A new year has begun, and just like every year 2022 will have its share of ups, downs and surprises. When it comes to managing your wealth, the focus is often on long-term planning to protect against short-term blips and keep you moving forward toward your goal.
But what is your goal? Is it to retire with a certain amount of money in the bank? Is it to ensure financial security for your children and grandchildren, so that they will never have to worry about money after you’re gone? Or is it to leave a mark on your community or the world?
Tax-efficient strategies for growing and preserving your wealth are an integral component of sound wealth management, but they are only a means to an end. If the management of your wealth is not guided by your values, you may one day find yourself with piles of money and no idea what to do with it.
That’s why it is crucial for your wealth planning to be driven by big-picture goals tied to your values. And to gain clarity on these goals, you need to start by asking the big questions. For example: when it comes down to it, what does wealth and money actually mean to you?
Understanding what drives you
People spend much of their life directing time and energy toward their career or business. For many, this is simply a matter of survival, but this motivation is less applicable for high achievers who are already able to meet their immediate financial needs.
To reveal what truly drives you, you need to dig deeper. This involves thinking about not only what you want to do, but also why you want to do it.
Perhaps you want to build wealth that you can pass on to your children, but what are your underlying motivations and concerns? Do you want to give them the resources to achieve incredible things in life, or are you worried that they may lack the capacity to support themselves once you’re gone? On the other hand, maybe you are grappling with how best to provide them with a comfortable life without leading them down a path toward excessive privilege or entitlement.
Alternatively, you may be motivated to build your wealth so that you can share it with others through philanthropy. Yet even here, it is important to look deeper. Is your goal simply to give as much as possible and help as many people as you can? Or do you view philanthropic giving as an opportunity to become actively involved in tackling social issues and guiding social development in a hands-on capacity?
These questions are not always obvious and the answers are not always clear, but pursuing them will lead to greater alignment between your goals and your values.
Guided by values
Your decisions and actions today will influence what happens 10, 20 or 40 years from now. To avoid reaching the finish line and looking around to see where you’ve arrived, you need to create a roadmap for where you want to go.
At Rubach Wealth, one of our key roles is to act as a sounding board for our clients as they develop this roadmap. As you uncover and make sense of your core motivations, we can work with you to translate these into meaningful, overarching goals that will frame our relationship.
We can’t predict what 2022 will throw your way, but we can help you identify any gaps in your plan and take advantage of any opportunities that pop up. More importantly, we can help you maintain your focus on the big picture and chart a course forward that is guided by the values closest to your heart.
Most Canadians are painfully unaware that as business owners, they can use pension legislation to their advantage by setting up a Personal Pension Plan (“PPP”). Due to this lack of knowledge they miss out on a multitude of tax deductions and tax minimization strategies that simply don’t exist when one is using an RRSP for saving purposes. Chief amongst these tax minimization strategies is the concept of inter-generational wealth transfers within the context of a family enterprise. Most know that on the death of an RRSP annuitant, especially if there is no surviving spouse to roll assets to, the estate must pay tax on the RRSP assets under the ‘deemed disposition’ rules of the Income Tax Act. Not so when a PPP exists and the younger family members on the payroll are also part of the pension plan. The simple reason is that any monies left behind by a deceased member simply convert into ‘pension surplus’ and these untaxed funds remain intact in the family PPP, to be used, eventually by the surviving children. This strategy alone could save an estate millions of dollars.
Now, if a decent financial plan also calls for some permanent life insurance that was purchased thanks to the tax refunds generated by PPP contributions within the corporation, instead of having the ‘death benefit’ paid to cover off tax liabilities under the deemed disposition, that same money can now go directly (and tax free) into the pockets of the surviving children. Talk about a better use of cash. This simple example provides a sense of the magnitude of brand new, additional incremental value one can guarantee for oneself by having a PPP as part of the overall financial plan.
To illustrate the net, new value generated by this planning, let’s take a simple case. Ms. Andrews has run a family business for 25 years and collected salaries in excess of $100,000 for a number of years. She is now 67 and wants her granddaughter Céleste (22) to join the family business. Your Rubach Wealth advisor will propose two solutions: (1) a PPP with both family members as participants (2) a corporately-owned whole life policy with an annual premium of $10,0000 and a death benefit of $1,000,0000. The premiums for the life policy are funded out of the tax refunds that the corporation claims thanks to the many deductions it can claim as a result of contributions made to the PPP. By age 80, Ms. Andrews has over $4,000,0000 allocated to her pension inside the PPP in an account that is jointly owned with Céleste. Ms. Andrews then passes away. Two consequences flow from this planning exercise: (a) $1,000,000 in tax free death benefits are paid to the family corporation and credits the Capital Dividends Account. That means that Céleste as a shareholder will be able to withdraw $1,000,0000 without paying any taxes for spending purposes. (b) the $4,000,000 commuted value in the PPP is now surplus and stays in the PPP.
Since Céleste is the only surviving plan member, all of that surplus is now available to her. The estate does not have to worry about any deemed disposition relating to the PPP cash, nor to probate that money in provincial court. Céleste has options with the surplus: (i) withdraw some or all of it, in which case she will have to pay taxes personally on the amount so withdrawn (ii) leave it alone and let it grow tax sheltered over time (iii) take some of the surplus to return it to the corporation. That transaction is taxable for the corporation, however, if the corporation has carried forward tax losses that it has yet to utilize, these losses could mitigate or eliminate any taxes owed upon receiving the surplus cash.
If you have further questions about Personal Pension Plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Getting the most out of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) isn’t just about maxing out your contribution limit every year. It’s also about carefully planning when to withdraw your savings. As a rule of thumb, the longer you can leave your money in the account, the better, allowing your savings to continue growing. When you make withdrawals early, before you retire, your money is no longer able to work toward securing your financial future.
On the other hand, sometimes financial necessity or early retirement plans require you to withdraw your funds early. To decide when to dip into your RRSP and when to hold off, you need to consider several factors: the tax consequences of the withdrawal, the potential tax-advantaged growth you’re giving up, and your individual financial needs.
RRSP withdrawal rules
You can withdraw money from an RRSP at any time for any reason, but be mindful that withdrawals are taxable as income. If you withdraw money while you’re still working, you could inadvertently bump yourself up into a higher tax bracket. Be aware, as well, that a portion of your withdrawal — up to 30% — will be withheld to be put toward taxes, and you may owe additional money come tax time.
There are two exceptions to this rule: The Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP tax-free to pay for a qualifying home for yourself or a relative with a disability. The Lifelong Learning Plan allows you to make a tax-free withdrawal of up to $10,000 per year from your RRSP to pay for full-time training or education for yourself or a spouse. (You cannot use the money to pay for education or training for your child or the child of a spouse.) The funds you withdraw for these programs must be repaid, and repayments are subject to a strict schedule.
It’s also important to note that withdrawals from your RRSP do not increase the amount that you can contribute in a given year. For example, if you have $5,000 of contribution room and withdraw $1,000, you will not have $6,000 of contribution room.
The benefit of leaving your money in the markets
Opportunity cost is one of the biggest issues with early withdrawals from RRSPs. Whatever money you take out of your account is no longer there working for you. In general, you get the most out of a tax-advantaged retirement account when you leave your money in the account over the long term, giving it a chance to benefit from tax-advantaged compounding growth.
Let’s take a look at a simple example. Say you withdraw $10,000 from an RRSP at age 50 to help you buy a new car. That amount is subject to 20% withholding, so you’ll only receive $8,000 to help you make your purchase. If you left that $10,000 in your retirement account until you retired at age 65, it would have had 15 years of tax-advantaged compounding growth. At a 6% interest rate compounding annually, that $10,000 would have grown to about $23,965 by the end of the period. That’s nearly an extra $14,000 you could have put toward retirement income.
Generally speaking, if you can avoid using your RRSP savings for anything but retirement income, you should. In some circumstances, early withdrawals may be necessary. A financial advisor can help you determine your options and come up with a plan to make sure you are still on track to retire.
Contact us today at email@example.com or 647.349.7070 to get the conversation started.
If you’re raising children younger than 18, you may be entitled to monthly support
Of all the challenges that come with parenting, the financial challenge can be the hardest to overcome. Fortunately, if you’re raising children in Canada, the government may offer you monetary assistance in the form of the Canada Child Benefit.
Canada Child Benefit Basics
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) meant to help low- to moderate-income families defray the costs of raising children. The CCB began in July 2016 as a replacement for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the National Child Benefit Supplement, and the Universal Child Care Benefit. It is the most recent and generous incarnation of a program launched in the early 1990s to end child poverty in Canada.
Since July 2018, the CCB has been indexed to the cost of living, meaning that an increase in the cost of living automatically triggers an increase in the CCB amount.
To be eligible for the CCB you must live with a child under the age of 18 whose care and upbringing you are primarily responsible for, and you must be taxed as a resident of Canada. Additionally, either you or your partner must be a Canadian citizen, an Indigenous person, a permanent resident, a protected person, or a temporary resident who meets certain criteria.
If you share custody of your child, and your child spends roughly equal amounts of time at both households, each parent may be entitled to half the CCB payment. In this case, payment will be calculated based on each parent’s own adjusted family net income (AFNI).
How Much Do You Receive?
The amount of your CCB is based on last year’s income and is recalculated every July. For example, your AFNI from 2020 determines how much you’ll get in CCB from July 2021 to June 2022. If your income changes in 2021, it won’t affect your CCB payments until at least July 2022.
The maximum benefit per child is:
- $6,833 per year ($569.41 per month) for children under 6.
- $5,765 per year ($480.41 per month) for children between 6 and 17.
If your 2020 AFNI is:
- less than $32,028, you will receive the maximum benefit.
- between $32,028 and $69,395, your benefit will be reduced by 7% of your income over $32,028
- more than $69,395, your benefit will be reduced by $2,616 plus 3.2% of your income over $69,395.
To find out exactly how much you should receive, use the Child and family benefits calculator at Canada.ca. You can find the Canada Child Benefit application form online.
CCB Young Child Supplement
To provide extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government introduced the CCB young child supplement (CCBYCS) in 2021. A family’s net income must be $120,000 or less to qualify for the full 2021 CCBYCS. Families who qualify will receive four additional payments of up to $300 per child younger than 6 over the course of the year. Families with a net income of more than $120,000 will receive half that amount, or $150, for each child under age 6. Families do not have to apply for the CCBYCS separately, but they must have filed their 2019 and 2020 tax returns.
The CCB is tax-free money with no strings attached for parents raising children in Canada. If you think you might be eligible, it’s worth applying. In addition, some provinces and territories may offer additional resources to help you raise your family. The benefits may be added to the CCB or paid out separately. Visit the CRA website to find out more.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647.349.7070 to get the conversation started.
A divorce is one of the most difficult transitions you can go through. When you add uncertainty about money, that transition can get even more stressful. Here are six steps to help keep your finances intact during—and after—a divorce:
Step 1. Assess your finances and make a budget
As divorce proceedings get underway, take stock of your finances. Start by reviewing your income, retirement accounts, investment portfolio, and insurance policies. Next, make a budget that reflects your income and projected monthly expenses. Include both your personal debts and debts you share with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Make sure to factor in expenses such as finding new housing or buying a car on a single income. Identify gaps in your budget where you come up short and see where you can make cuts to cover the difference.
Step 2. Target shared debts first
Debt on joint accounts can be problematic. Whatever your divorce agreement says, creditors will continue to consider both of you liable for the shared debt. Keeping those accounts open may pose problems later if your former spouse falls behind on payments. Paying off those debts pre-divorce can help avoid those issues.
Step 3. Divide assets thoughtfully
You and your former spouse may agree about dividing shared assets equally. But if you’re trying to protect your finances, there’s more to consider than the relative size of each party’s share—namely, tax implications and liquidity needs.
If the two of you will be in different income brackets post-divorce, consider the tax implications of holding on to various shared assets. For example, some retirement funds are after-tax accounts, meaning taxes were paid on contributions, and eligible withdrawals will be tax-free. Others are pre-tax accounts, meaning you will owe taxes on withdrawals. For assets that come with tax obligations, the higher-earning spouse will likely take the greater tax hit from keeping them. On the other hand, the lower-earning spouse may have a harder time paying the taxes. Weigh factors like these carefully.
You may also find that you and your ex have different liquidity needs. If you own a house together, for example, carefully consider liquidity when deciding whether either of you will keep it. If one of you needs access to the equity tied up in the house, it may make sense to sell it. Alternatively, you could decide one person will get the house while the other takes a larger share of liquid assets.
Step 4. Review your retirement goals
The costs and financial changes that come with divorce can set back your retirement plan. Check to see how the terms of your divorce may alter your path toward your retirement goals. For instance, you may find that pushing retirement back by a few years gives you more financial flexibility. Also, consider upping your contributions to retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs. If you’re age 50 or older, the IRS allows you to make additional “catch up” contributions to save even more toward retirement.
Step 5. Revise your will and other documents
In general, a divorce won’t automatically remove a former spouse as the primary beneficiary of your estate and other assets. Designate new beneficiaries for your estate, life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts. Depending on your state’s laws, you may have to wait until the divorce is finalized to make these changes. You will also likely need to make changes to your health care proxy and financial power of attorney.
Step 6. Make a Plan B
If your divorce agreement states your former spouse must make alimony or child support payments to you, prepare for the possibility that they will fail to pay or pay late. Keep money in an emergency fund to cover expenses, such as childcare, in the event your ex-spouse fails to pay. Also, ask your lawyer about ways to guard against nonpayment in the divorce agreement.
 Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/i-am-divorced-and-getting-calls-about-a-debt-that-is-no-longer-my-responsibility-under-the-divorce-decree-or-property-settlement-agreement-can-a-debt-collector-try-to-collect-this-debt-from-me-en-1413/
 Source: Internal Revenue Service: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-catch-up-contributions
 Source: CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/16/out-of-date-beneficiary-designations-are-a-common-and-costly-mistake.html