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Steps to Avoid the OAS Clawback

According to the Canadian government website, Old Age Security is the largest pension program in Canada.  OAS pays a monthly income to seniors who are age 65 and over.  The amount of the payment is not based on past income but rather how long you resided in Canada after the age of 18.  If you have turned 65 you are eligible for the maximum OAS income if you have resided in Canada for at least 40 years after turning 18 AND have resided in Canada for at least 10 years prior to receiving approval for your OAS pension.  There are some exceptions for those who don’t fully qualify based on temporary absences during that requisite 10-year period.

For the last quarter of 2018, the maximum monthly OAS payment regardless of marital status is $600.85.  Don’t get too excited as, as the title suggests, the government can clawback part or all of your OAS benefit depending on your taxable income.  As of 2018, you can earn up to $75,950 in annual taxable income (up from $74,788 in 2017) without affecting your payment.  For every dollar earned over this threshold amount however, you will be taxed (referred to as an OAS recovery tax) at a rate of 15%. Once you reach taxable income in the amount of $ 123,386 the government will have fully recovered or clawed back the entire amount of your Old Age Security. Read more

Life Insurance – Do You Buy, Rent, or Borrow?

Without a doubt, life insurance is valuable protection provided by your employee benefit plan, but should it be the only life insurance coverage you have?  Probably not, if you want to ensure you have sufficient long term protection to cover all your family’s financial needs should you die unexpectedly.

In a recent study conducted by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA), it was reported that 61% of Canadians hold some form of life insurance.  Surprisingly, it also revealed that only 38% of Canadians own an individual life insurance contract. This means that almost 40% rely solely on the life insurance provided by their employer. This can be problematic.  The disadvantages of having your employee benefit plan as your only life insurance protection include the following: Read more

Optimizing Wealth Through Asset Re-Allocation

If you are an active investor, your investment holdings probably include many different asset classes.  For many investors, diversification is a very important part of the wealth accumulation process to help manage risk and reduce volatility.  Your investment portfolio might include stocks, bonds, equity funds, real estate and commodities.  All these investment assets share a common characteristic – their yield is exposed to tax.  From a taxation standpoint, investment assets fall into the following categories:

Tax Adverse

The income from these investments are taxed at the top rates.  They include bonds, certificates of deposits, savings accounts, rents etc.  Depending on the province, these investments may be taxed at rates of approximately 50% or more. (For example, Alberta 48.0%, BC 49.8%, Manitoba 50.4%, Ontario 53.53%, Nova Scotia 54.0%). Read more

Private Health Spending Plans for the Owner/Operator Business

Individuals who have incorporated their business such as consultants, contractors and professionals often find that providing affordable health and dental care coverage for themselves and their families can be an expensive proposition.

Take Bob for example.  Bob had just left his architectural firm to set up on his own.  In looking at the options available for him to replace his previous firm’s Extended Health and Dental coverage for he and his family, he discovered that the monthly premium would be between $400 and $500 per month.  This was for a plan that didn’t provide coverage for all practitioners and procedures, had an annual limit on the benefits, and a co-insurance factor of 20% (only 80% of eligible costs were covered).  There wasn’t even any orthodontia coverage although he could purchase that in limited amounts at an additional cost!  He also had to move quickly to replace his lost coverage as he had a pre-existing condition that most likely would not be covered if he waited too long to implement the new plan. Read more

Which Term Life Insurance is Right for You?

Once you have decided on how much life insurance you need, your next decision is whether you are going to use term insurance or permanent insurance to provide it.  For many Canadians, while permanent cash value life insurance offers a significant opportunity for them, many initially utilize renewable and convertible term life insurance.  Most life companies in Canada offer 10-year, 20-year and 30-year renewable term policies.   In deciding which one is right for you, attempt to match the need to the term.  While 10-year term might have the lowest entry level cost, the renewal premiums will be significantly higher.  If you have a young family, ask yourself, will I still need protection beyond the 10th year?  If that answer is yes, then a longer renewal period is more appropriate.

In making your choice, it is important to understand how renewable term policies function.  In Canada, the renewal of the coverage is automatic (unless you decide not to renew) and guaranteed.  The premium on renewal, however, will increase dramatically.  Anyone who has 10-year renewable term insurance, instead of renewing it, should re-write the policy for a new term period.  Read more

Prepare in Advance for Next Year’s Tax Filing

Phew! Tax season is over!  You have hopefully just filed your 2017 personal income tax returns.  Was it a satisfying experience for you?  Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or dismay?  For many, the April 30th deadline seems to arrive way too soon.  If this is the case with you, starting the process much earlier would seem to be the answer.

The process should include proper record keeping, taking advantage of the tax saving methods available to you, and, perhaps, finally getting a professional to complete and file your return on your behalf.  The problem with handing your taxes alone is that often people don’t know what they don’t know.  This results in paying more in taxes than was necessary.  The cost of a professional completing your taxes potentially could be offset by the savings that might be gained.

Even if you earned little to no income, filing your return is a good idea and could prove to be advantageous.  This is because there are a number of federal and provincial government programs that you might be eligible for if your declared income is below a certain threshold.  You can refer to the Government of Canada website for the child and family benefits that might be available to you. Read more

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How health coaching can help diabetes patients

With diabetes on the rise, how well employees manage the chronic disease should be a concern for employers, Diana Sherifali, an associate professor at McMaster University’s school of nursing, told Benefits Canada‘s 2018 Healthy Outcomes conference in May.

Since diabetes often comes with other chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high cholesterol, mitigating it is all the more necessary, she said. In addition, the stress of dealing with the condition can become extreme to the point of being a precursor to moderate depression, she added. Read more »