Under the FATCA rules, financial institutions are obligated to provide the IRS with information about accounts and holdings of U.S. citizens. Basically, the IRS is trying to make sure you are not hiding money overseas though Canada is hardly a tax haven. But there is more to this overreaching legislation that just tracking down deadbeat U.S. citizens.
For the past few years, Canadians have been taking advantage of our dollar being worth about the same as the U.S. dollar. From buying up real estate to cross-border shopping, being on par with the U.S. dollar has had its advantages. However, in the last few months, economic factors have driven the Canadian dollar down. It may be time to regroup and look at some strategies to make the weakening dollar work for you.
How is it that everyone seems to know someone who's paid under the table, but no one concedes to doing it? Of course, that's no surprise. Who wants to admit to putting personal gain ahead of the greater good? It costs jobs, undermines businesses that play by the rules, and deprives the government of much needed revenue for vital programs. Statistics Canada says the underground economy totalled $42.4 billion in 2012, roughly 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product, much of it occurring in the construction, finance and real estate, retail and hospitality industries.
Canadians may be able to save more in their Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) but most are still confused by how the account actually works. Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) seemed like a simple concept when it was announced in 2009. Canadians over the age of 18 were allowed to save up to $5,000 per year in a TFSA. But the rules are easily misinterpreted. I know several people who have been hit with overcontribution fines.
The CRA conducts random reviews over the summer months to make sure that people are claiming their credits correctly. These requests from the CRA are not audits -- they are simply requests for supporting paperwork. However, some taxpayers will receive a Notice of Reassessment usually with an amount owing.
While the extension is good news for anybody who might have left their tax filing to the last minute, it demonstrates that mistakes can happen fairly easily. If the almighty taxman can miss updating a date on a memo then it's completely fathomable that we might make a few errors when it comes to our taxes. But tax mistakes can be costly.
If you don't owe, you may not feel any pressure to file but getting your tax return completed on time makes good financial sense. If you miss your tax filing deadline, you are immediately hit with a five per cent penalty on whatever you owe. It may be easy to put it off and file later, but you should remember that a tax refund is your money.
Everyone has their own style when it comes to filing their tax returns. You can file yourself, or use a tax pro, but make sure you file by the deadline. No matter how you choose to do your return, you want to make sure you are claiming all of the credits and deductions available so you don't pay any more tax than needed.
A report released today by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre calls for sweeping reform of Canadian charitable law in line with other jurisdictions such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and England. Current rules around "political activity" are confusing and create an "intolerable state of uncertainty," the report says.