Tax Free Banking Account ?

The Tax Free Banking Account I am alluding to is, of course, the Tax Free Savings Account .  In my discussions with friends, I keep hearing folks simply assume the TFSA  is just like a bank account. You deposit money and it grows tax free. The confusions starts with so many banks offering HISA (High Interest Savings Account) or GIC  solutions for their TFSA customers, without pointing out that this is only one version of the TFSA.

I have had many discussions with other bloggers about why  folks assume that the word Account (in the TFSA) implies Bank Account.  I have had many disagree with this  assertion, however, I continue to hear folks look confused when I discuss the TFSA like it is an investment account.

Tax Free Banking Account

Tax Free Banking Account ?

The conversations usually start with a friend mentioning they have put money in their TFSA. Usually I will ask, how are they investing these funds? A blank stare sometimes is the response, which is a cue for me to go into explanation mode. My standard patter is to try to get folks to understand that the TFSA is not just a bank account, in that you can use it as an investment vehicle as well. Sometimes I hear crickets chirping after I explain that part, so I usually change the subject to Religion or Politics (safer subjects).

Is a Tax Free Banking Account A Bad Thing ?

If all you wish to do with your Tax Free Banking Account (sorry TFSA) is put money in it and have it grow at 1.5%, good on you. I am happy to hear folks are using the program, however, there are many other ways to use this savings vehicle.  I did have one friend say, they used it as a savings account, because they didn’t want to pay the fees the investing firms and banks charged, which is an interesting argument.

  • TD Direct Investing will typically charge a yearly fee, if you don’t have a large enough investment block with them (for all accounts). I haven’t paid for my TFSAs, but I also have a large RRSP with Investorline.
  • Other banks typically have a “minimum balance” fee, which motivates you to have more money in your TFSA.
  • There are typically fees to transfer your TFSA to another bank
  • Some banks even charge to withdraw from your TFSA (above and beyond brokerage fees)?

The answer, yes, you can pay fees is truthful, but if you do your research, you should be able to get around them. Doing your research would include, choosing the right bank to have your TFSA with.

The easy statement is:

The Tax Free Savings Account can be a Tax Free Banking Account, but it doesn’t have to be!

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Tax Tips to Remember 2017

Now that RRSP Season is over (for fiscal year 2016), here are some Tax Tips to help you get your returns completed, and in to the CRA.

Some Simple Tax Tips

Tax Tips

Income Tax Time 2017

Every year there are nuances and changes to the tax world. However, there are also tried and true tax tips that you need to remember most every year.

  1. Do you have every single form that you need? Most of us need a T4, but what about other forms?
    • T5 for investment income
    • T2201 if you have tuition and post-secondary costs
    • Charitable Donations? Especially this year with new rules for first time contributors
    • Medical Expense can be important if you have enough expenses
    • RRSP receipts are very important, especially if you just made a large deposit.
    • Daycare receipts are important for dual income families
    • Rental costs if you are lower income
    • Disability Tax Credit claims
  2. If you got married in 2016, don’t forget to tell the CRA about this. This might help your taxes, but the CRA needs to know. I tweet’ed about this, and surprisingly, a fellow financial blogger admitted to forgetting to do this.
  3. You can auto-fill your return this year, just buy Tax Software, go to the CRA Auto-Fill web page, and follow the instructions. This means no one has an excuse to not file their taxes this year.
  4. Go over your 2015 (or previous year) tax return. I do this every year, because I always forget to claim things, and the previous year return reminds me. The statement of assessment is important to see whether your claim was correct.

These are only a few simple tips, but it is time to start thinking about your taxes.

Tax season

T4 From the CRA Web Site

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Lent Begins, Loose Money and #MoneyTalk

Lent for 2017 has begun, and as usual I am hoping folks use this period to enrich and change their lives (spiritually and financially). This is an excellent time to try out new lifestyle and financial ideas and concepts. The period is only 40 days, which allows for a short-term experiment.

Loose Money

Not just loose money policies set in Ottawa

The Bank of Canada has decided the Inflation scare from Stats Canada is to be ignored for now. The happy world of loose money continues on, but for how much longer? The Bank did comment on the current economic state:

“In Canada, recent consumption and housing indicators suggest growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 may have been slightly stronger than expected. However, exports continue to face the ongoing competitiveness challenges described in the January MPR…. In this context, Governing Council judges that the current stance of monetary policy is still appropriate and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent.”

The days of incredibly loose money policies may be numbered, but I have been saying that for about 10 years now.

Ontarians will be paying less for electricity soon (17% less?), but will be paying for it later. What will lower hydro bills in Ontario do to the Inflation numbers? Will this somehow salvage the Liberals chances in the next provincial election?

RRSP season is over, but it has also begun again for 2018. What if you put a little away every pay cheque, and adjusted your tax at source to reflect that? That way you are not loaning the government money this year.

It is Crashed Ice weekend here in Ottawa. Crazed skaters go up and down a roller coaster of an ice track racing each other? Luckily it has cooled off. What better way to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday?

RESP Questrade Banner

My Writings for Week Ending March 3rd

It was a busy week for me, with plenty to write about. I started off with Gasoline Pushed Inflation to 2.1 %, which of course is from our friends at Stats Canada. The good news is that fresh fruit and veggies are cheaper. With RRSP season coming to a close on March 1st, I felt it important to remind folks about 5 Things to Remember about RRSPs. Finally with Lent starting on March 1, I gave a few good ideas of things to try out during Lent with, Money and Lent : Clutter too ?

A Money Thought

I sometimes like making flow charts, and this is one of my favorites. Yes the box shapes really mean something.

[click to continue…]

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Money and Lent : Clutter too ?

Today starts the Christian season of Lent, and most folks would say, “Big Deal”. I view Lent as a time for growth both spiritually but also in day to day life. I have written many articles about Lent over the years, I even had a Lenten Money challenge. While Money and Lent can go hand in hand, there are other areas you can work on.

In my life, I am a bit of a pack rat, and I don’t throw out a lot of things, which creates clutter. Clutter can lead to hoarding, so this Lent season we will be attempting something new.

The 40 Bag Challenge

Money and Lent

A worthwhile Lenten Endeavor 40 Bags Donated

This is a great idea, and if this seems daunting, the Salvation Army has a derivation. The Salvation Army suggests fill a bag and donate it to them, as part of Lent (just 1 bag). Start there, see if you can do that.

Note also the challenge says a bag of any size. You can start with a grocery bag, you don’t need a garbage bag.

Money and Lent Ideas

Organize your money for Lent, remember it is only for 40 days. Some more ideas for Lent:

  • Pay with cash for all 40 days. This might slow your spending habits.
  • Organize and automate your bill paying, it may not be that hard to do.
  • Pay off debt, cut down on entertainment expenses and use that money to start paying down debt.
  • Eat a healthy diet for 40 days, cook your meals, after all fresh fruit and veggies are cheaper now. Exercise, just go for a 1 mile walk for 40 days, see how you feel?

Lent is not just a time to “give something up”, it is also a time to reflect and to grow.

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5 Things to Remember about RRSPs

Almost time to have your RRSP story closed off (although, you should be doing this all year around). You know my love for top 10 lists, but, here are 5 things to remember about RRSPs.
things to remember about rrsps

Things to Remember about RRSPs

  1. Your RRSP balance is not how much money you have to withdraw. The RRSP program is a tax deferral savings system, you will have to pay taxes on your balance.
    • If you take it all out at once, you will end up paying the highest tax rate on the withdrawal.
  2. Are you sure your tax rate when you withdraw the money is going to be lower than your current rate? You may not withdraw at retirement, what if you get laid-off? If you are not sure about the tax rate, is the RRSP is the right place to put your money?
  3. When you take money out of your RRSP, that RRSP “room” is lost (except for a few specific programs (e.g. 1st home purchases). Every year you are allocated RRSP room, but if you cash out before retirement, that room is lost.
  4. The Spousal RRSP is one of the few ways to income share. I have written countless posts about this, but if your spouse will have less retirement income, this is an important tax evasion tactic for Canadians.
  5. Always name a beneficiary for your RRSP (or any registered savings plan), to ensure a smooth and easy transferral should you die before you can spend it.

There are really not only 5 things to remember for RRSPs, there are many more, but here are five to start with.

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