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Tim Hortons deal, plunging oil were 2014's most read business stories

12/27/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 02/25/2015 05:59 EST
The move by U.S. fast food giant Burger King to gobble up venerable Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons made big headlines this year. But it wasn't the only business story that dominated the news cycles in 2014. Here's our list of the most-read stories we told you about in the past 12 months on CBCNews.ca Business.

10: Carry-on chaos

​First, it was WestJet that irked passengers by announcing it would start charging $25 to check in a bag, but Air Canada quickly followed suit. Passengers were angry about the seeming cash-grab, and even the airlines' frontline staff started to complain about having to enforce the unpopular rule, slowing down the check-in process even more.

It was certainly a talker with our readers, and one thing is for sure — as airlines move toward a model of a-la-carte air travel, you can expect to see more of these fees with your ultra-cheap base fare.

9: TFSA pitfall

When the government introduced Tax-Free Savings Accounts in the 2009 tax year, they were heralded as a boon for savers and the biggest new retirement tool since the RRSP. Five years in, however, it seems a small number of Canadians are finding themselves accidentally breaking a small rule.

Namely, if you put money in to a TFSA but take it out in the same year, you can't put that money back into the TFSA later in the year without being deemed to have overcontributed. That's what happened to more than 50,000 Canadians this year, CRA says.

That's a small figure compared to the 10 million Canadians who have a TFSA, but still a good lesson to remember. And another great reason why using a TFSA as a simple cash savings account isn't always the best idea.

8: Heartbleed nabs Canadian SINs

Speaking of taxes, another one of our biggest stories this year was our report in April that about 900 Canadians may have had their SIN numbers stolen from the tax agency's database because of a weakness related to the Heartbleed security bug. Heartbleed made thousands of websites vulnerable to attack, but none had a higher ability to do harm than the tax man's.

7: Outrageous fees

Our web story accompanying a recent Marketplace episode touched a nerve, as we reported the five most outrageous fees Canadians say they're fed up with. From bank fees to ticket surcharges, seat-selection charges and worst of all, fees for not having a paper bill, it was an issue that clearly resonated with Canadians. And it's also one sure to not go away any time soon.

6: 'Atrocious' investment advice

Personal finance issues were a recurring theme, and that was best manifested in this CBC exclusive we brought you in February, uncovering just how many so-called investment advisers give their clients incorrect, misleading and in some cases terrible investment advice.

A lack of regulation, a needlessly complicated complaints process and a troubling lack of knowledge of the issue were cited.

5: 10 tax myths

Returning to the tax theme, this service piece by the CBC's Tom McFeat was widely shared on social media, dispelling some of the myths that cost Canadians real money come tax time. Everything from whether or not you're more likely to be audited if you file online (spoiler: you're not) to the notion that a raise may not be worth it because it'll bump you up into the next tax bracket (definitely not true).

4: Target misses mark

Canadians had high hopes for Target when it launched here in 2013. But the retail chain's story for 2014 was one of stumbles — not successes. From higher-than-expected prices to empty store shelves, it wasn't smooth sailing. One of our most-read stories this year looked at what lessons the chain's failures can have for other troubled retail companies. Another one looked at exactly what went wrong to make Target miss the mark here.

3: Citronella bug spray banned

A story we brought you in August about how Health Canada would ban the use of citronella insect repellents starting next year got huge pick-up this summer. But you may not have heard the update, which we reported just this week, that the agency has reversed its decision, and the products can be sold pending review. ​

The science is still out on this one, but it's all the more reason to read up on the issue in December, before the mosquitoes come back with a vengeance in a few short months.

2:  Oil's collapse

It's since fallen to below $60 US, but it was big news when Goodman Sachs, the world's biggest investment bank, said oil would drop to $70 a barrel. Oil was over $105 in July before a supply glut pushed the price down almost 50 per cent in a slide that continues today. We've written on the issue just about every day for the last pwo months, but our story on Goldman's call resonated more than any others.

The world is currently producing somewhere between about a million and three million more barrels of oil than it needs every day, so the issue is sure to be in the news through 2015. Check back with our website often for more, and until then check out some of our better explainers on the topic here, here and here.

1: Burger King gobbles Tim

It came out of nowhere, and Burger King's $20-billion bet on Canada's Tim Hortons blew away all other business stories this year in terms of the number of clicks. It's often said that Tims is a national institution in Canada, so perhaps the obsession with the story makes sense.

It's a done deal now, given the OK by shareholders of both companies, and regulatory bodies on both sides of the border. But don't worry, the new company says it has no plans to phase out the Timbit or the double-double any time soon. They promise.

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