HRB horizontal 376C_BLACK Canadians get a big break when we sell our homes.

Complaining about taxes is almost a sport in Canada, especially when we look to our U.S. neighbours for comparisons. But there are some areas in which we actually win the tax race, and one of these is our Principal Residence Exemption provision.

Americans, for example, pay capital-gains tax on the sale of their residence for any amount exceeding $250,000. In Canada, there is no monetary limit on the size of the capital gain that can be excluded from income tax following the sale of a principal residence. Full capital-gains taxes apply to the sale of other properties, so the designation of a principal residence represents significant savings.

There is one downside: Canadians cannot claim a capital loss if money was lost on the sale. But real estate typically goes up in value, so this is rarely an issue.

So what is a principal residence? For tax purposes, it is simply the home you tell the Canada Revenue Agency is your main abode. You must occupy it at some time during the year, and you can actually choose a seasonal residence such as a cottage if that saves you some tax dollars. The occupancy requirement must be met for each year you want to make the designation.

There are some restrictions, of course. Only one property can be claimed as your principal residence, regardless of how many properties you occupied during the year, and only one can be selected per family unit. (A family unit includes your spouse or common-law partner, unless you were separated throughout the year, and children younger than 18 who are themselves not married or common-law). If you have more than one property, you select the principal residence once per year. That means you can wait until you sell a property to decide if it was your principal residence that year.

If you are lucky enough to own a large property, there is a size limit on the savings: if your land is larger than 0.5 hectares, the excess portion will usually not be covered by the exemption. If you can demonstrate that all that space is necessary for the use and enjoyment of the place as a residence or that there was an external factor—such as a minimum lot-size restriction when you made the purchase—the government may grant an exception.

The rules become more complicated if you convert a property from personal-use to an income-producing use. If, for example, you moved out of a house and began renting it, the tax authorities will consider it sold for its fair market value at that time. But it is possible to elect for the change of use not to have officially occurred and defer the disposition until you actually sell the property. This election also allows you to continue to designate the property as your principal residence for up to four years, even though you are no longer occupying it, or for six if your employer moved you.

The catch is that you must still report the rental income and you cannot claim a deduction for capital cost allowance if you want the election to continue in effect. The election must be made with your tax return for the year in which the change of use occurs.

If, on the other hand, you convert a rental property to your principal residence, it will be considered as sold for market value on the day you make the designation. And again, there is an option here: you can elect to defer the capital gain resulting from the deemed disposition until you actually sell the property.

The ins and outs of the principal residence rules can be confusing. But most people own only one property and actually live in it, so for them the process is simple: there is no additional tax bill on the profit made when a house is sold. See the CRA’s Principal Residence page for any forms you need. Once you own multiple properties, it is probably best to seek the help of a tax professional or use tax software.

Consider an online program like H&R Block’s Tax Software (www.hrblock.ca), which will identify your tax situation and calculate deductions or credits as you go. Or if you would rather leave it to an expert, drop by an H&R Block office. A tax professional will even review your previous returns for free.

Comments Off Mich on Mar 18th 2014

The following is a guest post by Totally Money.

Did you overspend on the holidays?  If so, don’t despair.  It happens to the best of us at least once, and for some of us, more than once.  If there’s one time when it’s easy to cave into spending peer pressure, it’s the holiday season.  After all, you don’t want to be seen as the one giving a skimpy gift when others are giving generously.

If you’re facing a stack bills, hold your head high and know that with a few months of discipline, you can dig your way out and make wiser decisions next holiday season.

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1 Comment Guest on Jan 10th 2014

Canada money

$20 Bills, image src:AFP

Irresponsible and unmindful spending leads to debt. Nowadays, people prefer to use their credit cards in purchasing instead of cash. Because of this, they tend to overspend and abuse the purchasing power their credit cards hold. Only when this unconscious habit has been translated into accumulated credit card notification letters do they realize their overindulgences.

It does feel less painful and easier to swipe a credit card instead of taking a few $20s out of the wallet. At the same time, that pain will be felt once the bill arrives in the hundreds of dollars!

Fortunately there are ways to avoid a great deal of debt. By employing smart purchasing practices, you will be able to prevent yourself from experiencing impending financial anxieties, as well as cram for debt relief programs that would help you save your finances. As a consumer, it is anticipated that you know your spending limits whether you use cash or credit card. To help you practice smart spending, here are simple suggestions to help you avoid debt and improve your finances. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Comments Guest on Nov 2nd 2013

6354095089_3ca0509311_m3There are so many things that affect the stock market, some of which may be obvious, while others are not quite so visible.  Typically, any movement in oil prices, inflation rates, employment rates or interest rates will affect the stock market. Additionally, wars, company mergers, company buy outs, bad company reports and natural disasters affect the stock market. However, it is often overlooked how tremendous of an impact the property market can have on the stock market.

Want to get involved in the stock market, but find yourself asking “How do I buy shares?”. Check out Etrade today for a quick start guide.

The Relationship between the Property Market and the Stock Market

The key link between the property market and the stock market is the interest rates.   Most people cannot afford to buy houses outright. Therefore, they must acquire loans from banks or financial institutions to pay for their mortgage. The interest rate is what borrowers have to pay the lenders for using their money, in addition to the amount they gave them to use for their mortgage, and when the interest rate is high, borrowers will thus pay higher interests on their loans.

What Leads to High Interest Rates?
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Comments Off Mich on Oct 4th 2013

rtaImage-300x2021Trading can be a highly stressful environment and it is one that is fraught with risk. Many people earn substantial amounts through trading, but there are numerous risks too. Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely eliminate these risks but, there are several ways that you can manage and minimise them. Binary Options are one of the main methods that people use to trade in order minimise the inherent risks associated with forex.

Binary Options Explained

Essentially, when trading using Binary Options, you’re making a directional decision on the price of an asset. For example, if you were trading EUR/GBP as a currency pair, you’d have to decide whether the price of the euro was going to go either up or down against the value of the British pound.

This decision is made over a ‘session’. Put simply, a ‘session’ is simply the timescale that you’re making the decision over and this can range from anywhere from under a minute to a year, As well as this, the timescale is completely up to you.

When your session expires you can either win, lose or breakeven depending on how the markets have moved. Unlike some traditional trading platforms, Binary Options are traded for a ‘fixed return’. This means that whether the price of the euro in the previous explanation would have gone up 1% or 15% you would receive the same return.
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1 Comment Mich on Sep 28th 2013

investing in real estateBuying real estate can be a risky endeavor, but if you do your research and invest wisely, it can really pay off in the long run. Buying a stable property and renting it out can give you a good source of additional income for relatively little effort, and if you’re an investor, it can help you diversify your portfolio.  Now is actually an ideal time to invest; the housing market is beginning to recover, but interest rates and housing prices are still generally low. Before you go jumping into the world of real estate investment, though, you need to look at the costs and benefits of buying a property. Here are a few things to consider.

Look for a property with a positive cash flow. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people decide to invest in an expensive property that won’t start paying off for at least 10 years (more on that in a second). You need to make sure that the income you’re earning from monthly rental is enough to cover all expenses, including the mortgage and any necessary home repairs, so that you’re ending up with a positive cash flow. Remember that if the money you put into a house was sitting in a bank, it would be earning interest—your goal with a real estate investment is to be making more than you would if that money were just sitting in the bank.
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2 Comments Mich on Sep 4th 2013

Interest Rates

Interest Rates (Photo credit: 401K)

Term deposits are an extremely popular investment, particularly given the current economic client. For a start, they’re straightforward – you put your money in the bank, you get money back – but there are still a number of things to think about if you’re to make the right investment. When it comes to finding the best term deposit to suit you, never underestimate the importance of shopping around.

Be aware that many of the banks offer great rates to start with. That rate drops, however, after six months and you’re left with a fairly ho-hum investment in relation to competitive choice. If you ask the question before you invest, you’ll avoid any nasty surprises.

On the whole, the most popular term deposits are those with three and six-month terms. Some of the smaller financial institutions offer great deals, but term deposit rates are on the downward slide, so you might prefer a longer term deposit – for example, one or three-year terms. As long as you’re prepared to lock your money away for longer, it’s a smart way to take advantage of higher rates. The flipside of this is that interest rates can change quickly and without notice. Even if you lock in a good rate for 12 months or more, there is a risk that short-term interest rates could start to rise again in the meantime. Spreading your cash over varying term-deposit time frames can be one way to ensure you don’t lose out. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Comments Guest on Jul 16th 2013

USCurrency_Federal_ReserveWhen having plans for future you will always pay attention to your money flow and try to save. Someone begins to think about this question when creating a new family, others start to save being a teenager or only when thinking about their retirement. For this reason it is necessary to observe a few basic rules. So, let’s look at each of them in more detail and find out how and what exactly you can save.

Rule #1. Make records of what to buy

This applies to all purchases, also including very small ones (newspaper, a package of juice, ice cream). It is enough for some people to keep records for a few days to understand and adjust their spending. But it is better, of course, to do it for a month or two. The effect will be felt. At the end of each day write down the list of all your purchases and cross out the things that you do not need at the moment. At the end of the month add up all the amounts that you have spent on unnecessary purchases. You will be shocked!

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6 Comments Mich on Jun 28th 2013

insurance healthWhile the financial struggle is an everlasting battle for all of us, some seem to cope better than the others. We all have our own secret weapons in this struggle to make ends meet. And yet, as surprising as it sounds, one of the leading causes of insolvency is medical debt. For example, in Australia, millions of people lack good health insurance cover and for this reason, many of them usually end up settling huge medical bills directly from their pockets. Even though the cost of premiums from different health insurance plans is normally expensive, having at least one plan covering you and your loved ones is very important.

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1 Comment Mich on Jun 17th 2013

avoid high feesSpeeding tickets.

Late fees.

Credit card interest.

Overdraft fees.

All of these are fees that no one should pay. They result from being careless, disorganized, impulsive or distracted.

These fees you should definitely never pay and if you do, well there’s a name for those fees. Dave Ramsey coined the term, “stupid tax,” just for those types of fees. Because you may have acted less than intelligently. We’ve all paid the stupid tax once or twice, the goal is, of course, to never pay them again.

Go slower.

Think before you act.

Plan ahead and keep great records.

Do those 3 things and you’ll never pay another stupid tax again. But what about other fees? What about fees that aren’t a result of anything you did? They just seem to exist for the sole purpose of earning the company more money. Here are 5 that you should never, ever pay. Ever.
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25 Comments Jessica Streit on May 27th 2013

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