The Six Steps to Financial Planning

The Six Steps to Financial Planning

Many people put off planning for their financial future because they’re overwhelmed with all the decisions they have to make. The good news is that there’s help at hand – in the form of a certified financial planner. A certified financial planner is trained to focus on all aspects of your finances – everything from your taxes to retirement savings.

A certified financial planner will develop a plan that works for you both today and in the future.

Meeting your financial planner

When you first meet with your financial planner, they will tell you about their obligations and responsibilities. They should:

  • Give you a general overview of the financial planning process

  • Tell you what services they provide and how they are compensated for them

  • Let you know what they will expect from you as a client

You should let your financial planner know how involved you want to be in creating and executing your financial plan. You should also ask any questions about the process or how compensation works.

Determining your goals and expectations

Now you’re ready to make your plan. But first, you and your financial planner should discuss your personal and financial goals and your current and future needs and priorities.

Your financial planner will make sure they have all the details they need. They may ask you to fill in questionnaires or provide documentation on your current financial state.

Reviewing your current financial state

Before your financial planner can get started on your financial plan, they need to know about your current situation – including cash flow, net worth and any taxes you may owe in the future.

To customize your financial plan, so it works for you, your financial planner must know about anything that could impact it – for example, a dependent adult child.

Developing the financial plan

Once they have all the information they need, your financial planner will create a customized plan that aligns with your goals, objectives, and risk tolerance. They will also provide you with information on projected returns and recommended actions.

Implementing the plan

Once you approve it, your financial planner should implement your plan. They should also help you contact other professionals they’ve recommended to assist with your financial plan – such as a lawyer or an insurance agent.

Monitoring the plan

Your certified financial planner should periodically contact you to adjust your financial plan. In addition, a life change – such as the birth of a child or retirement – may require adjustments to your financial plan.

It can be hard to plan for the future – but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact a certified financial planner or us today!

Estate Freeze

In 2015, CIBC conducted a poll to see how many Canadian business owners had a business transition plan. Almost half of them didn’t have one.

No business owner likes to think about handing over their business they’ve built from the ground up. But the fact of the matter is, you will have to do it eventually. Even more concerning, what if you were to become ill or incapacitated? Making a decision of this magnitude during trying times would not be ideal.

Your two main choices for passing on your business are:

  • Selling it

  • Transferring ownership to a successor of your choice (this can either be a family member or a non-family member such as a key employee)

When you die, all your capital property is deemed to have been sold immediately before your death. This includes your business. This means that capital gains taxes will be charged on whatever the fair market value (FMV) of your business is considered to be at the time of your death.

The higher the FMV of your business, the higher the capital gains taxes that will be charged. Your successors may not have the funds to pay these taxes which may force them to sell the business in order to fund the tax liability; thus, not to reaping the benefits of all your hard work as intended. 

The good news is that there’s a way to protect your business; an estate freeze.

What is an estate freeze?

For the business owner, an estate freeze can be an integral part of your estate planning strategy. The purpose of an estate freeze is to lock-in (freeze) the value of the business, freeing the successor from the tax liability that may arise should the business’ value increase.

This is how an estate freeze works:

  1. As a business owner, you can lock in or “freeze” the value of an asset as it stands today. Your successors will still have to pay taxes on your business when they inherit it – but not as much as if you hadn’t “frozen” your business and your company had increased in FMV.

  2. You continue to maintain control of your business. As well, you can receive income from your business while it is frozen.

  3. Your successor now benefits from the business’ future growth, but they won’t have to pay for any tax increases that occur before they inherit the business.

Freezing the value of your business can help you plan your tax spending properly. Selecting to “freeze” your business can help give you peace of mind that your successors won’t have to spend a considerable part of their inheritance on excessive taxes.

What happens when you freeze your estate?

  1.  When you execute an estate freeze, the first thing you need to do is exchange your common shares for preferred shares.  Your new preferred shares will have a fixed (a.k.a. “frozen”) value equal to the company’s present fair market value. Make sure you have everything in place to properly determine the fair market value before you exchange your shares. 

  2. Your company will then issue common shares, which your successors subscribe to for a nominal price (for example, 1 dollar). Note that your successors don’t own the stock yet – subscribing to the stocks means they will take ownership of the stocks at a future date.

As part of your estate freeze, you must have a shareholders’ agreement ready to bring in new shareholders. This agreement should list any terms and conditions related to the purchase, redemption, or transfer of your company’s common shares. 

1. You can choose to receive some retirement income from your preferred shares by cashing in a fixed amount gradually. This action will reduce your preferred shares’ total value, reducing income tax liability upon death. For example:

  • Your shares are worth $10,000,000, and you need $100,000 annually. You can then redeem $100,000 worth of shares.

  • If you live for 30 more after you freeze your estate, you will have withdrawn $3,000,000 of your shares. This reduces the value of your shares to $7,000,000. 

  • At your death, your tax liability is lower than it would have been had your shares remained at the original value of $10,000,000. 

2. You can opt to maintain voting control in your company. This can be complicated (so you should consult a licensed professional), but you can set up your estate freeze so that you still have voting control in your business with your preferred stock. 

How you can benefit from an estate freeze

  1. You get peace of mind. The most important benefit to a tax freeze is that you know, whoever your successors are, they will receive what they are entitled to and not have to deal with any unpredictable tax burdens. Since an estate freeze fixes the maximum amount of taxes to be paid, you can properly plan how much money to set aside for this tax liability. One option is to have a life insurance policy equal to the amount of the tax liability, with your successor as the beneficiary, so you know they will have enough money to pay for these taxes.

  2. You encourage participation in growing your business. Your chosen successors will be motivated to help the company grow, as they know they will benefit in the future.

  3. Further tax reductions. If your shares qualify for lifetime capital gains exemption, then an estate freeze also helps further reduce your successor’s tax liability.

Is an estate freeze the right strategy for you?

There are a few things you need to consider when deciding if an estate freeze is right for you or not. 

  1. Retirement funding. What kind of retirement savings, if any, do you have? If you have money put aside in RRSPs, TFSAs, or even have a pension from a previous job, then an estate freeze may be the right choice for you. If you were planning to sell your company and live off the proceeds in retirement, then it likely is not the right choice for you.

  2. Succession plans. Do you have someone in mind who would be a suitable successor? Just because you think your child, spouse, or best employee may want to take over your business doesn’t mean they do. Talk to anyone you are considering making a successor and see if they are both interested in and able to keep your business going. 

  3. Family relationships. Trying to figure out how to select a successor if you have several children may be challenging. It can cause a lot of strain amongst your children if they are all named successors if only some of them are actively interested in running the business. You may want to consider only making one child a successor and providing for your other children in different ways, such as making them a life insurance beneficiary. 

If you decide to pursue an estate freeze for your business, you are helping plan for your heirs’ future and cutting down on the amount of taxes that will eventually have to be paid.  That being said – an estate freeze can be complicated, and all the steps must be performed correctly. Be sure to consult an experienced professional be taking any steps to freeze your estate.

Easy Exit: Business Succession in a Nutshell

Getting into the world of business is a meticulous task, but so is getting out of it

Whether you’ve just hit the ground running on your business or if you’ve been at it for a long time, there is no better time to plan your exit strategy than now. Although the process may seem taxing, we’ve answered a few questions you may have about planning your business succession strategy. 

1. Who do I talk to about this? 

Deciding on how to go about the transition requires careful planning, and you need to consult no less than people who are well equipped to help you out. First, talk to your key advisors such as bankers and financial partners. You could also use some advice from your accountant and lawyers. If your company has an advisory board, better consult them as well. You may also hire a specialist or a consultant, depending on how you choose to go about your business succession plan. 

2. Who should I choose as a successor? 

There are several ways to go about this, and your decision will ultimately be your personal choice. You may pass on your business to a family member or to your top executives or managers. You may also choose to sell it to an outsider. Whichever path you choose, you can also decide on how much you want to be involved in the business after you pass it on. That is, if you want to be involved at all. 

3. When should I inform my successor about my plans? 

While a surprise inheritance may be heartwarming, it’s not the same with inheriting a business. Getting a successor ready—whether it’s a family member or someone from your company—requires careful planning and training. As soon as you’ve chosen a successor, better get started on getting them ready for the big shoes they’re about to fill. This includes helping them equip themselves with the necessary skills, knowledge, and qualifications necessary to run your business. 

4. How do I plan the transition itself? 

The transition will be twofold—transferring ownership and handing over the business itself. As far as transferring ownership is concerned, you need to consider legal and financial details. These include valuation, financing and taxation. You also need to consider if you wish to keep your current legal structure (corporation, sole prop, partnership, etc.) or if you (or your successor) would like to change it. You also need to plan how to prepare various stakeholders in the business for the transition. How will you prepare your customers, clients, and employees? What would be their level of involvement? Make sure that you put different strategies in place in order to ensure transparency and consistency in communicating changes in your business, especially something as drastic as succession. 

5. Now that I have a business succession plan ready, can I go back to business as usual? 

Not really. Your business and your customers’ needs may change over time. This means that you need to keep reviewing and adjusting your plan as your business also evolves. 

2022 Federal Budget Highlights

Federal Budget 2022 – Highlights

On April 7, 2022, the Federal Government released their 2022 budget. We have broken down the highlights of the financial measures in this budget into the following different sections:

  • Housing

  • Alternative minimum tax

  • Dental care

  • Small businesses

  • Tradespeople

  • Canada Growth Fund

  • Climate

  • Bank and insurer taxes

Housing

There were several tax measures related to housing introduced in the budget.

Budget 2022 introduced a new kind of savings account – a Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA).

These are the key things you need to know about the new FHSAs:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Canada to open an account. You must also not currently own a home or have owned one in the previous four calendar years.

  • You can only open and use an FHSA once, and you must close it within a year after your first withdrawal.

  • Contributions are tax-deductible, and income earned in an FHSA will not be either while it is in the account or when you withdraw it.

  • There is a lifetime contribution limit of $40,00, with an annual contribution limit of $8,000. You can’t carry contribution room forward.

  • If you don’t use the funds in your FHSA within 15 years of opening it, you can transfer them to an RRSP or RRIF tax-free. Transfers to an RRSP do not impact your RRSP contribution room.

Two existing tax credits were increased, and a new one was introduced:

  • The First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit amount was increased from $5000 to $10,000, giving up to $1,500 in direct support to home buyers. This tax credit applies to all homes purchased on or after January 1, 2022.

  • The annual expense limit for the Home Accessibility Tax Credit has been increased to $20,000 for 2022 and subsequent tax years.

  • A new tax credit, the Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, was introduced, which will start in 2023. This tax credit is a 15% refundable credit for eligible expenses up to $50,000 (maximum tax credit is $7,500) for constructing a secondary suite for a senior or an adult with a disability to live with a qualifying relative.

Budget 2022 proposes new rules, effective January 1, 2023, that anyone who sells a residential property they have held for less than 12 months would be subject to full taxation on their profits as business income. However, there will be some exemptions to these rules due to life events such as a death, disability, the birth of a child, a new job, or a divorce.

Budget 2022 also announces restrictions that would help ensure that Canadians, instead of foreign investors, own housing. A two-year ban will be introduced on non-residents buying residential property, with some exceptions, such as individuals who have work permits and are living in Canada.

Alternative Minimum Tax

In Canada, the top federal tax rate is 33% and starts at an income of $221,708. However, many high-income filers end up paying less tax than this due to tax deductions and tax credits.

The goal of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which has been around since 1986, is to ensure high-income Canadians are paying their fair share of taxes. However, it has not been substantially updated since it was introduced. In Budget 2022, the government indicated they would be investigating changes to the AMT, which will likely be disclosed in the fall 2022 economic update.

Dental Care

For many Canadians without private coverage, going to the dentist is too expensive. Budget 2022 commits $5.3 billion to provide dental care for Canadians with family incomes of less than $90,000 annually. Coverage will start for children under 12 this year and expand to children under 18, seniors and those living with a disability in 2023, with the program will be fully implemented by 2025.

Small Businesses

Small businesses currently have a 9% tax rate on the first $500,000 of taxable income (compared to the corporate tax rate of 15%). However, after a small business’ capital employed in Canada reaches $15 million, it is no longer eligible for the 9% tax rate.

Budget 2022 proposes gradually phasing out the small business tax rate so that businesses are not discouraged from expanding. The new cut-off for the lower tax rate will be $50 million.

Budget 2022 also includes a proposal to create an Employee Ownership Trust. This would be a new, dedicated trust under the Income Tax Act to support employee ownership.

Tradespeople

Budget 2022 introduces the Labour Mobility Deduction. This would allow eligible tradespersons and apprentices to deduct up to $4,000 a year in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses.

Budget 2022 also commits to providing $84.2 million over four years to double funding for the Union Training and Innovation Program, which would help 3,500 apprentices from underrepresented groups each year.

Canada Growth Fund

Budget 2022 introduces a new Canada Growth Fund, with the goals of both diversifying our economy and helping achieve our climate goals.

The Canada Growth Fund aims to attract considerable private sector investment, support the restructuring of vital supply chains, and bolster our exports. The Canada Growth Fund will also provide backing to reduce our emissions and invest in the growth of low-carbon industries.

Climate

Budget 2022 continues to confirm the government’s commitment to fighting climate change. It commits $1.7 billion over five years to extend the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles Program until March 2025 and also provides funding to create a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Budget 2022 also commits $250 million over four years to support the development of clean electricity, including inter-provincial electricity transmission projects and Small Modular Reactors.

Bank And Insurer Taxes

Budget 2022 introduced a new financial measure called the Canada Recovery Dividend. Banks and insurers will have to pay a one-time, 15% tax on 2021 taxable income above $1 billion. This tax will be payable over five years.

Budget 2022 also proposes increasing the tax rate on income above $100 million for banks and insurers to 16.5% (currently 15% for other corporations).

Wondering How This May Impact You?

If you have any questions or concerns about how the new federal budget may impact you, call us – we’d be happy to help you!

2021 Income Tax Year Tips

Tax Tips You Need To Know Before Filing Your 2021 Taxes

This year’s tax deadline is April 30, 2022. We’ve got a list of tips to help you save on your taxes!

Claiming home office expenses

You can claim up to $500 under the “flat rate” method if you worked at home due to COVID-19. To claim more, you must use the detailed method to claim home office expenses.

Employer-provided benefits

If your employer reimburses you for certain costs (such as commuting costs, parking, and home office equipment) due to COVID-19, the CRA will generally not consider this a taxable benefit.

Repaying Covid-19 support payments

If you repaid COVID-19 benefits, you can deduct the amount on your tax return either for the year you received the benefit or the year you repaid it, or you can split the deduction between both years.

Climate Action incentive can no longer be claimed

As of 2021, this amount can’t be claimed as a refundable credit; instead, you’ll receive quarterly payments via the benefits system.

Disability tax credit (DTC)

If you or a family member are DTC claimants, then you should review the updated criteria for the tax credit in regards to mental functions, life-sustaining therapy and calculating therapy time.

Eligible educator school supply tax credit

This tax credit has been increased to 25 percent for eligible supplies (such as books and games) to a maximum of $1,000.

Tax deduction on interest payments

You can claim a tax deduction for the interest you’ve paid on any money you’ve borrowed to invest. However, you can only do this if you use the money to earn investment income (for example, a rental property).

The digital subscriptions tax credit

You can claim up to $500 as a tax credit if you have a digital subscription to a qualifying Canadian news outlet.

Self-employed? Be sure to set aside enough for personal income tax!

If you’re self-employed, be sure you put aside enough money (we recommend 25% of your income) to pay your tax bill when the time comes. You’re taxed only on your net income (total income minus expenses).

You need to plan ahead for tax changes if you want to retire abroad

Planning to retire abroad? If so, you need to be aware of the tax implications and plan accordingly. If you sell your house and move, you may be considered a “non-resident” and be subject to capital gains taxes on non-registered investments (even if you have not sold them) or have your pension subjected to a withholding tax.

You can stop making CPP contributions if you’re over 65 but plan to keep working

If you’re 65 and already collecting Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits but also still working, you may be able to stop making CPP contributions. To do so, you need to fill in the form CPT30.

Need help?

Not sure if you qualify for a credit or deduction? Give us a call – we’re here to save you money on your taxes!

Permanent versus Term Life Insurance – What are the Differences?

Permanent versus Term Life Insurance – What are the Differences?

You know you need life insurance – but you’re not sure which kind is best for you. We can help you with that decision.

There are two main kinds of life insurance:

  • Permanent, which lasts for your entire life.

  • Term, which is only good for a set amount of time.

No matter which type of life insurance you buy – permanent or term – you can rest easy knowing you’ve provided financial protection for your family.

Permanent life insurance

Permanent life insurance is good for your entire life unless you choose to cancel it. It’s an excellent choice to give you peace of mind that you’ll always be covered, even if you develop major health issues later in life.

There are also benefits to having permanent life insurance beyond guaranteed lifelong coverage:

  • You can use the policy to build up a cash value – making it a good choice for low-risk investing.

  • You may be able to use your permanent life insurance policy as collateral for a loan, making it a good choice for business owners.

The main drawback to permanent life insurance policies is that the premiums are often more expensive than term life insurance premiums. If, however, you’re thinking long-term and can afford the premiums, permanent life insurance is a great way to ensure you’re always protected and can have some guaranteed money for your estate.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is either valid for a set amount of time (such as five or ten years) or until you reach a set age – for example, 60. You should generally be able to renew your life insurance at the end of each term, but your premiums may go up.

Term life insurance premiums are cheaper than permanent life insurance premiums – at least, you are younger and healthier (as the risk of you dying is lower). Your premiums will increase as you age or develop health issues.

You can’t use term life insurance as collateral for a loan or use the policy to build up a cash value. There are lots of benefits to term life insurance, though – it’s a good choice for you if you want low premiums, easy-to-understand insurance, and only need it for a set amount of time – such as while you have a mortgage or young children.

We can help you decide between permanent and term life insurance

If you’re not sure what kind of life insurance is best for you, we can help. We’re happy to talk to you to get more information about your insurance needs. We can then discuss what each type of insurance will cost you and which type of insurance we feel is best for you.

Give us a call today!

Insured Retirement Program

There are a number of mechanisms available for individuals to save in a tax-efficient manner for their retirement – from employer-sponsored pension plans to government plans, RRSPs (registered retirement savings plan) or TFSAs (tax free savings account). But, for those who earn a higher income and wish to contribute more to their pension savings than they can benefit from under the plans which are subject to annual caps, options can be limited. The insured retirement program is an effective way to bridge the retirement savings gap for such individuals in a cost-effective way.

Who is the insured retirement program best suited to?

  • Individuals who already contribute the maximum allowable amounts to both RRSPs and employer-sponsored pension plans but want to save more for their retirement are ideal candidates for this program.

  • Individuals at least fifteen years away from retirement so they can accumulate enough funds inside their life insurance policy for collateralization.

  • Individuals that are comfortable with the concept of borrowing.

How does the insured retirement program work?

This program works with the concept of collateralization in the following way:

  • Individual takes out a universal life (or eligible whole life) insurance policy and subsequently makes sizable cash deposits into it. These deposits grow within the policy on a tax-sheltered basis providing that the funds remain in the policy and are within the maximum allowable limit.

  • Upon the retirement of the policyowner, the funds within the policy may be used as collateral in order to take out a loan.

  • This loan can provide valuable cash for the retiree, in order to purchase an annuity or to use as income, via a series of short loans.

  • When the retiree dies, the loan is repaid and the remaining balance can be distributed among their beneficiaries.

Are there any pitfalls associated with the program?

As with all investment strategies, there are some risks. Namely, in this case, the fact that the program involves incurring a debt, borrowing funds and interest rate changes means that investors need to be comfortable with the unlikely but possible fact that the bank calls the loan or that changes in tax rules negatively impact them.

The insured retirement program can be smart way for high earners to maximize their retirement income in a tax effective manner. Contact us today to learn more about this opportunity and allow us to work in partnership with you to understand your unique needs and requirements and create a retirement strategy that works for you.

2022 Alberta Budget Highlights

Alberta 2022 Budget Highlights

On February 24, 2022, the Alberta Minister of Finance announced Alberta’s 2022 budget. This article highlights the most important things you need to know.

Increasing The Capacity Of The Health Care System

Budget 2022 commits to adding a total of $1.8 billion to the Alberta health care budget by 2024-2025. This money will be spent to help put in place new mental health and addiction support, attract new physicians to remote areas, strengthen Emergency Medical Services, and address pandemic-related health costs and surgical backlogs.

Budget 2022 also commits to investing over $750 million in health care capital. This money will be used to create new inpatient beds for cancer patients, increase surgical capacity, upgrade the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, and provide additional treatment spaces for mental health.

Supporting Albertans To Get Back To Work

Budget 2022 is committed to helping Albertans get back to work. Budget 2022 commits $171 million to this goal over three years. This money will be used to help increase enrollment spaces in areas that have skill shortages, including technology, finance, energy, engineering, health, and aviation. Budget 2022 also commits to providing support for increasing training opportunities for vets and commercial drivers, apprenticeship programs, and training opportunities for Indigenous Peoples.

Another goal of Budget 2022 is to support Albertans seeking employment or looking to advance their careers. Budget 2022 commits over $100 million to expand skills development and training opportunities, address barriers to employment, and provide financial support options to low-income students in high-demand programs.

Committing To The Fiscal Plan

Budget 2022 is Alberta’s second balanced budget in over a decade. Total revenue for the province for 2022-2023 is estimated to be $62.6 billion in 2022-23, and total overall expenses in 2022-23 will be $62.1 billion.

No Changes To Corporate or Personal Tax Rates

Budget 2022 does not include any changes to the province’s corporate tax rates or personal tax rates.

We can help!

We can help you assess the impact of this year’s budget on your finances or business. Give us a call today!

2022 British Columbia Budget Highlights

British Columbia 2022 Budget Highlights

On February 22, 2022, the B.C. Minister of Finance announced the 2022 budget. We have highlighted the most important things you need to know about this budget.

Supporting Sustainable Economic Development

Budget 2022 contains several measures to help build a more robust economy, including $50 million to support growing sectors such as life sciences, manufacturing, and agriculture. In addition, the budget allocates funding to help industries impacted by COVID-19, including the tourism industry, the arts, and non-profit organizations. Budget 2022 supports workers looking to upgrade their skills or train for new jobs, with an emphasis on providing training for early childhood educators and health care assistants.

Offering Stronger Health Care

Budget 2022 includes funding to support the opening of new Urgent and Primary care centres and continuing Pathway to Hope from Budget 2021, which dedicated $500 million over two years to support mental health and addiction care. As well, Budget 2022 includes funding for B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Expanding Child Care Options and Lowering Fees

Working with the federal government, the B.C. government will create 40,000 new licensed child care spaces for children under six over the next seven years. The budget also includes an investment in increasing before and after school spaces and expanding the Seamless Day program to include 44 school districts.

Fees for full-day infant and toddler care will be reduced by 50% by the end of 2022 (to an average of $20/day). Average preschool and before and after school care fees will be cut to less than $20/day for the 2023/2024 school year.

Supporting Capital Infrastructure

Budget 2022 commits to spending over $27 billion to support critical infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, affordable housing, and highways and bridges. This amount of capital spending will support the creation of over 100,000 jobs.

Providing Funding For Affordable Homes

Budget 2022 allocates 2 billion dollars to HousingHub. HousingHub is a program that provides low-interest loans to private developers and other community groups and is designed to give middle-income British Columbians more opportunities to rent or own homes.

Promoting Clean Transportation

Budget 2022 continues to build on the B.C. government’s plan to fight climate change. PST will no longer be charged on used Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs). The luxury tax threshold on ZEVs has been increased, and rebates will be available for both ZEVs and ZEV charging infrastructure.

No Changes To Corporate or Personal Tax Rates

Budget 2022 does not include any changes to the province’s corporate tax rates or personal tax rates.

We can help!

We can help you assess the impact of this year’s budget changes on your finances or business. Give us a call today!