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The past 18 months have been characterized by a steady stream of mostly bad news, relating to the pandemic and its harmful consequences. The human cost of the pandemic, in terms of illness and death, is paramount. But the reality is also that much economic and financial harm resulted, at an individual, community, and national level, as businesses closed and individuals lost jobs or saw their hours — and consequently their income — reduced.


Getting a post-secondary education, especially where that education includes graduate school or professional training, is an expensive undertaking. According to Statistics Canada, the average undergraduate tuition cost for the 2020-21 academic year was $6,580. Costs for graduate programs, particularly professional training, can go much higher, reaching as much as $50,000 per year. And those costs don’t factor in necessary expenditures on textbooks and other ancillary costs, to say nothing of general living expenses, like rent, transportation, and food.


There are a number of income sources available to Canadians in retirement. Those who participated in the work force during their adult life will have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and will be able to receive CPP retirement benefits as early as age 60. Earning employment or self-employment income will also have entitled those individuals to contribute to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). A shrinking minority of Canadians will be able to look forward to receiving benefits from an employer-sponsored pension plan.


To win elections, politicians need votes. And to run the election campaigns needed to garner those votes, they need an organization, volunteers, and money — a lot of money. To wage the current federal election, the major political parties will need to raise and spend millions of dollars. Their task of raising that money is undoubtedly made somewhat easier by the fact that Canadian taxpayers who donate money to political parties or candidates can obtain some tax benefit from doing so.


Although it’s doubtful that anyone does so with any great degree of enthusiasm, each spring millions of Canadians sit down to complete their annual tax return for the previous calendar year (or, more often, they pay someone else to do it for them).


Canadian drivers are used to seeing gas prices rise each spring as the weather gets warmer and more people take to the road for day trips, weekends at the cottage, and annual holidays. This year, that trend is accelerated for several reasons. The first, of course, is that as pandemic restrictions ease and the economy opens up, there are more and more reasons to be on the road. As well, employees who have worked from home for the past 16 months are starting to return to the daily commute, either part-time or full-time.


By the time August arrives, nearly all Canadians have filed their income tax returns for the previous year, received a Notice of Assessment from the tax authorities with respect to that return, and either spent their refund or, more grudgingly, paid any balance of tax owing.


One or two generations ago, retirement was an event. Typically, an individual would leave the work force completely at age 65, and begin collecting Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits along with, in many cases, a pension from an employer-sponsored registered pension plan.


Two quarterly newsletters have been added—one dealing with personal issues, and one dealing with corporate issues.


There’s a lot that is still unknown about the upcoming 2021-22 academic year for post-secondary students. It may be that such students will be back on campus, living in residence and once again attending classes in lecture halls. Less optimistically, they may (again!) be learning online and living off campus, or still at home with their parents. Most likely, they will be experiencing some combination of the two.


As Canada begins to (slowly) transition back to a pre-pandemic way of life, one of the many opportunities which did not exist last summer is once again a possibility — that of sending the kids to summer camp. In most cases, Canadian children of school age have not had the opportunity to interact with their peers on a regular basis for nearly a year and a half. At the same time, parents across Canada have been coping with a situation in which they must work from home while simultaneously helping the kids with online learning. For both kids and parents, the possibility of going to summer camp must be particularly welcome this year.


Between February 8 and June 21 of this year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) received and processed just under 29 million individual income tax returns filed for the 2020 tax year. The sheer volume of returns and the processing turnaround timelines mean that the CRA does not (and cannot possibly) do a manual review of the information provided in a return prior to issuing the Notice of Assessment. Rather, all returns are scanned by the Agency’s computer system and a Notice of Assessment is then issued.


According to Statistics Canada there were, as of July 2020, just under 7 million Canadians over the age of 65. While the age at which an individual retires can vary a lot (from “Freedom 55” to those who are still working in their 70s), it’s reasonable to assume that a significant percentage of those 7 million Canadians is fully or partially retired. It’s also a reasonable assumption that retirement looks a lot different for them than it did for their parents.


The Canadian tax system is a “self-assessing system” which relies heavily on the voluntary co-operation of taxpayers. Canadians are expected (in fact, in most cases, required), to complete and file a tax return each spring, reporting income from all sources, calculating the amount of tax owed and remitting that amount to the federal government by a specified deadline. Although the rate of compliance among Canadian taxpayers is very high — just over 30 million individual income tax returns for the 2019 tax year were filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) between February and October of 2020 — there are, inevitably, those who do not either file or pay on time.


One of the more unexpected effects of the current pandemic has been the impact on the Canadian real estate market. In each of July, August, and September 2020 the number of home sales, especially in major cities, has set a year-over-year record and, in many of the same places, the vacancy rate for rental accommodation has gone up.


Two quarterly newsletters have been added—one dealing with personal issues, and one dealing with corporate issues.


Each year, the due date for payment of all income tax amounts owed for the previous year falls on April 30. In 2020, however, that payment deadline has been something of a moving target. Earlier this year, the federal government, in recognition of the financial disruption and hardship caused by the pandemic, extended the payment deadline by four months, to September 1, 2020. In mid-September that date was extended again, such that all individual income taxes owed for 2019 were due and payable by Wednesday September 30. There has been no further extension.


When the Canada Pension Plan was introduced in 1965, it was a relatively simple retirement savings model. Working Canadians started making contributions to the CPP when they turned 18 years of age and continued making those contributions throughout their working life. Those who had contributed could start receiving the CPP retirement benefit at any time between the ages of 60 and 65. Once an individual was receiving retirement benefits, he or she was not required (or allowed) to make further contributions to the CPP, even if that individual continued to work. The CPP retirement benefit for which that individual was eligible therefore could not increase (except for inflationary increases) after that point.


Day trading remains alive and well in Canada notwithstanding the roller-coaster markets. Indeed, it is the very volatility of markets that attracts day traders who think they can reap profits by quick "in and out" forays.