Saturday, March 30, 2019

What to know for 2019 Tax Season

Welcome to the 2019 Tax Season! 

Below I have listed some key facts, figures, and resources to help with filing for your 2018 tax return.


Key Dates:

Feb 18: NETFILE opens (first day you can file online)
Feb 28: You should have received most of your slips (except T3s)
Mar 1: RRSP contribution deadline 
Mar 31: You should have all your slips (including T3s)
April 30: Filing deadline for most people, June 15th for Small Business Owners (taxes payable still due April 30)

What’s New For 2018?

New payment options: You can now pay your tax balance owing with Interac® Online, Visa® Debit, or Debit MasterCard®. (*fees do apply starting at 2.29%)

Provincial Tuition Tax Credits: Have been eliminated in Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick. The Federal Tuition credit is still available to eligible students.

Service Animals: Can now be claimed as an eligible medical expense

Climate Action Incentive: Tax credit designed to offset the coming increase to in prices to gasoline, natural gas and propane in provinces Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick

Accelerated CCA: Small businesses can now claim more depreciation in the first year of owning a new asset.


Common Missed Deductions/Mistakes

  • The Investment Management Fees you are charged on non-registered accounts is deductible as a carrying charge on your return. For 2018 this amount will be calculated on the worksheet instead of Schedule 4.
  • If you are part of a Group RRSP matching program make sure your Jan-Feb slips are provided on your 2018 tax return. The most common cause of RRSP over-contributions are from those who have forgotten these matching contributions are recorded for the previous year's return.
  • Have your adjusted cost base (book value) available for any Capital Gains you have to claim on securities transactions in your non-registered accounts. Often times financial institutions are not including book values on the T5008 slips they provide you.


Key Numbers:


TFSA Room for 2019: $6,000.
If you have been eligible to contribute to a TFSA since 2009 you  total available, cumulative room is $63,500

RRSP: 
2018: 18% of your earned income to a dollar limit of $26,230

Resources:




CRA My Account:
 Find your slips, carryforward information, contribution room and payment summary

If you retired in 2018 or are retiring soon, we offer a 60 minute 1:1 workshop to help you with everything from income splitting, to maximizing your deductions and ensuring tax efficiency in retirement. Schedule your workshop today 613-416-9593!

Free Income Tax Clinic for Low Income Seniors:
Join us Wednesday, April 3rd 12:00pm - 6:00pm and Thursday, April 4th 10:00am-3:00pm
Free for seniors with income below $25,000 (single individual) and $30,000 (total for a couple). Simple returns only (no rental properties or small business schedules).

***You will need an appointment in order to access the clinics and workshops.  You will be given a time to come in to drop off your slips.*** Schedule today via 613-416-9593  or info@retirementinview.ca

Thursday, February 28, 2019

RRSP vs TFSA: What to Consider Before you Invest




RRSPs and TFSAs are really a gift we have access to as Canadians from our Federal Government. They provide a great avenue for us to invest on a tax-sheltered basis.  The big benefit of the RRSP over the TFSA is the immediate tax deduction you receive when you make a contribution. So you are always going to have a bit of a head start with an RSP contribution because you are investing with money that hasn’t been taxed yet.

When to prioritize an RRSP: 

  • You don’t have a pension through your employer
  • You are on a higher end of tax brackets in terms of your income 
  • You are saving with a long term horizon
Once you are making over $40,000 annually an RRSP deduction starts to become more attractive as the likelihood of you being in a lower tax bracket in retirement has increased. The main strategy here is to deposit the money while you are in a higher tax bracket and defer the income tax until retirement when in all likelihood you will be a lower tax bracket.

When to prioritize the TFSA:

  • Your Income is under $40,000
  • You need flexibility
  • You need the money in the shorter term as more of a lump sum 
  • You have a hot stock tip :), as you will want to be able to access your windfall on a tax free basis 
  • Great savings vehicle for large purchases, renovations, trips, emergency fund
If you think you are going to be in a much higher tax bracket in the next couple of years, it may make sense to hang onto some of that RRSP room and only claim the deduction when you are in a higher tax bracket and getting more bang for your buck.


Some Quick Facts:

RRSP: 

  • Gains are only taxed when they are withdrawn. 
  • You lose your contribution room once you make a withdrawal unless you qualify for one of the prescribed programs (Home Buyers Plan or Life Long Learning Plan).


TFSA:

  • Gains and withdrawals are never taxed. 
  • You can replace any money you have withdrawn including the growth

RRSP and TFSA FAQs:

How should I invest the money in my TFSA and RRSP?:
Financial advisor or planner can help you decide which investments to choose based on your risk tolerance, time horizon and objectives. What you want is a low cost, balanced, and broadly diversified portfolio that is easy for you to follow and understand. 

Should I withdraw money from my RRSP to pay down debt?:
If you have exhausted all other avenues; you’ve seen a credit counselor, you have tried consolidating debt and you have no other options. You will want to make sure the tax hit you take from making the withdrawal is less than the interest you are paying.

Where do I go to get Fee Only Financial Advice?:

Start with a Certified Financial Planner who works on Fee Only or Fee for Service basis: these individuals will charge you just for advice and they have no motivation to sell you additional products. They typically charge by the hour or by the plan. 

Common mistakes I see:

Sometimes your accountant and your investment advisor are different people and they aren’t looking at your finances as a whole. Taxes and investments are intertwined so you should have someone that you trust to look at your finances as a whole.

Watch your limits. There are penalties for making over contributions into these plans.

I will often see people holding cash in non-registered savings accounts when they could be taking advantage of the tax savings in an RRSP. Taking the time to make sure your investments are in the right accounts is a crucial strategy for building wealth. Ask for help if you are not sure where everything should go.

Limits:
TFSA:  2019 limit 6,000 your cumulative limit $63,500 assuming you have been eligible to make contributions since they were introduced in 2009

RRSP: 18% of your previous year's income up to a limit of $26,230 for 2018 or $26,500 for 2019

Quick tips:

  • Take full advantage of group RRSP contribution matching plans through your employer if available
  • If you have a feeling you have an investment will increase in significant value, consider the TFSA
Related Resources:
Here are some of our Media Mentions this year around the topic of RRPS and TFSAs:
Global News: Money123 Newsletter 
CBC Radio Ontario Morning: RRSP Deadline (I appear at minute 26:00)




Thursday, January 10, 2019

How Fee-Only Financial Planners Make a Difference

Some of the top questions you may have when it comes to hiring a financial planner are:

Who can I trust?

How do I know this person is working in my best interest?

Do any third party's benefit from the engagement?

What if I just want to pay for pure advice, via flat fee or by the hour?

One way to ensure the financial advice you are receiving is completely unbiased is to work directly with a Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner.

Here are some of the benefits of working with a Fee-Only Financial Planner:
5 BENEFITS of FEE ONLY FINANCIAL PLANNERS by Retirement in View

1. Objective Advice

A fee only financial planner can provide unbiased advice as they do not receive compensation from recommending financial products. Their true value lies in the fact that they work directly for you.

2. Professional Designation

Working with a fee only planner who has the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation will ensure you will be working with a professional who has the knowledge, experience and most importantly the obligation to follow a code of ethics.



3. Fee Transparency

Fee-only financial planners typically charge by the hour, on a flat fee basis or by annual retainer. These fees are established and agreed to at the beginning of the engagement. They do not sell financial products with embedded fees or hidden commissions.

4. Comprehensive Financial Planning

A fee only financial planner looks at your entire financial picture. They help you establish lifestyle goals and provide a plan with actionable recommendations on everything from retirement, investments, and taxation to insurance and budgeting.


5. Represents Your Best Interests

A fee only financial planner's fiduciary duty is to put your best interests first. There is no sales pressure when working with these professionals as they provide objective advice and you pay only for their unbiased advice and recommendations.


Click here for a complete list of Certified Financial Planners in your area.
For Fee Only Planners use this directory created by John Robertson




Tuesday, December 4, 2018

10 Essential Retirement Planning Tools and Calculators

The first 3 tools can be found on the main site of Retirementinview.ca @: Canadian Retirement Income Calculator

1. Canadian Retirement Income Calculator: 

Use this handy and simple to understand online calculator to get a snapshot of your income in Retirement. A certified financial planner is available to help provide insight on your numbers.

2. Cashflow Worksheet: Retirement Budget Planner:

Use this excel spreadsheet to estimate and calculate your net monthly expenses and income.

3. Retirement Savings Calculator: Compound Interest:

This excel worksheet helps you calculate the future estimated value of your retirement savings. See in detail the positive effect compound interest can have on your savings.

4. Morningstar: Research your investment portfolio:

Want to see how your mutual fund investments perform against their benchmarks? Morningstar is the best site to research the mutual funds in your portfolio.  Take a moment to view the MERs (mutual fund fees) associated with them and then use the calculator below (tool #5) to see how much you could be saving annually by switching to ETFs.

5. Investment Fees Comparison Tool: How do the MER's compare

Once you have researched the average MERs in your portfolio examine if you are overpaying for underperformance. ETF investments consistently outperform Mutual Funds and they cost less in annual management fees.

6. CPP Break Even Calculator: 

Please note this is a basic calculator and there are many factors to consider to come to a true break-even analysis; namely taxes and how the excess is spent or saved. If you want a quick snapshot of the benefits of waiting to take CPP, give this tool a spin.

8. MyService Canada: 

Obtain your CPP estimate and your statement of contributions.

9. CRA my account: 

Obtain your RRSP and TFSA contribution room, access tax slips and file T1 Adjustments conveniently online.

10.  MoneySense: The Cost of Retirement Happiness 

A look at three different budgets of retired couples. Two are real Canadian families, and one is a fictional example based on average spending amounts reported by senior couples to Statscan.

Friday, November 30, 2018

How To Avoid the Most Common Retirement Planning Pitfalls


1. Not completing a thorough financial assessment prior to retirement


Just as a personal trainer would begin every engagement with an analysis of your current fitness level, a Certified Financial Planner can help point out any gaps in your current financial plan.  The areas that can make the biggest impact are tax planning, lowering investment management fees and obtaining professional advice. These are often quick fixes that can make an immediate impact on your overall wealth. A comprehensive financial audit should be priority number one as you approach retirement.

2. Not exploring different scenarios that apply to your personal situation


Knowing if you have saved enough for early retirement is one of the most popular goals we help our clients with. By making financial projections over time and comparing them, we can determine if an earlier retirement date makes sense for you. We explore the opportunity cost of taking your defined benefit pension early and help provide insight into the different options available to you.

3. Not factoring in the increasing costs of medical care


While for most Canadians provincial health care plans cover medically necessary physician and hospital services, there is limited coverage for anything above and beyond basic care. Long term care nursing homes are partially funded by the government, with typical prices ranging from $1,800 to $2,600 a month for room and board. Wait times at these facilities can range from a few months to years in some cases.  Privately operated retirement homes come with a price tag of $2500 to $10,000 per month depending on your location, amenities and quality level of accommodations. Long term retirement projections are necessary to ensure you have a back up plan in case you need extended medical care in the future.

4. Ignoring the benefits of delaying Government benefits such as CPP and OAS



The majority of Canadians are entitled to two retirement pensions administered by the Federal Government: Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). While everyone’s situation is different, if you don’t need the money or if you are still working, it often makes sense to delay taking CPP as your will benefits increase the longer you wait.  There is more to consider than just the financial numbers and it is important to consider other factors, such as your current health, projected incomes sources, and future cash flow needs.

5. Reactive Tax Planning


It is crucial that you take a proactive approach to tax planning in order the reap the full benefits of tax sheltering and income splitting in retirement. A comprehensive retirement plan will address these significant aspects of financial planning. Without a doubt, tax planning is the #1 area I feel my clients value guidance from me the most.


6.  Not Having a Plan for Your Downtime


Planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement are just as important as optimizing your financial health.
Entering retirement means having more time and freedom to enjoy the activities you love. Take the time to journal what you’d like to accomplish in retirement. Setting “Lifestyle-Priority Goals” can ensure when you do enter retirement it will be the best years of your life.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

5 Things Every Retirement Plan Should Include

1. Establish assumptions:

  • Inflation: will erode your purchasing power over time so it is important that you factor an estimate for inflation into your projections
  • Rate of Return on your investments: Depending on your asset allocation you will also need to estimate how much you expect your investments to return
  • Your Target Retirement Date: Select a point in the future when you would like to leave the rat race and enjoy the freedom that comes with retirement
  • Your expected Life expectancy: Projections as designed to ensure your money doesn't run out. You can use your statistical life expectancy based on your current age or choose 90 or above.

2. Determine how much will you spend:

How will your expenses change in retirement? Some expenses will increase; like travel and entertainment, while others will decrease; such as income taxes and payroll deductions.
Use our Retirement Budget Worksheet to start anticipating your expenses.

3. A Proactive Approach To Decumulation of Your Retirement Savings:

Knowing how and when to start withdrawing from your investment savings is crucial for both tax planning and cash flow analysis. Working with a Certified Financial Planner can pay dividends in this area as they provide professional guidance as well as insight into your own personal situation. Deferring your registered savings into the future is a great way to increase your wealth over the long run.

4. An Audit of your overall Financial Health:

A second opinion from a Fee-Only Financial Planner is a great starting point for any retirement plan. The trouble is often in finding someone you can trust. Here is what to look for:

  • Fee Transparency: How is the advisor or planner paid to provide you with advice?
  • Conflict Free Advice: Does the advisor have to recommend products in order to be paid?
  • Fiduciary Responsibility: Are they required to work in your best interest?

5. Don't Ignore Estate Planning and Preservation:

What type of legacy are you hoping to leave behind to your heirs? What charities would you like donate to? How can you avoid a large tax burden on your estate? How do you want your assets distributed?  Having a proper Will in place can help you address these concerns and avoid the negative consequences of intestacy.