How do You do your Taxes?

Gone are the days where I did my taxes with pen and paper. Happily those days are over.

I use TurboTax to do my tax returns and for those of my direct family. Other software solutions work just as well, but I am comfortable with this tool, so I keep using it.

Typically I do my taxes over about a 1.5 month period. I must wait while the various tax receipts and such arrive at my house.

Typically the methodology followed would be something like:

  • Purchase TurboTax, at Costco. This is usually the cheapest place to get it.
  • Update TurboTax. The software does this automatically, but needs to be done. The updates are important.
  • Create this year’s tax returns for my family, based on last year’s TurboTax files. The software manages to bring forward a lot of useful info like personal info.
  • TurboTax allows you to import data from the CRA site. This year, it is more exciting, as I am locked out.
  • Use my last pay stub for most data needed, until my T-4 arrives.
  • Go into Quicken and glean out whatever information I think I can get, and do a rough estimate of what my taxes might be. Inevitably I overestimate how much tax I have paid and I start getting delusions of large tax refunds, but that is soon remedied.
    • TurboTax does have an import from Quicken tool. Every time I use it, it has not gone well, so I eschew this tool.
  • With this estimate I will see if there is a need to buy RRSP’s to lower tax owed, which usually is not the case
  • As each receipt and/or T-4 or such arrives I then type it into TurboTax and watch my estimate become a closer to reality number
  • Over this time I will remember things I have forgotten to input. I will add them with glee seeing my refund number inflate.
  • By the time the first week of March rolls around my return is 95% complete and factual (i.e. not based on estimates). I can then start thinking about E-Filing my return.
  • Finally the decision whether to submit my returns via E-File. This usually happens on a Sunday morning.
    • Sometimes, there are issues E-filing, so keep all receipts and take screen shots.

And Then?

With that, I await to see whether I forgot something (inevitably a receipt will appear near the end of March, which I have forgotten about), or whether I made an incorrect assumption, when the CRA sends me their response to my submission.

Addendum

This is a rewrite of an article from 2010.

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COVID-19 Are we F*cked ?

This is being written during March 2020 the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the time of publishing things were quite confused and unsure, but this is my simple opinion of where we in Canada may stand financially.

We are f*cked.

Is this me being overly alarmist? I hope so, but there are countless areas that are not likely to ever recover from the Pandemic.

As an addendum, this is added in September, and we are talking about having another lockdown. In Ottawa if you don’t follow the COVID protocols you will be fined $5000.

Travel and Vacation Industry

Dead.

  • The Air BnB industry and that side dodge is done. People will not be travelling much, for the next year or two. What happens to all those condos in Toronto that were bought with that in mind?
  • Cruises and Cruiselines? Good night, they are now synonymous with the Pandemic, if they recover it will be not in the near future.
  • Travel bloggers? Freebies are not going to be given out much, I think this gig is going to curtail or die off too. At this moment, Las Vegas is closed. This is not the W.C. Fields joke about visiting Philadelphia, this is Vegas, which never closes.
  • Airlines? These may recover if business travel returns, but they are going to take a beating, and will ask for a bail out.

Real Estate

F*cked

  • Construction sites are shutting down, thus screwing up the whole system.
    • People who are buying the new properties need to sell, but will have nowhere to go.
    • No one is buying a house right now, and when will they start?
  • Mortgages are being called and payments are being missed, renters are not being given reprieves either. What happens next? People being kicked out on the street? I doubt it, but you really don’t know right now.
    • Big wave of homelessness? I hope not, but the economic models aren’t there for this.
  • Over priced real estate may soon be worth less than their financing (i.e. mortgage), will we seeing folks walking away from their expensive high-rise downtown condo?

The Stock Market

F*cked currently having daily circuit-breaker calls.

  • Advisors are telling their customers to sell now, thus locking in their losses. They are following the buy high, sell low credo, that is not synonymous with getting rich.
  • FIRE and the entire early retirement craze should be forgotten for now. The markets have eviscerated those lofty goals for now.
  • The markets may rebound completely as it did in 2008, but surprisingly not as many folks got rich on that rebound as you might think.

Employment

F*cked, we had a weird job dynamic already, (the side gig world) but now it is F*cked.

  • My kids’ generation has had to have 3 part-time jobs to add up to a full time job, but none of those jobs exist right now. Restaurant jobs, are gone mostly due to the restaurants being closed. Retail jobs are gone, stores are closed.
  • The growth industries are:
    • Delivery, that is about it. Everything is being delivered now, but does anyone make any money doing this?
    • Government, because there is going to need to be a big government to deal with a broken country. Is this a good thing? I don’t think so, but I am a small L libertarian.
    • Debt, the world of debt is going to explode in terms of big money. Payday Loans, alternate loans and Bankruptcy Trustees are going to make big money in the short and mid term.
  • Will industries other than Travel go in the crapper? Lots of potential there
    • Retail, when folks don’t have a job, they aren’t going to be buying a lot of stuff.
    • Cars? If interest rates stay low, they may be OK, but if interest rates go up, this could make folks keep their old cars.
    • Oil and Gas already is in the crapper, with gas at 70 cents a litre, which makes it not worth working on the Oil Sands in Alberta.

Inflation

Coming, much like the four horsemen.

  • Governments are injecting Infinite money into the economy to try to prop it back up. I am not an economist, but even I know this is the recipe for Inflation (ever hyper-inflation). If money loses value, prices go up. Most folks don’t remember the 1970’s but this could be where we are heading (if not worse).
  • If we end up in an Inflationary spiral Interest Rates will have to be used to control things, and that is a world many folks have not lived in. I have seen 19% CSB’s in my lifetime, will I see them again?
  • Predatory loan companies making money on this? Absolutely.
  • Bankruptcy trustees may not be able to keep up with the tsunami coming at them.

Alarmist Clap Trap?

I really hope so. I hate to think we are financially f*cked as badly as I am guessing we are, but these are uncharted financial waters. I am not an economist, but I have lived for 60 years, and seen a lot of financial changes, and this one has me scared.

I hope we all come out of this with our health, and if we have that, all this other stuff can be dealt with, in some fashion or another.

Remember when we said, Get Out of Debt, it gives you options? This is what we meant.

What to Do?

First thing, take this article as simply a warning of what could happen. Next, make a plan for your financial world for:

  • The next week, what are you going to spend on? Why? Can you afford it?
  • The next month, assuming this stays the way it will.
  • Six Months, where hopefully around Autumn things start to turn around in terms of normalcy.
  • An overall recovery plan.
    • How are you going to recover your savings?
    • What is your retirement plan, given what has happened?
    • How do you plan around something like this happening again?
      • Hint: GET OUT OF DEBT !

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Inflation at 2011 Levels ?

We found out that Inflation is now at 2011 Levels, at 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. So what? Remember the Bank of Canada’s ideal rate is 2.0%, so this will most likely reinforce another Bank of Canada rate increase (in October). Now the B of C’s calculated Inflation is only 2.0% , but I don’t think they can ignore this kind of jump.

I haven’t commented on inflation for a while, but this report is important, for a lot of reasons. With the tariff wars that are going on, inflation is going to continue to rise (IMHO), and that will mean higher interest rates. Maybe someone will find sense and stop this Testosterone Laced bullsh*t trade war, but I doubt it.

Note also that Interest rates going up, contribute to Inflation (see the table below). Interesting spiralling effect. Stats Canada used to put out a more detailed report, but they have discontinued that report.

Biggest Inflation Contributors Over Past Year

July 2017 to July 2018
% change
Main contributors to the 12-month change
Main upward contributors
Gasoline25.4
Air transportation28.2
Food purchased from restaurants4.4
Mortgage interest cost5.2
Purchase of passenger vehicles2.0
Main downward contributors
Telephone services-5.1
Traveller accommodation-4.1
Natural gas-5.7
Digital computing equipment and devices-3.5
Prescribed medicines-2.8

Consumer Price Index Increases by Category

CPI by Category

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The Bank of Canada yesterday announced that it is keeping its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent, as well, which should mean that the Big Banks should not be changing their rates (but then again, they are free to do as they please).

$50 notes/Coupures de 50 $

Big Pile of Loose Canadian Money

This means that loose money rates at the Banks should continue on for a while. The Bank’s commentaries were telling as usual:

Inflation has evolved broadly in line with the outlook in the October MPR. Both total and core inflation are expected to increase and return to 2 per cent over the course of the next 12 months as the economy gradually absorbs the current small degree of slack, the growth of labour compensation remains moderate and inflation expectations stay well-anchored.

That is a sensible opinion, from my point of view. They do go on to say however:

Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. Over time, some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target. The timing and degree of any such withdrawal will be weighed carefully against global and domestic developments, including the evolution of imbalances in the household sector.

In other words, we will be raising rates, some time, but we are not really sure when, but we will be watching closely to see if any kind of economic recovery heats the economy up.

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Rates Still at 1% Overnight Rate for Bank of Canada, September 2012

The Bank of Canada decided to keep their key overnight rate 1%, blah, blah, blah… you know the drill.

Things really don’t seem to be changing much this past little while do they?

Why are the rates staying the same? Here are some very good quotes from yesterday’s publication from the Bank of Canada:

“… The economic expansion in the United States continues at a gradual pace. Europe is in recession and its crisis, while contained, remains acute. In China and other major emerging economies, growth is decelerating somewhat more quickly than expected…”

OK, so the major markets of the world are not in very good shape, thus the danger of a massive spending spree (other than in China, where spending is slowing down), is not high.


“…In Canada, while global headwinds continue to restrain economic activity, underlying momentum remains at a pace roughly in line with the economy‚Äôs production potential. Economic growth is expected to pick up through 2013, with consumption and business investment continuing to be its principal drivers, reflecting very stimulative financial conditions. Business investment remains solid. There are tentative signs of slowing in household spending, although the household debt burden continues to rise….”

Global headwinds? I really love that turn of phrase, but more interestingly is the increase in household debt burden is now being spoken about by the central bank? Must be pretty bad, I guess?

Does this mean rates are going to stay down for now? I think so, but if there is an actual economic up turn in North America, all bets may be off.

Bank Rate (overnight) Since 2002, Pretty Low eh? And the Beat Goes On….

The graph stops at May, however, it is still the same as it was then, so you get the gist of things.

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