BC Budget 2019

BC Finance Minister Carole James delivered the province’s 2019 budget update on February 19, 2019. The budget anticipates a surplus of $274 million for the current year, $287 million for 2020 and $585 million in 2021.

The biggest announcements are:

  • BC Child Opportunity Benefit
  • Interest Free Student Loans

BC Child Opportunity Benefit

The BC Child Opportunity Benefit covers all children under 18 and can be applied for starting in October 2020. (This replaces the Early Childhood Tax Benefit where the benefit ended once a child turned six.)

Starting October 2020, families will receive a refundable tax credit per year up to:

  • $1,600 with one child
  • $2,600 with two children
  • $3,400 with three children

Families with one child earning $97,500 or more and families with two children earning $114,500 or more will receive nothing.

Interest Free Student Loans

The provincial portion of student loans will now be interest-free effective as of February 19, 2019.  The announcement covers both current and existing student loans.

Medical Services Premium

As previously announced in the last budget, effective January 1, 2020, the Medical Services Premium (MSP) will be eliminated. In last year’s budget update, MSP was reduced by 50% effective January 1, 2018.

Public Education System

The public education system will receive $550 million in additional support.

Healthcare

Pharmacare program will be expanded with an additional $42 million to cover more drugs, including those for diabetes, asthma and hypertension.

To learn how these changes will affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

RRSP Tax Savings deadline – March 1, 2019

RRSP Deadline: March 1, 2019

This is the deadline for contributing to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for the 2018 tax filing year. You generally have 60 days within the new calendar year to make RRSP contributions that can be applied to lowering your taxes for the previous year.

If you want to see how much tax you can save, enter your details below!

RRSP Deposit vs. Mortgage Repayment

Determining whether to contribute to an RRSP or pay down a mortgage has always been a great debate, for each have their advantages. To begin with, an RRSP contribution is tax-deductible, and it can generate a tax refund for you or it can reduce your income tax liability. In addition, an RRSP will continue to grow and accumulate without taxation, meaning you will accumulate more over similar taxable investments. On the other hand, while paying against the principle of a mortgage is not tax deductible, it does reduce the cost of the mortgage over the long term; however, interest on a mortgage is not tax deductible either.

When determining what works best for you, either contributing to an RRSP or paying down a mortgage, we do a series of calculations comparing RRSP contributions and accumulations versus mortgage payments and accumulations. To do this, total RRSP investments accumulated at retirement age are compared using two approaches: making the RRSP contribution, or making the mortgage repayment and using the subsequent savings from the mortgage towards RRSP contributions once the mortgage is paid off. This intricate analysis is best done by a financial planner to ensure the figures used are accurate and specific to your individual case.

When doing an analysis like this, we would look at the following:

  • Current outstanding balance on your mortgage
  • Current mortgage interest rate
  • Assumed long term mortgage interest rate
  • Rights under your mortgage to make payments against the principal
  • RRSP carryforward room
  • Annual RRSP room created
  • Assumed long term rate of return in the RRSP
  • Your marginal tax bracket

An example:

Arianna (age 35) would like to figure out if she should contribute to $5,000 to her RRSP or put the same after-tax equivalent $3,000 (40% tax rate) against her mortgage.

If Arianna applies $5,000 to her RRSP contribution, the investment would accumulate to $22,338.72 by age 65 assuming 5% rate of return compounded monthly.

Alternatively, she can apply $3,000 against her current mortgage of $500,000 with an amortization of 20 years and interest rate of 4%. Her current mortgage payment is $3,029.90 (Pre-tax equivalent: $5,049.83).

By doing this, she reduces her amortization period by 2 months, making her new amortization period to 19.8 years. She then redirects her mortgage payment of $5,049.83 to her RRSP for the next 2 months at 5% rate of return, she would accumulate $18,009.40 by age 65.

In this example, she would be better off contributing to her RRSP.

It is likely that these assumptions will vary in the future and could change the outcome of the analysis. Please consult us before making a decision.

In reality, you can also do a combination of the 2 approaches, for instance by contributing to your RRSP, you can use the tax refund to pay down your mortgage, this way you can get the benefits of both strategies.

Tax Planning Tips for End of 2018

Now that we are nearing year end, it’s a good time to review your finances. 2018 saw a number of major changes to tax legislation come in force and more will apply in 2019, therefore you should consider available opportunities and planning strategies prior to year-end.

Below, we have listed some of the key areas to consider and provided you with some useful tips to make sure that you cover all of the essentials.

Key Tax Deadlines for 2018 Savings

December 31, 2018:

  • Medical expenses

  • Fees for union and professional memberships

  • Charitable gifts

  • Investment counsel fees, interest and other expenses relating to investments

  • Student loan interest payments

  • Political contributions

  • Deductible legal fees

  • Some payments for child and spousal support

  • If you reached the age of 71 in 2018, contributions to your RRSP

January 30, 2019

  • Interest on intra-family loans

  • Interest you must pay on employer loans, to reduce your taxable benefit

February 14, 2019

  • Expenses relating to personal car reimbursement to your employer

March 1, 2019

  • Contributions to provincial labour-sponsored venture capital corporations

  • Deductible contributions to a personal or spousal RRSP

Family Tax Issues
  • Check your eligibility to the Canada Child Benefit
    In order to receive the Canada Child Benefit in 2019/20, you need to file your tax returns for 2018 because the benefit is calculated using the family income from the previous year. Eligibility depends on set criteria such as your family’s income and the number and age of your children and you may qualify for full or partial amount.

  • Consider family income splitting
    The CRA offers a low interest rate on loans and it therefore makes sense to consider setting up an income splitting loan arrangements with members of your family, whereby you can potentially lock in the family loan at a low interest rate of 2% and subsequently invest the borrowed monies into a higher return investment and benefit from the lower tax status of your family member. Don’t forget to adhere to the new Tax on Split Income rules.

  • Have you sold your main residence this year?
    If so, your 2018 personal tax return must include information regarding the sale or you may lose any “principal residence” exemptions on the capital gains from the sale and thus make the sale taxable.

  • If you’re moving, think carefully about your moving date
    If you are moving to a new province, it’s worth noting that your residence at December 31, 2018 is likely to be the one that your taxes are due to for the whole of the 2018 year. Therefore, if your move is to a province with higher taxes, putting your move off until 2019 may therefore make sense, and vice versa if you are moving to a lower tax province.

Managing Your Investments
  • Use up your TFSA contribution room
    If you are able, it’s worth contributing the full $5,500 to your TFSA for 2018. You can also contribute more (up to $57,500) if you are 27 or older and haven’t made any previous TFSA contributions.

  • Check if you have investments in a corporation
    The new passive investment income rules apply to tax years from 2018 and you therefore need to plan ahead if the rules affect you. They state that the small business deduction is reduced for companies which are affected with between $50,000 and $150,000 of investment income, therefore the small business deduction has been stopped completely for corporations which earn passive investment income of more than $150,000.

  • Think about selling any investments with unrealized capital losses
    It might be worth doing this before year-end in order to apply the loss against any net capital gains achieved during the last three years. Any late trades should ideally be completed on or prior to December 21, 2018 and subsequently confirmed with your broker. Conversely, if you have investments with unrealized capital gains which are not able to be offset with capital losses, it may be worth selling them after 2018 in order to be taxed on the income the following year.

Estate and Retirement Planning
  • Make the most of your RRSP
    The deadline for making contributions to your RRSP for the year 2018 is March 1, 2019. There are three things that affect how much you may contribution towards your RRSP, as follows:

    • 18% of your previous year’s earned income

    • Up to a maximum of $26,230 for 2018 and $26,500 for 2019

    • Your pension adjustment

Remember that deducting your RRSP contribution reduces your after-tax cost of making said contribution.

  • Check when your RRSP is due to end
    You should wind-up your RRSP if you reached the age of 71 during 2018 and your final contributions should be made by December 31, 2018.

Other Considerations
  • Make your personal tax instalments
    If you pay your final 2018 personal tax instalment by December 15, 2018, you won’t pay interest or penalty charges. Similarly, if you are behind on these instalments, you should try to make “catch-up” payments by that date. You can also offset part or all of the non-deductible interest that you would have been assessed if you make early or additional instalment payments.

  • Remember the deadline for making a taxpayer-relief request
    The deadline is December 31, 2018 for making a tax-payer relief request related to the 2008 tax year.

  • Consider how to minimize the taxable benefit for your company car
    The taxable benefit applied to company cars is comprised of two parts – a stand-by charge and an operating-cost benefit. If you drive a company car, it’s worth considering how to potentially minimize both of these elements. The taxable benefit for operating costs is $0.26 per km of personal use, therefore you should make sure that you reimburse your employer where relevant, by the deadline of February 14, 2019.

Contact us if you have any questions, we can help.

The Best Way to Buy Mortgage Insurance

Before buying insurance from your bank to cover your mortgage, please consider your options. What does the insurance cover?  

  • From the bank: only the balance of your mortgage
  • From us: whatever you need it to cover such as debts, line of credit

What happens as my mortgage balance decreases? 

  • From the bank: the coverage amount decreases as your balance decreases.
  • From us: the coverage stays the same for as long as you own your policy

What if I switch banks?  

  • From the bank: You might lose your coverage and need to reapply
  • From us: Your coverage stays the same, since it’s not tied to your mortgage

Who gets the benefit if I die? 

  • From the bank: The Bank
  • From us: You decide who gets the insurance and how to use it, such as to pay your mortgage, medical expenses or child’s education- whatever is best for your family

Talk to us, we can help.

2018 Federal Budget Highlights for Families

Several key changes relating to personal financial arrangements are covered in the Canadian government’s 2018 federal budget, which could affect the finances of you and your family. Below are some of the most significant changes to be aware of:

Parental Leave

The government is creating a new five-week “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for new fathers to take parental leave. This would increase the EI parental leave to 40 weeks (maximum) when the second parent agrees to take at least 5 weeks off. Effective June 2019, couples who opt for extended parental leave of 18 months, the second parent can take up to 8 additional weeks, at 33% of their income.

Gender Equality

The government aims to reduce the gender wage gap by 2.7% for public servants and 2.6% in the federal private sector. The aim is to ensure that men and women receive the same pay for equal work. They have also announced increased funding for female entrepreneurs.

Trusts

Effective for 2021 tax filings, the government will require reporting for certain trusts to provide information to provide information on identities of all trustees, beneficiaries, settlors of the trust and each person that has the ability to exert control over the trust.

Registered Disability Savings Plan holders

The budget proposes to extend to 2023 the current temporary measure whereby a family member such as a spouse or parent can hold an RDSP plan on behalf of an adult with reduced capacity.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

BC Budget Highlights 2018

BC Finance Minister Carole James delivered the province’s 2018 budget update on February 20, 2018. The budget anticipates a surplus of $219 million for the current year, $281 million for 2019 and $284 million in 2020.

Corporate and personal tax rates remain unchanged.

The biggest changes are:

  • Elimination of Medical Services Plan (MSP Premiums) effective January 1, 2020
  • Addition of the Employer Health Tax (EHT)
  • Provincial Property Taxes
  • Childcare

The Employer Health Tax and Medical Services Plan premiums:

Effective January 1, 2020, the Medical Services Premium (MSP) will be eliminated. In last year’s budget update, MSP was reduced by 50% effective January 1, 2018. Starting in 2019, the budget introduces the Employer Health Tax (EHT). The EHT is to help fund the elimination of the MSP premiums.

The Employer Health Tax will be calculated as a percentage of payroll:

Provincial Property Transfer Taxes

Effective February 21, 2018, the following will occur:

  • The provincial property transfer taxes (PTT) will increase to 5% (from 3%) on residential property values above $3 million.
  • The PPT applies to foreign purchasers of residential properties in BC will increase to 20% (from 15%) and the tax will extend to include the Fraser Valley, Capital, Nanaimo and Central Okanagan Regional Districts.
  • There is a new speculation tax on residential property in BC. This tax is targeted at foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay income tax in BC. Starting in 2018, it’s a rate of $5/$1,000 of assessed value, in 2019, this will increase to $20/$1,000.

Childcare

There will be a new affordable child care benefit that will reduce child care costs by up to $1,250 per month per child by 2020. The new benefit will apply in September 2018. Families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 or less will receive the full benefit, (up to the cost of care) while those who make up to $111,000 will receive a reduced amount, scaling based on income. The government will be releasing an online benefit calculator to help parents budget.

The budget will provide up to $350/month directly to licensed child care providers to reduce fees. They will be the following:

  • Up to $350/month for group infant/toddler care
  • Up to $200/month for family infant/toddler care
  • Up to $100/month for group care for children aged 3-5
  • Up to $60/month for family care for children aged 3-5

To learn how these changes will affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.