The stores are filled with Xmas themed shopping and the end of the 2013 year will soon be upon us. During this season of family and friends, we need to find time to address the end of year tax and investments action list. Some things to remember at this time:
- Capital Gains and Losses – review any investments you have already sold during the year to estimate your current capital gain or loss position. Then consider selling some of your remaining investments to offset that gain or loss before the end of the year. Note: if you are working with a financial advisor that does this for you, make sure they are aware of any capital loss carry-forwards from prior years.
- Rebalance your portfolio – Asset allocation is the key to a portfolio’s success, not just in return but also in managing risk that fits your needs. To maintain the right asset allocation you need to rebalance it regularly. If you work with a financial advisor that has your total portfolio, they will likely perform this rebalancing for you. If you have many financial advisors/accounts, you should check that your total portfolio stays in balance with your asset allocation goals. If your rebalancing generates any capital gains or losses, go back to paragraph 1 and look at the rest of your holdings to consider offsetting them.
- RRSPs – Did you contribute what you intended to this year? Most years you have until 60 days after yearend to make your RRSP contribution and still count it in the current tax year. However, if you turn 71 in 2013, you only have until December 31, 2013 to make that last contribution.
- Tax Installments – if you are required to make tax installments in a tax year, Dec 15th is the date for the last installment for individuals. If you need to sell investments to make the installment payment, go back to paragraph 1 and include an evaluation of your already realized capital gains/losses when deciding which investment to sell.
- Charitable Donations – if you are considering making a charitable donation, consider completing the donation before December 31st in order to be able to claim the deduction in 2013. Remember that donating publicly traded shares with an unrealized capital gain allows preferential tax treatment. Also note the “First Time Donors Super Tax Credit” for donations after March 21, 2013, which enhances the federal tax credit for individuals who have not donated since the 2007 tax year.
- Other Tax credits – most tax credits need to be paid out before December 31st in order to include them in the current year’s tax calculation. Some of these include:
- Political contributions
- Tuition fees and interest payments on student loans
- Medical Expenses
- Childcare and Children’s fitness/non-fitness expenses
- Alimony and maintenance expenses
- Business Owners – if you own an incorporated business, review your salary/dividend mix with your financial advisor and determine the best structure of any remaining payments before December 31st. Pay your family members a reasonable salary for work performed in 2013.
- TFSA withdrawals – if you need to withdraw funds from your TFSA in the next 3-6 months, consider doing so before December 31st, 2013. If you withdraw the funds before the end of 2013, you will be able to repay them in 2014. If you withdraw the funds in 2014, you will have to wait to repay them until 2015.
- RESP contributions – if you have not yet contributed $2500 to your child(ren)’s RESP, consider doing so before December 31st to receive the $500 CESG gov’t contribution. Remember the maximum lifetime grant per child is $7200 and contributions when the child is 16 and 17 have special rules to be eligible for CESG grants. Go to www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/resp-reee/ for more details.
- RRIF/LIF – make sure you have received your minimum annual withdrawal amount before December 31st. The financial advisor or institution holding your RRIF/LIF can help you with this. Also, if you turned 65 this year, consider transferring enough of your RRSP/LIRA into a RRIF/LIF in order to take a $2000 withdrawal each year, which you can offset against the Pension Tax credit. Remember to consider pension splitting with your spouse.
Full Service financial firms such as Tridelta Financial Planning will include the above and other year-end strategies in their total service package to increase the efficiencies of your financial plan. Having all of your investments managed by one full-service financial planner will also better enable them to maximize your opportunities for these strategies.