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How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

There has been a noticeable increase in suspicious phone calls and emails from people claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency in 2016.  Below are some tips as well as a link to CRA’s website with valuable information and tips to help protect your finances and identity.  The best rule of thumb is if it feels wrong or suspicious it probably is.  Trust your instincts and ask questions before paying any amount or giving sensitive information.  If you have received a call or email of this nature you can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

  • Protect your social insurance number. Don’t use it as a piece of ID and never reveal it to anyone unless you are certain the person asking for it is legally entitled to that information. If an organization asks for your social insurance number, ask if it is legally required to collect it, and if not, offer other forms of ID.
  • CRA cannot have you arrested.  Some calls are claiming that the authorities are on the way to your home to arrest or charge you. There is a legal process which must be followed and CRA will notify you in writing of any action which is being taken or considered.
  • If in doubt use your My account login (account must be created first) or call CRA directly to confirm any amounts outstanding before making any payments.
  • Always ask for an agent I.D. # when speaking with anyone claiming to be from CRA.
  • Never provide personal information through the Internet or by email. The CRA does not ask you to provide personal information by email.
  • Be suspicious if you are ever asked to pay taxes or fees to the CRA on lottery or sweepstakes winnings. You do not have to pay taxes or fees on these types of winnings. These requests are scams.
  • Keep your access codes, user ID, passwords, and PINs secret.
  • Keep your address current with all government departments and agencies.
  • Choose your tax preparer carefully! Make sure you choose someone you trust and check their references. Always review your return, agree with the content before filing, and follow up to make sure you receive your notice of assessment, since it contains important financial and personal information that belongs to you.
  • Before supporting any charity, use the CRA website at www.cra.gc.ca/charities to find out if the charity is registered and get more information on the way it does business.
  • Be careful before you click on links in any email you receive. Some criminals may be using a technique known as phishing to steal your personal information when you click on the link.
  • Caller ID is a useful function. However, the information displayed can be altered by criminals. Never use only the displayed information to confirm the identity of the caller whether it be an individual, a company or a government entity.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycle and ask about any missing account statements or suspicious transactions.
  • Shred unwanted documents or store them in a secure place. Make sure that documents with your name and SIN are secure. AMA (Alberta Motor Association) offers many free shred events throughout the year.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit or debit cards.
  • Carry only the ID you need.
  • Do not write down any passwords or carry them with you.
  • Ask a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail when you are away or ask Canada Post that a hold be placed on delivery until you return.
    http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html

 

Principle Residence Changes 2016

On October 3, 2016, the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced a major change to the reporting requirements for the sale of a principal residence (“PR”) and the designation of the principal residence exemption (“PRE”), which provides for the tax-free sale of your home. 

A few key points:

  • Starting with the 2016 tax year, you will be required to report basic information (date of acquisition, proceeds of dispositions and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence (PR) to claim the full principal residence exemption.
  • Previously, the administrative position of the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) was that you were not required to report the sale of your PR if the property was your PR for every year you owned it.
  • The new rules apply for deemed dispositions. A deemed disposition occurs when you are considered to have disposed of property, even though you did not actually sell it. For example, a deemed disposition will occur if there is a change in use of the property:
  1.        You change all or part of your principal residence to a rental or business operation.
  2.        You change your rental or business operation to a principal residence.

When you change the use of a property, you are generally considered to have sold the property at its fair market value and to have immediately reacquired the property for the same amount. You have to report the disposition (and designation) of your principal residence and/or the resulting capital gain or loss (in certain situations) in the year the change of use occurs.

  • If only a part of your home qualifies as your PR and you used the other part to earn or produce income, you may have to split the selling price and the adjusted cost base between the part you used for your principal residence and the part you used for other purposes (for example, rental or business). You can do this by using square meters or the number of rooms, as long as the split is reasonable.
  • If you do not designate the property as your PR for all the years you owned the property (such as where you had sold your cottage in a prior year and claimed the PRE for certain years), you are required to also file Form T2091. 
  • An individual who was not resident in Canada in the year the individual acquired a residence will not—on a disposition of the property after October 2, 2016—be able to claim the exemption for that year. 
  • For the sale of a PR in 2016 or later years, the CRA will only allow the PRE if you report the sale and designation on your tax return. If you fail to report the sale, you will have to ask the CRA to amend your return. Under the proposed changes, the CRA will be able to accept a late designation but a penalty may apply, equal to the lesser of $8,000 and $100 for each month you are late from the original required filing. This is a potentially fairly large penalty for non-compliance. The period of re-assessment will also be extended where a disposition has not been reported. 

 

Information on the changes from Finance: http://www.fin.gc.ca/n16/data/16-117_2-eng.asp

Information on administration changes from CRA: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2016/qa11-eng.html

 

What are the pensionable earnings for CPP in 2014?

CPP Pensionable Earnings Rise for 2014

The maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2014 will increase to $52,500 in 2014, which is an increase from $51,100 in 2013, while the basic exemption remains at the current $3,500 level.

 

While employee contribution rates remain unchanged at 4.95% and the self‑employed contribution rate will remain unchanged at 9.9%, maximum contributions will still rise for everyone.

The maximum employer and employee contributions are $2,425.50 each and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $4,851.00. The maximums in 2013 were $2,356.20 and $4,712.40.

What changes come with the revised T1135?

The Revised T1135 – This Could Get Ugly for Taxpayers, Investment Advisors & Accountants

 

The T1135


To provide some symmetry to my return to blogging, I start off where I left off. You may recall that my last blog discussed the revised T1135 Foreign Income Verification Form (“T1135”). In that post I discussed the new reporting requirements, which now includes the following:

  • The name of the specific foreign bank/financial institution holding funds outside Canada
  • For each foreign property identified on the T1135, the maximum funds/cost amount for the property during the year and cost amount at the end of the year (the old form only required the cost amount at the end of the year if at anytime in the year you exceeded the threshold)
  • For each foreign property identified on the T1135, the income and capital gain/loss generated (the old form asked for total income or gains from all foreign property in one lump sum)
  • Specific country where each foreign property is located (the old form had pre-defined groupings based on each continent for all the property on an aggregate basis) 

 

The T3/T5 Exclusion


I concluded my July 2nd post by saying that “There is one important saving grace to these rules. If the income for a foreign property is reported on a T3 or T5, the details do not have to be reported. This will exempt most U.S. or foreign stocks held with Canadian brokerages; but the details for property held outside Canadian institutions will be burdensome”.

While the above statement is essentially correct, the CRA’s administrative position in regard to this exemption may prove problematic. You see, the CRA is saying that even where you hold a foreign stock or bond in an account with a Canadian brokerage firm that issues a T3 or T5 for that account; if that security does not pay income in the form of a dividend or interest and thus is not reported on the T3 or T5, the specific stock or bond will not be excluded and will have to be reported in detail on the T1135. This position was recently confirmed by a CRA representative to one of my tax managers.

 

In addition, it must be noted you will still be required to file the T1135 if the total cost amount of your foreign holdings exceeds $100,000 at anytime during the year, even if dividends or interest is reported on a T3 or T5. See the example discussed in this article by Jamie Golembek, where the CRA representative states you would still need to file the form and check the reporting exclusion box for the stocks reported on a T-slip.

The Tax to English Version

 

So what does this all mean in English? Say you own 25 foreign stocks held at a Canadian brokerage that have a total cost of $150,000, but five of those stocks do not pay dividends or fail to pay a dividend in that year. As we now understand the CRA’s position, even though the 20 dividend paying stocks do not need to be individually listed, the 5 non-dividend paying stocks must be reported. Thus, you will need to tick the box on the T1135 Form to claim the exclusion for the 20 stocks, but you will also have to determine the highest cost amount of each of the five non-excluded stocks during the year (troublesome if you bought and sold) and the cost amount at the end of the year in addition to providing other information such as country location and capital gain or loss.

In the example above, if all 25 stocks pay dividends that will be reported on a T3 or T5, you will still have to file the T1135 and check the exclusion box; however, you do not need to report all the details of each individual stock. Clear as mud.

For people with only a few foreign holdings, this is not much of an issue. However, I have clients who are in private client programs with the large Canadian financial institutions that own 20-50 shares of multiple foreign stocks or have private managers running their money who have upwards of 50 U.S. and foreign stock/bond holdings. This means that the client, the advisor, or their accountant, or probably a combination of all three must review all these stocks to determine which ones are exempt from reporting because they paid a dividend or interest that was reported on a T3 or T5 from those that did not have any income reported on a T3 or T5.

My tax manager said the CRA representative he spoke with, gave him the impression that the CRA’s position has not gone over very well. Let’s hope the CRA simplifies life for many Canadians and just exempts any foreign security held at any Canadian Institution whether income is reported on a T-slip or not.

 

This article is posted on The Blunt Bean Counter website.  It provides information of a general nature and should not be considered specific advice, as each reader’s personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the article.

What is my risk as a director of a corporation?

Director’s liability

Being a director of a corporation carries a lot of responsibility, as well as a certain level of risk. The harshest penalty available in our society — criminal sanction — can befall a director if he or she acts fraudulently or negligently. This reflects Parliament’s view that, under subsection 227.1(3) of the Income Tax Act, directors must “exercise the degree of care and skill that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent person in comparable circumstances.”

At common law, judges had long held that a director was to be judged according to his or her particular knowledge and experience. But that old common law standard of subjective liability was seen as insufficient protection for the public. To protect the public generally and shareholders specifically, Parliament decided to impose a higher standard, holding directors to the standards imposed on comparable professionals. So, Parliament created objective liability through the insertion of subsection 227.1(3) into the Act.

This had the effect of raising the standards of directors to the level of the reasonable, professional director who shares the characteristics (education, experience etc.) of the one under scrutiny.

To avoid liability, then, a director need only show that he or she acted the way a reasonably prudent individual in similar circumstances would have acted. That means a director is justified in trusting his or her officials to execute their duties according to corporate policies — if a reasonable person in that position would not have grounds for suspicion.

Generally, a director will be personally liable only if he or she assists the corporation in committing an offence or is grossly negligent in his or her dealings for the company. So, the director needs to participate actively in the offence.

Even if the corporation is not prosecuted or convicted for an offence, the director can still be held liable. If the corporation has committed an offence under the Act and the director participated with knowledge in some way in the commission of that offence, then the two elements of culpability are established. A director may be convicted, but only if it is established he or she had the mens rea (that is, the “guilty mind”).

Directors may also be liable for gross negligence, which is a greater departure from the errant behaviour associated with regular negligence. In Venne v The Queen (1989), the court stated: “Gross negligence must involve a high degree of negligence tantamount to intentional acting, an indifference as to whether the law is complied with or not.”

Parliament and the courts have made it clear directors have a lot of responsibility and are subject to immense liability if they act fraudulently or negligently. The goal is to ensure shareholders have adequate protection, but it is also a balancing act — no one wants to dissuade professionals and those with business experience from becoming directors.

Greer Jacks is updating jurisprudence in the EverGreen Explanatory Notes, an online research library of assistance to tax and financial professionals in working with their clients.

Are you aware of the revised T1198 statement?

CRA has just issued a revision to Form T1198 Statement of Qualifying Retroactive Lump-Sum Payments, which is completed by the payer of qualifying amounts.  

 

Taxpayers who are in receipt of a lump sum of $3000 or more that relates to one or more prior years may qualify for this averaging provision, a calculation which CRA does for you when the form is attached to your return. 

Qualifying income amounts include income from office or employment if received as a result of an order or judgment, arbitration, or damages for loss of office or employment received in a lawsuit settlement. 

In addition, lump sum benefits from employment insurance, superannuation or pension plans other than lump-sum withdrawals, lump sums received for spousal or taxable child support payments, or benefits from a wage-loss replacement plan may all qualify. 

Not included, however, are salary reimbursements, top-ups of disability payments, repayments of pension benefits, or negotiated back pay. Tax advisors who are up to date with the latest rules can provide guidance.

This article was written by Evelyn Jacks.  Evelyn Jacks is president of Knowledge Bureau, whose curriculum includes wealth-management and income tax-preparation courses. You can also offer Knowledge Bureau financial education books to your clients or family members. Visit http://www.knowledgebureau.com/ for more information regarding The Knowledge Bureau

Do I need to file a tax return if I am new to Canada?

Are you new to Canada?


Did you know?

If you are a newcomer to Canada for all or part of a tax year, you may need to file an income tax and benefit return if you have to pay tax, want to claim a refund, or receive benefits.You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you establish significant residential ties in Canada, for example, a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner and dependants who move to Canada to live with you, personal property, and social ties in Canada. You usually establish these ties on the date you arrive in Canada. For more information, go to Do you have to file a return?.

Important facts

  • If you’re new to Canada, it’s important to understand your tax obligations and the credits and benefits available to you.
  • By filing an income tax and benefit return, you might be able to get credits and payments such as the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit and Canada child tax benefit payments—even if you have no income to report or tax to pay.
  • Everything you need to know as a newcomer is available at www.cra.gc.ca/newcomers. For example, you can find information on getting your social insurance number, filing a tax return, tax treaties, as well as contact information if you need assistance.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) online services make filing easier and let you get your refund faster

The CRA’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track your refund, and more. Sign up for direct deposit too! Your refund and any benefit or credit payments owed to you will be deposited directly into your account, putting your money in your pocket faster. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

Did you buy a home in 2013?

Did you know?

If you bought a home in 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a tax credit and a plan that may help you save on this purchase.

First-time home buyers’ tax credit

If you are a first-time home buyer, you may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750 on the purchase of a qualifying home.

To qualify for the home buyer’s tax amount:

  • you or your spouse or common-law partner must have bought a qualifying home; and
  • you can’t have lived in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner that year or in any of the four preceding years.

If you are buying a home and are eligible for the disability tax credit or if you are an individual buying a home for a related person who is eligible for the disability tax credit, you may also qualify for this credit even if you have already owned a home.

A qualifying home must be registered in your name, in your spouse’s or common-law partner’s name, or in both names, according to the applicable land registration system, and must be located in Canada. It includes existing homes such as single-family houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings, and homes under construction.

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

You may also be eligible to participate in the Home Buyers’ Plan, which allows you to withdraw funds from your registered retirement savings plan to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. You can withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year, and you have up to 15 years to repay the amounts you withdraw.

For more tax information for homeowners, go to www.cra.gc.ca/myhome.

CRA online services make filing easier and let you get your refund faster

The CRA’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track your refund, and more. Sign up for direct deposit too! Your refund and any benefit or credit payments owed to you will be deposited directly into your account, putting your money in your pocket faster. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

Does the Bank of Canada email to the public?

Bank of Canada Warns of Ongoing Email Scam

The Bank of Canada (the Bank) has warned Canadians that an unsolicited email scam has falsely claiming to originate from the Bank has been circulating.

 

These scams are misrepresenting the Bank and use the institution’s name, logo, and other identifiers without authorization. The Bank has warned that it has no connection to such emails. In a statement released on its website, stating that: 

“The Bank of Canada is Canada’s central bank and therefore does not accept deposits from or on behalf of individuals, nor does it collect personal or financial information from individuals. The Bank has reported these fraudulent emails to the police. If you receive an unsolicited email, delete it immediately. The Bank of Canada and its employees and officers do not request personal or financial information through email and do not participate in any email or Internet-based communications that request information or payment for services.”

The Bank suggests the following if you receive an email that purports to be from the Bank of Canada, and you have concerns about the contents of that email:

  • Delete the email immediately and contact your local authorities.

  • Access the Bank of Canada website at www.bankofcanada.ca by typing the URL yourself (do not follow links). Look for references to the program identified in the suspect email.

  • Call the Public Information Office at 1.800.303.1282 (toll free in North America), or see the “Contact Us” page on their website.

    Link to the Bank’s warning: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/bank-of-canada-warns-of-email-scams/

What is the red tape reduction measure?

The Harper Government kicks off 2014 with a renewed commitment to red tape reduction for businesses

January 28, 2014 – Ottawa – Canada Revenue Agency

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, with the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Edward Fast, Minister for International Trade, the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, and Ms. Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), today highlighted the Government’s progress on red tape reduction. Minister Findlay expressed optimism for the relationship between businesses and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which has been made stronger as a result of the red tape reduction measures the CRA has implemented to date.

As of January 6, 2014, businesses can file their T5013, Partnership Information Return, electronically through My Business Account and Represent a Client. In addition, the CRA’s Liaison Officer Initiative will provide in-person support and information to small and medium enterprises at key points as their business grows, to help them get it “right from the start.”

In the fall of 2014, the CRA will again conduct red tape reduction consultations with small businesses and their service providers in cities across the country, seeking their views on the CRA’s progress on reducing red tape and ensuring the Agency’s action plans remain relevant to the needs of small businesses.

In the past year, the Government of Canada implemented significant red tape reduction measures, from increasing its accountability to businesses, introducing time-saving measures, to enabling businesses to file and manage their information online.

Accomplishments in 2013:

  • Agent ID for the CRA’s business enquiries telephone service. Now, when a business owner calls the CRA, the agent who answers provides an ID number at the beginning of the call. The Agent ID number increases the CRA’s accountability for business calls, ensures a consistent experience for callers, and makes it easier for business owners to give feedback on CRA services.
  • A one-stop-shop webpage for business services. Businesses can now easily find information and service options relevant to their tax situation.
  • The My Business Account online enquiries service. Businesses or their representatives can ask the CRA tax-related questions about their accounts online and they will receive answers online and in writing.
  • A new online mail service for Canadian small businesses. Through Manage Online Mail, Canadian businesses can choose to receive their notices of assessment and reassessment electronically, and some letters for their corporate and GST/HST accounts.
  • A new CRA Red Tape Reduction Action Plan webpage. Businesses can see up-to-date information on the CRA’s red tape reduction progress.

Quick facts

  • In the fall of 2012, the CRA held its own consultations with businesses. The results of the 2012 consultations are available in the report Focusing on Small Business Priorities: Canada Revenue Agency Consultations on Cutting Red Tape.
  • To participate in the upcoming consultations, please visit the CRA’s Red Tape Reduction webpage regularly, and stay connected by subscribing to our mailing lists and joining the conversation on Twitter.
  • From April 2013 to November 2013, the CRA responded to almost 4,300 enquiries online through the My Business Account enquiries service, a 25% increase over the same period last year.
  • Using the CRA’s business number (BN) as the common identifier for federal, provincial, and municipal interactions with businesses is part of the effort to reduce red tape for small businesses. So far, six provinces and one city have adopted the BN. More municipalities and governments are expected to adopt the BN to facilitate registration and eliminate duplicate accounts and errors.

Quotes

“I would like to thank the CFIB for their input on CRA red tape measures implemented in the past year, specifically on the Agent ID and My Business Account online enquiries. With the help of business communities, our Government has made significant progress on making compliance easier and decreasing regulatory burdens so businesses can be competitive and innovative within their sectors. This will in turn create jobs and underscore Canada’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to do business. Since most businesses in Canada have less than 100 employees, it’s very important to meet their needs and continue to encourage their feedback and ideas. The CRA’s promise is to consult businesses every two years, and this year, we hope to reach further than we have ever before.”

– The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, Minister of National Revenue