BC Finance Minister Carole James delivered the province’s 2019 budget update on February 19, 2019. The budget anticipates a surplus of $274 million for the current year, $287 million for 2020 and $585 million in 2021.
The biggest announcements are:
- BC Child Opportunity Benefit
- Interest Free Student Loans
BC Child Opportunity Benefit
The BC Child Opportunity Benefit covers all children under 18 and can be applied for starting in October 2020. (This replaces the Early Childhood Tax Benefit where the benefit ended once a child turned six.)
Starting October 2020, families will receive a refundable tax credit per year up to:
- $1,600 with one child
- $2,600 with two children
- $3,400 with three children
Families with one child earning $97,500 or more and families with two children earning $114,500 or more will receive nothing.
Interest Free Student Loans
The provincial portion of student loans will now be interest-free effective as of February 19, 2019. The announcement covers both current and existing student loans.
Medical Services Premium
As previously announced in the last budget, 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.
Public Education System
The public education system will receive $550 million in additional support.
Pharmacare program will be expanded with an additional $42 million to cover more drugs, including those for diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
To learn how these changes will affect you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
How to Make the Best of Inheritance Planning
Inheriting an unexpected, or even an anticipated, lump sum can fill you with mixed emotions – if your emotional attachment to the individual who has passed away was strong then you are likely to be grieving and the thought of how to handle your new-found wealth can be overwhelming and confusing but also exciting. One of the best pieces of advice in this situation is to give yourself some time before making any binding financial decisions. The temptation to quickly put the money to so-called ‘good use’ or to rush out and spend it can be strong but you must allow the news to sink in and also take some time to consider your options before you embark on the process of dealing with the inheritance. In the short term, put the money away in a high interest savings account and take time to research and think carefully about your financial goals and objectives and how this inheritance can help you to secure and maximise your financial future in the best way.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with larger sums of money, here are some useful ideas of where to start.
Reduce your debt burden
If you have significant or high-interest debts, one of the safest options of all is paying this debt down. Not only will you achieve a guaranteed after-tax rate of return of your current interest rate, it can also add to your feeling of financial security and potentially offer you a more consistent financial picture. Debt often carries with it a significant interest rate – particularly on credit cards and overdrafts for example – so in many cases, eliminating this burden should be considered as one of your main priorities.
However, you may like to take careful note of the option below regarding investing the money instead as much depends on the prevailing interest rates and, of course, your appetite for risk, as you may well find an investment option with a potentially higher return more attractive.
A particularly effective way of investing an inheritance is to add it to your retirement savings – especially if your nest egg is not looking quite as healthy as it should due to missed savings years for example. Those with lower or less reliable incomes should look upon this option as a great choice in particular.
After considering your own future financial needs, giving some of your wealth away to either charities or to family and friends is a good option to share out some of your inheritance to those who could benefit from it. What’s more, donating to charity can also offer you some tax breaks which may reduce your overall tax burden.
Many individuals see this philanthropic route as offering them the opportunity to do something meaningful and rewarding with their wealth and contributing towards their own sense of moral duty and emotional wellbeing.
Make a spending plan
Of course, you are likely to be keen to spend some of your wealth on yourself and your family, particularly if your financial situation means that you have previously had to be more careful and prudent with money than you would have liked. A great way to do this is to create a spending plan so that you can enjoy the benefits of spending, without it significantly eating into money set aside for your financial planning goals. You could, perhaps, aim to set aside 10% of the inheritance just for yourself and loved ones to enjoy. The proportion will naturally depend on your circumstances but, in principle, it’s a great idea as it allows you to balance sensible saving and investments with some short-term enjoyment of your wealth.
Talk to us, we can help.
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:
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).
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.
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