Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tax Time 2020 - What's New?

It's almost that time of year again and I have the inside scoop updates for the 2019 tax year, including information on small business taxes, retirement contributions and other hot topics. In this blog post, I will also help you avoid scammers pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency with some safety tips. So, let's get started.

Check out some significant changes that may affect your tax returns for 2019 and 2020.

1. Planning to Retire? 
  • Maximum pensionable earnings increased for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in 2020: $58,700 up from $57,400 in 2019
2. New CPP Contribution Rates
  • Employer and Employee: 5.25%          Self-Employed: 10.5%
3. Maximum Yearly CPP Contributions in 2020 (NOTE: This money is still taxed as income!)
  • Employer and Employee: $2,898          Self-Employed $5,796 
4. Retirement Account Contributions Can Roll Over
  • If you didn't max out your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contributions in 2019, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) lets you add the difference onto next years contribution.
5. Do You Own a Small Business?
  • The tax rate dropped to 9% on the first $500K of income compared to 10% in 2018.
6. Does Your Business Generate Passive Income?
  • If you make more than $50K, the 9% tax rate may not apply.
7. Common Small Business Deductions:
  • Home Office Expenses (can include interest on your mortgage)
  • Vehicle Expenses
  • Accounting and Legal Fees
  • Reserves or "Sinking Fund" (for reasonable amounts)
  • Office Rent
If you need a professional to help you get started on your taxes, call me for a great referral!

Now that we covered the tax time information, let's move on to the CRA scams and how to identify them.
In 2018, more than 4,000 victims lost out on over $15.2 million as a result of tax scammers pretending to be with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

  • Phone Call
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Door-to-Door
  • Mail
  • Demanding personal information - social insurance, credit card or bank account numbers.
  • Referencing don't have
  • Threatening or coercive language
  • Demanding immediate payment, especially in the form of bitcoin or gift cards
  • You are prompted to visit a website outside of the official domain
  • Saying they're sending the police
  • Is this link legit? Hover over it to see where it leads before you click.
  • Am I sure this caller or sender is a CRA employee? The CRA will never pressure or threaten you to take immediate action.
  • Do I owe money to the CRA? If you know you don't, it's probably a scam.
  • Have I received an official statement of account recently? Government programs like Canada student loans or employment insurance will send you official statements - not a threatening phone call out of the blue.
There you have it. I hope this information is helpful to you and for anyone with older family members and friends, take the time to educate those about these scams. Those are the ones being taken advantage of. 

Until next time - Keep It "REAL"

SOURCES: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Buffini & Company

Friday, January 17, 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my clients, friends and family! I hope you had a wonderful and memorable holiday season. It's a new year and a new decade! Now that it's begun and we've been having some wintry weather, there is no better time to give you some real estate tips for those winter showings.

  • It's a good idea to keep your entrance way, walkways, and driveway clear during the winter months. Be sure to shovel and/or plow the driveway and add some salt or sand. We do want people to fall in love with your home, but not literally.
  • While it is known to leave all lights on in the house for a showing, it is also a good idea to add a motion sensor to the doors where potential buyers may enter the home. A little extra lighting walking up the walkway on an icy path is great for those night time showings.
  • It is winter, however, you still need to keep the windows clean, baseboards fresh, furniture dusted and the garbage emptied. Also don't forget to re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks and make those faucets sparkle. With winter comes wet entrance ways with some added salt and sand so be sure to vacuum and wash the floors more often.
  • During the winter months, the natural daylight is limited. Be sure to open drapes and blinds during the day and turn on all lamps and lights in the evening. Also have the lights on in the closets, under the cabinets and on your appliances. This will make the home feel welcoming and cozy.
  • One of the worse things you can do when having your home on the market is to have your house too cold. Entering a freezing cold home may deter potential buyers so it is a good idea to set the temperature a little warmer than you would normally have it. If you have an HVAC system, be sure it is cleaned and up to date on the service calls.
  • While it is a good idea to have a clean home for potential buyers, it is also a good idea not to use overpowering smells that will linger. Some people have allergies and may also be sensitive to perfume, candles, febreeze (or other air deoderizers) and plug-ins. It is also probably a good idea to do your baking after the potential buyers have gone through as well so avoid all those overpowering scents and smells.
There you have it. Helpful wintry home tips. Thanks for taking the time to read and until next time - Keep it "REAL".

Take some time to read my past blog posts and if there is anything you'd like to know, let me know and I will do a blog post for it.