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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.

What a celebration!

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Saturday, December 6th we held a holiday celebration and marked the semi-retirement of advisor Don Ross. We had a great turn out and loads of fun!

Guests were invited to have their picture taken in the ‘photo booth’ where photographer Janessa (Janessa Meaghen Photography & Videography) snapped pictures with or without elf hats (*see our team example to your right). Guests were asked to complete a special quiz about Don – intended to be a gentle roast – and entries were included in a draw for a grand prize. Those in attendance were asked to pick from a basket of Christmas decorations filled with special soaps (hand-made by our very own Jennifer Ostrowski). Buried in the decorations was a note for the lucky winners who were invited to choose a prize right on the spot.

The wine and cheese catered by Fenton’s Wine Merchants located here at The Forks was delicious. The kids enjoyed sweet treats and gifts from Santa!

Thank you to all who attended! For those who could not join us, we hope to see you at the next Fraser & Partners event!

 

CRA wants to know more about your foreign property

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Go-To Tax Envelope for 2014Now is a great time to start organizing your 2014 tax information. Refer to your ‘Go-To Tax Envelope for 2014’ 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 right here on our website. There have been some changes to the reporting requirements since the 2014 checklist was printed (on the Go-To Tax Envelope).

The T1135 is a form that is now required by CRA for reporting on foreign property. The form is meant to crack down on tax payers 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 2014 tax materials.

 

 

2014 Year-End Tax Reminders

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Revised Sticky NotesThere are several items that you may want to review before the end of the year. Don’t miss opportunities to improve your tax position for 2014.

1) Triggering Capital Gains and Losses on your Investments
If you have open (non-registered) investments, have you taken advantage of opportunities to create tax losses or to trigger capital gains to offset losses carried forward from previous years? Check your 2013 income tax return and the Notice of Assessment issued by Canada Revenue. The deadline for submitting investment instructions to trigger any capital gains and/or losses is December 18, 2014.

2) Charitable Donations
Whereas contributions to your RRSP for deduction in 2014 can be made 60 days after the end of the year, this is not the case for charitable donations. If you want to deduct your charitable donations on your 2014 tax return, the donations must be received by the registered charity no later than December 31, 2014.

If you are claiming charitable donations for the first time, there is a “first-time donor’s super credit” which entitles you to receive an additional 25% credit on your first $1,000 of donations.

 

3) Withdrawals from Tax-Free Savings Accounts
If you anticipate making a withdrawal from your TFSA in early 2015, you may want to make that redemption at the end of this year instead, so that your contribution room is reinstated for 2015.
Initially when Tax-Free Savings were introduced in 2009, the contribution limit was set at $5,000 per year. In 2013 it was increased to $5,500. The contribution room is cumulative. If you have maximized your TFSA contributions to date, you will have deposited $31,000 into this type of plan.
You can own more than one TFSA, as long as the total contributed does not exceed the maximum. As of January 1, 2015, you will receive an additional entitlement of $5,500, and when you file your tax return, Canada Revenue will report the tally of your contributions and withdrawals, so that you will know the status of your TFSA contribution limit. We are discovering many interesting uses for the TFSA when building financial strategies.

 

4) Salary versus Dividends
For business owners there is the usual question at the end of the calendar year – “Should my draws from the company be treated as salary or dividends?” For small business owners, in spite of the intention of the federal government to harmonize the tax treatment on salary and dividends paid out to shareholders, (ie. to neutralize any difference in the net impact), changes in the tax regulations now give salary the slight edge over dividends in several provinces. These provinces include BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec. Depending on your circumstances, there are other considerations as well in determining salary vs. dividends. Talk to your tax advisor for more information.

 

There are a number of significant changes being made by the federal government that will prompt a review of the tax efficiency of your financial strategies. Most noteworthy are changes related to life insurance, prescribed annuities, and testamentary trusts – all three of which are important tools for managing your wealth. I will be posting a detailed discussion of these changes in subsequent blogs over the next few weeks. Please check in periodically to look for these updates.

 

Instructional Funspiel with Team Lyburn was a hit!

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Instructional Funspiel with Team LyburnOn Saturday, March 15, 2014 twenty four of us met at Fort Rouge Curling Club to be instructed by Team Lyburn. Curlers were split into groups based on experience level to start. The intermediates were paired with Coach Gerry Sande and Lead Tyler Forrest. Groups of 4-5 beginners were coached by Skip William Lyburn, Third Alex Forrest and Lead Connor Njegovan. Intermediate curlers were analyzed and given some pointers on how to improve their game while beginners were taught the basics.

Once we all had a feel for the ice, we were split into teams balanced by experience level to curl a two end game. We then had a closest to the button contest. The team with the best combined score won curling rock coolers and the individual winner received a gift certificate for Safeway. All participants received a trophy and card signed by Team Lyburn – we expect these to become even more coveted keepsakes when Team Lyburn wins the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea – no pressure guys! We finalized the afternoon with a pizza party and Q&A with team.

Funspiel closest to the button standings:

Closest to the button table

Congratulations to Doug on the individual closest to the button score. He was just 3/4″ away from a perfect draw!

Our sponsorship of Team Lyburn was a first for Fraser & Partners. Our philosophy Life Aligned™ is about aligning your values and life vision with a financial strategy that makes it happen. Our corporate values are grounded in supporting the community and people who are invested in achieving their vision. Team Lyburn inspired us. Their journey to third place standing at the Provincials was a testament to the possibilities. We congratulate them on their success and hope they inspired you too.

 

 

How to enjoy tax time?

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If you think the words ‘enjoy tax time’ are an oxymoron,
maybe we can2013 taxes complete help change that.Why not! We’re all about life’s possibilities here at Fraser & Partners. After all, the bright side of having to pay tax is that you have taxable income to report.

We’re in good spirits as we complete another tax filing season. We’re happy to report it was a good one! Our tax team did a stellar job completing over 250 tax returns and uncovering plenty of opportunities for deductions. Because 2013 was a strong year in the financial markets, there were a few more cheques forwarded to Canada Revenue Agency than usual. It’s the only time of year when you may wish you hadn’t made money.

Many thanks to the tax team for their hard work.

James Zuzanski: With over 10 years of experience as part of the F&P Tax Service,  this year James served as team leader, kept the process rolling smoothly, answered your questions and also prepared and filed returns.

Jennifer Ostrowski: Our document scanner and support person extraordinaire!

Moby Christoffersen: As an advisor, Moby rolled up his sleeves and approached taxes from a planning perspective. He was a great asset to the team, helping to get the job done.

Angela Hilland: The newest member of our tax team and an outstanding addition, Angela prepared countless returns, answered questions and provided perspective from a CGA standpoint.

Jim Anderson: Last but definitely not least, Jim is our final step in quality control. Jim has been applying his accounting expertise to review our client’s tax returns every year since 1995.

Filing your tax return is a labour intensive activity. In some ways it is a report card on your financial success for the year. We want to ensure that you take advantage of all the provisions of the Canada Income Tax Act so you pay your fair share but not a dollar more. We’ll continue to focus on tax efficiency in planning your investments, sources of income and the structure of your estate. We’ll continue to look for ways to help you keep on track with resources such as your go-to tax envelope, online checklists, leading edge software, and knowledgeable people. Your part of the equation is just as important.

Here are some considerations for next year to make filing your tax return an enjoyable experience.

  1. RRSP withdrawals will show up on your tax bill. If you decide to draw money out of your RRSP, you will be taxed at the time you make the withdrawal. The amount of tax withheld at source may not be sufficient to cover the actual tax triggered by the withdrawal. You may owe an additional amount when you file your tax return the following April. Make sure you prepare for this so you’re not surprised at tax time.RRSP Withdrawl Taxes*Source: Canada Revenue Agency.
  2. Make tax efficient decisions throughout the year and see the results at the end. These decisions may relate to RRSPs, TFSAs, spousal loans, charitable donations, corporate class investment funds vs. mutual fund trusts, family trusts, ownership of assets and timing of the sale of assets (cottage, business, collectibles, investments), to name a few of the more common considerations.
  3. If you are self-employed, get disciplined about tracking your expenses so you can claim all of the deductions to which you’re entitled. Every receipt makes a difference and they add up at the end of the year. Make sure you have a system in place to capture your expenses. There are lots of user-friendly accounting packages available online and reasonably priced. Most are accessible from your mobile device. There are also mileage trackers that come in the form of apps for your phone to make tracking your vehicle expenses easier than ever.
  4. Use your F&P Go-To Tax Envelope throughout the year so you know exactly where to put documents that will be required for your taxes. Make sure your notice of assessment, property tax receipt (if self-employed) and other important documents find their way into your go-to envelope to reduce stress at tax time.
  5. Pay your installments on time (if required) and get into the habit of filing your return before the due date. The interest rate charged on taxes owing to CRA is 5% (4 percentage points above the prescribed interest rate, which currently is 1%).
  6. Communicate with your advisor. Whether or not we’re preparing your tax return or working with your existing accountant, it’s satisfying to explore strategies for making the most of your resources and minimizing your tax bill.

Looking at the big picture, our tax dollars fund many things that make our daily living more comfortable and enjoyable enabling us to live our Life Aligned™ and grateful to be living in Canada. Paying our fair share of taxes is part of this. Now, if only our fair share would go to filling those potholes!

Is your browser outdated?

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After sending out our last e-newsletter we received an email from a user who was having difficulty with our calculators. We asked what browser he was using and learned that he was still using Internet Explorer (IE) 6.

IE6 was released over 10 years ago and lacks support for many of the current web-standards that can make sites a pleasure to view.  Also IE6 does not benefit from the security and privacy features that are found in more current browsers.  For these reasons, we recommend that everyone should update their browser of choice to the most recent version.

Some browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari will update automatically. Starting with IE10 Internet Explorer will also update automatically by default.  You can check your settings by opening the “About Internet Explorer” dialogue in IE.  If you are using an old version of IE, you will need to manually download the update from Microsoft.

Other than the operating system itself (Windows, Mac OS X, etc), the browser has become one of the most important pieces of software used on computers today.  In order to maintain a secure system, you need to keep your operating system, browser and other software up to date.

Lead paint works, but you don’t see people using it anymore because it isn’t safe.  The same applies to your outdated software.

It’s RRSP time – are you ready?

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Whether or not you’ve been contributing to an RRSP regularly, you’ll want to direct your attention to your strategy for 2014. Be sure to contact your advisor to RRSP - iStock_000025624368XSmallreview your plan for the coming year. Your advisor will help you weigh the options and make the most of your cash flow – how much toward your RRSP? your TFSA? your emergency fund? how much against debt. What’s the impact if you invest in an RRSP and use the tax refund for your TFSA or pay down debt …

If you have not yet contributed to an RRSP for deduction against your 2013 taxable income, you still have time. CRA provides a grace period of 60 days. This year’s deadline is Monday, March 3, 2014. If you can avoid waiting until the last minute, you’ll be more likely to make decisions that reflect your investment goals and to meet the deadline.

With the many investment choices available, RRSPs are still one of the best ways to invest and save. You won’t be taxed on the money you shelter in an RRSP until you take it out, and you can put away as much as 18% of your previous year’s income to a maximum for 2013 of $23,820. The limit for 2014 is set at $24,270.

To help you get started, here are some resources.

We’ve created a retirement savings calculator ‘kit’ for you that includes the following calculators:

Retirement Income: Use this calculator to determine how much monthly income your retirement savings may provide for you in your retirement.

Retirement Nestegg: Do you know how much it takes to create a secure retirement? Use this calculator to help determine what size your retirement nestegg should be.

Retirement Planner: Quickly determine if your retirement plan is on track – and learn how to keep it there.

RRSP Loan: An RRSP loan can be an excellent way to jump start your retirement savings. Use this calculator to see how an RRSP loan could help you increase your retirement savings.

Tax Free Savings Account: This calculator is designed to help compare a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) to a Registered Retirement Account (RRSP) and a regular savings account (taxable).

Taxable vs. Tax Advantaged Investments: This calculator is similar to the Tax Free Savings Account but provides more detail.

10 points to consider for your RRSP planning.

There is no time like now. It’s never too late to invest in your future. If you haven’t started saving, start now. In addition to the money saved, the RRSP contribution is deductible in the year in which you make it. Your tax bill will be reduced and depending on your situation you may receive a tax refund.

Invest early. Investments registered in your RRSP grow tax-free. Time gives the investments the opportunity to grow. Harness the power of compounding growth.

Invest often. Regular (monthly, biweekly) contributions instead of one lump sum at the RRSP deadline can be very beneficial. Investing smaller amounts at regular intervals makes it easier for you to save. Saving becomes a habit; you pay yourself first. Pre-authorized chequing (PAC) plans (monthly, biweekly) take care of your contributions all year long providing greater long-term returns, with no action on your part.

Take advantage of dollar-cost averaging. By investing smaller amounts regularly into investments that fluctuate in value, you will catch both higher prices and lower prices. This allows you to average out your cost and can reduce your investment risk significantly. Some investment firms offer specific DCA funds which manage the movement of your cash into the markets in a controlled way over a period of time.

Consider transferring investments held in your Tax Free Savings Account or a non-registered account into your RRSP. In most cases you can transfer the investment as is (“in kind”) as long as the investment is eligible to be held in an RRSP.

Maximize your RRSP contribution. Take advantage of your opportunity to defer taxes and save for your retirement. If you don’t have the cash available, we can help you obtain an RRSP loan.

Understand your risk tolerance and diversify. If you haven’t taken the Finametrica Risk Tolerance questionnaire, you can sign in and take it now. Based on your risk profile we can help you build a diversified portfolio that you will be able to commit to for the long haul.

Think long-term.  Short-term market volatility is not a good indicator of how your investments will do over the long term. Click here to see the historical returns that we use in our financial life planning.

Work closely with your advisor. Your advisor is up-to-date on the latest investment strategies, understands your vision for the future and has the planning expertise to help you achieve your life vision.

Don’t wait until the last minute! To meet the Monday, March 3, 2014 deadline we should be starting to discuss your RRSP strategy now – investment decisions shouldn’t be rushed.

Merry Christmas!

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On Saturday, December 7th we held our first ‘Holiday Hunt’. Thank you to our participating teams. To all those who were unable to attend we hope you can join us for our next event.

About the Holiday Hunt

We thought this would be a fun event, but underestimated its reach! We had 4 teams in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Teams were provided with a folder and instructions, a shopping bag and ‘Spreading the Cheer’ name tags to identify them. Each team was given 45 minutes to complete the 8 tasks provided which included picking up items for our Christmas Hamper and doing nice things for people at The Forks. For each team who completed the activities within the allotted timeframe we donated a toy to the ‘Tower of Toys’ in The Forks Market (with all donations going to the Christmas Cheer Board). Five teams were able to meet the challenge while the other 2 gave an absolutely stellar effort!

Participant Feedback

Everyone reported they had fun. In particular, the kids who participated had a blast! Team number one’s 6 year old girl and 4 year old boy gave gifts to two children at the market and got chocolates back in return. They were delighted. Reports from other teams were that people who were approached with best wishes and free gifts were pleasantly surprised. The Forks vendors were helpful and got into the spirit. Best of all for us was hearing all the stories as teams returned from the Hunt. The positive energy was contagious!

The Hamper

The Christmas Cheer Board matched us up with a family of 5. Mom has four children, a 5 year old boy, 10 year old boy, 12 year old girl and 13 year old boy. We had so much fun filling the hamper with Christmas dinner items and gifts for the whole family!Holiday Hunt Hamper

The Forks Vendors

We worked with some great vendors at Johnston Terminal and The Forks Market. Special thanks to Two Rivers and the Forks Trading Company for their donation of a beautiful parka and mitts. They also helped us create our holiday magnets.

Bayshore Gifts in Glass

Dragon House

Espresso Junction

Forks Trading Company

Hartmont Candle Company

Kite and Kaboodle

SK8 Skates

Two Rivers

Food:

Finn McCue’s

Muddy Waters Smokehouse

Chilean Corner

Tall Grass Prairie Bread Co. & Deli

 

From our team to you and your family,

Merry Xmas

 

Welcome to our first blog post ever!

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We are so excited to be bringing you this blog posting and our new website. For the past number of months we have been working diligently on redeveloping the site with one purpose in mind – adding value to your experience with us.

Uncovering Possibilities.

If you know us, you know that all of our financial planning begins with your life vision. That is why we created a vision tool kit to assist you in painting a picture for your future so that your finances can be organized to realize it. This process is what we call life aligned. Visit the vision tool kit to work with interactive worksheets and research possibilities for your life. You may be surprised at what is uncovered!

Perspective is Your Greatest Asset.

Our aim is to provide you with relevant tools and information. The resources section has been designed as the ‘go to’ place when questions arise and life happens. Make a quick calculation, visit a useful link, or read a thought provoking article to test your own theories or look at things from a different angle.

Exclusive Client Access.

As a client of Fraser & Partners you have access to exclusive components on the site that are meant to enhance our level of service. We hope you think of the site as your personal life planning and financial portal. We’re still working on releasing more functionality and will keep you posted on developments as soon as they become available. When you login with your username and password, you are currently able to view and register for client-only events and read password protected blog posts and communications. We’ve also provided direct links for login access to your investments.

We Need Your Expert Opinion!

What do you think of the site? This website is dynamic and will never be considered ‘complete’ which means it can evolve to better meet your needs. Please provide your insight by filling in this short survey. You may be entered to win a signed copy of the book The Hermetic Code: Unlocking one of Manitoba’s Greatest Secrets by Frank Albo, if you wish to participate!