe?” April looked over at Conrad and he smiled, “I’ll pull together all the financial information on our household. Just let me know what you need, and I’ll get on it right away.” April agreed to send the business information as well.

As the Denmarks sat at The Common in The Forks Market, they talked about their first planning session and how they felt about it. Conrad started “Well that was unexpected! I had no idea the meeting was going to go that way. I feel good about it though – how about you?” April responded, “I feel good about it too. I know we’re used to jumping ahead but talking about our values and vision is something we’ve never done in that way before – we got a lot on the table. I get the difference between financial planning and financial life planning now. This is exactly what we need!”

The next installment of The Denmarks will focus on the numbers to identify their current financial picture.

Meet the Denmarks: When do you need a financial advisor?

Posted on:

We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Conrad and April met in 1998 at the University of Manitoba where Conrad was studying Computer Science and April was working on her Bachelor of Commerce degree. They married in 2002 with plans to start a family when their careers were better established, and April’s business was up and running.

April came from a family of entrepreneurs and dreamed of becoming a business owner at a young age. Her family motto has always been “You have to spend money to make money!”. During University she developed an award-winning business plan as a course project to open a socially responsible retail store. After graduation, she was up and running quickly thanks to love money from her parents. But, with student loans to pay off, she and Conrad were working hard to reduce their debt. April draws an annual salary of $75,000 while she continues to grow the business and work on a franchising model.

Conrad’s family had a completely different outlook. His blue-collar parents were savers who shopped with cash. Mr. Denmark often recited his philosophy: “Keep track of your nickels and the dollars will take care of themselves”. Conrad found employment soon after graduation with an emerging technology consulting firm as a computer systems analyst. He currently makes an annual salary of $80,000, receives profit sharing income and has a group benefits plan. He also contributes monthly to a group RRSP. With April being so focused on her business, Conrad has been the manager of the day-to-day household finances and he manages them with an eagle eye on expenses.

On December 12, 2004, April and Conrad welcomed their daughter Jordan into the world. Two years later, on January 15, 2006, they celebrated a New Year with their daughter Lily. Becoming parents was a game-changer for the couple. They had less time and more responsibility. In spite of their busy schedules, they managed to progress in their careers while striving for family balance.

Like many Canadians, life had been so busy and focused on the day-to-day that April and Conrad hadn’t put a lot of consideration into the future. Unfortunately, their attention shifted sharply on March 12, 2019, when April’s father experienced a major heart attack. Life screeched to a halt, April took some time away from the business to help her parents, and the couple had lengthy conversations around the kitchen table over what the future may hold. They agreed they needed some outside perspective on their situation and started asking friends for referrals to a financial advisor. They were directed to Fraser & Partners by close friends who were already clients.

April pulled out her laptop and Googled us to learn a bit more before she made an appointment. After reading about the team and services offered, April noticed a questionnaire on the home page titled “Is Financial Life Planning for me?”.  Although Conrad diligently managed the household expenses, the couple had never sat down and discussed their finances for the long-term. They knew they wanted to retire comfortably and help Jordon and Lily pay for university but there was no actual plan in place.

April read on; creating a satisfying & fulfilling vision of life and discovering how to achieve it sounded appealing, but would they be a good fit? April decided to complete the online questionnaire and find out. Over dinner that night, April mentioned to Conrad that she had filled out the “Is Financial Life Planning for Me?” questionnaire. Intrigued and eager to start the process, Conrad completed the online form that night as well.

The next day, April received a phone call from our office. After discussing the Denmarks situation, the life aligned planning process and the results of the questionnaire everyone agreed this would be a great fit. April’s schedule was jam-packed with visiting her parents and meetings, but the Denmarks knew that this was a priority. An in-person meeting was scheduled for the following week.

In preparation for the meeting, Conrad had pulled out his file containing the family’s current investment statements and expenses spreadsheets. But when a meeting agenda was emailed to the Denmarks prior to the meeting, he was surprised to see there was no mention of bringing statements on the agenda. Instead, they were asked to visit the Vision Toolkit online and each complete the Values Worksheet. Analytical by nature, Conrad was unsure about meeting to discuss a financial plan without considering numbers but knew that they needed a plan in place.

Both April and Conrad were excited to get started!

The next installment of The Denmarks will identify April and Conrad’s values and how we’ll help them to build their vision.

The TFSA is Growing Up!

Posted on:

This year, the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) celebrates its tenth anniversary. First introduced in the 2008 Federal Budget by then Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, the TFSA was made available to Canadian residents over the age of 18 on January 1st, 2009. This was a timely introduction, allowing Canadians a flexible registered savings vehicle following the 2007 financial crisis. Compared to its more mature counterpart, the RRSP, the TFSA is still relatively new and often misunderstood. To celebrate its tenth year, we’ve compiled some facts about the TFSA.

Let’s Chat Contributions

If you do not use your contribution room, any unused amounts will carry forward. As well, you can recontribute any withdrawals made in previous calendar years. Canadian residents are eligible to contribute to their TFSA’s the year that they turn 18. The annual contribution room is indexed to inflation and rounded to the nearest $500 (with the exception of a brief increase to $10,000 introduced by the Conservatives in 2015). Unlike the RRSP, there is no maximum age that you can contribute into your TFSA.

It’s important to know your unused contribution room as unlike RRSP’s, there is no allowable overcontribution amount. Any overcontribution is subject to a 1% monthly penalty tax until you have either withdrawn the excess or until the additional room becomes available in the new year. If you are unsure of your contribution room, you can check online using CRA’s My Account. You can create an account or login using your sign-in information for one of their sign-in partners.

Contributions to a TFSA can be made in cash or in-kind. If you are contributing in-kind, you may trigger a capital gain if your shares have increased in value. If you are transferring shares at a loss, you cannot claim the capital loss. We’d be happy to discuss contributing in-kind and any possible tax implications.

 What Happens When I Need Funds?

One of the TFSA’s greatest features is its flexibility surrounding withdrawals.  Withdrawals can be made at any time and without penalty.  Because your contributions were made with after-tax dollars, any withdrawals are tax-free and do not affect your income.  This makes it particularly attractive for those needing cash flow but concerned about OAS clawback levels.

Amounts withdrawn can be recontributed the following calendar year or later – regardless of whether the withdrawal was capital or growth.  For example, say you contributed $10,000 in your TFSA and you saw grow over time to $16,000.  You then decide to withdraw $6,000; which you not only earned tax-free but can withdraw tax-free as well.  And the following year, you can recontribute back the $6,000.

What’s new with the TFSA?

The TFSA allows for tax-free growth of investment income, but it does not grant the same privileges for business income.  For those trading frequently within their TFSA, the CRA may consider this the business of day trading – and expect to be paid tax on business income. Previously, if a TFSA was deemed to have earned business income, the trustee of a TFSA (the financial institution holding the TFSA) was jointly and severally liable with the TFSA for the tax owing.   However, the 2019 federal budget extended this liability to the TFSA holder as the TFSA holder is in the best position to know if their trading activities constitute a business.

This year, the CRA also clarified the tax advantage rule for registered accounts (including TFSA’s). This applies to advantages such as promotional incentives and gifts. For example, if a financial institution offers a bonus interest rate on new deposits into registered accounts during a certain period, this bonus interest is considered a return on investment; not a contribution. However, if a financial institution held a contest in which registered plan owners had a chance to win a prize (ie. Cash), the cash prize is not considered a return on investment and can only be contributed to the registered account subject to the contribution room.

Why should I contribute to my TFSA?

There are only so many opportunities to earn income tax-free and with 10 years of built-up contribution room, investing $63,500 tax-free is nothing to scoff about. As of 2016, Canadians had contributed $54,831,843,000 into their TFSA’s with a current market value of $232,896,180,000! (source). Over time, TFSA’s have become a key player in Canadian’s retirement plans.

Whether you are 18 years old and looking to save money for a few years to buy a home or you are 65 and worried about your income levels affecting your government benefits, the TFSA may be the investment vehicle for you.