This column was originally written for Business First, a TC Media publication.

Rowan and Suzanne are the parents of a 6 year old son, named Jason.  When Jason was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Rowan and Suzanne are able to provide him with lots of love and care….. at least for now.  However, they do sometimes wonder what will happen to their son when they are no longer able to look after him.  As they themselves get older, they recognize that they simply won’t be able to do as much for Jason as they are doing now.  They would really like to set aside some money for his long term care.

Fortunately Suzanne heard about the Registered Disability Savings Plan.  The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was set up by the government of Canada to help parents and others provide for the long-term security of a disabled person.  This is done by providing matching Grants, and in some cases Bonds.

In 2012 Rowan and Suzanne contributed $1,500 towards Jason’s RDSP.  The government of Canada matched this contribution with a $3,500 grant.  That means that in one year, Jason’s RDSP grew by a full $5,000.

Rowan and Suzanne can continue to contribute towards their son’s RDSP until the end of the year that he turns 59.  The government will provide up to $70,000 in matching grants over the lifetime.

If Rowan and Suzanne had low income, Jason’s RDSP would be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year, even if they didn’t contribute anything towards the RDSP.  This is called the Canada Disability Savings Bond, and the maximum that can be received in Bonds is $20,000 over the lifetime.

The RDSP was introduced in 2008.  For some reason it was not as popular as it probably deserved to be, possibly due to the fact that it was new and a tad confusing.  Budget 2012 announced some new changes.  One of these changes allows you to open an RDSP account today and claim unused grants from prior years.  So if you only found out today that you were eligible, you may still be able to access grants missed in previous years.

Rowan and Suzanne are very pleased that they are able to set aside some money for Jason.  They are also happy that the government of Canada is chipping in with some assistance.  This shared responsibility is the type of government assistance that can truly make sense.

Extras:  If you are interested, head over to www.rdsp.com.  This website has a lot of great information and a really useful calculator.  Or go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and do a search for RDSP.

Please note that the above example uses fictional names.  Any resemblance to any actual person or situation is strictly coincidence.

Filed under: Consumer Tax by David Boese No Comments »




Email scam


December 3rd, 2012

It would be absolutely fantastic if the Canada Revenue Agency would send you an email that promised you a refund.  However, if you get what appears to be exactly that, please don’t fall for it.

Every year several of my clients get one of these: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/ntcs/frdlntmls-eng.html

They are frauds…..Canada Revenue Agency doesn’t correspond via email.

Filed under: Other tips by David Boese No Comments »




Back in 2009 when the Tax Free Savings Accounts were first introduced, the annual contribution limit was $5,000.  We were promised that this would increase gradually to keep up with inflation.  For 2013 the first increase takes effect, to the tune of $500.  So effective next year, you will be allowed to contribute $5,500 per year.

Want to learn more about the TFSA?  Start here.

Filed under: Personal Tax by David Boese No Comments »




Do you own foreign assets?


November 24th, 2012

Are you a Canadian resident (an individual, corporation, or trust) and you own foreign property with a worth of more than $100,000?  If so, you may be required to file the T1135 Foreign Income Verification Statement each year.

Don’t let the word property fool you…..it’s more than just land and buildings.  Items that must be listed include:

  • amounts in foreign bank accounts
  • shares in foreign companies
  • interests in non-resident trusts
  • bonds or debentures issued by foreign governments or foreign companies
  • interests or units in offshore mutual funds
  • real estate situated outside Canada
  • other income-earning foreign property.

Items that don’t need to be listed include:

  • property used mainly for personal use and enjoyment, such as a vehicle, vacation property, jewellery, artwork, or any other such property
  • assets used only in an active business, such as a business inventory or the equipment and building used in a business.

It’s important that this form gets filed.  The penalty for failing to do so is $2,500 per year.  If you are an immigrant from outside Canada, and you retain your assets from countries outside Canada, be sure not to miss this.

Here is a list of FAQs from the CRA.

 

Filed under: Personal Tax by David Boese No Comments »