Charitable giving has been important to me since my days at The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation in Toronto. The Foundation offered me my first taste of tax-effective charitable giving and estate planning. Working with colleagues and clients who share my love of philanthropy is one of the greatest pleasures of my career. I am privileged to have clients on both sides of the fence: donors and fundraisers. The pandemic has had a very powerful effect on the charitable sector as donations have either dropped considerably (and understandably as a result of job losses and instability) or been diverted to the health-care sector (again, profoundly understandably). With the holiday season quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see whether donors will be as generous and diversified as they have been in the past. This article is an interesting reminder of some of the metrics that can help us to direct our charitable giving.


Click here to read the full article on The Financial Post

I attended the 2020 CIFPs National Conference last week. With no budget to discuss, the conference focussed on discussions of the US Federal election and the manners in which the Canadian government will pay for COVID-related stimulus. Before making strategy decisions to ward off possible increases in the capital gains inclusion rate (the portion of a capital gain that is taxable), GST increases and the elimination of the principal residence exemption, consider the argument put forth in this article. The article suggests that as long as interest rates are low, and the government is the primary purchaser of domestic bonds, funding stimulus on borrowed money will help the economy to grow its way out of this very deep and pervasive recession.


Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

It’s hard to find opportunities in the pandemic market and few Canadians would look to their vehicles as a source of equity. This article presents an interesting idea on how to take advantage of the difference between the “buyout price” on a leased vehicle (which was established before the pandemic) and the market’s renewed interest in used-car purchases (a reaction to the perceived concern over the spread of the infection on public transit) – presenting a rare opportunity to create equity from a leased vehicle.


Click here to read the full article on Forbes

Even phenomenal wealth can be squandered. For example, Michael Jackson – who was arguably the most successful recording artist of all time – died insolvent. An of course, the fact that lotteries are won and lost is the stuff of popular reality television programs.

But once in a while, we learn of a celebrity, industry leader or politician who’s wealth and influence lasts far beyond his or her initial successes. For example, did you know that McDonald’s built is vast share value on the real estate holdings upon which the restaurants are built? Similarly, did you know that the recently departed Eddie Van Halen – guitar impresario – has a very successful line of amplifiers and other specialized equipment? If you have ever wondered what makes some people survive – outwit, outplay and outlast others well beyond their retirements, this article provides some interesting insight.


Click here to read the full article on Forbes

When the government of Canada offered retirees the opportunity to reduce their minimum RRIF withdrawal because of investment markets’ reaction to the pandemic, you might recall that I suggested keeping the withdrawal at its usual level. My reasoning was that taking out the same dollar amount requires deregistering more units of a depreciated mutual fund or ETFs which could allow you to reinvest the proceeds in a TFSA or non-registered account. In this strategy, you are essentially pre-paying the tax at a lower rate because of the prevailing market softness.

This article expands on that strategy for small business owners who probably have seen revenues decline or drop off as a result of the pandemic. If your business revenue has suffered in 2020, you may wish to draw out income from other sources (additional dividends from a private corporation or RRSP withdrawals, for example) at a time when your salary is artificially low.


Click here to read the full article on Entrepreneur

Many home-owners – especially young ones – still think that they can make money by buying homes, renovating and trading up periodically. There continue to be many arguments for and against this strategy. In support of this strategy is the concern about the future of the principal residence exemption – the rule that exempts the appreciation of one personally-occupied residence per household from capital gains taxes. Home renovations could increase the adjusted cost base of the property in some cases; meaning that renovations could reduce capital gains taxes if the principal residence exemption is changed or rescinded.

Contrary to this renovation strategy is the oft-forgotten yet inevitable costs of selling a home which can be estimated at roughly 10% of the value of the home. These costs of sale typically include: realtor fees (5 – 6% of the home’s value), legal and other fees as well as the actual costs of moving. Historically, home values have increased with inflation despite the perception that home prices outpace inflation. At the current inflation rate of 2% per year, it would take just under 5 years to recoup the costs of selling the home; threatening the utility of this buy, renovate and trade-up strategy.


Click here to read the full article on The Star

As a fee-for-service financial planner, I have luxury of looking at investment portfolios in an unbiased manner. In so doing, it becomes easier – but by no means “easy” – to see when assets are over-concentrated in a portfolio. However, commenting on the over-concentration of an investment is one thing; convincing a client to act upon it is quite another. I wonder how many clients I spoke with last year (prior to the pandemic meltdown and economically-unsupported rebound) are still sitting on huge swaths of employer stock holdings, cash, real estate and other often over-concentrated positions.


Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

This wonderful article describes the difficulties faced by working mothers in the US who are trying to “balance” the needs of isolated children and a work-from-home ideal. It also offers some interesting suggestions to help us manage through this time.

Closer to home, FP Canada recently published a study of COVID-related financial stress which also identified a gender gap in the pressures felt by men and women. In their study, women are 17% more likely to say that their level of financial stress has been impacted by COVID-19. Furthermore, unlike the recessions of the past – which disproportionately affect male-dominated fields such as manufacturing and construction – COVID-19 has devastated mostly female-dominated fields such as education, childcare and the service industry.


Click here to read the full article on Entrepreneur

No one knows what tomorrow will bring but managing your finances to provide stability and limit your tax exposure are two ways to take control of your life.


Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail

The countdown to the start of the new school year is upon us. If your children are like mine, they are approaching Labour Day with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Aren’t we all.

For university students, we must also contend with how to pay for their studies. Most are antiquated with the Registered Education Savings Plan which is described well in Tim Cestnick’s article but few are acquainted with the withdrawal strategies that can help you and your child save tax.

In a nutshell, if you child is likely to use up the entire account or if a sibling can use any funds that are left over, there is little planning to be done. You may just want to keep the taxable portion of the withdrawals (the so-called Education Assistance Payment or EAP) at or below the basic personal amount which is $13,229 for 2020. Any withdrawals in excess of this amount should come from the subscriber’s contributions to the account – which can be received by your child tax-free.

However, if you have been a diligent saver, or if your children’s education costs are lower than expected, and your child might not use up the entire RESP, it would be best to ensure that the EAP is exhausted by the time your child/ren complete their studies. This will ensure that any money that remains in the account can be refunded to you on a tax-free basis.

For more information on RESP withdrawal strategies, please feel free to contact me at


Click here to read the full article on The Globe and Mail