Do you REALLY need life insurance?

You most likely do, but the more important question is, ‘What kind?’ Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it. 

Permanent or Term? 

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy. 

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are: 

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.
  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.
  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.
  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.
  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments. 
  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option. 

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you: 

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.
  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.
  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.
  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.
  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind.

 

Why provide an employee benefits plan?

Business owners are increasingly recognizing the key importance of implementing employee benefit plans in their organization and this is an area that has grown considerably in recent decades. Employee benefits comprise all of the additional things that you offer to your employees on top of their regular salary, which could include pension contributions, health cover / insurance policies, training and education programs etc. Employees are more and more interested in the total benefits package that a potential employer can offer them, rather than just being focused on a binary salary figure and recognizing and understanding this cultural shift in the modern working world is crucial to maintain your ability to recruit and retain the right talent for your business.

Many employees value the benefits that their employer offers, considering them an integral part of their take home pay, none more so than health cover. This benefit can provide financial and emotional security to your employees and their families, without the need for them to complete any health requirements to be on the plan. They are likely to benefit from a preferable level of cover and the plan may even provide them with insurance products such as long-term disability cover, which can be harder to gain outside of a group plan. What’s more, group plans often offer out-of-country emergency healthcare for employees which has the potential to save them money on personal travel insurance products.

Not only do these benefits provide a sense of security to your employees, they can also help them to feel valued as part of your organization, which may in turn foster higher morale and increased motivation within their roles. It is therefore worthwhile for business owners to encourage their teams to recognize the fact that the benefits package that you offer should be considered as an integral part of their take home pay, alongside their actual salary.

Talk to us, we can help.

Tax Series: Strategies for Private Corporations

Last summer, Finance Minister Morneau announced a number of tax reforms for Small Business Owners, including the changes to income sprinkling, minimizing the incentives to keep passive investments and reducing the transfer of corporate surpluses to capital gains.

 

This year’s Federal Budget focused on tax tightening measures for business owner:

●     Small Business Tax Rate Reduction from 10% to 9%.

●     Passive Investment Income held within the corp (Reduction begins at $50,000)

●     Tax on Split Income

 

Since these changes will be effective January 1, 2019, a discussion and plan should be prioritized now, since 2018 will be the “prior year” of 2019. Life insurance is a great solution to help business owners address these problems.

 

Reduced Small Business Tax Rate

●     Key Change: Effective January 1, 2019, the small business tax rate will be reduced from 10% to 9%

●     Problem: Lower corporate tax rates result in more capital trapped inside the corporation.

●     Possible Solution: Life Insurance Proceeds credit the capital dividend account on death allowing for tax-efficient distribution of funds from the corporation to the estate.

 

Limited Access to Small Business Tax Rate

●     Key Change: Passive investment income greater than $50,000/year reduces the small business tax rate limit for small business tax rate. The business limit is reduced to zero at $150,000 of investment income.

●     Problem: For companies with passive income over $50,000, the small business limit will be reduced and thus, increase the total amount of tax you have to pay.

●     Possible Solution: Exempt life insurance does not produce passive investment income unless there is a disposition. Put a portion of corporations passive investments into a life insurance policy and reduce passive investment income and limit the erosion of the small business limit. Concepts such as Corporate Estate bond, Corporate Insured Retirement Program, Corporate held Critical Illness with Return of Premium

 

Tax on Split Income

●     Key Change: Tax on split income (TOSI) rules extended to cover adult children in certain cases. Different rules depending on age of adult children

●     Problem: For adult children receiving income and don’t pass the TOSI rules, income is taxed at the highest personal marginal tax rate on the first dollar. More trapped funds inside the corporation due to fewer tax-effective strategies.

●     Possible Solution: Put a portion of corporation’s trapped surplus into a corporate owned life insurance policy which results in tax-efficient distribution of funds from the corporation to the estate. 

Nova Scotia Budget 2018

The 2018 budget for Nova Scotia was announced on March 20, 2018 and has a particular focus on the province’s continuing investment in healthcare and education. The budget covers the following key areas:

Innovation Equity Tax Credit

The budget introduces a new Innovation Equity Tax Credit which will take effect from January 1, 2019. The specific details are not yet set out but the budget states that the existing Equity Tax Credit will be phased out and the new program will have a less broad focus and the threshold will be more in line with comparable programs across Canada.

Cannabis Tax

The budget covers the agreement made by Nova Scotia to adhere to a structured tax framework with the Canadian government for a period of two years after the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes. Specifically, excise duties will be imposed on the flowering material that is used to create cannabis at $0.25 per gram federal excise duty and $0.75 per gram provincial excise duty, both to be collected by the federal government.

Medical Expenses Tax Credit

In relation to the Medical Expenses Tax Credit, the $10,000 cap on eligible medical expenses that an individual can claim on behalf of a dependent relative has been eliminated in this year’s budget.

Basic Personal Amount

The budget confirms that, effective January 1, 2018, the basic personal amount, as well as the spousal amount and that for an eligible dependent, will rise from $8,481 to $11,481, with those earning a taxable income of under $25,000 receiving the maximum benefit.

Age Amount

Also effective January 1, 2018, the age amount credit for seniors with a low income will increase from $4,141 to $5,606 and the maximum benefit will apply to those with a taxable income of less than $25,000.

Alberta Budget 2018

The 2018 budget for Alberta focuses on the diversification of its post-recession economy, with the aim of creating more stability and less vulnerability to future fluctuations in oil prices. Here are some of the highlights:

Corporate

Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit

Alberta intends to bring in a new Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit with a maximum funding of $20 million per year, which aims to offer eligible companies with a benefit of 25% of eligible labour costs. This benefit relates to costs incurred after April 1, 2018 and is aiming to better support the interactive digital media sector in the province.

Alberta Investor Tax Credit

The 2018 budget extends the existing Alberta Investor Tax Credit until 2012-22. The existing program offers a 30% tax credit to both individuals and corporations who commit to making equity investments in eligible Alberta businesses, such as those involved in research, development, digital animation and various others.

Diversity & Inclusion Credit

Relating to the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and Alberta Investor Tax Credit, the budget notes a 5% diversity and inclusion credit enhancement which could be claimed if the company offers employment to an individual from an under-represented group.

Capital Investment Tax Credit

The budget announces that the Capital Investment Tax Credit, a 10% non-refundable tax credit of up to $5 million for a corporation’s eligible capital expenditures on manufacturing, processing and tourism infrastructure, will also be extended until 2021-22.

Personal

Alberta Child Benefit

The 2018 budget details increases to these benefits for families with 1, 2, 3 and 4 plus children, as well as increasing the phase-out threshold for family net income from $41,786 to $42,287.

Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit

Increases have also been announced in the budget to offer more benefits for working families who have income from employment of more than $2,760 per year. The phase-out threshold has been extended from a family net income of $41,786 to $42,287, as well as increases to the benefit amounts for each family size.

Cannabis Tax

The budget covers the agreement made by Alberta to adhere to a structured tax framework with the Canadian government for a period of two years after the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes. Specifically, either $1 per gram or 10% of the producer price (whichever is greater) will be collected and the province will receive 75% of this tax room, both to be collected by the federal government. In addition, an additional tax of a maximum of 10% of the retail price may also be collected by the province.

Education Property Tax

A freeze has been set on education property tax collection, but the current rates have increased as follows:

·      From $2.48 to $2.56 per $1,000 or equalized assessment for residential/farmland property.

From $3.64 to £3.76 for non-residential property

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. 

Tax Lines to look out for

It’s that time of year again, when many of us sit down to complete our income tax return and hope that we have done enough preparation to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Unfortunately, there are a number of complexities that can cause us problems – here are a few of the most common issues experienced by individuals when submitting their tax returns:

Medical Expenses

Expenses relating to medical expenses such as prescriptions, dentures and many more can be claimed for a non-refundable tax credit. You should also be aware that you can claim for yourself, your spouse or common law partner and any dependent children under the age of 18. You can also claim for certain other individuals whom you can clearly evidence are dependent on you (and the list of such individuals has recently been widened and can include grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews).

Charitable Donations

You can claim tax credits for qualifying charitable donations that you made in 2017, though they are subject to an annual limit at 75% of your net income. You may also be eligible for a provisional donation tax credit. To receive such credits, you must supply a charitable donation receipt as evidence of your donation.

What’s more, there is a new formula for calculating the federal tax credit, depending on the value of donations. This is as follows:

1.    15% of the first $200 of donations

2.    33% of donations equal to the lesser of the amount of taxable income over $202,800 or the amount of donations over $200

3.    29% of total donations not included in the two stages above.

Public Transit Pass

Although this credit ended in the 2017 federal budget, it can still be claimed for the time period of January 1 – June 30, 2017. There are a range of eligible passes, including passes allowing unlimited travel within Canada, short term passes allowing unlimited travel for five days of which at least 20 days’ worth are purchased during a 28 day period and electronic payment cards.

Interest Expense and carrying charges

Interest on money borrowed to earn business or investment income is generally deductible, however interest expenses incurred on money borrowed to generate a capital gain is not tax deductible.

Carry forward information

Take note of the notice of assessment from your previous year’s tax return as it will contain important information that will apply to the submission of your current year’s return, such as your RRSP contribution limit and any carry-forward amounts.

Remember that you may be required to submit receipts alongside your electronic return at a later date, as requested by the CRA.

Child care expenses

Child care expenses include payments made to caregivers, nursery schools, day care centres and camps and other similar institutions. The deduction is usually best claimed by the lower earning spouse.

The deduction is the lesser of the following three:

·      the total qualifying child care expenses which have been incurred

·      $8,000 for each child under the age of 7, as well as $5,000 for each child between 6 and 16 and $11,000 for each child for whom the taxpayer has claimed the disability tax credit.

·      two thirds of the income earned by the individual making the claim.

If you owe money when your income tax return is complete, the only way to delay payment is to delay the filing until the April 30th deadline. Alternatively, if CRA owes you money, then file as early as possible. 

2018 Federal Budget Highlights for Families

Several key changes relating to personal financial arrangements are covered in the Canadian government’s 2018 federal budget, which could affect the finances of you and your family. Below are some of the most significant changes to be aware of:

Parental Leave

The government is creating a new five-week “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for new fathers to take parental leave. This would increase the EI parental leave to 40 weeks (maximum) when the second parent agrees to take at least 5 weeks off. Effective June 2019, couples who opt for extended parental leave of 18 months, the second parent can take up to 8 additional weeks, at 33% of their income.

Gender Equality

The government aims to reduce the gender wage gap by 2.7% for public servants and 2.6% in the federal private sector. The aim is to ensure that men and women receive the same pay for equal work. They have also announced increased funding for female entrepreneurs.

Trusts

Effective for 2021 tax filings, the government will require reporting for certain trusts to provide information to provide information on identities of all trustees, beneficiaries, settlors of the trust and each person that has the ability to exert control over the trust.

Registered Disability Savings Plan holders

The budget proposes to extend to 2023 the current temporary measure whereby a family member such as a spouse or parent can hold an RDSP plan on behalf of an adult with reduced capacity.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

2018 Federal Budget Highlights for Business

The government’s 2018 federal budget focuses on a number of tax tightening measures for business owners. It introduces a new regime for holding passive investments inside a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC). (Previously proposed in July 2017.)

 Here are the highlights:

Small Business Tax Rate Reduction Confirmed

Lower small business tax rate from 10% (from 10.5%), effective January 1, 2018 and to 9% effective January 1, 2019.

Limiting Access to the Small Business Tax Rate

A key objective of the budget is to decrease the small business limit for CCPCs with a set threshold of income generated from passive investments. This will apply to CCPCs with between $50,000 and $150,000 of investment income. It reduces the small business deduction by $5 for each $1 of investment income which falls over the threshold of $50,000. This new ­regulation will go hand in hand with the current business limit reduction for taxable capital.

Limiting access to refundable taxes

 Another important feature of the budget is to reduce the tax advantages that CCPCs can gain to access refundable taxes on the distribution of dividends. Currently, a corporation can receive a refundable dividend tax on hand (known as a RDTOH) when they pay a particular dividend, whereas the new proposals aim to permit such a refund only where a private corporation pays non-eligible dividends, though exceptions apply regarding RDTOH deriving from eligible portfolio dividends.

The new RDTOH account referred to “eligible RDTOH” will be tracked under Part IV of the Income Tax Act while the current RDTOH account will be redefined as “non-eligible RDTOH” and will be tracked under Part I of the Income Tax Act. This means when a corporation pays non-eligible dividends, it’s required to obtain a refund from its non-eligible RDTOH account before it obtains a refund from its eligible RDTOH account.

Health and welfare trusts

The budget states that it will end the Health and Welfare Trust tax regime and transition it to Employee Life and Health Trusts. The current tax position of Health and Welfare Trusts are linked to the administrative rules as stated by the CRA, but the income Tax Act includes specific rules relating to the Employee Life and Heath Trusts which are similar. The budget will simplify this arrangement to have one set of rules across both arrangements.

BC Budget Highlights 2018

BC Finance Minister Carole James delivered the province’s 2018 budget update on February 20, 2018. The budget anticipates a surplus of $219 million for the current year, $281 million for 2019 and $284 million in 2020.

Corporate and personal tax rates remain unchanged.

The biggest changes are:

  • Elimination of Medical Services Plan (MSP Premiums) effective January 1, 2020
  • Addition of the Employer Health Tax (EHT)
  • Provincial Property Taxes
  • Childcare

The Employer Health Tax and Medical Services Plan premiums:

Effective January 1, 2020, the Medical Services Premium (MSP) will be eliminated. In last year’s budget update, MSP was reduced by 50% effective January 1, 2018. Starting in 2019, the budget introduces the Employer Health Tax (EHT). The EHT is to help fund the elimination of the MSP premiums.

The Employer Health Tax will be calculated as a percentage of payroll:

Provincial Property Transfer Taxes

Effective February 21, 2018, the following will occur:

  • The provincial property transfer taxes (PTT) will increase to 5% (from 3%) on residential property values above $3 million.
  • The PPT applies to foreign purchasers of residential properties in BC will increase to 20% (from 15%) and the tax will extend to include the Fraser Valley, Capital, Nanaimo and Central Okanagan Regional Districts.
  • There is a new speculation tax on residential property in BC. This tax is targeted at foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay income tax in BC. Starting in 2018, it’s a rate of $5/$1,000 of assessed value, in 2019, this will increase to $20/$1,000.

Childcare

There will be a new affordable child care benefit that will reduce child care costs by up to $1,250 per month per child by 2020. The new benefit will apply in September 2018. Families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 or less will receive the full benefit, (up to the cost of care) while those who make up to $111,000 will receive a reduced amount, scaling based on income. The government will be releasing an online benefit calculator to help parents budget.

The budget will provide up to $350/month directly to licensed child care providers to reduce fees. They will be the following:

  • Up to $350/month for group infant/toddler care
  • Up to $200/month for family infant/toddler care
  • Up to $100/month for group care for children aged 3-5
  • Up to $60/month for family care for children aged 3-5

To learn how these changes will affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.