Financial Security, What is it?

Financial Security, What is it?

Financial security refers to the peace of mind you feel when you aren’t worried about your income being enough to cover your expenses. It also means that you have enough money saved to cover emergencies and your future financial goals. When you are financially secure, your stress levels goes down, leaving you free to focus on other issues.

Budgeting for Success

Feeling financially secure requires knowing what your assets and liabilities are, as well as how your income compares to your expenses. If you aren’t tracking these, you might not know you’re struggling, but that’s like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand and hoping for the best. For true financial security, create a budget that addresses both your current needs, like food, clothing and shelter, and your long-term goals, like paying down debt and saving. You should also include insurance to cover the what-ifs in life.

Prioritizing Long-Term Goals

Pay yourself first, when it comes to making your budget. No, that doesn’t mean take the first fruits of your paycheck and go out to eat. Instead, it means make sure you’re setting aside money for long-range goals, like an education fund for your kids, a down payment for a future home or a retirement account for your golden years. If you’re struggling to find enough remaining money to pay down debt, look for discretionary expenses that you can cut.

Building an Emergency Fund

Whether you call it an emergency account, your safe money or a rainy day fund, setting aside several months worth of living expenses is critical for your financial security. That way, when something unexpected like a job loss, refrigerator breaking down, or a child having to go to the hospital pops up, you have the funds to deal with it rather than having to go into debt, especially high interest debt like a payday loan or a balance on your credit card.

Tracking Long-Term Goals

You can’t just set it and forget it when it comes to your budget. Instead, your budget requires maintenance and fine tuning over time to make sure you’re adhering to your goals. For example, if you haven’t been tracking your spending in the past, you might think you’re only spending $100 a month eating out, but could be spending two or three times that amount if you’re not tracking it. If you need help staying on top of your money, contact us at info@henleyfinancial.ca for your free budgeting template. Let us help you achieve your financial goals.

Get started on your Estate Planning

Get started on your Estate Planning

 

By Henley Financial and Wealth Management

As we journey through the various stages of life, we spend considerable time building relationships and accumulating assets. Passing on a legacy to family and friends and avoiding unnecessary taxes and administrative delays takes good planning. Your estate plan is as individual as you are, and taking the time to complete your arrangements now will give you control over how you provide for those closest to you.

We would like to send you a free booklet on Estate Planning including a step by step checklist.  Please contact us at info@henleyfinancial.ca for your copy.

Estate planning

Estate planning is about life – in the present and in the future. Most importantly, estate planning is about the life of your family and loved ones – and the peace of mind you get from helping to preserve their financial security. By its very nature, estate planning is a difficult subject to discuss – even more so to plan for because it forces us to come to terms with our own mortality. Yet it’s something you need to talk about openly with your loved ones today because you can’t do so after you’re gone – or after they’re gone.

Each person will approach estate planning differently, with personal motivations and expectations. No estate plan will be exactly like another. Estate planning should be reflection of your personal priorities and choices.

Estate planning is generally guided by three rational motivations

  1. Provide adequately for family members and/or other loved ones
  2. Ensure that your estate is distributed in the timeliest manner possible after your death
  3. Minimize taxes – during your lifetime and, equally important, for the beneficiaries of your estate

…and three emotional motivations

  1. Gain comfort from knowing your loved ones are well looked after
  2. Feel secure knowing that settling your affairs will not add more stress to those grieving for you
  3. Rest assured that your estate will be distributed the way you wish

Why you need an estate plan and the Benefits of estate planning

  • Distributes your assets as you intended; provides funds to cover funeral expenses, as well as immediate and/or long-term family living costs
  • Keeps more of your money in the hands of your heirs
  • Minimizes income tax and probate fees (no probate fees in Quebec); designates charitable gifts; declares your personal care preferences, including terminal medical treatment and organ donation intentions
  • Provides for the tax advantages of income splitting
  • Ensures business continuity for business owners
  • Identifies the people chosen to carry out your last wishes and care for your children

Taking action now 

Too often, advisors and estate planning professionals hear, “I wish I’d known about this sooner” from distressed family members. Whatever your status – male, female, married, widowed, divorced, single, young, old, middle class or wealthy – everyone can benefit from estate planning. Unfortunately, too few people follow this advice. Planning your estate and communicating your wishes as appropriate can protect your estate and, as importantly, allow your heirs the opportunity to prepare themselves for their changed circumstances. The “do nothing” option is not in the best interests of your family, your business or other relationships. As the world we live in becomes increasingly characterized by legal action and government intervention, estate planning is something everyone should do.

Creating your estate plan – step by step 

Step 1: Consult and retain appropriate professionals. The complexity of your situation will determine the assistance you will require from professionals to create your estate plan. Your team should include an advisor, lawyer and tax planner

Step 2: Draw up a household balance sheet. A household balance sheet is a summary of your financial situation that ultimately determines your overall net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets (what you own) minus your liabilities (what you owe). If you don’t already have one, work with your advisor to develop your household balance sheet.

Step 3: Understand your life insurance needs. It’s important to work with your advisor or insurance expert to match your long-term financial objectives with your insurance needs.

Step 4: Draw up your Will.

Contact us at Henley Financial and Wealth Management  if you would like us to provide you with a Will Kit.

Step 5: Establish power of attorney for property. At some point in the future you may be unable to make your own financial or personal care decisions. But you can prearrange for someone to make these decisions according to your wishes by having a lawyer draft a separate power of attorney for property and personal care.

Step 6: Establish power of personal care. Medical and lifestyle decisions must often be made quickly when someone is seriously ill; hence, one or more family members are often granted this power of attorney to make decisions for you.

Step 7: Minimize taxes and administration fees. Your estate may encounter certain obligations for income tax and probate taxes on your death, which may reduce the proceeds intended for the beneficiaries of your estate. If any part of your estate must go through probate to validate the Will before transferring ownership of assets, the entire estate value may be subject to probate taxes.

Step 8: Keep track of accounts and important information. One of the most difficult roles for an executor and family members is gathering the information required to settle the estate. Eliminate this concern by centralizing all household information from birth certificates, passports and other legal documents, to bank accounts and insurance policy numbers, to phone company and hydro account details. Once you have documented your important information, store a copy in a safe place and let someone close to you know where it is.

Step 9: Let someone know.  After you have gone through all the steps of developing an estate plan, the final piece of the puzzle is communication. It’s really important to communicate your plans to a family member or close friend whom you can trust, and who is capable of working with your advisor to execute your estate plan. There’s nothing more disturbing than for someone to have to deal with incomplete information or requests. As such, not only is it important to share your plans with someone, but it can also be very helpful to document your plans to help eliminate any potential misunderstandings. As difficult as it may be, making sure that those affected by your plans know what is expected of them and where critical information is kept is essential to the smooth execution of your estate plan.

Step 10: Review and update regularly. Review and, if necessary, update all information at least once a year. By updating your estate plan, you’ll get a snap shot of where you are on an annual basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Wealth Management?

What is Wealth Management?

Wealth management can be more than just investment advice, as it can encompass all parts of a person’s financial life. The idea is that rather than trying to integrate pieces of advice and various products from different managers the client benefits from a holistic approach in which a single manager coordinates all the services needed to manage their money and plan for their own or their family’s current and future financial needs.

The concept of a wealth manager is based on the theory that he or she can provide services in any aspect of the financial field, while many mangers choose to specialize in particular areas. This would be based on the expertise of the wealth manager in question, or the primary focus of the business within which the wealth manager operates.

A wealth management advisor will coordinate input from outside financial experts such as the client’s own lawyers and, accountants, to create the best strategy to benefit the client. Some wealth managers also provide banking services or advice on philanthropic activities.

So, in short wealth management is an investment advisory service that combines other financial services to address the needs of a person’s financial life. Clients benefit from a holistic approach in which a single manager coordinates all the services needed to manage their money and plan for their own or their family’s current and future needs. This service is usually appropriate for individuals with an array of diverse needs.

Wealth managers may work as part of a small-scale business or as part of a larger firm, one generally associated with the finance industry. Depending on the business, wealth managers may function under different titles, like financial adviser. A client may receive services from a single designated wealth manager or may have access to members of a specified wealth management team.

The wealth manager starts by developing a plan that will maintain and increase a client’s wealth based on that individual’s financial situation, goals and comfort level of risk. After the plan is developed, the manager meets regularly with clients to update goals, review and rebalance the financial portfolio, and investigate whether additional services are needed, with the ultimate goal being to remain in the client’s service throughout their lifetime.

This brings us to financial security planning within Wealth Management

A sound financial security plan should protect you against uncontrollable events such as disabilities or death, while helping you plan for controllable events such as buying a new home and retiring comfortably. To do this, Henley Financial & Wealth Management planning process is based on four areas of financial security planning:

  • Financial security at death
  • Retirement
  • Liquidity
  • Disability and critical illness

Financial security at death

 All financial security plans start here because death is inevitable and an uncontrollable event. As part of the financial security planning process, we’ll discuss:

  • How much income will your family need if you die?
  • How will inflation affect this income?
  • How to preserve your estate for your family when you die

Retirement

 When we discuss retirement planning, we consider:

  • What kind of lifestyle do you see for yourself in retirement?
  • How much money will you need to retire comfortably?
  • What impact will inflation have on your income?
  • Would you like to have the freedom to slow down or retire early?

Time and planning are two factors that influence whether or not you accomplish your retirement goals. Therefore, you must work towards your retirement goals over time.

Liquidity

Liquidity is your ability to access cash or assets that are easily convertible to cash. Liquidity can be a short-term savings option that can regenerate over time and need your constant hard work.

Disability and critical illness

Mitigating your risk against uncontrollable events such as disability or critical illness is key to your financial security. When building your financial security plan, we’ll consider:

  • Will your income be reduced in the event of disability or critical illness?
  • If your income is reduced, will it be difficult for you to maintain your lifestyle and retirement savings?
  • How much disability or critical illness insurance coverage is enough?
  • What impact will inflation have on your income if you’re unable to work for a long time?
  • Do you know if your group benefits provide a provision to allow you to continue your retirement savings if you become disabled or suffer a critical condition or illness?

 

 

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What types of insurance are available?

What types of insurance are available?

Life insurance in the beginning was the benefit which was realized at the death of the policy holder. It was really “death insurance” which in today’s world would be a hard idea to sell. Today, the world of insurance has expanded to different types of insurance where you don’t have to die to win. While also providing benefits to the policy holders who are alive – a living benefit. Living benefit plans are insurance policies that provide financial benefits to survivors who face issues due to aging, illness, accidents and dependency.

Disability insurance

Disability insurance (sometimes referred to as DI) is an insurance policy that pays out a stream of monthly income in case you get disabled and cannot work. The injury or disability does not have to have happened at work but it must severe enough to prevent you from working and earning an income. Many people have both short-term disability and long-term disability coverage through work but you can buy personal disability policies if there is not coverage like in the case of some self-employed individuals.

 Health and dental coverage

Health and dental plans are often covered through group benefits. These plans are designed to help with the unexpected cost of healthcare needs when you need it. There is a growing concern that governments will have significant cut backs in the health care industry and as a result, the financial burden of prescription drugs, visits to the dentist, eye exams, and paramedical services may increase in the future. Individual Health and Dental insurance policies can also be purchased through insurance companies.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is something you can buy when you travel outside of Canada in case you get sick or have an accident while you are away. Travel insurance can cover the cost of your medical emergencies. Travel insurance may or may not include trip cancellation coverage. Most travel agencies will offer travel insurance coverage. However, you can also choose to purchase from a third party. If you’re planning your trip online or on your own, you’ll have to research which insurance companies are best for your needs.

Critical illness insurance

Critical illness insurance is a type of insurance that helps you if you become critically ill. There are many different conditions that might be covered under a critical illness policy but the most common are heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Typically, critical illness insurance provides a lump sum payment when a specific condition is diagnosed. The money can then be used for any purpose. Some examples include finding alternative medical treatments anywhere in the world, hiring a caregiver, paying debts, covering expenses that are not covered under government health care, paying for private nursing homes, or providing income support.

 Long term care insurance

Long-term care insurance is another coverage that is rapidly growing in popularity. It pays a daily or monthly benefit for medical or custodial care received in a nursing facility, in a hospital, or at home if you are unable to carry out some of the common activities of daily living (ADLs). Some examples include:
· Bathing
· Dressing and undressing
· Eating
· Transferring from bed to chair, and back
· Voluntarily controlling urinary and fecal discharge
· Using the toilet
· Walking (not bedridden)

Few people plan to get injured or ill. Getting insurance of any kind is a form of risk management . . . preparing for unfortunate circumstances in life. Be sure to include a review of living benefits when you review other types of insurance.

 

 

Why should I buy life insurance?

Why should I buy life insurance?

If this is a question you have been asking consider the following:

Life insurance can offer peace of mind, creating a payout that would cover your debts and or your family members financially in the event of you should die.

Would my death create a financial crisis for anyone?

Life insurance is an important consideration for anyone concerned about how their death might financially impact loved ones. Once you have a significant other, you should have life insurance coverage in place. If you have significant financial obligations such as a mortgage, car loan, and credit debt. Your surviving dependant can use life insurance to ensure that the debt is covered.

Parents benefit greatly from having life insurance so that if they die while their children are still dependents, the children are left with funds to live off, pay off debts, and post-secondary education financial needs. Life insurance can be used to ensure that all debt is covered and a post-secondary education can still be obtained without financial burden placed on your children.

The amount of coverage that is needed is determined by using either a Present Needs, or Future Needs process.

What does Present Needs mean?

The present needs process is a way of determining the appropriate amount of life insurance coverage an individual should purchase. This approach is based on the creation of a budget of expenses that will be incurred upon death, including funeral expenses, estate settlement costs, and replacement of a portion of future income to sustain the spouse or dependants.

What does Future Needs mean?

The future needs process contrasts with the present needs as the future needs process calculates the amount of life insurance a family will need. Based on the financial loss the family would incur if the insured person were to pass away today. The future needs usually take into account factors such as the insured individual’s age, gender, planned retirement age, occupation, annual wage, and employment benefits, as well as the personal and financial information of the spouse and any dependent children.

When calculating any expenses, it is best to overestimate all needs a little. For instance, consider any outstanding debts and obligations that should be covered, such as a mortgage or car payments. Also recognize that the need for income replacement may gradually decline as children living at home move away.

What is Term Insurance?

Term insurance is pure insurance protection that pays a predetermined sum if the insured dies during a specified period of time. On the death of the insured person, term insurance pays the face value of the policy to the named beneficiary. All premiums paid are used to cover the cost of insurance protection.

The term may be 10, or 20 years. But unless it’s renewed, the insurance coverage ends when the term of the policy expires. Since this is temporary insurance coverage, it is the least expensive type to acquire.

Here are the main characteristics of term insurance:

  • Temporary insurance protection
  • Low cost
  • No cash value
  • Usually renewable
  • Sometimes convertible to permanent life insurance

 

Term insurance pays a set amount if the insured passes away during a specific time period, and is considered to be “temporary” insurance, while permanent life insurance guarantees insurance for life, provided the premiums continue to be paid on time.

What is Permanent Life Insurance?

Permanent life insurance provides life time insurance protection (does not expire). Most permanent policies offer a savings or investment component combined with the insurance coverage. This component, in turn, causes premiums to be higher than those of term insurance. This savings portion of the policy allows the policy owner to build cash value within the policy which can be borrowed or distributed at some time in the future.

Here are the main characteristics of permanent life insurance:

  • Permanent insurance protection
  • More expensive to own
  • Builds cash value
  • Loans are permitted against the policy
  • Favorable tax treatment of policy earnings
  • Level premiums

The two most common are whole life and universal life. Whole life insurance provides lifetime protection—for which you pay a predetermined premium. Cash values usually have a minimum guaranteed rate of interest, the death benefit continues to grow allowing the cash value within the policy to grow tax exempt in the future.

Universal life insurance separates the investment and the death benefit portions. The investment choices available usually include some type of equity investments, which may make your cash value accumulate quicker but at the same time you are now more vulnerable against the markets in which you invest (because as the market fluctuate the value of cash fluctuates which is volatile risk). Over time, you can usually change your premiums and death benefits to suit your current budget.

Age, health, and whether or not the person seeking life insurance smokes all factor into the price of a policy.

 

 

 

 

 

How to look through the panic of our markets.

How to look through the panic of our markets.

By Winston L. Cook, President Henley Financial and Wealth Management

March 23, 2020

As you know, stock markets around the world have experienced unprecedented volatility, primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic, PANIC, and what we may learn in the future “market manipulation”. In these crazy times, we thought it might be helpful to offer some information and insights in an effort to address the implications it has on your investments.

Over the past couple of weeks, the value of most investments has fallen considerably. There are lots of opinions out there on why this is happening but it’s not something anyone could control or predict accurately. When it comes to investing, it’s really important to make sure our decisions are logical more than emotional so rather than trying to figure out what’s driving other people’s decisions, it’s much simpler to focus on asking what makes the best sense for you. From our perspective, there are 3 general courses of action to consider:

It’s not easy to watch your investments drop in value. For some people their instinct will be to run to safety but be careful before you move forward with this course of action for the following reasons:

  1. A lot of the damage is done already. If you trust the logic that successful investing is all about “BUY LOW, SELL HIGH” then selling low after a big drop of 20%, 30%, or more doesn’t make logical sense.
  2. You could miss out when the market starts to go back up. If you move all of your money into a ‘safer’ place, you will miss the opportunity to recover in a low-interest environment. In the past, we have seen lots of people miss the opportunity with no chance to participate in the recovery.
  3. Successful market timing is really difficult. We’ve always said the decision to sell at the top is extremely difficult to time. The decision to buy back in at the bottom is also extremely difficult to time. The ability to time both the sell decision and the buy decision properly is near impossible. You may instinctively want to move to safety for a period of time but the next challenge is to decide when to get back in.

Remember that you only make or lose money at the point where you sell your investments. If the market drop is causing you stress and stopping you from sleeping at night then it might make sense to cut your losses and either shift to something less aggressive or get out of the markets altogether. However, before you make the decision to sell, you might want to consider the next strategy.

Could this be the buying opportunity of a lifetime?

Although this strategy is not for the faint of heart, some will look at the downturn in the markets as an opportunity to buy. We want to be clear that we’re not trying to downplay the significance of the COVID-19 virus or minimize the experience that people are currently dealing with but, when you look back at other major downturns in the stock markets (in 2008 for example) you can see how events like these could create opportunity from an investment perspective.

For those of you who’ve been in one of our information sessions, you’ll have heard us say that times like these are when investments go on sale. If big-screen TVs go on sale 20% to 50% off, people line up for hours to get a chance at getting those deals.

In hindsight, many of us would agree that buying more investments in 2008 after the world financial crisis caused markets to go down 50% would have been a great thing. Similarly, buying more investments back in 2001 after the tech bust would have paid off down the road. While our industry likes to remind us that “past performance is never an indicator of future performance”, years from now, we suspect many of us will look back and see that this recent downturn in 2020 was the best investment opportunity in our present day lifetime.

If you have a group rrsp or pension plan through work, the good news is contributions continue to happen every month. This is known as Dollar Cost Averaging and, over time, it tends to create higher investment returns than if you were to make just one contribution per year. This is because making multiple investment purchases over the year helps you buy more when the markets are low. Right now, with every new contribution you make, you’re essentially getting a far better bang for your buck than you were in February simply because lower investment values mean you can buy more investment units with each contribution.

Here are a few market statistics to think about:

      • Markets typically rebound within 12 months after big drops.
      • Markets have gone down 20 of the past 80 years. In 18 of those 20 years, the markets rebounded with positive returns in the following calendar year.
      • The average return that followed a negative year was 14.6%, We know it can be tough to invest more (or more aggressively) when the markets are falling so, if you’re not so panicked that you need to sell but still nervous of investing more, there’s one more strategy to consider.

Stay the course…

Most of the financial industry will preach the buy and hold strategy. There are many reasons why but most people will believe that markets will eventually recover. The key word here is ‘eventually’. Often the reason that people are fearful is that we just don’t know how long the recovery will take. While it’s easy to let doom and gloom take over our decision-making process, it’s important to take a logical rather than an emotional approach to decision making.  So, let’s look at some additional realities of the stock market:

      • Markets go up more often than they go down. Over the past 90 years, markets have gone up 74% of the time and down 26% of the time.
      • Markets have lost more than 20% only 4.5% of the time.
      • Markets rarely experience back to back negative years. It’s only happened twice in the past 75 years the bottom line is that markets go up and down. As much as we hope markets will stay positive all the time, the risk of a correction is always there.

Every correction or bear market is a test of patience.  It’s not easy but a necessary reality of the markets.  From the beginning of time the stock markets have steadily increased and will continue to do so in the future, there will always be a down turn, correction or crisis to recover from along the way. What you must understand is that this unprecedented sell off has been created more by panic and fear than smart economic metrics.

We realize that the position of many is not being able to invest more at this time and that is understandable given the circumstance surrounding our present situation. Having faith in the future of our world, it’s population and our inevitable economic return is what we all want. We will survive this and we will return stronger than ever as a population because it’s human nature to survive and conquer the elements placed before us.

Please be well and stay the course we will get through this together.

How do you reduce your personal Income Tax Rate when filing your tax return?

How do you reduce your personal Income Tax Rate when filing your tax return?

Henley Financial & Wealth Management posted on our blog information regarding 2020 new Tax Rates and New Limits. But what does one do with that information?  As Canadian taxpayers you have until April 30th 2020, to file your personal 2019 tax return. However, as the calendar turns over on to a new year many of our clients want to know how best to maximize their tax refund or minimize what they owe the government.

So, we thought we would share the two main ways to reduce taxes owing. It is always important to seek professional advice from your accountant regarding personal taxes. We are not the tax experts we are just simply stating the rules around taxes as they exist today.

What are tax deductions or a tax credit? Which on there own are the answers to reducing one’s taxable position for the average person in Canada.

Tax Deductions:

A tax deduction reduces your taxable income. The value of a deduction depends on your marginal tax rate. So, if your income is more than $210,371, you’d be taxed at the federal rate of 33 percent and a $1,000 tax deduction would save you $330 in federal tax. On the other hand, if you earn less than $47,630, you’d be taxed at the federal rate of only 15 percent and a $1,000 tax deduction would only save you $150 in federal tax.

Two of the most valuable tax deductions are:

RRSP contributions

Your RRSP contribution is an example of a tax deduction, and is likely the best tax saving strategy available to the majority of Canadian taxpayers. The contribution reduces your net income, which in turn reduces your taxes owing. An added bonus for families who contribute to RRSPs is that the resulting lower net income will likely increase their Canada Child Benefit.

You have until 60 days of the current year to make a contribution to your RRSP and apply the deduction towards last year’s taxes. One tip for those who know in advance how much they’ll be contributing to their RRSP is to fill out the form T1213 – Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source.

You can contribute 18 percent of your income, up to a limit of $26,500 (2019). Watch out for RRSP over contributions – there’s a built-in safeguard where you can over contribute by $2,000. Excess contributions are taxed at 1 percent per month.

Child-care expenses

Day care is likely one of the largest expenses for young families today. Child-care expenses can be used as an eligible tax deduction on your tax return.

Typically, child-care expenses must be claimed by the lower income spouse. One exception is if the lower income spouse is enrolled in school and cannot provide child-care, the higher income spouse can claim the child-care costs.

 

The basic limit for child-care expenses are $8,000 for children born in 2012 or later, $11,000 for children born in 2018 or earlier, and $5,000 for children born between 2002 and 2011.

Note that most overnight camps and summer day camps are also eligible for the child-care deduction.

Tax Deductions checklist:

  • RRSP contributions
  • Union or professional dues
  • Child-care expenses
  • Moving expenses
  • Support payments
  • Employment expenses (w/ T2200)
  • Carrying charges or interest expense to earn business or investment income

Tax Credits:

There are two types of tax credits – refundable and non-refundable. A non-refundable tax credit is applied directly against your tax payable. So, if you have tax owing of $500 and get a tax credit of $100, you now owe just $400. If you don’t owe any tax, non-refundable credits are of no benefit.

For refundable tax credits such as the GST/HST credit, you will receive the credit even if you have no tax owing.

Three of the most valuable tax credits are:

Basic Personal Amount

The best example of a non-refundable tax credit is the basic personal amount, which every Canadian resident is entitled to claim on his or her tax return. The basic personal amount for 2019 is $12,069.

Instead of paying taxes on your entire income, you only pay taxes on the remaining income once the basic personal amount has been applied.

Spousal Amount

You can claim all or a portion of the spousal amount ($12,069) if you support your spouse or common-law partner, as long as his or her net income is less than $12,069. The amount is reduced by any net income earned by the spouse, and it can only be claimed by one person for their spouse or common-law partner.

Age Amount

The Age Amount tax credit is available to Canadians aged 65 or older (at the end of the tax year). The federal age amount for 2019 is $7,494. This amount is reduced by 15 percent of income exceeding a threshold amount of $37,790, and is eliminated when income exceeds $87,750.

The Age Amount tax credit is calculated using the lowest tax rate (15 percent federally), so the maximum federal tax credit is $1,124 for 2019 ($7,494 x 0.15).

Note that the age amount can be transferred to the spouse if the individual claiming this credit cannot utilize the entire amount before reducing his or her taxes to zero.

Tax Credits checklist:

  • Volunteer firefighter or Search & Rescue details
  • Adoption expenses
  • Interest paid on student loans
  • Tuition and education amounts
  • (T2202, TL11A), and exam fees
  • Medical expenses (including details of insurance reimbursements)
  • Donations or political contributions

The Verdict on Tax Deductions and Tax Credits:

Tax deductions are straightforward – if you earned $60,000 and made a $5,000 RRSP contribution your taxable income will be reduced to $55,000. Deductions typically result in bigger tax savings than credits as long as your marginal tax rate is higher than 15 percent.

A non-refundable tax credit, on the other hand, must be applied to any taxes owing and is first multiplied by 15 percent. That means a $5,000 non-refundable tax credit would only result in about $750 in tax savings.

 

The most overlooked tax credits and tax deductions (the ones most likely to go unclaimed) are medical expenses, union dues, moving expenses, student loan interest, childcare expenses, and employment expenses.

That’s why it’s important that Canadian tax filers make a checklist of every tax deduction and tax credit available to them at tax-time and take advantage of all that apply to their situation.