Government of Canada to allow up to $400 for home office expenses

For the 2020 tax year, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary flat rate method to allow Canadians working from home this year due to Covid-19 to claim expenses of up to $400. Taxpayers will still be able to claim under the existing rules if they choose using the detailed method.

Eligibility

From the canada.ca website:

Each employee working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses.

To use this method to claim the home office expenses you paid, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020

  • You are only claiming home office expenses and are not claiming any other employment expenses

  • Your employer did not reimburse you for all of your home office expensesWhat if your employer has reimbursed you for some of your home office expenses

You need to meet all of the above conditions to be eligible to use the Temporary flat rate method.

New eligible expenses

For the detailed method, the CRA has expanded the list of eligible expenses that can be claimed as work-space-in-the-home expenses to include reasonable home internet access fees. A comprehensive list of eligible home office expenses has also been created.

Highlights of the 2020 Federal Fall Economic Statement | Additional $20,000 CEBA loan available now

On November 30, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland provided the government’s fall economic update. The fall economic update provided information on the government’s strategy both for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its plan to help shape the recovery. We’ve summarized the highlights for you.

Corporate Tax Changes

Information on several subsidy programs was included in the update. These changes apply from December 20, 2020 to March 13, 2021.

  • The government has provided an increase in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to a maximum of 75% of eligible wages.

  • If you are eligible for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (eligibility is based on your revenue decline), you can claim up to 65% of qualified expenses.

  • The Lockdown Support Subsidy has also been extended – if you are eligible, you can receive a 25% subsidy on eligible expenses.

Also, there were two other significant corporate tax changes:

  • Starting January 1, 2022, the government plans to tax international corporations that provide digital services in Canada if no international consensus on appropriate taxation has been reached.

  • The tax deferral on eligible shares paid by a qualifying agricultural cooperative to its members has been extended to 2026.

Personal Tax Changes

The following personal tax changes were included in the update:

  • The update confirmed the government’s plan to impose a $200,000 limit (based on fair market value) on taxing employee stock options granted after June 2021 at a preferential rate. Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) are not subject to these rules.

  • If you started working from home due to COVID-19, you could claim up to $400 in expenses.

  • The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) has temporarily been increased to include four additional payments. Depending on your income, you could receive up to $1200.

  • Additional modifications were proposed to how the “assistance holdback” amount is calculated for Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP). The goal of these modifications is to help RDSP beneficiaries who become ineligible for the Disability Tax Credit after 50 years of age.

Indirect Tax Changes

GST/HST changes impacting digital platforms were included in the update. They will be applicable as of July 1, 2021:

  • Foreign-based companies that sell digital products or services in Canada must collect and remit GST or HST on their taxable sales. Also, foreign vendors or digital platform operators with goods for sale via Canadian fulfillment warehouses must collect and remit GST/HST.

  • Short-term rental accommodation booked via a digital platform must charge GST/HST on their booking. The GST/HST rate will be based on the province or territory where the short-term accommodation is located.

And some good news on a GST/HST removal! As of December 6, and until further notice, the government will not charge GST/HST on eligible face masks and face shields.

The Takeaway

A lot of changes came out of the fall update – and you may be feeling overwhelmed. But help is at hand!

Contact us to learn more about how these changes could impact your personal and business finances.


Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) $20,000 expansion available now

The Government of Canada website has been updated with the new CEBA requirements and deadlines:

  • As of December 4, 2020, CEBA loans for eligible businesses will increase from $40,000 to $60,000.

  • Applicants who have received the $40,000 CEBA loan may apply for the $20,000 expansion, which provides eligible businesses with an additional $20,000 in financing.

  • All applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion.

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

To get the full details:

10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

Business owners are busy… they are busy running a successful business, wearing lots of hats and making a ton of decisions. We’ve put together a list of 10 essential decisions for every business owner to consider; from corporate structure to retirement and succession planning:

  • Best structure for your business (ex. Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership)

  • Reduce taxes

  • What to do with surplus cash

  • Build employee loyalty

  • Reduce risk

  • Deal with the unexpected

  • Retire from your business

  • Sell your business

  • Keep your business in the family

  • What to do when you’re retired

As a financial advisor, we are uniquely positioned to help business owners, talk to us about your situation and we can provide the guidance you need.

Tax Loss Selling

Over the last few weeks, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus.

Understandably, you are concerned with your portfolio, it’s important to stay level-headed to avoid making financial missteps. However, staying level-headed doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there and do nothing. In fact, one consideration you can look is taking an active tax management approach.

Tax loss selling is a strategy to crystallize or realize any capital losses in your non-registered accounts so it can be used to offset any capital gains. There is no benefit to selling in your tax free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

You can apply capital losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore we’ve outlined several situations that make sense for tax loss selling.

To better understand how tax-loss selling works, imagine a scenario in which someone invests $100,000, putting $50,000 in “Investment A” and $50,000 in “Investment B.”

At the end of one year, Investment A has risen by $10,000 and is now worth $60,000. Investment B has declined by $10,000 and is now worth $40,000.

Without tax-loss selling, the investor has a realized gain of $10,000 from Investment A, and has a potential tax bill of $1,500 (assuming he or she sells the shares and pays the 15% capital gains tax on the profit).

On the other hand, with tax-loss selling, selling Investment B to offset gains from Investment A. At the end of the year, instead of paying a $1,500 tax, the investor only has a potential tax bill of $0, for a potential tax savings of $1,500.

With the investor’s tax liability reduced by $1,500, that savings becomes money that can be invested back in the portfolio, used to maximize RRSP contributions, pay off debt, or spend as one pleases. 

What Situations make sense for tax loss selling?

  • If you have an investment with a considerable capital gain, review through your current investments to see if there are any investments to sell at a loss.

  • Receiving a tax refund for a previous year. Keep in mind, you can apply capital losses back 3 years, therefore if you sold a property within the last 3 years for a considerable gain and paid the tax. This year, you could sell other investments at a loss and apply them back and get some tax paid back.

  • For tax deferral, with tax losses you can apply these losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore you may want to trigger a loss today because if you are planning to sell that property in the next year or so, it may rebound and therefore you will lose the chance to offset the gains.

  • Lastly, you may have an investment in your portfolio that’s a dud. It might be time to move on and put your money into a different investment so that you can apply the loss in the future.

Tax Loss Selling is Complicated

There are specific conditions required by CRA that must be met in order for this strategy to work such as making sure your loss is not declared a “superficial loss” (these rules are very restrictive). A superficial loss is when you sell and trigger a capital loss, you cannot deduct the loss if you or an affiliate purchase an identical security within 30 days before or after your settlement date.

Another condition is that the sale of assets is prior to the year-end deadline (this varies by calendar year). You also need to make sure you have accurate information on the adjusted cost base (ACB) of your investment. When you file your taxes, any losses must be first used to offset capital gains in the current tax year, then any remaining losses can be carried back.

Before engaging in tax loss selling, you should contact us directly so we can make the strategy works for you.

Life Insurance as an Investment for Canadian Corporations/Holding Companies: What They Are and How They Work

Investment grade life insurance is the best passive investment vehicle available for Canadians to use inside corporations and holding companies. The main reason? It’s tax-exempt.

 

But first, let’s back up and look at other passive investments. The growth on passive investments in Canadian Corporations and Holding Companies such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and real estate are taxed at 50% in Ontario.

 

By comparison, money inside life insurance grows tax-free whether it is owned personally or owned by Corporations and Holding Companies.

 

Tax efficiency is why life insurance generally performs better than most other asset classes. In order for a Canadian entrepreneur to outperform life insurance in a 50% tax environment, they would need to take large investment risks. Oftentimes, taking that amount of risk can result in negative returns in any particular year. It’s an easy way for an investor to lose his shirt.

 

Let’s look at the real facts and numbers. Here’s a quick breakdown, over the last 20 years, of the performance of the main asset classes familiar to Canadian investors:
One particular thing highlighted in the chart is the annualized rate of return of average investors being at 2.6%. This is mainly attributed to “emotional investing”, meaning that most investors buy high (when the market is doing well) and sell low (when the market is in a correction).

 

Now, for an idea of how whole life insurance generally compares, let’s take a look at Equitable Life’s whole life dividend scale (one of the best whole life contracts in Canada):

The numbers don’t lie. Whole life insurance has outperformed most investment types in the last 20-25 years. As a matter of fact, whole life insurance has had an average rate of return of about 9% per year in the last 60 years.

 

But there’s more to it. Whole life insurance as an investment also prevents investors from making major emotional mistakes. When stock markets are collapsing, typical investors fear losing all their money and when markets are performing extremely well, investors have a fear of missing out on great rates of return.

 

This general behaviour leads investors to buy high and sell low. A big advantage with whole life insurance is that it offers consistent rates of return on an annual basis. Once the cash value and death benefit of your insurance is at a specific value, it will not go down. The cash value and death benefit will keep going up and up each year.

How Life Insurance Works Inside Corporations/Holding Companies

The major advantage that life insurance has over other assets is it tax-haven status. Life insurance in Canada is the only tax shelter available for passive investments inside corporations or holding companies that are normally taxed at 50%. If you add the 50% passive investments tax on other asset types, it is clear that whole life insurance is the best performing after-tax asset class in Canada in the last 20-25 years.

 

Additionally, whole life insurance is much less volatile than other asset classes. Canadian life insurance companies have offered whole life insurance for over 100 years and they have paid dividends each and every year. Whole life insurance has gone through two world wars, the great depression, the tech bubble crash in the early 2000s, and the financial market crash of 2008 without seeing a negative rate of return.

 

Many Canadians think that life insurance isn’t a great investment vehicle because they believe the cash invested inside of life insurance will be used by their beneficiaries rather than used as retirement income.

 

However, that is entirely false. The cash value inside life insurance can be utilized to supplement retirement income on a tax-preferred basis.

 

Now, I’m certainly not saying that you should invest all your holding company assets inside life insurance. However, I’ve seen incorporated business owners experience a lot of success in the past when including whole life insurance as an asset class in their portfolio.


If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help grow and protect your wealth tax-free, book a complimentary one-on-one online meeting with me today. As your Certified Financial Planner, I’ll gather quotes from independent life insurance companies to find the best value for your specific situation (it can often be a six-figure difference or more). Then, we’ll work together to put your wealth to work for you.

Click here to schedule a complimentary 1-on-1 online meeting with me today.

Tax Series: Strategies for Private Corporations

Last summer, Finance Minister Morneau announced a number of tax reforms for Small Business Owners, including the changes to income sprinkling, minimizing the incentives to keep passive investments and reducing the transfer of corporate surpluses to capital gains.

 

This year’s Federal Budget focused on tax tightening measures for business owner:

●     Small Business Tax Rate Reduction from 10% to 9%.

●     Passive Investment Income held within the corp (Reduction begins at $50,000)

●     Tax on Split Income

 

Since these changes will be effective January 1, 2019, a discussion and plan should be prioritized now, since 2018 will be the “prior year” of 2019. Life insurance is a great solution to help business owners address these problems.

 

Reduced Small Business Tax Rate

●     Key Change: Effective January 1, 2019, the small business tax rate will be reduced from 10% to 9%

●     Problem: Lower corporate tax rates result in more capital trapped inside the corporation.

●     Possible Solution: Life Insurance Proceeds credit the capital dividend account on death allowing for tax-efficient distribution of funds from the corporation to the estate.

 

Limited Access to Small Business Tax Rate

●     Key Change: Passive investment income greater than $50,000/year reduces the small business tax rate limit for small business tax rate. The business limit is reduced to zero at $150,000 of investment income.

●     Problem: For companies with passive income over $50,000, the small business limit will be reduced and thus, increase the total amount of tax you have to pay.

●     Possible Solution: Exempt life insurance does not produce passive investment income unless there is a disposition. Put a portion of corporations passive investments into a life insurance policy and reduce passive investment income and limit the erosion of the small business limit. Concepts such as Corporate Estate bond, Corporate Insured Retirement Program, Corporate held Critical Illness with Return of Premium

 

Tax on Split Income

●     Key Change: Tax on split income (TOSI) rules extended to cover adult children in certain cases. Different rules depending on age of adult children

●     Problem: For adult children receiving income and don’t pass the TOSI rules, income is taxed at the highest personal marginal tax rate on the first dollar. More trapped funds inside the corporation due to fewer tax-effective strategies.

●     Possible Solution: Put a portion of corporation’s trapped surplus into a corporate owned life insurance policy which results in tax-efficient distribution of funds from the corporation to the estate. 

Ontario Budget 2018

The 2018 Ontario budget features a number of new measures and billions of dollars of enhanced spending across the spectrum, as announced by the province’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa. Read on for some of the key proposals.

Personal

Eliminate Surtax

A new sliding scale for personal income tax will be introduced, with seven personal income tax rates which will be applied directly to taxable income, in an attempt to eliminate Ontario’s surtax. The province estimates that approximately 680,000 will pay less tax as a result.

Free Tuition

Access to further education will be income linked, with those families with an income of less than $90,000 per year receiving free tuition and families with an income of between $90,000 and $175,00 per year receiving financial aid for tuition costs.

Free Pre-School Child Care

Effective in the Fall of 2020, children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten can receive free licensed child care. 

New Ontario Drug and Dental Program

For those without workplace benefits or not covered by OHIP+, this program offers up to 4.1 million Ontarians a benefit that pays up to 80% of expense up to a cap of $400 for a single person, up to $600 for a couple and $50 per child in a family with two children, regardless of their income.

Free Prescription Drugs

The budget announces the introduction of free prescription drugs for those aged 65 or older, resulting in an average of $240 per year in savings per senior.

Charitable Donation Tax Credit

The non-refundable Ontario Charitable Donation Tax Credit will be tweaked to increase the top rate, remaining at 5.05% for the first $200 but increasing to 17.5% for anything above $200.

Seniors’ Healthy Home Program

$750 is offered to eligible households with seniors of 75 years of age or older to help them to care for and maintain their residence.

Corporate

R&D Tax Credit

The budget introduces a non-refundable tax credit of 3.5% on eligible costs relating to R&D, or an enhanced rate of 5.5% for eligible expenditures of $1 million plus. Note that this enhanced rate would not be payable to corporations where eligible R&D expenditures in the current tax year are less than 90% of eligible R&D expenditures in the tax year before.

Innovation Tax Credit

The existing Ontario Innovation Tax Credit will see changes to its credit rate in the following way:

·      If a company has a ratio of R&D expenditures to gross revenues of 10% or less, they will continue to receive the 8% credit.

·      If their ratio is between 10% and 20%, they will receive an enhanced credit rate of between 8-12%, calculated on a straight line basis.

·      If their ratio is 20% or more, they will receive an enhanced credit rate of 12%.

Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit

Eligibility to receive this tax credit will be broadened to include film and television websites.