Category Archives: News

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Phil Heisz Elder Planning Counselor


Press Release

PHILIP HEISZ Qualifies as a Member Of “Elder Planning Counselor” Program

TORONTO, ON – A nationally recognized designation, was conferred on Philip Heisz after successfully completing an intense and rigorous test of knowledge regarding current seniors issues.  The “Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies” (CIEPS) course was established as a standard of service to seniors for all professionals and business people in providing seniors with high quality services and products that best suit their lives and circumstances.  The “Elder Planning Counselor” (EPC) designation will immediately help seniors identify the business people and professionals who have a special interest and proficiency in dealing with them and their needs.

“Studies show that seniors want advisors who understand their life issues, alternatives and concerns, which respect their circumstances and experiences and can accommodate their physical and health needs.  The EPC is the Canadian professional development standard for elder education,” says Thomas Miller, President of CIEPS.

Achieving this designation is a distinguished career milestone, attained only by those who have demonstrated proficiency in all relevant programs about seniors issues, including aging, health issues, financial planning considerations, long term care as well as end of life issues.  This makes the “EPC” graduate a valued counselor to seniors, regardless of the service or product they provide.

The Elder Planning Counselor educational program has been designed by Canadians for Canadian Professionals.

For further information visit

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When the CRA calls:


Jamie Golombek on his 10-month, transit pass reassessment saga
Don’t panic if you get a plain brown envelope from the CRA — but some frustration may be unavoidable

Originally posted Financial Post website.

If you recently received a letter in a plain, brown envelope from the Canada Revenue Agency, chances are it was because your 2017 personal income tax return is being reviewed to “make sure the benefits or credits you’re receiving are correct.”

If you received such a letter, the CRA’s advice, issued in a press release this week, is: “Don’t panic. You’re not alone.”

Each year, the CRA sends out approximately 350,000 letters and questionnaires asking taxpayers to provide additional information to ensure that taxpayers are properly entitled to the various benefits, deductions and credits which they claimed on their returns.

They may ask for documents to confirm that the information in the CRA’s records is correct and up to date. For example, the CRA may ask you to validate your marital status, where you live, and who cares for your children. This information can change as life events occur and may affect both whether you’re eligible to receive certain benefits and credits and how much you may be entitled to receive.

Normally, you have to respond within 45 calendar days. If you can’t get the documents the CRA is asking for or if you need more time to reply, you can call the number provided in the letter to ask for guidance and more time. If you ignore the letter or don’t reply in time, your benefits will stop and you may be asked to repay benefits or credits that were previously sent to you.

Any requested information and documents can be scanned and downloaded online using the CRA’s My Account portal or they can be sent to the CRA by mail or by fax to the address or fax number provided in the CRA’s letter.

The CRA advises taxpayers that “it’s important that you reply and send all the information requested as soon as possible. This will help the CRA review your file quickly and easily.”

Of course, how one defines “quickly and easily” is another matter. Let me share with you my own, personal experience of dealing with the CRA on such a letter.

The letter — October 2017

On Oct. 20, 2017, I received a letter from the CRA indicating that my 2016 tax return was being reviewed. The six-page, single-spaced typed letter was asking for detailed information about my claim for the public transit credit.

You may recall that prior to July 1, 2017, you could claim the cost of monthly or annual public transit passes for travel within Canada on public transit. The credit was eliminated in the 2017 federal budget, with the government concluding that “this credit has been ineffective in encouraging the use of public transit and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The public transit amount the CRA was reviewing was $747. Note that this was not the amount of tax under review as the transit “amount” was eligible for a non-refundable federal tax credit at 15 per cent, meaning the CRA was asking for proof to substantiate a $112.05 federal tax reduction I claimed on my 2016 tax return.

Fortunately, I’m careful to keep all my receipts in a well-organized file and was easily able to photocopy each month’s Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Metropass and scan them for download to the secure CRA My Account web portal.

I submitted the documents on Nov.17, 2017. And then, I heard nothing. For days. Then weeks. Then months.

The first reassessment — Feb. 2, 2018

On Feb. 2, 2018, I came home to find a brown CRA envelope waiting in my mailbox. Initially, I was excited as I assumed that this would be the reassessment I was waiting for, granting me my 2016 transit credit.

Alas, it was not to be. Rather than confirming my transit credit, I received a formal notice of reassessment saying I owed $112.05 of tax plus $2.12 in arrears interest.

The next day, I received a four-page, single-spaced letter from the CRA politely informing me that “we have adjusted your claim for the public transit amount from $747.00 to $0.00.” The reason? According to the CRA, while “we acknowledge (receipt of the copies of) the front sides of your Metropasses … the passes do not contain all the required information which includes … the identity of the rider.”

In other words, the CRA denied my $112.05 transit credit because I did not send them photocopies of the back sides of my Metropasses, which contained my “unique” signature. Was the CRA perhaps worried that I was borrowing someone else’s transit passes for the purpose of illegally claiming the credit?

Rather than be discouraged, I promptly photocopied the back sides of my Metropasses, clearly showing my signature on each one, scanned the documents and submitted them electronically to the CRA.

And then I waited again. For weeks. Months. Nothing.

While I attempted to follow up at least half a dozen times, I was unable to get through to the CRA on the phone until late July 2018. When I reached an agent, they were unable to explain why the matter still hadn’t been resolved, despite acknowledging receipt of my additional information nearly six months earlier. I was told that my 2016 return would be “expedited” for immediate processing.

The second reassessment — Aug. 23, 2018

Last week, I finally received a new notice of reassessment which stated that “We changed your return to reinstate your claim for the public transit amount.” It was issuing me a refund of $112.05 and reversing the $2.12 of arrears interest I was previously charged. In fact, I was even paid some refund interest of $3.21.

And the icing on the cake? The CRA was kind enough to remind me that since the $3.21 of refund interest “is taxable in the year you receive it, you have to include it as income on your 2018 tax return.”

Jamie Golombek, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU, TEP is the Managing Director, Tax & Estate Planning with CIBC Financial Planning & Advice Group in Toronto.

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CRA to Tax Registered Investment Fees Paid From Open Accounts


Originally posted on By Melissa Shin

If your clients pay their registered-account investment fees from open accounts, revisit that practice with them now.

At the November 2016 Canadian Tax Foundation Conference, CRA told attendees that paying registered plan fees from non-registered, or open, accounts, will incur a tax penalty equivalent to the fee.

CRA views the practice as creating an unfair advantage because it’s an indirect increase in the value of the registered plan — so the agency has changed its administrative position.

Now, “a controlling individual who pays investment management fees with respect to his or her RRSP, RRIF or TFSA outside of the plan could be subject to a tax equal to the amount of fees paid,” says a PwC release on the issue.

CRA will begin taxing people who pay fees in this manner as of January 1, 2018, and the tax will be punitive: based on CRA’s wording, if a person pays $100 in registered fees from an open account, she would trigger $100 in tax.

Michelle Connolly, vice-president, Tax, Retirement and Estate Planning at CI Investments, says people typically pay fees from outside their registered accounts to preserve registered capital and reduce taxable capital and potential income instead. But this tactic is predominantly a deferral, she points out, since the preserved registered capital will eventually be taxed as regular income upon withdrawal.

Some advisors argue preserving registered capital allows for greater compounding, she adds, but “I never viewed [fee redirection] as a top-three planning idea,” she says.

Read: Investment fees — what’s deductible?

Connolly says there are three main situations where people redirect fees:

  1. An individual taxpayer pays for her own registered account’s fees out of her open account.
  2. An individual taxpayer pays for someone else’s registered account fees out of his open account. One example, says Connolly, is a grandfather paying his grandchildren’s TFSA fees out of his open account.
  3. A joint account pays for one or both of the individual’s registered account fees.

Overcontribution risk

With this administrative change, CRA is focusing on the advantage created by paying the fee from an open account. But there’s another risk to fee redirection: overcontributing to a registered plan.

Let’s say a person contributes the maximum $5,500 to her TFSA, owes $100 in investment fees, and pays those fees from outside the TFSA. Under CRA’s new position, “she will have been viewed to have contributed $5,600,” says Connolly. And, not only will she have to pay $100 in tax due to her fee redirection, she may be penalized $1 per month (1% of the excess) for overcontributing to her TFSA. “Will CRA go that far?” asks Connolly. “Potentially.”

Read: The risks of overcontributing to an RRSP

What advisors should do

“An advisor should look at any clients that are redirecting fees on registered accounts and discuss these changes with clients,” says Connolly. “As of January 1, 2018, CRA will now view [fee redirection] much more aggressively.”

If the grandfather in our example wishes to help his grandchildren pay for investment fees for non-tax reasons, he can gift them an equivalent amount in cash after the grandchildren pay the fees out of their registered accounts.

The PwC release says CRA may announce administrative concessions when it releases its tax folio in early 2017. But Connolly says it’s unlikely that there will be any concessions.

Read: How to fix TFSA overcontributions

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Federal Liberals eye tax on private health


Originally posted on National Post December 2, 2016 by John Ivison

Federal Liberals eye tax on private health and dental plans, a move that would take in about $2.9B

The Liberal government is considering taxing private health and dental plans, in a measure that would raise about $2.9 billion, sources say.

As many as 13.5 million Canadians have lower tax bills because health and dental benefits are not treated as taxable outside Quebec.

Dan Lauzon, a spokesman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said no decisions have been taken and that any moves would not be made in isolation. The employee-sponsored health care tax exemption is being scrutinized as part of a sweeping review of 150 tax credits worth about $100 billion a year in foregone federal revenue.

Lauzon said the review is not being seen as a revenue-generating exercise.

The Department of Finance has asked seven external experts to look at the tax system to ensure that it is as fair, efficient and simple as possible.

It is understood the academics reviewed health and dental benefits, but it is not clear what they recommended.

The argument for killing the health and dental benefit exemption is that it does not treat all remuneration equally.

Most employee benefits are taxed – for example, life insurance paid by employers are reported on employees’ T4 slips and included as taxable income. Similarly, a car paid for by an employer is taxed.

But health benefits are an exception. Proponents of eliminating the credit argue that those with lower incomes but without private health plans are subsidizing those with employee-sponsored coverage.

On the other hand, there is a strong economic case for encouraging employers to provide health coverage for employees.

Quebec included health and dental plans as a taxable benefit in the early 2000s and found that employers scaled back the coverage offered.

The Liberals have been clear that they intend to take action on eliminating some tax credits, particularly those that benefit higher-income Canadians.

Morneau told the Senate finance committee that changes are coming.

“We think we did make some simplifying efforts in budget 2016, but we know there’s more work to be done in this regard to look at things that no longer have the desired impact,” he said. “It’s an effort that we’re pursuing.”

The 2016 budget removed the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals talked about reducing or eliminating the credits for individuals paid by stock options. but backed away, over concerns from Canada’s high-tech sector.

Any attempt to hit health and dental coverage would be controversial, particularly because of the many Canadians who receive it.

But the prospect of raising such as much as the $2.9 billion forecast in the current Report on Federal Tax Expenditures might prove too enticing for Morneau to ignore.

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Top tax credits and benefits for seniors


January 18, 2017

Use this list to help your senior clients ensure they claim the most common tax credits, deductions and benefits for which they’re eligible.

Read: Essential tax numbers

    • Pension income splitting — Those who receive a pension may be eligible to split up to 50% of eligible pension income with a spouse or common-law partner.
    • Guaranteed income supplement — If clients received the guaranteed income supplement or allowance benefits under the old age security program, they can renew the benefit by filing by the deadline.

Read: Navigate RRSP attribution rules

  • Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit — Clients may be eligible for the GST/HST credit, a tax-free quarterly payment that helps offset all or part of the GST or HST they pay. To receive this credit, clients must file an income tax and benefit return every year, even if they didn’t receive income. If they have a spouse or common-law partner, only one of them can receive the credit. The credit is paid to the person whose return is assessed first.

Read: CRA tweaks process for accessing online tax info of businesses

    • Medical expenses — Clients may be able to claim the total eligible medical expenses that they, their spouse or common-law partner paid, provided the expenses were made over any 12-month period ending in 2016 and were not previously claimed. This can include amounts claimed for attendant care or care in an establishment.
    • Age amount — For clients 65 years of age or older on December 31, 2016, if net income was less than $83,427, they may be able to claim up to $7,125.
    • Pension income amount — Clients may be able to claim up to $2,000 if they report eligible pension, superannuation or annuity payments on their tax return.
    • Disability amount — If clients, their spouses or common-law partners or dependents have severe and prolonged impairments in physical or mental functions and meet certain conditions, they may be eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC). To determine eligibility, they must complete Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate and have it certified by a medical practitioner. Canadians claiming the credit can file online whether they have submitted the form to the CRA for that tax year or not.
    • Family caregiver amount — Those caring for a dependant with an impairment in physical or mental functions may be able to claim up to $2,121 when calculating certain non-refundable tax credits.
  • Public transit amount — Clients may be able to claim the cost of monthly or annual public transit passes for travel within Canada on public transit in 2016.
Originally published on

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New Rules for Principal Residence Exemption


In part one of a three-part series about year-end tax planning, Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning with CIBC Wealth Strategies Group, explains how the changes to the principal residence exemption will affect every Canadian. Click here to register for Golombek’s 2016 Year-end Tax Planning webinar.