Winnipeg, MB

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David Christianson

  • Even with no income, it's worth filing taxes

    If you have no income to report to the Canada Revenue Agency, or you have a small amount of income and no income tax owing, you are not required to file an income tax return. However, I strongly urge you to file a return anyway. Here's why.
  • A guide to trustee-beneficiary relationships

    A trust is a legal arrangement where trustees hold legal ownership to property on behalf of beneficiaries, who have the actual beneficial interest in the property. Trusts are used for a large number of purposes, and they can be extremely effective for asset protection, management for inexperienced or unreliable beneficiaries and tax planning.
  • Couple with differing incomes can use tax rules to advantage

    As you review your income tax return this coming month, you might notice you and your spouse have very different amounts of taxable income. If one of you is below $43,000 taxable and the other is above $87,000 taxable, then read on. In a situation like this, the lower-income spouse, we'll call him Bob, is paying a much lower rate on investment income. Bob's combined federal and provincial tax rate is zero to 28 per cent on interest income while only zero to 6.5 per cent on eligible dividends paid on any company shares he owns.
  • Primer on disability credit

    When a client received a cheque for $10,300 after our suggestion to apply for the disability tax credit (DTC), I was reminded it is time for us to review the rules and regulations governing the DTC application process. The second hint to me was an excellent article by Peter Manastyrski in the Senior Scope newspaper on the same topic. Peter is a DTC consultant with A Step Beyond, who helps with applications.
  • Tax refund burning a hole in your pocket? Put it to use

    Before I begin my lecture about making maximum use of your income tax refund, let me relate some trivia. These are courtesy of CRA, Statistics Canada, CBC and the Knowledge Bureau, from the 2012 tax year.
  • Don't forget your tax-time paperwork

    Last week, we reminded you of the penalties for filing your tax return late and also the significant penalties for omitting information slips or failing to disclose all sources of income. This includes capital gains on investments that were sold during the year. A number of people have asked me, "What is the difference between a T3, T5 and T5013 slip, and what about the other paper received from my investment company?"
  • Don't slip up when it comes to your tax slips

    As you can tell by the balmy weather, spring is almost here. (Yeah, right). Nevertheless, the time to prepare your tax return is upon us. Most Canadians use professional tax preparers for their returns, and this is a very good idea, especially if you have any complicated filing issues. However, I strongly encourage you to personally become more knowledgeable about your return, and how each line or filing decision (if you have any) affects your bottom line.
  • Column on managing money produces inspiring responses

    Wow, does Dollars and Sense ever have an amazing, caring and engaged readership! While I always believed that to be true, it was proven in spades. Two weeks ago, I suggested the best way we can change people's financial planning behaviours in a positive way is to apply positive peer pressure and social motivation.
  • Bad news on trust taxation

    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered his 10th, and likely last, federal budget on Tuesday. In spite of the gold rush from our Olympic athletes threatening to drown out this news, he still got lots of attention. On the personal tax front, there are some tinkering improvements that affect limited numbers of people, which I will list later.
  • Canadians need evangelists for financial-planning gospel

    Darn... another week and another poll showing Canadians are woefully under-saving toward retirement and appear to be in complete denial about the realities. The latest is the annual RRSP survey by BMO Financial Group showing one-third of respondents will "rely heavily" on their monthly CPP benefits for their retirement. Average benefits are in the range of $600 a month, not much to live on.
  • TFSA a great way to insulate gains from the tax department's clutches

    In the last few weeks, I've had some delightful conversations with people about tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). There has been one consistent theme: Nobody knows all the rules, and a small lack of knowledge could mean missing out on some big opportunities. So let's do a quick TFSA review.
  • Let's get moving on those RRSPs and TFSAs

    It is hard to believe, but we are now almost to the midpoint of what we have traditionally called "RRSP season." This was so named because, incredibly, past generations used to actually procrastinate on their RRSP contributions until close to the deadline. Yes, it's hard to believe. I know you have completed your contributions for the 2014 tax year, to get your investments into the tax-sheltered environment of the RRSP as soon as possible.
  • A primer on basic strategies of tax planning, deferral

    Retirement planning can seem extremely complex, with scores of complicated terms and acronyms. But like most things that are complicated when you first look at them, they can become pretty straightforward once you understand the concepts.
  • Pensions on solid ground

    Since the financial crisis of 2008, a disturbing number of Canadian defined-benefit pension plans have been underfunded and in a deficit situation. This means their expected liabilities for the next 20 to 30 years -- the benefits they have to pay out to their members -- exceed the expected amount of future assets. In very simple terms, the assets of a pension plan include the current amount of money in the plan, the expected future contributions by active members and the expected investment returns on that total amount of money.
  • Your future is in your hands

    There are a lot of factors that influence human behaviour. One thing we know is most people who accomplish what they want have usually decided ahead of time what it is they want to accomplish. It makes sense, doesn't it?
  • Time to give back (and collect the tax credit)

    There exists a young woman for whom I have the most respect, both for her talent and character. Among other things, she is generally very aware -- and usually ahead -- of any meaningful current trends. Therefore, it was a slight curiosity that for years she had no tattoos, unlike most trendy young women in their 20s these days. But it turned out the delay was due to very patiently waiting for the right idea.
  • Keys to financial success always stay the same

    OK, we're approaching the end of the year. Let's take stock of where we stand, economically and financially. The Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Composite Index is trading at 4,255. The Dow Jones is at 3,908, while The S&P 500 is at 459.
  • Take 20 minutes today to save untold tax dollars

    Boy, it seems like the year-end is suddenly coming at us like a runaway train. We are busy reviewing all of our client accounts and CRA records, with an eye to uncovering opportunities to offset gains or recover taxes paid on gains in past years.
  • Don't let yourself get hooked in a phishing scam

    Surprising, fascinating, often insulting and more than a little scary. That describes the daily emails that come into my old email address, which no longer has an operational spam filter. Without the junk mail screener, I wade through some 40 to 50 unsolicited emails per day. Many are quite rude, though occasionally hilarious.
  • Your personality key to investing

    Here is something interesting... If we headlined this article, "Knowing your investor personality can make you money," it would appeal to different people than if we called it, "Knowing your investor personality can avoid losses." Some folks are risk-averse and more highly motivated to avoid losses than seek gains. Their behaviour and decisions are more often influenced by fear.
  • Investing in bonds -- not as simple as you think

    So, let's say I am a conservative investor with a primary goal of capital preservation. As a result, I invested 70 per cent of my RRSP into a number of government bonds because I did not want to take any risks. So, imagine my surprise when I looked at my June 30 investment statement and found my portfolio was down four per cent on the quarter. How the heck did my government bonds with guaranteed maturities decline so much?
  • Selling businesses a taxing situation

    All of the great fortunes in history -- other than those of kings, queens and conquerors -- have been made by building great businesses. In our semi-regular series on businesses and their structures, today we will focus on the succession options for businesses, and the tax considerations. There is an old saying that every business is built to be sold, so let's make sure your sale happens in the most tax-effective fashion.
  • A little lesson on taking cash from RESPs

    Today's column is about the complicated business of withdrawing money from registered education savings plans. While many parents will have completed this task for the current term, I have found in recent conversations many do not really understand what they did or why.
  • What you should know when forming a corporation

    LAST week, we talked about the different options available to people who are starting or running a business. These included sole proprietorship and partnership, where the owner(s) and the business are the same entity for tax purposes. Profit or loss of the business appear directly on the individual personal tax returns of the owner(s). Corporation is the third option, and the one generally chosen by businesses that are larger or longer established.
  • Different tax structures for different businesses

    Now that we have dodged another economic bullet in the U.S., with the gun once again loaded by the dysfunctional American legislative situation, we can now turn back to financial-planning fundamentals. Today -- and over the next couple of weeks -- we will focus on the area of the Canadian economy responsible for the overwhelming majority of new jobs in the last decade. This is small and medium-sized businesses and startup enterprises.