Category: finance

Change is in the air, if not in your pocket.

Vancouver Olympic Flame
Where do our taxes go?

This week we heard the results of the HST referendum, with the majority of BC voters rejecting the new Harmonized Sales Tax. The HST replaced the combined 12% Federal GST (Government Sales Tax – 5%) and the PST (Provincial Sales Tax – 7%). You’d think that this would be popular. The arguments for it were to do with simpler tax accounting and business benefits. The arguments against were that the benefits were for business above individuals.

More emotionally, and probably the biggest factor influencing the result, was the way in which the tax was introduced by our Provincial Liberal Government. It came in virtually unannounced and with no debate during our last election. People were protesting against that as much as the tax itself.

The upshot of all this is that the Province now has to refund the Federal Government and unwind the tax – at an estimated cost of $3 billion. Ouch! The unwinding process is going to take up to 18 months to complete. Until then we still have good/bad old HST.

One thing that strikes me, having come from England, is that these taxes are highly visible. The HST or GST/PST is added to the price of your purchase at the till. The effect of this is that a) you see the tax you’re paying and b) you never have the exact change to pay, unless your math skills exceed mine.

Immigration seminars in Dublin and London

Welcome to Canada
Welcome to Canada
Introducing our free seminars

Want to know more about immigrating to Canada?

These seminars are a great way of finding out about the whole process from visas to buying your home – and everything in between.

We are pleased to announce that we are participating in a series of seminars:

  • Dublin – 18 June, 2011

    10:00 – 12:00

    13:00 – 15:00

  • London – 19 June, 2011

    10:00 – 12:00

    13:00 – 15:00

In both cities there is the choice of a morning or afternoon event. You may register for tickets below.

Learn from our panel of experts.

Whether you are just starting out, or you are ready to make the move our panel of experts have answers for your questions.

Who will be there?


Chris Willis

Canadian Visa Specialists

CVS is managed by Christopher Willis, a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant (CCIC) who has been practicing immigration since 1995. Here you will learn about the different routes and visas available for you to come and live in Canada.

Removals – London Seminars

John Moynes

PSS International Removals

PSS INTERNATIONAL REMOVALS are proud of the position they have attained in the Overseas Removals industry. They are the UK’s first choice for Moving Overseas and have successfully helped thousands of customers move to many destinations throughout the world.

PSS International removals are a family run company and their desire is to ensure your family receive a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. They have specialised in international removals for over 29 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle they recognise the importance in ensuring that their customers receive the same level of care and attention that they would expect themselves.

Removals – Dublin Seminars

Jim Farrell

CareLine Removal Service – Dublin

Careline International Moving & Storage is one of Ireland’s largest removal companies, with facilities in Dublin and Limerick. They have local removals crews working out of Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. Careline International has a long and very well established record in international removal and relocation service sectors.

Jim will provide information the process of moving your possessions to your new home in Canada.

Foreign Exchange

Seema Dhimer

Halo Financial

Unlike most banks, Halo Financial can save you up to 4% on your currency exchange!! When migrating, it is important that you trade your currency at the right time and at the best exchange rate. Put simply, get it right and you’ll pay less for your currency, get it wrong and you’ll pay more. Halo Financials friendly, proactive and personal service will help guide you through the process of buying currency ensuring you move to Canada with more Dollars. The service is FREE and there is no obligation to use them so learn how the expert consultants at Halo Financial can help you save money!

Mortgage Broker

Keith Baker

Dominion Lending Centres

Keith Baker’s role as a mortgage consultant is first and foremost, to provide you with exceptional personal service. It is his job to walk you through the mortgage process and to tailor-make your mortgage to best suit your specific financial needs. In doing so, you will be well equipped to make an informed decision as to your choice of mortgage product and financial institution.

Keith will give you insight into the Canadian mortgage market, what Lenders are looking for when qualifying Newcomers to Canada, the mortgage process and things you should be doing prior to you moving and which will assist you greatly with the mortgage process.

Real Estate – Ontario

Renate Penkett (Re/Max Aboutowne Realty Corp)

Renate Penkett has worked as a full time Realtor since 1987, therefore gaining extensive experience in many different market conditions. She is an award winning realtor and has consistently ranked among the top producers in the industry. Her career has been dedicated to international and local relocation. She has attended and participated in symposia related to Real Estate relocation, travelled extensively and has diverse connections worldwide. A global perspective and networking capabilities have resulted in relationships which have paid key roles in relocation and housing transactions.

Renate Penkett will provide information on how the real estate market works, with particular emphasis on Ontario.

Real Estate – British Columbia

Sue Gerryts (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)

Sue Gerryts works as a realtor in Vancouver and has developed global connections as well as local experience.  She has also worked in corporate relocation in a number of international companies, so she is ideally placed to help anyone who is relocating to Vancouver and buying a home there. Frank, her husband, helps in the business and runs a relocation service for people moving to Vancouver:

Sue will be talking about the real estate market with an emphasis on British Columbia.

If your destination in Canada is not Ontario or British Columbia, we can still help you through one of our partners in other provinces.

How to register

Use the links below to register for either the morning or afternoon seminar in either city. You will get your tickets via email.

Dublin Seminars – 18 June, 2011

London Seminars – 19 June, 2011

Hope to meet you in Dublin, London or Vancouver!

How to survive Canadian tax season

HR MacMillan Space Centre
HR MacMillan Space Centre
If you are like me, then paying your taxes must rank right up there with root canal work as one of your least favourite things. I am not going to kid you that it is any better in Canada than anywhere else. Whatever else Canada has going for it, a simple taxation system is not one of them.

OK. Time for a disclaimer. I am not an accountant, financial advisor or any of those professions that my mother wished I would be. So I am just writing as Joe Public, and a pretty dumb one at that.

The Canadian tax system relies on a self-assessment. Basically everyone has to file a tax return that works out what tax they owe. Tax season ends on April 30. At that time you have to have paid any taxes owing or you pay penalties and interest. (Anyone who has noticed my newsletters are late or missing can blame the tax man!)

So how hard is it completing your tax return? If you are an employee and don’t have investments, overseas income, rental properties or other complications then it can be pretty simple. By the start of tax season you will have received a number of tax documents – T4 forms and the like. These will be what you need to report to the Federal and Provincial tax authorities. You will also need to work out what you can legitimately claim against your tax.

You have a few choices in how you complete your tax return:

  • Get the paper forms and fill them in
  • Buy some tax software
  • Go to a high street tax filing bureau
  • Get an accountant


This is probably the worst choice to make. The forms are available in post offices (in the pharmacies usually). Flicking through this pack for the first time will fill you with dread and fear however simple your tax situation. I know this is how I started my tax education in our first year here.


There are several software packages available. These include Quicktax and UFile amongst others. You will see these prominently on display in Staples, Futureshop and London Drugs. I have used Quicktax myself and can only speak of it, however I assume that most will have some sort of wizard feature to take you through the whole process. You should also be able to netfile your return – which means that your tax return is sent to the CRA via the internet, rather than in the post. My first experience of it was still rather baffling and because you cannot netfile your first return, I ended up moving onto the next level…


When I chickened out of filing my first tax return, I ended up going to H&R Block. They are tax filers with offices in the high streets and malls all over the place. During tax season they even set up temporary booths in the concourses of the bigger malls. You can’t miss them. And they are pretty good option for a lot of people. You need to turn up with all your tax documents and they will complete your return for you. If your return is pretty simple, because you are an employee with no added complications, then H&R Block’s claim that you can walk out with your tax refund will probably come true. My oldest daughter did just that this year. And she’d already spent the refund before I’d even filed my return!


If your situation is more complicated then a tax accountant is the way to go. It is worth looking around a bit and finding one who is helpful in explaining the system to a newcomer. And if you find one let me know! My first accountant was good at doing the taxes and rubbish at advising me on what to do. As the system is self assessed, you are responsible for reporting your income and working out what you can claim. Your accountant should be able to help with this, but it is something you learn from experience. It is no good finding out you can claim medical expenses, for instance, if you have not kept your receipts!


As I said earlier, the simplest case is when you are an employee with a few T4 forms to report. If you are self-employed, have rental properties, overseas income and the like, then there are more forms to fill. And you need to have all your receipts so that you can claim any legitimate deductions.

If you are one of those neat freaks who has all that well organized and at your finger tips then hooray. Your life may not be interesting but tax filing should be pretty easy! For the rest of us, we are digging around in shoe boxes for our car service receipts and our trying to guess how many business miles we did last year. All the soul searching about whether we did it right can be pretty taxing. With help you’ll get through it and each year it should get easier. At least I hope it will.

Currency for expats

I came across the following in an Expat Telegraph article called “Can you afford your dream country?”


Currency fluctuation has increased the cost of living in Canada by only 3 per cent in the last six months, the smallest change of all expat hot spots.

With sterling strengthening against the Canadian dollar, British expats living there are enjoying more for their pound.

The average cost of a property in Canada has risen by only £5,599 in six months, a long way from the £32,303 increase in the US.”

It does seem, as one who is now here in Canada, that things are getting more affordable for those coming here. Our housing prices have come down in BC and along with record low interest rates there are a lot of reasons to start looking at the real estate market.

Moving your money over here is dependent on a lot of factors. Most people I talk with are worried about being able to sell their home and, despite what the Telegraph says, are not all that pleased with the exchange rates. It is still a leap of faith coming to Canada and I always urge people to do their research thoroughly. Then you will not have any unpleasant shocks when you do come.

Bank of Canada reduces rate by half percent

Today, the Bank of Canada today announced that it is lowering its target for the overnight rate by one-half of a percentage point to 1/2 per cent in what is expected to be the last such conventional easing from the Bank.

This aggressive move by the Bank of Canada stems from the continued presence of the world-wide credit crunch which has immobilised the global financial system and has led to a rather bleak outlook for the global economy.   The expectation is that the stabilization of the global financial system has potential delays whilst the ambitious plans of some major countries take some time to have the desired effect in addressing toxic assets and recapitalizing financial institutions.   Added to this toxic mix is the fact that consumer and business confidence is extremely low.   The effects of the recent aggressive monetary and fiscal policy actions in Canada and other major economies will begin to be felt in the second half of this year and will build through 2010.

 The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is set for April 21, 2009.

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