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Tax Alerts
December 04, 2020

Canadians have a well-deserved reputation for supporting charitable causes, through donations of both money and goods. Our tax system supports that generosity by providing a tax credit for qualifying donations made.


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.


Since the pandemic began early in 2020, and especially after many non-essential businesses were required to close temporarily as a public health measure, the federal government has brought forward a broad range of financial relief programs for both individuals and businesses.


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


Between mid-February and mid-August of this year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) received and processed just over 29 million individual income tax returns filed for the 2019 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.


When the state of emergency was declared in March of this year, the federal government extended the usual deadlines for both the filing of individual tax returns and payment of taxes owed, for both 2019 and 2020. Sometimes those deadlines (like the deadline for filing of individual income tax returns for 2019) were put off until June, but most such deadlines were deferred until September 30. A summary of the federal individual income tax deadlines which will fall this year on September 30 is set out below.


Of all the many financial relief programs introduced by the federal government to address the economic impact of the pandemic, probably none has had a bigger impact than the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). As of August 16, nearly 9 million Canadians had applied for and received payments under the CERB program, and the program had paid out just over $70 billion.


Most Canadians who participate in the paid work force do so as employees. Consequently, they receive a regular paycheque from their employer and they pay income taxes by means of amounts deducted from that paycheque and remitted to the federal government on their behalf.


It’s an acknowledged reality that times of crisis bring out both the best and the worst in people. While most Canadians would never consider using the current pandemic as a means of defrauding others, this is not, unfortunately, true of everyone.

This is a time when Canadians are particularly vulnerable to scammers and fraud artists, for a number of reasons. First, of course, is the financial dislocation which has resulted from the pandemic — many Canadians have lost income and may be in real financial difficulty, making them especially vulnerable to fraudulent communications indicating that there is money available to them. Second, the federal government has instituted a great number of programs to provide financial assistance to those hit hard by the pandemic. The sheer number of those programs, however, and the fact that they have had to be revised frequently to take account of changing conditions has resulted in an inevitable degree of confusion about just what is available, who is eligible for the different benefits, and how to claim them. That confusion makes it easier for fraud artists to convince their victims of the validity of what they are “offering”. It also makes taxpayers vulnerable to phone calls or voice mails in which they are, in effect, accused of receiving benefits to which they were not entitled and demanding that they send funds in repayment.


When states of emergency were being declared across the country in March of this year, thousands of businesses were forced to close their doors and, as a result, were faced with the necessity of laying off some or all of their employees.

The question of when, or even whether, those employees could and would be recalled to work was essentially unknown at that time. To address that reality the federal government established the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. As the name implies, the program involved the payment of a subsidy to the employer, who would use those funds to keep employees on the payroll pending the re-opening of the business and the return to work.


For post-secondary students the upcoming academic year is going to be unlike anything they have previously experienced. Post-secondary institutions across the country are now determining whether, and to what extent, students should return to in-class learning or whether, at least for the fall semester of the 2020-21 academic year, programs should be delivered entirely through online or remote learning. While some institutions have already indicated that they will be only providing online learning, and a smaller group intends to continue entirely with the traditional in-class model, most universities and colleges have taken a “wait and see” approach, choosing to employ a “hybrid” model which combines in-class learning with online courses.


When the Canada Pension Plan was put in place on January 1,1966, 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 CPP on retirement, usually at the age of 65. Once an individual was receiving retirement benefits, he or she was not required (or allowed) to make further contributions to the CPP. The CPP retirement benefit for which that individual was eligible therefore could not increase (except for inflationary increases) after that point.


Just over a decade ago, it was possible to buy a home in Canada with no down payment — financing 100% of the purchase price — and extending the repayment period for that borrowing over a 40-year period.


While Canadians had an extended time this year to file their income tax returns for the 2019 tax year, the extended filing deadlines (June 1 for the majority of Canadians, and June 15 for self-employed individuals and their spouses) have passed and returns should be filed.


While the standard (and accurate) advice is that tax and financial planning are best approached as activities to be carried on throughout the year, it’s also the case that a mid-year tax and financial checkup makes good sense, and that’s especially the case this year.


We Are Open for Business - Providing Services Safely to Our ClientsOur Brandon and Hamiota offices are once again open regular hours. Appointments are also being taken in remote offices located in Deloraine, Killarney and Birtle (call for attendance days).

We take very seriously the health of our clients and our staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have carefully researched and planned in preparation for this and will continue to take steps to reduce potential exposure to those we work with and the community at large. We reserve the right to change our procedures at any given time should it be necessary.

The following actions have been taken:


Our Commitment to You:

We are using social distancing techniques to conduct business where possible, including telephone and video conferencing.

Clients are seen by scheduled appointment only. Screening questions are reviewed prior to all appointments. Appointments are booked strategically so as to limit the number of clients in our office at any given time.

We have proactively enhanced cleaning and sanitation processes within our office.

When you enter our office, you will notice:

- hand sanitizer at several stations with all visitors being encouraged to use this upon entry and exit
- plexiglass shields in place where visitors may frequent
- the use of facemasks for those in attendance of meetings
- screening of all clients who will be attending scheduled appointments


Our Commitment to our Staff:

Our staff has been given training in the areas of:

- maintaining safe work spaces
- minimizing prolonged (more than ten minutes), close (less than six feet) contact between co-workers
- avoiding greetings that involve touching or handshakes
- proper hand washing and cough etiquette
- instruction to remain at home and follow public health advice relating to self-monitoring and self isolation if they, or a member of their household, feels ill
- the use of facemasks when participating in ‘in-office’ meetings


If you wish to meet with one of our team members:

We invite you to contact our offices for information. We offer the following options:

- a scheduled telephone call
- a virtual meeting using Microsoft Teams
- a scheduled in-person meeting

Not sure about using Teams? We have trained staff who can assist you and even do a trial run to ensure your computer, iPad or cellular phone will work for this. We have found that this works extremely well, especially for clients who normally would travel a distance.

Questions about in-person meetings? Specific protocols will be followed, and our administration staff is happy to outline the procedure for meeting with one of our professionals.

We commit to continuing to service our clients while actively monitoring the situation to ensure health and safety for all. Although we live in uncertain times, our commitment to provide you with a high quality of work and personal service remains. We appreciate your cooperation and patience.

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