TFSA (CANADA) – RAMIFICATIONS OF FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE OF THE PLAN

TFSA (CANADA) – RAMIFICATIONS OF FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE OF THE PLAN

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This case study outlines how a financial advisor has shown it is possible for Canadian TFSA holders with large accounts to evade paying income tax for a number of years (15) and use benefits intended for low income persons by circumventing the low income assistance programs.

HISTORY OF TAX FREE SAVINGS ACCOUNT (TFSA)

The TFSA was introduced in 2009 by Stephen Harper, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, and Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance.

The maximum annual contribution room at present is $6,000 per year and is indexed to the Consumer Price Index in $500 increments to account for inflation.  The 2015 Progressive Conservatives raised the contribution limit to $10,000 and eliminated indexation for inflation.  However, the newly elected Liberal government re-implemented the pre-2015 contribution limit of $5,500 for 2016 which will be indexed for inflation after that.  As of January 1, 2019, the total cumulative contribution room for a TFSA is $63,500 per person and $127,000 for couples and for those who have been 18 years or older and residents of Canada for all eligible years. Any unused contribution room under the cap can be carried forward to subsequent years, without any upward limit.  There are no limits on withdrawals from TFSA accounts. TFSAs are not declared as income and, therefore, are not taxed.

CASE STUDIES FOR COUPLE MICHAEL AND JULIE,  UNATTACHED PERSON MICHEL AND UNATTACHED PERSON PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEE

(1) THEY WANT TO SPEND $50,000 PER YEAR IN RETIREMENT.  DID THEY SAVE ENOUGH? By Mark Seed, My Own Advisor and Owen Winkelmolen, PlanEasy) LINKS

Michael and Julie (they-want-to-spend-50000-per-year-in-retirement-did-they-save-enough)  $600,000 paid for home and a million dollars in retirement savings.

Sources of Income chart for Michael and Julie (Sources-of-Income-50000-per-year-.png) – they want to retire on $50,000 per year at age 55 – shows how they can avoid paying taxes for 15 years while using benefits intended for low income persons.

Net Worth chart for Michael and Julie (Net-Worth-50000-per-year-post-September-5-2018.png) at age 100 they will still have an enormous amount of wealth, especially in TFSA accounts.

(2) ALL THE FRUGALITY IN THE WORLD WON’T LET THIS 34 YEAR OLD RETIRE AT 45 by Allen Allentuck LINK                                                                                Michel (all-the-frugality-in-the-world-wont-let-this-34-year-old-retire-at-45)

(3) PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEE BASED ON THE REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE (SINGLE)

Financial Profile Page 1 revised Jan. 2019 post

Financial profile TFSA holder2 page 2 revised Jan. 2019

CAVEATS – Financial information for couple in this report is limited.  It is difficult to determine if this is a real life case scenario or an example made up to illustrate what is possible for $50,000 retirement income.  As stated in the report the investment returns for TFSA remains constant for each year which is not the case in real life. It also is not possible to assess if real estate value will go up or down. It appears the couple have no children.

Financial profile for unattached individuals –  Michel’s food cost seems high (unless he requires a special diet and males require more calories). It appears he has no condo fees so he probably has expenses like condo maintenance.  Public service employee profile is based on snapshots of real life experiences of unattached persons. For the most part it closely matches the financial profile of Michel.  Food costs are replaced by mortgage costs.

Financial profiles are incomplete.  For example, expenses like medical eye and dental care and saving for vehicle replacement are not listed.

DETAILS OF CASE STUDIES FOR MARRIED COUPLE MICHAEL AND JULIE (Ontario), AGE 35 AND UNATTACHED INDIVIDUAL MICHEL, AGE 34 (Quebec)

Retirement age – Michael and Julie want to retire at age 55.  Michel wants to know if he can retire at age 45 and travel the world.  Many married couples have the ability to retire at age 55. Some would say Michel’s desire to retire at age 45 is unrealistic.  His financial advisor states that regardless of how frugal Michel is he will not be able to retire before the age of 60. Why is that unattached persons always have to be frugal and work longer?

Retirement income – Michael and Julie want a retirement after tax income of $50,000 at age 55.  Michel’s financial advisor states he unequivocally has to work to age 60 to achieve a retirement after tax income of $40,000.  There is that frugality once again!

Investment Amounts at present time – Michael and Julie’s account at present time totals $570,623 in TFSA and $423,706 in RRSP.  They have continually maxed out their TFSA accounts. Overall their portfolio has a 70/30 mix of stocks and fixed income.  A 6% rate of return on stocks and a 2.5% rate of return on fixed income is assumed for the article. They already have at age 35 a total close to a million dollars so it is difficult to figure why the amount wouldn’t be in excess of well over a million dollars in twenty years time at age 55.

Michel has $24,329 in TFSA and $90,701 in RRSP.  Calculations for retirement income are based on a 3% rate of return.

Investment Amounts at time of retirement – Estimate for Michael and Julie is stated in 2018 dollar value, not value at time of retirement, so value at retirement should be well over $1 million.  Total capital estimates for Michel at age 60 are $895,000.

Housing – Michael and Julie own a $600,000 house which they expect to own outright at time of retirement at age 55.  They plan on selling their home around age 80 and moving into an apartment or condo to rent. That might add $30,000/year to their expenses but they will have freed up almost $600,000 in real estate assets (minus 5% transaction fees).

Michel has a $165,000 condo.  He has a $97,000 mortgage with 24 years remaining amortization. At present rates, the mortgage will be paid when Michel is 58.

Income – Michael and Julie’s income is not stated, but it must be quite high to achieve the investments and $600,000  house they have at the present time. Michel has an income of $70,000 which is well above the median and average incomes for unattached individuals.

Vehicle –   Value of vehicle for couple is not stated.  The value of Michel’s vehicle is $2,500 which must be pretty much a “junker”.

How Michael and Julie will achieve their goal of retirement income of $50,000 as outlined in article

Because all their retirement savings are inside registered accounts such as their TFSAs and RRSPs, Michael and Julie have a lot of control over withdrawals and allows them to reduce taxes and optimize government benefits like CPP, OAS, and GIS.

To start, Michael and Julie will withdraw just enough from their RRSP to maximize the basic tax exemption, the rest of their income will come from their TFSA. This mix of RRSP and TFSA withdrawals (with no other income sources) will help them pay virtually zero taxes for the first 15 years of their retirement.  This will take them from ages 55 to ~ age 70.  (In the process they will have gained  almost $135,000 in benefits from paying no taxes for 15 years and reduced the income taxes on their estate to nearly zero.  At time of death their investment portfolio will consists mainly of TFSA.)

There are two other ways they can optimize their taxes and benefits during retirement.

The first is to reduce their taxable income between ages 64 and 71 by drawing primarily from TFSA. By starting OAS at age 65, but delaying CPP to age 70, their TFSA withdrawals will allow them to be eligible for GIS, GAINS, GST and Trillium benefits which are supposed to be only for low income persons (definitions provided below). Between ages 65 and 72 these benefits meant for low income persons will add $108,305 to their retirement income.

The second way they can optimize their taxes and benefits is to slowly shift their RRSPs into their TFSA each year. By taking advantage of the lowest tax bracket, they can slowly draw down their RRSPs at a low tax rate and shift these investments into their TFSA. Moving money into their TFSA makes these funds easily available in the future and reduces the taxes on their final estate.

Once they reach age 65 their withdrawal rate on investment will drop dramatically as Old Age Security (OAS) and other government benefits kick in. Then it drops again at age 70 when their Canada Pension Plan benefits begin.  By delaying withdrawal of CPP at 65 years to 70 years the rate of return on CPP will increase by 8.4% per year. By delaying CPP to age 70, they will receive 42% more than if taken at 65.

How Michel will achieve his goal of retirement income of $40,000 at age 60

From the article:  “The problem of early retirement is twofold: Not only must one build up savings faster, but those savings have to last a longer time than they would with later retirement.

In Quebec, a man we’ll call Michel, 34, works in financial services. He earns $70,000 a year and takes home $3,640 per month after many deductions for taxes and benefits. Frugal in his spending, cautious in his investing, he wants to retire at age 45 with $40,000 income per year after tax. Assuming a 3 per cent return rate after inflation, that implies he will be able to add $1 million to present savings in 11 years. On present income, it’s unlikely.

Michel’s goals will be hard to achieve even by 50, the planner says. The earliest he can retire with a $40,000 income after tax is 60. Assuming that he can achieve and maintain a 3 per cent annual return after inflation, then in 26 years his RRSP with a present value of $90,701 and $10,800 annual contributions will have risen to a value of $612,000. With the same assumptions, his TFSA with a present value of $24,329 and $6,000 annual contributions including catch-up additions to fill space will have risen to a value of $283,800. His total capital available for retirement income will total $895,800.

Assuming a 3 per cent return before tax, his RRSP and TFSA capital at 60 would generate $40,475 per year based on an annuitized payout that would exhaust all capital and income in the following 35 years to his age 95.

If he waits until age 65 and were to draw QPP (Quebec Pension Plan) of 64 per cent of a theoretical maximum benefit of $13,600 in 2019 dollars per year at age 65, $8,704, his total income would be $49,179. Retiring early makes attaining this maximum unlikely even with scheduled increases in CPP/QPP contributions and benefits, a planned 52 per cent boost to be phased in starting Jan. 1, 2019. After 20 per cent average tax, he would have $39,343 per year or $3,280 per month. At age 65, he could add Old Age Security benefits, currently $7,210 per year for total income of $56,389 before tax. Still using the 20 per cent rate, he would have post-tax income of $3,760 per month.

Calculations show that even if Michel retires at age 60, 26 years from now, he would have to live very modestly. Retiring at 60 and starting QPP benefits with a 36 per cent discount would have a drastic cost on his total lifetime benefit from CPP. The amount he will give up each month compared to the full age 65 benefit, about $5,000 per year, will have cost him $171,500 with no compounding for the following 35 years. It is a very high price to pay for what amounts to a five year bridge to full benefits at 65.”

ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL PROFILES

Housing – Couple has $600,000 house and Michel has $165,000 condo.  Depending on what part of Ontario couple is from this is probably par for housing.  For Michel it is possible that in parts of Quebec housing can be purchased for lower prices. However, Michael and Julie will probably have much higher investment possibilities when they sell their house versus when Michael sells his condo.  One can bet that couple has a better lifestyle in their house than Michel in his condo. In many parts of Canada it would extremely difficult for an unattached individual to purchase housing under $200,000.

Accumulation of wealth – It is unmistakable that couple is able to achieve so much more in wealth than unattached individual even when unattached individual has a relatively high income and is frugal in his spending.  At age 35 they are already millionaires. The net worth information in the article is not clear on how much net worth is expected to increase between present date and retirement at age 55. The Net Worth table appears to use the same net worth at present and at age 55 – about $1 million in real estate and RRSP and $600,000 in TFSA.  At age 75, after paying no income tax for 15 years and using benefits that are supposed to be for low income persons, values appear to be about the same. However, what is shocking is how even though RRSP and non registered accounts have virtually been depleted at age 100 the TFSA has increased in value to over $2 million. The reader is encouraged to view the tables at the links provided above.  They provide a striking picture of how income tax collection is flatlined at $0 and how net worth increases over time to age 100 instead of being depleted.

It is impossible for unattached persons, no matter how wealthy they are, to ever achieve the wealth that is possible for couples because it costs more for singles to live and they must save a greater retirement amount for one person as opposed to two persons.

Taxes – Many of the financial profiles of unattached individuals with Michel’s income show he would probably pay a rate of 20%.  Couples who are able to use tax avoidance vehicles like pension splitting are often shown to pay income tax at rates as low as 10%.  For Michael and Julie they are able to not pay income tax for 15 years. It is an understatement to say that couples, even wealthy ones, seem to pay less income tax because of manipulation of marital benefits, pension splitting, etc.  Unattached individuals are bearing the brunt of the Canadian tax system which purposely favors married persons over unattached persons.

LESSONS LEARNED

Financial advantages of couples over unattached individualsJust how many times can it be said that according to Market Basket Measure it costs more for unattached individuals to live than couples without children (if single has value of 1.0, the value for a couple without children is 1.4, not 2.0).  Couples without children are able to maximize their net worth over unattached individuals because of marital benefits, ability to multiply wealth times two (TFSA) and compounding of investments times two. All things being equal it is virtually impossible for unattached individuals to achieve the same financial wealth as couples even though it costs more for singles to live.

TFSA revised 2019 copy 1

TFSA outrageously is a goldmine for the wealthy and the married – TFSA has been in place for ten years.  Maxed out TFSA now total $127,000 for couples and $63,500 for unattached individuals.

It is astonishing how Michael and Julie and Michel have been able to reach their TFSA amounts at present time with maxed out contributions.

It stands to reason that the wealthy are more likely to exponentially increase the value of their TFSAs especially if they are more risk tolerant in investment plans than low income persons.

Vetting of Income for GIS and other low income applications – Interest and investment income does have to be declared on low income applications.  However, TFSA investments are not declared as income ever. This is what allows the wealthy to circumvent the financial restrictions on who can receive assistance the low income assistance programs.

Hypocrisy of TFSA declaration of non income –  This may be harsh but TFSA not needing to be declared as income creates anger and despair for those who do not have the means to contribute to TFSA.  TFSA holders who purposefully use benefits not intended for the wealthy could be called TFSA grifters or chiselers – grifters or chiselers are con artists; in this case they swindle people and governments out of money but all within legal limits of the law.

Hypocrisy of those who demonize public pensions – Many, including far right Conservatives and proponents of private enterprise versus government jobs, berate those who receive public pensions, especially defined benefit plans .  Many of these persons are financially illiterate by stating the taxpayers pay for these systems. The real truth is that defined benefit plans are made up of employee, employer contributions and well managed investments.

Persons who are members of public pension plans must contribute a substantial amount (10%) of their income to the plan, pay taxes as contributors and pay taxes when benefits are received.  Many who do not have a choice or choose to contribute to public pension plans cannot contribute fully to TFSAs because their incomes do not allow them to contribute to both pension plans and TFSAs.

Public pensions are not a given.  They can fail if investment managers make bad decisions and if companies decide to abandon public pensions in bankruptcy.

The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) is a defined benefit plan, so do these same beraters want to abolish CPP?

Those who are able to maximize their TFSA should also pay taxes on their TFSA investments before they demonize public pensions.

Future consequences and collateral damage if TFSA remains the same – Ability to contribute to TFSAs have now been in place for eleven years.  If the plan is not changed so TFSA is declared as income and taxed then the wealth spread between the rich and poor will increase exponentially.  Only the need to help the middle class is being discussed by some political parties. The middle class is already being transformed into the upper middle class and wealthy while singles and the poor (boondoggle-for-singles-and-low-income) are being pushed further into poverty by the actions of these same political parties.  There will be no middle class.

Every year that goes by with no revisions to the TFSA will ensure elimination of the middle class and singles and poor families getting poorer.  Every year that goes by with the upper middle class and wealthy not paying any tax on TFSA investments and these accounts growing to incredible wealth will ensure bankruptcy of the Canadian economy.  How are schools, hospitals, roads going to be built if there is an insufficient tax base to support the building of these projects?

COMPARISON OF TFSA TO OTHER PLANS (how-does-the-tfsa-stack-up)

All TFSA plans are designed to supplement and manage income from other forms of savings.  It appears only the USA, UK, South Africa and Canada have tax free savings plans.  It also appears Canada has the most generous plan with the only limit being annual contribution limit.

The USA Roth IRA has similar contribution limits ($6,000 for those under 50 and $7,000 age 50 and over) but Americans can only make the maximum contribution if their gross income is below a specific threshold – in 2019 the threshold for unattached person modified adjusted gross income limit is $122,000 or less.  Contributions limit is reduced for income between $122,000 to $136,999 and is completely eliminated for income over $137,000. For joint filers (couples) the income limit is $193,000. Contribution limit is reduced for incomes $193,000 to $202,999 or less and is completely reduced for incomes $203,000 or more. US residents have to wait a ‘seasoning’ period of five years, and be at least 59-½ years of age, before they can withdraw tax-free from a Roth IRA.  TFSAs are primarily multi-purpose vehicles while Roth IRAs are primarily meant for retirement savings.

The fine print on Roth IRA contributions limits (roth-ira-contribution-limits) is that contributions cannot be more than individual’s taxable compensation for the year. That means that if taxable income is $3,000, the cap on Roth IRA contributions is also $3,000 for that year. If there aren’t any taxable earnings during the year, there can’t be any contributions.  The one exception is the spousal IRA which allows a nonworking spouse to contribute to an IRA based on the taxable income of the working spouse.  Roth IRA distributions aren’t included in income in retirement so are not taxable. Monies earned from investment are tax-free.

Persons age  59½ or over may withdraw as much as wanted as long as Roth IRA has been open for at least 5 years.  Persons under 59½ years of age may withdraw the exact amount of Roth IRA contributions with no penalties.  However, the earnings from the principal cannot normally be withdrawn prior to age 59½ without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

It should be noted that the Roth IRA has an equivalence scale method built in similar to the Market Basket Measure.  The couple limit of $193,000 to $202,999 is not twice that of the unattached person limit of $122,000 to $136,999.

SOLUTIONS

If Canada as a country does not want to go bankrupt as a result of tax not being collected on TFSAs it is incumbent upon government and politicians to change policies so that TFSA cannot grow to unabated levels.  Also, Market Basket Measure (MBM) must be applied to TFSA formulas so that income does not benefit married persons over single unattached persons. The US Roth IRA does this. Why can’t the same be done for the Canadian plan?  The US Roth IRA does not allow the wealthy over specified limits to have a Roth IRA at all. Also, change the plan so that only contributions can be withdrawn early without penalty like the Roth IRA. Lastly, the nonsensical ability to withdraw contributions from the plan and then at a later top them up again benefits only the wealthy.  Once a contribution is made it should be not able to be topped up again when withdrawn.

Donald Trump’s ignorance on MBM and similar equivalence scale measures is demonstrated by his income tax amount reductions to double for couples to that of unattached persons instead of applying equivalence scale values of 1.0 for singles and 1.4 for couples.

It is unfathomable that Stephen Harper, an economist and Leader of the Progressive Conservatives and the PC Party, would not have taken into account the future ramifications and collateral damage that this plan would cause in creating every widening separation of the rich from the poor as the years go by.

How do governments and politicians change discriminatory financial plans that have been in place for many years without backlash from the privileged and those who feel entitled even with the discrimination?  Which political party will take this on?

For God’s sake, politicians, political parties and those who demonize social programs need to educate themselves on costs of living for unattached persons and poor families versus wealthy couples and consider full ramifications of how to avoid financial discrimination now and into the future.  If heed is not taken to the above then be prepared for the anger as has already been displayed by the poor throughout the world. You have been forewarned!

DEFINITIONS

GAINS – Ontario Guaranteed Annual  Income System may provide a monthly, non-taxable benefit to low-income seniors to between $2.50 and $83 in 2018.

GIS benefit – Guaranteed Income Supplement provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients who have a low income and are living in Canada.

GST credit – The goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay. It may also include payments from provincial programs.

Trillium benefits – Ontario Trillium Benefit combines three credits to help pay for energy costs as well as sales and property tax: Northern Ontario Energy Credit, Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, Ontario Sales Tax Credit.  Beneficiaries need to be eligible for at least one of the three credits to receive the benefit.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

NET WORTH AND ASSETS CONTRIBUTE TO FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES-Part 2 of 2

NET WORTH AND ASSETS CONTRIBUTE TO FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLESPart 2 of 2

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

When politicians, government and the wealthy continue to perpetuate myths that net worth and assets are too difficult to calculate or should not or cannot be included in financial formulas, this continues to make it possible for the wealthy to maintain their wealth and impossible for singles and the poor to maintain or increase their financial well-being thus resulting in financial discrimination and poverty for these groups.

The following three examples show how inclusion or exclusion of net worth and assets perpetuates the myths proposed by financial analysts, politicians, government and the wealthy.

EXAMPLE #1

Affordable Housing (services)

One assistance program in Alberta is Community Housing which is a subsidized rental program. It provides housing to families and individuals who have a low or modest income. Program funding comes from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.To qualify, applicants must be Canadian Citizens, independent landed immigrants, or government sponsored landed immigrants. Assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000. Assets include, but are not limited to:

  • bank accounts
  • investments (excluding RRSPs)
  • equity in property
  • equity in a motor vehicle (assessed by reviewing the value in the most current Canadian Red Book)

EXAMPLE #2

Legal Aid Alberta (legalaid)

Financial Eligibility Guidelines – If income falls within the amounts listed below, person(s) may be eligible for legal representation and to have a lawyer appointed.  Representational services are not free. Repayment will be discussed if a lawyer is appointed.  Legal Aid’s Financial Eligibility Guidelines allow the following eligible monthly income for family size of 1 – $1,638, 2 – $2,027, 3 – $2,885, 4 – $3,120, 5 – $3,354 and 6+ – $3,587.

An example of this is an actual court case going on at the present time.  Legal Aid has refused to assist client’s claim of defence for an estimated $25,000 in legal fees.  Legal Aid says client still has a large amount of property ($500,000 mortgage free), $34,000 in savings, tax free savings account (TFSA), and GICs and mutual funds worth another $21,000, plus $570 a month in old-age security payments with monthly expenses of $1,660.  Legal Aid does not give coverage to individuals with assets in excess of $120,000.  Legal Aid states: “client would be left with well over a half a million dollars in assets even after payment of legal fees.”

EXAMPLE #3

Family Tax Credits (tax-credits)

June 11, 2016 Financial Post Personal Finance Plan “Farm Plan Risky for Couple with 4 kids” shows how plethora of tax credits works for this family, Ed 32 and Teresa 33, stay at home spouse have four children ages 5, 3, 1 and newborn.  Government employee Ed brings home $2,680 after monthly tax income.  Net worth is already $502,000 including $200,000 paid for house.  Non taxable Liberal Canada Child Benefit for four children will be $1,811 per month bringing income to $4,491 per month.  (From ages 6 to 17, Canada Child Benefit will be $1,478 per month).

LESSONS LEARNED

These three examples show how the inclusion or exclusion of net worth and assets benefit the wealthy and families more than singles and poor families.  In Example #1, to receive housing assistance only $7,000 is allowed in assets.  Really, that is it? Compare that to Example 3 where a family already having significant net worth will receive benefit upon benefit upon benefit in addition to Family Tax Credits.  In Example #2, this could be said to be a good case where financial fairness has prevailed.  This client has plenty of net worth and assets to pay for $25,000 legal defence.  When the Legal Aid income scales are analyzed, it is apparent they have at least used some form of equivalence scales (finances). Hallelujah, here is one example where a family unit of two is not assessed at a value times two of that of family unit of one!

CONCLUSION

This post is just another example of the blatant hypocrisy and upside-down finances that financial analysts, politicians and government, and families perpetuate by not including net worth and assets in all financial formulas across the board whether they are local, provincial or federal or of a service type such as Legal Aid.  The blatant financial discrimination of singles and the poor continues while the wealthy get to write their own ticket to wealth by paying less and increasing wealth.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 2 of 2

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 2 of 2

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

six-reasons-why-married-coupled-persons-are-able-to-achieve-more-financial-power-wealth

(The last two posts discussed how detrimental boutique tax credits can become to the financial well-being of a country and its citizens.  These were based on ‘Policy Forum:  The Case Against Boutique Tax Credit and Similar Expenditures’ by Neil brooks (abstract).

This post itemizes four personal finance cases showing how certain family units may benefit far more  than other family units like ever singles and singles with children).

CASE 1 – Financial Post Personal Finance Plan, June 11, 2016 – ‘Farm Plan Risky for Couple with 4 Kids’ (financialpost)

Ed age 32 and Teresa 33 have four children ages 5, 3, 1 and newborn in British Columbia. Ed works for a government agency, Teresa is a homemaker.  At age 32 and 33, already have a net worth of $502,000 ($208,000 home not in the Vancouver area fully paid and $177,000 land with $37,000 (21%) mortgage.  They would like to sell their house, move out of town and set up a small farm.  Ed would give up his government job and secure income by selling eggs and produce.  Would like to retire with about $4,000 in present-day dollars and after tax.

Ed brings home $2,680 per month plus tax-free Canada Child Benefit (CCB) $1,811 for their four children, all under the age of 6 for total family disposable income to $4,491 per month (CCB is about 40 per cent of take-home income.  (When all four children are ages 6 to 17, the CCB will be $1,478 a month based on 2016 rates).

Financial Planner’s Recommendations – Maximize Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), so they can capture Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) of $500 per beneficiary for total of $7,200 (three per cent annual growth after inflation would generate about $270,000 or about $67,500 per child for post secondary-education).  Advice is that Ed continue working until the age of 60 and when the youngest child is 18.  Advice is also given for purchase of the farm, details of which will not be discussed here.  Each spouse would add $5,500 to their TFSAs for every year until Ed is age 60.

At retirement, if Ed retires at age 60 and Teresa continues as a stay at home spouse, in 2016 dollars they would have a total pre-tax income of $68,495, or $5,137 per month to spend after 10 per cent tax and no tax on TFSA payments.  At age 65, they would have total income of $86,163 with no tax on TFSA payouts and pension and age credits or $6,460 a month to spend.

If they follow financial planner advice for retirement at age 60 and maxed out contributions of RESPs and TFSAs, rough calculations show they will have received approximately $339,000 child benefits, $308,000 tax free TFSA savings  and $28,800 RESP government grants for total $675,800.  This does not include all possible benefits from other sources such as provinces, GST/HST credits and interest generated from investments.  If Ed is deceased before Teresa, as a widower Teresa will receive even more benefits as a survivor with survivor pension benefits.

All things remaining the same their assets at age 60 with farm/house $485,000, RRSP $48,000, and TFSA $349,000 will equal a total of $882,000.  So, at age 60 they will have assets close to millionaire status while paying very little in taxes.  (Financial Post rating – two stars out of five).

CASE 2 –  Financial Post Personal Finance Plan, March 24, 2016  ‘Couple sick of existing like college student are living below their means, but could still use a financial tuneup’ (financialpost)

Ontario couple Mark 45 and Cathy 43 have two kids 9 and 12 and bring home $8,670 per month ($7,000 from jobs and net rent income $1,670 from two rental properties that produce good income  in North).  At ages of 45 and 43 they already have assets of $1,480,272 including RRSPs of $300,322, liabilities of $536,315 for net worth of $943,957. Their two cars are 10 and 15 years old.  They feel like they are living like college students. Mark’s job is not secure and produces a lot of stress. They have not contributed to children’s RESP and 130 year old house requires repairs.

Financial planner advice is to restructure their finances, put money into RESPs for children and maximize RRSPs.  Both spouses have defined benefit pension plans from past employment..

At retirement pensions, RRSP, rental income and CPP/OAS at age 65 would generate  pre-tax income of $105,672.  After age and pension splitting, after-tax income at 16% tax would be about $7,400 a month.  Financial planner states they would have surplus income for travel and pleasure which they now forego, (plus they will still have assets of home and rental properties). (Financial Post rating – four stars out of five).

 

 

CASE 3 – Financial Post Personal Finance Plan, May 21, 2016 ‘Home Ownership Possible but Tight’ (financialpost)

Jessica, age 54 lives in Ontario and has three grown children.  She would like to buy $150,000 house in small town Ontario.  Assets are $40,000 LIRA, $2,400 in TFSA, $10,000 RRSP and $19,000 in company defined contribution pension plan, car $10,000 and debts of $10,700 for $70,400 net worth total.  Her take home pay is $3,315 per month. She puts $240 in TFSA, $100 in RRSP and $300 in non registered account per month. “Her outlook is to retire in 10 years, but that will be struggle.  She has to make a middle income (so stated) go a long way”.

Financial planner advice is to pay off debts in nine months.  Advice is given for purchase of a home with three per cent twenty five year mortgage and saving for retirement but it will be on a financial shoestring.  At retirement and after age and pension credits and 10% tax, she should have take home pay of $2,300 per month.  Final comment:  “her retirement will be hostage to unexpected expenses.  But she will have the security of a home of her own”.  (Financial Post rating two stars out of five).

CASE 4-Public Service Canadian employees

In same job/wage categories with 2013 annual income around $67,000 for never married singles, no children (calculations may vary slightly in provinces regarding tax and other deductions) approximate payroll deductions include income tax $11,000, CPP and EI $3,200, union dues $900, public pension contributions $5,300, RRSP deductions $3,500, parking $1,200, health premiums and insurance $600, for total of $25,700.  This leaves $41,300 take home yearly income or $3,441 per month.

personal finance cases 1

personal finance cases 2

CONCLUSION

The above four cases show four distinctly different cases, two family units with children, one single parent family unit with children and one family ever single family unit.

  • It is astounding how two parent family units with children can accumulate wealth while single parent and unattached person family units struggle to live on on $3,300 and $3,400 after tax dollars per month or $39,600 and $40,800 annually while working and into their retirement years.
  • It is absurd that tax credits should comprise 40 per cent of a family’s income when  they have the ability to become wealthy enough to not have to pay mortgage or rent. In some provinces, singles cannot have assets of more than $7,000 to get affordable housing, so why should families have assets of half a million dollars and still get full child tax credits?
  • It is absurd that a family unit never pay full taxes at any time during child rearing years only to have the ability to retire early at age 60 and have more retirement income than they had during child rearing years  and have paid little or no taxes.
  • It is absurd to claim poverty because of what it costs to raise children when in age thirties and forties family units with children already have assets of half a million dollars and higher.
  • It is absurd that married/coupled family units with children in retirement pay less than 20 per cent in taxes on very healthy retirement incomes because of pension spitting and other credits.  Where is fairness when they pay same or less level of taxes as singles on lower incomes?
  • Financial planner calls Jessica’s income middle class, but she has difficulties living on it.
  • Married or coupled family units possibly have a much better retirement life than singles in family units with and without children.  (Singles with children generally have the greatest financial struggle).
  • Life during working years is just as difficult for singles as it is for married or coupled family units.
  • Government, politicians and families need to consider all family units in financial formulas.  These should be based on equivalence scales to provide financial fairness for all family units.  Financial fairness should include not only income, but also assets.
  • It should also be stated that when examining many of the Financial Post profiles for divorced persons with children, particularly those beyond child rearing years, many appear to have assets beyond $750,000.  How is this possible?  One reason might be inherited wealth.  Second reason which has been stated over and over again in this blog is the ability for married/coupled persons with children family units to gain wealth and, therefore, already have considerable wealth when they are divorced later in life.

LESSONS LEARNED

IT IS INHERENTLY WRONG FOR GOVERNMENTS TO NOT INCLUDE ASSETS AS WELL AS INCOME WHEN DOLING OUT TAX CREDITS.  THESE CREDITS SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE POOR, NOT THOSE WITH LOW INCOME AND WEALTHY ASSETS.  BETTER YET,  TAX CREDITS SHOULD  BE COMPLETELY ELIMINATED AND REPLACED BY TAXES WHICH ARE BASED ON  INCOME AND ASSETS.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 1 of 2

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 1 of 2

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice. (six-reasons-why-married-coupled-persons-are-able-to-achieve-more-financial-power-wealth)

(The last two posts discussed how detrimental boutique tax credits can become to the financial well-being of a country and its citizens.  Boutique tax credits once they have been implemented are very hard to repeal because of voter sense of entitlement.  These were based on ‘Policy Forum: The Case Against Boutique Tax Credit and Similar Expenditures’ by Neil brooks).  This post was updated on July 8, 2014.

This post itemizes a personal finance case showing how certain family units benefit far more from boutique tax credits than other family units like ever singles.  One could say this case is totally bizarre in how benefits can be doled out in excess while recipients pay little or no tax).  This post was updated on June 24,  2016.

CASE 1 – Financial Post Personal Finance Plan, June 11, 2016 – ‘Farm Plan Risky for Couple with 4 Kids’ (financialpost)

Ed age 32 and Teresa 33 have four children ages 5, 3, 1 and newborn in British Columbia. Ed works for a government agency and Teresa is a homemaker.  At age 32 and 33, they already have a net worth of $502,000.  Their $208,000 home is not in the Vancouver area and is fully paid for.  Their land is valued at 177,000 with $37,000 (21%) owing on the mortgage.  They would like to sell their house, move out of town and set up a small farm.  Ed would give up his government job and they would get income by selling eggs and produce, hopefully at a profit.  Their plan is to retire comfortably and securely with about $4,000 in present-day dollars and after tax.  At age 32 and 33, they also already have a net worth of half a million dollars ($502,000).

 Ed brings home $2,680 per month.  They will receive the new, non-taxable Canada Child Benefit (CCB) (brought in by the ruling Liberal Party to replace the Conservative Universal Child Care Benefit) at $1,811 for their four children, all under the age of 6.  This brings their total family disposable income to $4,491 per month.  The CCB makes a huge difference by contributing about 40 per cent to take-home income.

(When all four children are ages 6 to 17, the CCB will be $1,478 a month based on 2016 rates).

 

 

boutique tax credit case 1

Financial Planner’s Recommendations – Apply $17,000 cash already reserved for kids to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), so they can capture the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) of the lesser of 20 per cent of contributions or $500 per beneficiary.  Using the children’s present ages of 5, 3, 1, and one month, subsequent annual contributions of $2,500 per child plus the $500 CESG (to a maximum of $7,200 per beneficiary) with a three per cent annual growth after inflation would generate a total of about $270,000 or about $67,500 per child for post secondary-education.

Re job, advice is that Ed continue working until the age of 60 and when the youngest child is 18.  Advice is also given for purchase of the farm, details of which will not be discussed here.  Each spouse would add $5,500 to their TFSAs for each year until Ed is age 60.

Re retirement, if Ed retires at age 60 and Teresa continues as a stay at home spouse, in 2016 dollars he and Teresa would have his $26,208 defined benefit pension and the $7,200 bridge, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) payments of $5,727 a year and Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) payments of $29,360 for a total pre-tax income of $68,495, or $5,137 per month to spend after 10 per cent tax and no tax on TFSA payments.  At age 65, Ed would lose the $7,200 bridge but gain $11,176 in annual Canada Pension Plan (CPP), plus Old Age Security (OAS) payments of $6,846 each spouse, for total income of $86,163 with no tax on TFSA payouts and pension and age credits.  After tax, they would have $6,460 a month to spend.  Both before and after 65, they would have achieved beyond expectations their goal of $4,000 monthly income.

The unknowns of this plan are the cost of farm and whether it will make a profit.  The financial  planner states:

 “As a retirement plan, it is a wonderful goal.  As a financial endeavour, it is speculative.”

ANALYSIS

All calculations in 2016 dollars and assumes there is no wage increase for Ed and Teresa will remain stay at home spouse and all federal benefit plans and credits will remain the same.

Child benefit non taxable:

All four children up to and including age 5 – $1,811 per month times 12 months times 5 years (not fully calculated for age)  =  approximately $108,000

All four children age 6 up to and including 17 –  $1,478 per month times 12 months times 13 years = approximately $231,000

Total benefit for eighteen years = approximately $339,000

TFSA contributions in after-tax dollars and tax free and not including interest earned $5,500 times two persons times to sixty years of age (Ed) $11,000 times 28 years = $308,000

RESP contributions $2,500 per child per year times four equals $10,000 per year plus $500 up to maximum $7,200 grant per child will generate with three per cent growth a total of about $270,000 education savings for children.

$7,200 grant per child times four = $28,800.

Retirement – they want to retire at age 60, will pay only 10 per cent tax on $68,495 pre-tax including tax-free TFSA income or $5,137 per month.  At 65 they will have total income of $86,143 and  with pension splitting will have $6,460 after-tax monthly income (not able to calculate total benefits received).

These calculations do not include other possible GST/HST credits and tax credits offered by the provinces (example: BC Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit even though this family unit of six will use far more resources affecting climate change than a family unit of one person).  These calculations also do not include benefits of reduced fees, etc. that families get, but ever singles do not.

If Ed retires at age 60, when his youngest child is age 18, he will never have worked a year where full taxes were paid.

All things being equal, this couple will receive benefit upon benefit from present year to when they retire at age 60 and beyond age 65.  If Ed is deceased before Teresa, as a widower Teresa will receive even more benefits as a survivor with survivor pension benefits.

In reality,  they likely will receive approximately $1 million dollars in benefits which is essentially the cost of raising their children and their children will have healthy education accounts.   The parents will retire with even more income than they had while raising their children, and have accumulated a healthy sum in assets.  With assets and value of assets remaining same at age 60 retirement, parents will  have $485,000 in farm, $48,000 in RRSPs and $349,000 in TFSAs for total of $882,000.  So, they will essentially be close to millionaire status while receiving multiple benefits and paying almost no taxes.

This couple from the time they are married until one spouse is deceased will have received shower, wedding, baby gifts, possible maternity/paternity leaves, child benefits times four children, TFSA benefits times two, reduced taxes, pension splitting, possible survivor pension benefits, and retirement before age 65.

While it is understood that is expensive to raise children, it is bizarre that  parents believe they can raise children, retire before age 65 and pay very little in taxes to support the benefits they believe they are entitled to.  Why should these families get benefits beyond raising their children like pension splitting when they have huge TFSA tax free accounts including other assets?   (Neil Brooks calls the pension splitting tax credit outrageous).  The plethora of benefits given to parents with children is what the blog author calls ‘selective’ social democracy or situation where benefits are given to one segment of the population so they can achieve more wealth at the expense other segments of the population such as ever singles and divorced persons without children.

CONCLUSION

So who is paying for all of this?  One group of Canadian citizens subsidizing families as in case above are ever singles (never married, no kids) and divorced persons without children.  They will never achieve a monthly income of $4,500 per month unless they are making a very good income.  They don’t have the money to max out TFSA amounts like this couple has.  The only benefits ever singles and divorced persons without children will ever receive is if they are in an abject state of poverty.  They also will never be able to accumulate the retirement and other assets that this couple has.  They are never likely able to retire at age 60 unless they have equivalent income to the above couple (at least $60,000 per year).  A middle quintile income for unattached singles is $23,357 to $36,859.  At $55,499 income an unattached single is considered to be in top quintile of income for the country (moneysense), but they have problems living on this income as has been shown in previous posts.

Ever singles and divorced persons without children with before-tax income equivalent to this couple will pay much more tax, for (example $60,000 to $70,000 income).  If one calculates the income tax contributed by an ever single at $15,000 per year time 40 years of employment total contributed to Canadian coffers is $600,000 over working life. Employment insurance deductions (used in large part for maternal/paternal leaves) at $1,000 per year adds another $40,000 to  the total.  Ever singles never get any of this back because they pay more taxes, can’t pension split and are not considered to be part of the financial family by politicians, government and even their own families and married/coupled siblings..  All political parties are guilty of excluding ever singles from financial formulas.  Ever singles have very little financial and voting power because they are a minority in a society where parents and children rule.

Ever singles and divorced persons without children are being pushed into a state of poverty by the plethora of tax credits given only to families, but for which ever singles and divorced persons without kids have to pay without getting equivalent of same benefits.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

REAL FINANCIAL LIVES OF SINGLES

REAL FINANCIAL LIVES OF SINGLES

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

It seems governments, decision making bodies, families and married/coupled people have difficulty understanding that many singles are in as much financial distress as they are. They perceive singles to have spendthrift lifestyles and to be poor managers of their finances.  To show how untrue this is, five cases are presented here.  Four of the cases are employed singles or divorced persons; fifth case is a wealthy widower already retired.

CASE STUDIES

Case 1-Tanis age 54, November 2, 2013, Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “Frugal Lifestyles Reaps Rewards” (business.financialpost)-Single 54 year-old (divorced in 2002, left with debt of $40,000 which she paid off in five years) has take-home income of $48,000 annually ($80,000 pretax?). Two children are financially independent.  She would like to retire between age 65 and 67.  To save, she buys clothes at thrift shops, has hair done by students and volunteers at events so she can see them without charge.  Assets $215,000 home, $75,000 vacation cottage $8,500 car, $149,925 RRSPs, line of credit $8,500, mortgages $201,374 with net worth of $239, 551.  She is anxious to sell vacation property as occasional rentals are not covering mortgage costs.  Article states she has turned frugality (financial distress) into a financial strategy.  Total monthly expenses are $3,996.  She has no money left for emergencies, replacement of vehicle, or other unexpected expenses like dental, vision care or medications.  Elimination of vacation condo mortgage, fees, insurance and line of credit would free up $1500 monthly for these financial realities. If she takes advice of financial planner (2013), she should have retirement income at age 66 comprised of $12,240 employee pension, CPP $10,840, OAS 7,008, investment income of $12,516 and $12,465 from other savings for total before tax income of $55,069 or $3,900 a month after 15% average income tax.

Case 2-Public Service Canadian employees in same job/wage categories with 2013 annual income around $67,000 for never married singles, no children (calculations may vary between provinces regarding tax and other deductions).  Approximate payroll , deductions include income tax $11,000, CPP and EI $3,200, union dues $900, public pension contributions $5,300, RRSP deductions $3,500, parking $1,200, health premiums and insurance $600, for total of $25,700.  This leaves $41,300 yearly take home income.

Case 3- Doris  age 63, October 12, 2013 Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “The choices:  Be a good grandma and poor or work and retire happy” (pressreader)-This generous 63 year old grandmother (divorced or single with a grown child?) has total before tax  income $47,600 ($41,600 annual earnings and receives $6,000 from roommate with whom she shares apartment). Car worth $3,000 and $10,000 line of credit for negative net worth of minus $7,000.  She is barely making ends meet now.   Monthly expenses are $3,100 per month.   Question asked: can she quit work at age of 63 and babysit granddaughter for $500 a month?  Answer is a definitive ‘no’.  She is better off to work to age 65 to get full job and Canada pensions and then could give $500.00 to daughter (who earns similar salary as her mother) to help with daycare costs.  Best financial situation is to work until age 70 to maximize her own pension and have extra money as contingency.  At age 70 she will have after tax income of $3,800 a month.  As a renter this single has to work well beyond age 65 to avoid poverty as a single senior.  (She is very generous.  If there is problem with expenses, should she be contributing $116 to her granddaughter’s RESP?  Also food budget is high at $375, but some of this might be for granddaughter and is renter paying for own food?)

Case 4–Georges age 51, August 15, 2015, Financial Post Financial Evaluation, “Should he buy first house at 51? (business.financialpost)-Georges is a production line supervisor who rents and has total net worth of $152,000.  Current after tax income is $50,244 or $4,187 per month.  Financial planner states that Georges’ problem is very simple; he cannot afford both to buy a home and build retirement savings.  Repeat:  this man, who has appearance of a responsible productive citizen working at supervisory level, is making $81,600 a year, but has been told that he cannot afford both.  Financial planner says alternatives are to buy smaller (translation cheapest) home or get better paying job. At age 65 and still renting, his projected before tax retirement income is $55,258 (with OAS at 67), and 22% tax, after tax income will be $3,590 a month with $949 surplus to do with whatever he wants.  How generous and fifteen years later his apartment will be how old with no refurbishments and likely increases in rent!!!  (Georges does have very high food and restaurant expenses.  Further economies could be achieved by reducing these expenses.  His travel costs also appear very high; however, there is no mention that he owns a vehicle so some of the travel costs may be for transit and taxi costs.  Living wage for Guelph and Wellington suggests  $221  for transit and taxi for a single person.)

Case 5-Philip  age 78, October 26, 2013 Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “Strategy:  Cut the taxman’s bite” (pressreader) -Widower 78 years old wants to keep as much as of his $1million net worth for his two sons, but can no longer pension income split.  His pre-tax income of $79,450 and taxable dividends puts him in danger of 2013 OAS clawback. The article states ‘that is unfair to every person who has taxable dividends and receives OAS.  In this case his sons will receive less inheritance.  It is the fact of life for every widow and widower.’  Wow, that really is a financial hardship for him (and his sons who will receive large inheritances)!!!  How the taxes were calculated for this person is not clear.  At one point, it is stated that taxes plus OAS clawback gives a total of 48% income tax payable.  Yet, his $66,000 income per month out of total $80,000 before tax income equals a deduction of only 18%.  After expenses, it is amazing that he is able to put $3,000 into his TFSA and savings accounts.

financial case profiles

ANALYSIS

  • Frugal financial lifestyle – Many singles are frugal because they have to be (Tanis).  Word ‘frugal’ used by financial planners respectfully describes financial distress of singles.  Why not call it was it is, a  poor financial quality of life?
  • Good incomes, but have difficulties living on them regardless if renting or paying  a mortgage– Some singles in these cases are making around $80,000 before tax income which is far above average before tax incomes of many singles and families in Canada.  The MoneySense 2015 All Canadian Wealth Test (wealth-test-2015-charts) (based on 2011 Statistics Canada data) shows that the top 20% quintile of unattached individuals have incomes over $55,499.  Unattached individuals in the middle 20% quintile have incomes from $23,357 to $36,859 and are considered to be middle class.  But are they able to live a middle class or wealthy lifestyle with these incomes?  If singles are having a hard time living on $50,000 plus incomes and are unable to max out their TFSA and RRSP accounts, there is something very wrong with financial systems for singles in this country (including lower income singles). Married/coupled people are quite often able to buy additional properties like rental and vacation properties, but then have to sell them (Case 1 – Tanis) when they become single because they can’t afford them.
  • Good incomes, but it doesn’t matter how much more singles make they still gain very little from increased income.  With every $20,000 increase in income they are lucky to get maybe extra $500 a month or $6,000 a year.  This is 30% gain in disposable income to 70% loss in deductions.  If Georges gets a higher paying job, he will likely be in a higher tax bracket. (added April 27, 2016)
  • Financial planners say it is not possible for singles to have a mortgage and save at the same time, can only do one or other.  They also tell single to get better paying jobs (but Case 4 – Georges already has a very good paying job at $81,000). – When singles are already working at very good salaried and management jobs earning $60,000 to $80,000, these are not $15 per hour jobs but $30 to $40 per hour jobs.  It is also bizarre when financial planners state these high paid singles are not able both to save for a house and save for retirement and should get better paying jobs ( Case 4 – Georges).  What does this mean, singles are only able to rent and cannot have mortgages except with $100,000 plus income jobs?  Another example is MoneySense April, 2016 “Budget Basics” (moneysense) – Lindsay is 29 year old engineering consultant from British Columbia who earns $71,000.  She owns an affordable $150,000 condo (housing costs are just 30% of her income which is nearly unheard of in British Columbia) and has $46,000 in RRSP and TFSA savings (saves 20% of her salary at $400 to her TFSA and $220 to her RRSP- RRSP is matched by her employer).   She wants to save for a bigger condo so she can have a dog and a garden.  The problem, though, is her expenses are surpassing her income.  She has $11,000 line of credit and $15,000 car loan.  The suggested financial action plan is to rethink her budget and to track her true expenses, subtract them from her net income and then reallocate what is left to savings.  She is in good financial shape, but she is trying to accomplish too many things at once (so stated in article).  In other words, it is very difficult for singles to have a mortgage and save at the same time even with good salaries.
  • What expenses are missing from budgets for most singles (can’t afford)? 
  • Dental, medical, medication
  • House maintenance
  • Extra monies for savings/emergencies
  • Restaurants/vacation/entertainment
  • Computer and repair, paper, ink
  • Replacement of vehicle
  • Other fees and expenses like library/recreation/fitness/magazines, books, etc.
  • Car license, registration, motor association fees
  • Professional association fees which can be very expensive depending on profession
  • Public Service single employees during employment or retirement are not as rich as everyone thinks – Singles with public service jobs (you know those people who make so much more than private sector employees and have outrageous pensions) often don’t have any more take home pay than private sector employees.  The public pension benefits must come from contributions during their working years leaving them financially stretched during their working years (this is not a bad thing as this is income being directed to savings).  Pensions on retirement are taxed at same rate as married persons and pension splitting is not available for singles.  Survivors pensions paid to widowers are subsidized by contributions of single employees.  Many singles with or without company pensions don’t have any more income in retirement than they had during employment.  If they are paying rent or mortgage they often are as poor during retirement and have no extra money for emergencies, replacement of vehicles and medical expenses.  (They may have a better quality of life during retirement if they own their own home and are not paying rent.  In these cases the only deductions public service individuals have any control over is the personal RRSP contribution).  Based on 15 year service as public service employee and rough calculation of retirement, take home income at age 65 is may be about $3,400 a month with rent or mortgage possibly not paid in full; therefore, these persons will have to draw from savings to pay expenses or work past the age of 65.
  • Unused RRSP and TFSA contributions – Most singles, unless they are wealthy, will have multiple unused room in RRSP and TFSA savings plans because of inability to max out contributions.
  • Married/coupled persons (many, not all) have unrealistic sense of entitlement and want it to continue throughout their lives from time of marriage to date of death – Case 5 – (business.financialpost) Philip wants to keep as much of his $1million net worth for sons’ inheritances, but doesn’t want OAS clawback on his income and taxable dividends.  Some married/coupled people with huge financial assets don’t want to give anything up (David 71 and Celeste 63, August 8, 2015, Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “Couple fears shift to pension income”) (business.financialpost).  If they have problems during retirement, how about selling their $355,000 USA condo and winter at home in Canada?  Herb and Isabel at age 37 have so much wealth, $1.8 million, they can take two year out of country vacation and retire early and wealthy even though they have two children (Herb and Isabel, August 22, 2015, Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “Vacation, Retirement hinge on real estate” business.financialpost).
  • Marital status or state of being married does not mean married people are any better at managing their financial affairs than singles (David and Celeste-need financial planning as disinterested investors with $ 1.9 million net worth, and Patricia 53, August 29, 2015, Calgary Herald, Financial Post Personal Finance Evaluation, “Debt clouds dreams of retirement at 60” who has monthly after tax income of $15,000) (pressreader).
  • Many married/coupled persons can retire before age 65, while most singles know they can’t retire until age 65 or beyond (Case 3 – Doris)
  • Shouldn’t financial systems be well planned to ensure all citizens (singles and young people) can live decent respectful financial lives without help from their parents and/or inheritances and without marital manna benefits?

CONCLUSION

Singles deserve same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled persons.  Singles need to be included in financial decision making and formulas at same level as married/coupled persons and families.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

ARE FAMILIES REALLY MORE FINANCIALLY INTELLIGENT IN MANAGING FINANCES?

ARE FAMILIES REALLY MORE FINANCIALLY INTELLIGENT IN MANAGING FINANCES?

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

Financial Post personal finance profile “Put Cash Toward the Kids’ Education” and in Calgary Herald on January 16, 2016 (financialpost)

The following is a condensed version of the financial profile of Harry 39, and Wendy 38, a British Columbia couple with two children ages two and a few months old.  (Question:  Did they marry later in life resulting in a low net worth at this time in their life because it is more difficult to accumulate net worth while single than as married/coupled persons?)

Their take home pay is $9,100 a month plus $240 take home universal child care benefits put into place this year by the federal government for total annual take home pay of $112,000.  They both have defined benefit retirement pension plans, so it should be noted that contributions to their plans have already been deducted before take home pay total.

Their expenses include real estate mortgage, property tax, and home repair $3,489, car costs $550, food and cleaning supplies $1,200,  clothes/grooming $150, charity/gifts $200, child care $850, entertainment $120, restaurant $280, travel $150, miscellaneous $626, utilities $350, phone/cable/internet $200, home and car insurance $325.

For savings they contribute $800 to TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account), and $50 to RESP (Registered Education Savings Program).

Their assets include house $500,000, cars $20,000, savings including RRSP Registered Retirement Savings Plan), RESP, TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) and cash $40,700.

Their net worth equals $150,700.

What they want:

  • retire at age 55
  • buy a condo for the children’s grandparents to use when they are in town and to rent out at other times

Financial Planner Analysis

  • they haven’t made wills or appointed guardians for their children
  • they have no term life insurance
  • they can’t retire at age 55, but they can retire at age 59
  • they can’t afford to buy a condo as they don’t have the money for down payment
  • they should fully contribute to their children’s education plan into order to get the government benefit

Retirement plan

  • if they retire at age 59 assuming they remain with their present employers, their total income would be $96,732 plus Harry’s $9,570 CPP(Canadian Pension Plan) and Wendy’s $12,060 CPP.
  • At age 65, with the addition of OAS (Old Age Security), their total income will be $111,146 before income tax.  There will be no clawback on OAS and with pension splitting, they will  pay only 14% income tax and have a monthly take home income of $7,965 to spend.

Other Financial Analysis By Blog Author

  • they want to retire at age 55, but their children will only be ages 15 and 16,  and their mortgage won’t be paid off until Harry is age 63.  How financially intelligent is this?
  • they are not taking advantage of ‘free’ government benefits of $500 per child by not maximizing children’s RESP.
  • Harry is an immigrant who came to Canada at age 30 (nine years ago), and he wants to retire at age 55.  He will have contributed to Canadian financial coffers for only 25 years.  If he retires at age 59 he will also get what could be a 15% tax reduction with pension splitting at age 65.  Canadian born singles and single immigrants do not get these same benefits and are subsidizing married/coupled immigrants who in many cases have taken more from the Canadian financial coffers than they have put into it.
  • with pension splitting and no clawback on OAS, they will only pay 14% income tax. Singles with equivalent pension income pay a lot more income tax.  (It is stated elsewhere in the article that Wendy’s tax rate at present time while working is 29%).
  • their food and restaurant (including some cleaning supplies) budget is over $1400 a month for two adults and two very young children (does not include entertainment budget of $180 month).  Their restaurant budget is $280 alone and yet many families think singles should live on only $200 a month for food.

Lessons Learned

  • married/coupled persons and families receive marital manna benefits while they are parents and while they are retired.  One could say the only persons who contribute fully to the Canadian tax system while getting less benefits are singles.
  • married/coupled persons and families are not any more financially intelligent at managing their finances than single persons.
  • married/coupled persons and families all want to retire at the age of 55 regardless of their financial circumstances.  Most singles do not have this option.  Why should families bringing in $9,000 a month after tax income get $240 after tax child benefits and child education benefits and, then when they retire early at age 59, also get what is probably a 15% pension splitting tax reduction resulting in take home income of $8,000 at age 65 when their children are grown up?  This is a very rich retirement income that most singles cannot aspire to.
  • Families, governments and decision makers all talk about expensive it is to raise children.  For one Canadian child, the cost is about $250,000.  So if cost is spread over 25 years of the child, cost per year is $10,000 per year, or in the case of this family $20,000 per year for two children.  Their total after tax income is almost $10,000 per month, so approximately two out of twelve months income will be spent raising their children.  The remaining income is for themselves.  Add in another month of income for the children’s education ($10,000  times 20 years equals $200,000 not including government top up) and that still leaves them with nine month of income for themselves.  So again, how expensive is it to raise children when this family has over $80,000 a year to spend on themselves?
  • When families (including married later in life) in top 40% Canadian income levels can retire at age 55 and 59, they spread the family financial myths and lie to singles, low income families, themselves, the world and God about how expensive it is to raise children and why they need income splitting and pension splitting.  Low and middle class families are paying more and getting less for government programs.  Singles of all income levels are paying even more and getting less (singles are considered to be in the upper 20% quintile of the Canadian rich with before tax income of only $55,000 and up.  Wow, that is really rich).
  • singles know that they are paying more taxes and getting less in benefits.  They also know they are subsidizing families when they work 35, 40 years without using mom/baby hospital resources,don’t use EI benefits at same level as families for parental leave, and don’t get marital manna benefits during retirement.
  • singles know they have been financially discriminated against by being left out of government financial formulas and are not seen as financial equals to married/coupled persons.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

 

TO RENT OR OWN AFFORDABLE HOUSING – THAT IS THE QUESTION

TO RENT OR OWN AFFORDABLE HOUSING -THAT IS THE QUESTION

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

This post will discuss whether renting or affordable housing are good housing options for single and low income persons.

  1. RENTING AS VIABLE OPTION FOR LANDLORDS AND RENTERS

Rental costs from landlord perspective:  A review of financial information shows that in order to generate a 5% annual return on  a $250,000 rental property with no mortgage costs, the expenses incurred will be  as follows:

What Landlords think they need to make renting their spaces a revenue generating business at 5 percent profit in the Calgary market:

              rent charged (2 bedrooms)            $12,500

              condo fees ($325 X 12)                 $  3,900

              PT taxes                                        $  1,500

              upkeep (paint, carpet, etc.)            $  1,200

               extra cost of wear (kids/pets)       $  1,200

          TOTAL RENT PER MONTH             $20,300 divided by 12 months  = $1,700

This does not include costs associated with loss of income when property is vacant, cost of major upkeep such as replacing appliances, cupboards every 5 to ten years, damages incurred from kids and pets, eviction costs, insurance, etc.

Arguments for and against high rental costs from perspective of landlords and renters

A review of an online article “Calgary Landlords war against the poor?” (landlords) shows pro and con comments on why landlords think they need to charge the present rental amounts and why poor are left out because they cannot afford to pay the present high rental  amounts.  Arguments are also made as to whether or not mortgage payments should be included in the rental costs; if included, then even higher rents need to be collected.

Comments on the side of the poor and low income include:

  • ‘So then I ask you, where are these people supposed to go?  No offense, but the “it’s just business, nothing personal” should have no place when talking about human lives.’

  • ‘Gouging is a very common competent of a working free-market.  The right (Conservative and like) just don’t want to admit they’re are (…..) for doing it.  It is not about right or wrong.  The difference between a renter and a landlord is that the landlord has assets.  So even if you are living in a home and renting a condo,  having to shell out money for repairs doesn’t exactly cost you as much (in the long run) as it would a long term renter.  Because eventually you can sell that property and retire in comfort.  It is very hard for a person who is just starting out with nothing to build themselves up to your level  It is not that we don’t want to be there, it is just that there may not be as much opportunity for us so called “low-lives” as one may think.  So when your entire income goes to shelter, food and clothing, there is not much left to save for any sort of down payment on anything…’

  • ‘You are already making money by charging a tenant the mortgage, the land tax and the insurance.  The mortgage part is already profit.  An accumulated investment  Beyond that, maybe a little more, is gouging.  These people can’t see that is wrong.  If they could charge a million dollars a month they would.’

One of the last reader comments submitted was the following (it is interesting to note that this comment pretty much shut up any further comments being made):

  • ‘When, by gouging people for the necessities of life such as food and shelter, you contribute to the cost of living being higher than a working person can afford.  You force me as a taxpayer in a rather high tax bracket, I might add ,to pay for the subsidization required to keep these people from starving or being out on the street or alternatively imprisonment when they steal to live, or more cops to maintain social order with a starving underclass.  I’m tired of deadbeat free-riders trying to shuffle the externalities of their greed onto me.  It is time for some controls being placed on the ability of landlords to  raise rents.  Rental increases being limited to 5% or double to rate of inflation annually, whichever is lower, seems reasonable to me.

Some comments suggested that most people should stay away from the landlord game as it is not a profitable business for the lighthearted.

Landlord profile and Financial Planner Advice

Financial profile of a married couple is as follows:  Calgary Herald, December 12, 2015 (and Edmonton Journal) Financial Post “Oil Crash Forces  Fix for Couple” (edmonton-journal)

This summary is about Gary, 60 and Wendy, 67, an Alberta couple who grew prosperous with Gary’s work as a petrochemical  engineer often earning as much as $200,000 a year doing consulting.  However, his work is now history as a casualty of collapsed oil prices.  Wendy worked as an administrative assistant earning $24,000 a year before she retired in 1990 (well before age 65, by the way).  Their income at the present time is $2,175 a month and is $3,240 less than their total monthly expenses of $5,415.  (Part of their income is $590 after expenses from their two rental properties.) They say they need to know if they can survive.  The article does mention one child is renting one of their rental properties.

  • Their net worth is $1,867,238.  Their assets include residence $550,000, rental property #1, $460,000, and rental property #2 $430,000.  Their investments include Registered Retirement Savings Plan $132,616, USA 401K in Canadian dollars $250,000, Tax Free Savings Account $39,334, non-registered savings/GICs $174,288 and two cars $17,000.  Their total  liabilities are two mortgages of $186,000 on rental properties.

The profile states the largest problem is that the couple’s income properties, which make up 60 per cent of their invested assets, produce little cash flow.  One unit is rented to the couple’s son and its $1,150 monthly rent is below market values.  Their other rental property generates $1,300 a month before expenses.

The financial planner makes the argument:  ‘When Gary generated an income of $200,000 a year or more, they could afford to ignore investments, rent properties below market value and spend freely’. The financial planner’s recommendation is get rid of money losing rental property, cut expenses and reallocate assets to cut investment costs.  It doesn’t seem to matter to the financial planner that this couple has acquired huge financial assets in their rental properties ($700,000+ value).

Conclusions about Renting

Renting income properties from landlord’s perspective is that this is a business and needs to generate a profit even when renting to singles (son in above example)and the poor (many of whom cannot afford $1,700 for rent).  In other words, the goal of financial Utopia in a land of ‘milk and honey’ (Alberta) will never be achieved by the landlord with reasonable rents and certainly not by singles and the poor who are renting.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs principle for singles and the poor will also be violated when basic needs of shelter as well as food and clothing will not be realized.

UNAFFORDABLE RENT = VIOLATION OF “MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS” PRINCIPLE

For landlords and families who think singles and low income persons deserve only a single room‘ or ‘should live with someone’ they should read the January, 2009 study “Social Housing Waitlists and the One Person Households in Ontario” (cprn.org) on what it is like to live in these housing circumstances.  An excerpt from this study reads as follows:

‘many households turn to shelters or make do with what they are able to find in the private market, often spending more than 50% of their income on rent. The focus of this study is one-person households under the age of 65 who make up approximately 40% of the applicants on Ontario social housing wait lists. This cohort has the longest wait times. How does this demographic cope during these waiting periods? What are their housing experiences? ‘

 

  1.  AFFORDABLE HOUSING AS VIABLE OPTION FOR SINGLES AND LOW-INCOME

From “Upside-Down Finances re Housing for Singles and Low Income – Part 1 of 3”, November 13, 2015 post (upside-down-affordable-housing), one example of housing shows condos presently being sold as follows:  1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condo of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900 and $543 per square foot..   Two patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.start at $355 per square foot.

Singles and single parent with children are more likely to buy one bedroom housing.  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay since these fees are based on price of property, not square footage of the property.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

Financial  world for singles and low income continues to be completely flipped upside-down and turned topsy-turvy for housing while the rich and middle-income families  pay less and get more.

COMBINATION SINK AND TOILET IN TINY SPACE

As in many parts of the world, parts of Canada are heading for a crisis in affordable housing.  Different solutions have been proposed to avert this crisis.  One is Attainable Housing, (attainyourhome), for example in Calgary, which allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home.  While this method allows singles and low income to enter the housing market with a low down payment, it does not alleviate the problem of insane upside-down pricing of housing as outlined in the example shown above.  Another solution that has been proposed is an affordable housing action plan of inclusionary zoning where a certain percentage of new housing units built  would be social and community housing partly funded by government programs, and a certain percentage of new housing units would be affordable rental or ownership housing units built by the private sector.  However, developers and the housing associations will argue this will not work (as only new purchasers will be participating) and neighbors continue to have a “not in my backyard” mentality (NIMBY).  Tiny house NIMBY mentality also extends to homeowners who don’t want tiny houses near their properties.

Calgary Herald “‘Nothing new’ from housing collective” article, December 16, 2015 (calgaryherald) is a 46 – page document – 18 months in the making – and calls on homeless and housing organizations, the development industry and governments to ‘work  together differently’ for at least two years, developing ‘Calgary-based solutions with blueprints for action’ and providing support as required.  The mayor, in addition to other parties, is disappointed at how long study has taken and states that ‘time for talk’ is over.

Conclusions about Affordable Housing

There is no affordable housing for singles and low income persons when they are forced to pay more for less space with less income than the rich and middle-class families.  Inaction and NIMBY continues to be prevailing principle for Affordable Housing.

Conclusion overall for Renting and Affordable Housing for Singles and Low Income

Options for both renting and affordable housing continues to become more and more out of reach for singles and low income.  

 

rent-buy1

So, when both renting and affordable housing are out of reach for singles and low income persons, just what are they to do?

“Eggleton: Canada needs more affordable housing” September 20, 2015  (eggleton) article in the Ottawa Citizen states:

‘I think we all understand intuitively the importance of having decent shelter. A home anchors a person, anchors a family. It provides a foundation for people to move forward toward greater stability in the workplace or higher educational attainment. Health experts also tell us that adequate housing is a key determinant of health and long-term health outcomes’.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

MARITAL STATUS DOES NOT DEFINE FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE

MARITAL STATUS DOES NOT DEFINE FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

In the last four posts, financial discrimination of senior singles was discussed.  In addition, two reader letters and response to letters addressing assumptions of married people that singles can live with someone if they lack financial resources, and that financial problems of singles are because their lifestyles are too extravagant was discussed.

It is mind boggling as to why married/coupled people always seem to think that because they are married/coupled they have more financial intelligence and are able to manage their money better than single and divorced/separated persons.  They also almost can never put themselves into the financial shoes of single and divorced /separated persons.

Singles are one the fastest growing demographics in the country, yet they are left out of financial formulas and discussions.

leave it to beaver

WHEN OUR POLITICAL LEADERS MAKE IT SOUND LIKE THE FAMILY FROM ‘LEAVE IT TO BEAVER’ IS STILL THE CANADIAN NORM, THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, SAY SINGLE VOTERS (quote from example #3 article).

 

In this post, the issue of marital status not defining financial intelligence will be discussed by reviewing three examples.

Example #1 and #2 show married/coupled persons are not any better at managing money than single and divorced/separated persons.  Example #3 talks about financial misconceptions about singles.

(Financial profiles from the Financial Post are an interesting study in how persons perceive wealth.  Anyone can submit an email requesting a free family finance analysis.  It is interesting to note that most of the married/coupled requests for financial analysis are from relatively wealthy persons.  These same requests always are requesting financial help because of worry that they will not have enough money to live and retire.)

Example #1, a financial profile of a married couple is as follows:

Calgary Herald, December 12, 2015 Financial Post “Oil Crash Forces  Fix for Couple” – (this profile can be viewed in full online)

This summary is about Gary, 60 and Wendy, 67, an Alberta couple who grew prosperous with Gary’s work as a petrochemical  engineer often earning as much as $200,000 a year doing consulting.  However, his work is now history as a casualty of collapsed oil prices.  Wendy worked as an administrative assistant earning $24,000 a year before she retired in 1990.  Their income at the present time is $2,175 a month and is $3,240 less than their total monthly expenses of $5,415.  They say they need to know if they can survive.  The article does mention one child who is renting one of their rental properties.

Their net worth is $1,867,238.  Their assets include residence $550,000, rental property #1, $460,000, and rental property #2 $430,000.  Their investments include Registered Retirement Savings Plan $132,616, USA 401K in Canadian dollars $250,000, Tax Free Savings Account $39,334, non-registered savings/GICs $174,288 and two cars $17,000.  Their total  liabilities are two mortgages of $186,000 on rental properties.

The financial planner makes the statement:

“When Gary generated an income of $200,000 a year or more, they could afford to ignore investments, rent properties below market value and spend freely”.

The financial planner’s recommendation is get rid of money losing rental property, cut expenses and reallocate assets to cut investment costs.  If they follow the planner’s advice, they should have a before tax income of about $74,000 per year.  With splits of pension income and application of age and pension income splitting credits, they would pay 13 percent tax and have $5,345 a month or $64,140 annual income to spend.  Compare that to reader letter#2, December 12, 215 post that suggested singles with rent or mortgage expenses can live comfortably on a middle class income of $27,000 a year.

It is interesting to note  that their food budget for two people is $1,120 per month and expenses for entertainment are $220 per month.  The financial planner suggests they cut their food budget by $400 and their entertainment budget by $100 per month.

Simple logic without seeking financial planner advice would imply that in order to increase their income they could sell one rental property,  live on the proceeds, then sell the next rental property and live on those proceeds, and finally start taking income from their investments.  They would still have their residence as collateral.  With all their wealth this couple still feel they need to seek financial advice.

If one compares this example to the suggestion from the recent posts that singles can live on $27,000 per year and $200 a month for food, one wonders why this couple would have any financial worries with the wealth that they  have.  Also, reducing their food budget by $400 still allows them to  have a food budget of $350 per person.

Example #2 is taken from a published article “Beyond the Blue Line” by the Canadian Scholarship Trust (CST).

The report showed that approximately 66 per cent of Canadian parents have, or know someone who has, borrowed money or used retirement savings to put their children through extracurricular activities.

In contrast, 48 percent of parents have invested in a Canadian RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan).

CST reported that 43 per cent of parents said they’d borrowed money on a credit card, line of credit, personal or family loan for extracurriculars like hockey. The remaining 23 per cent deferred their retirement or used their retirement savings for extracurriculars.

More than half of Canadian parents (57 percent) said they feel every child should have the chance to play hockey if they want to, ‘because it’s part of growing up in Canada,’ CST said. The percentage represents a drop of more than 10 per cent from last year, when 69 percent said all children should be able to play hockey.

Despite the high rate of borrowing for extracurriculars, nearly half of parents said they knew someone pulling their kids out due to the cost. Thirty per cent said they, or someone they knew, regret the amount of money spent on activities like sports.”

Parents will play financial roulette with their money even though there is less than one per cent chance of their children becoming professional hockey players.

Example #3

This example is taken from the National Post June 12, 2015, : “ They are one of Canada’s fastest growing demographics, so why are politicians ignoring the single voter?” by Claire Brownell,  (article is available online).

This article first talks about:

“Marcel Watier, a single 39 year old, who lives on his own in a rented basement apartment.  He earns a good salary, thanks to a full time job and a part-time job on the side.  He says people think he must be spending his money on stereotypical urban luxuries – dinners out, craft cocktails, a condominium with a pool and a rock-climbing wall – since he doesn’t have a partner or children.  ‘They just see a single guy working two jobs and think I must be rolling in money.  If I was rolling in money, would I be working two jobs?’

In addition to supporting himself, he helps his two sisters, who have eight children between them and a ninth on the way. (The article does not state why he has to do this.)

If those were his children and Walter were married, he would be eligible for a long list of tax breaks, benefits and programs.  As a single person, he’s on his own.  He states: It drives me up the wall to hear the whole ‘selfish single’ term.”

The word single is hardly ever used by politicians.

“The phrase ‘Canadian families’ has been spoken 5,669 times in the House of Commons since 1994″, according to OpenParliament.ca, with Conservatives (Party) accounting for almost half of those mentions.

If Canada’s singles were to get up tomorrow and decide it’s high time they stood up for themselves, they would form a formidable voting bloc.  Maybe it’s time to try.”

Conclusion

The above examples show that marital status does not define financial intelligence; rather it is the belief systems, moral values, and financial values instilled throughout lifetime that define how money will be spent and saved.

It is time that singles be included in financial formulas, not just families.  Instead of politicians promising things to only certain groups of citizens, they should be thinking about how to improve society as a whole.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS- ‘FOUR WAYS SINGLE SENIORS LOSE OUT’

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS OF ARTICLE ‘FOUR WAYS SINGLE SENIORS LOSE OUT’

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

(On searching internet a few days ago this article was found – ‘Four ways single seniors lose out’ by Ted Rechtshaffen, Financial Post October 13, 2012. While the intentions of the article are great, the assumptions and categorization of singles is false.)

In his October 13, 2012 article Ted Rechtshaffen (four-ways-single-seniors-lose-out) talks about four ways that single seniors financially lose out. Portions of the article are outlined in part here (full article is available online):

Rechtshaffen states:

“Being part of a couple in old age has so many tax advantages that losing a spouse through divorce or death can be very costly. Given the fact that so many more single seniors are female, this unfairness is almost an added tax on women. Becoming single in old age could cost you tens of thousands of dollars through no fault of your own. The current tax and pension system in Canada is significantly tilted to benefit couples over singles once you are age 65 or more….

Here are four ways that single seniors lose out:

1. There is no one to split income with. Since the rules changed to allow for income splitting of almost all income for those aged 65 or older, it has meaningfully lowered tax rates for some…If you are single, you are stuck with the higher tax bill.

2. CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) haircut… If one passes away, the government doesn’t pay out more than the maximum for CPP to the surviving spouse. They will top up someone’s CPP if it is below the maximum, but in this case, they simply lose out almost $12,000 a year.

3. RSP/RIF (Retirement Savings Plan/Retirement Income Fund) gets folded into one account. This becomes important as you get older and a larger amount of money is withdrawn by a single person each year — and taxed on income…her tax bill will be much larger… than the combined tax bill the year before, even though they have essentially the same assets, and roughly the same income is withdrawn.

4. Old Age Security (OAS). The married couple with $50,000 of income each, both qualify for full Old Age Security —… If the husband passes away, you lose his OAS, about $6,500. On top of that, in the example in #3, the wife now has a minimum RIF income…and combined with CPP and any other income, she is now getting OAS clawed back.

The clawback starts at $69,562, and the OAS declines by 15¢ for every $1 of income beyond $69,562. If we assume that the widow now has an income of $80,000, her OAS will be cut to $414.50 a month or another $1,500 annual hit simply because she is now single. In total, almost $8,000 of Old Age Security has now disappeared. As you can see, a couple’s net after-tax income can drop as much as $25,000 after one becomes single.

On the other side, there is no question that expenses will decline being one person instead of two, but the expenses don’t drop in half. We usually see a decline of about 15% to 30%, because items like housing and utilities usually don’t change much, and many other expenses only see small declines.

In one analysis our company did comparing the ultimate estate size of a couple who both pass away at age 90, as compared to one where one of them passes away at age 70 and the other lives to 90, the estate size was over $500,000 larger when both lived to age 90 – even with higher expenses.

So the question becomes, what can you do about this?

I have three suggestions:

1. Write a letter to your MP along with this article, and demand that the tax system be made more fair for single seniors. You may also want to send a letter to Status of Women Minister…as this issue clearly affects women more than men.

2. Look at having permanent life insurance on both members of a couple to compensate for the gaps. Many people have life insurance that they drop after a certain age. The life insurance option certainly isn’t a necessity, but can be a solution that provides a better return on investment than many alternatives and covers off this gap well. If you have sufficient wealth that you will be leaving a meaningful estate anyway, this usually will grow the overall estate value as compared to not having the insurance — and not hurt your standard of living in any way.

3. Consider a common law relationship for tax purposes. I am only half joking. If two single seniors get together and write a pre-nuptial agreement to protect assets in the case of a separation or death, you can both benefit from the tax savings.

Ultimately, the status quo is simply unfair to single seniors, and that needs to change.”

Ted Rechtshaffen is president and wealth advisor at TriDelta Financial, a boutique wealth management and planning firm. www.tridelta.ca

The first thing that is so wrong with this article is the definition of single versus married/partnered in marital status. The senior persons mentioned in this article are not single. According to Statistics Canada definitions, they are widowed or divorced/separated (after age 65). Persons who are true and ever singles have none of the financial benefits/losses mentioned in this article. And if persons are divorced/separated, especially at an early stage of their marriage, they also do not have many of the benefits/losses mentioned here. (The earlier the divorce/separation in life, the greater is the loss of benefits that married/coupled persons enjoy).

  1. Being part of a couple in old age has so many tax advantages…How true!
  2. The current tax and pension system in Canada is significantly tilted to benefit couples over singles once you are age 65 or more….This statement is not completely true. The system is even more unfair for singles who are true (‘ever’) singles, not widows. Singles who are true singles have been excluded from the discussion.
  3. Benefits – Article correctly states that pension splitting, CPP, RSP/RIF and OAS are benefits to married people because the couple receives these benefits times two and is able to pension split, but widowed persons have less of these benefits. To this, true singles and early divorced/separated persons ask the question, “so what”? If widowed persons are now so called ‘single’ they should have to live same standard of living, not better than, true singles and early divorced/separated persons.
  4. Losses – Losses are correctly stated, however, true (‘ever’) singles and early divorced/separated persons have a hard time understanding why this is a hardship. Widowers are now ‘single’ so why can’t they live the same lifestyle as true singles and early divorced/separated persons?
  5. Higher tax bill – Why is this a problem? Widowed persons are now on more equal playing field to true single and early divorced/separated persons.
  6. Clawback – Again why is this a problem? True singles and early divorced/separated persons enjoy none of these benefits. Also, many true (ever) singles and early divorced/separated Canadian persons do not have the luxury of a $70,000 income.

Estate size $500,000 less
Just more proof that married/coupled persons want it all and want more, more and more from the time of marriage until the death of their spouse/partner and even after the death of their spouse/partner.  In article ‘The Added Price of Single Life?’ by Bella Depaulo (belladepaulo) talks about a A British study that showed  true singles lose equivalent of $380,000 USA over a lifetime to married persons, so what is the problem with losing $500,000? Another good article is ‘The high price of being single in America’ theatlantic.com.

The article then goes on to make these enlightening points:

“There is no question that expenses will decline being one person instead of two, but the expenses don’t drop in half. We usually see a decline of about 15% to 30%, because items like housing and utilities usually don’t change much, and many other expenses only see small declines“.

It would be exceedingly wonderful if government, businesses, society and families (married/partnered) would recognize this fact for true singles and early divorced/separated persons instead of telling them “it must be their lifestyle” that is making them poor. Fifteen to 30 percent decline? Wow, singles would love these percentages to also be used for them especially since 60 to 70% income of married or partnered persons is often used (i.e. MoneySense articles). If only true singles and early divorced persons could say they should have the same benefits as widowed persons, that is, 70 to 85% income of married or partnered persons.

Unfair to single seniors?  The  most unfairness is to true singles and divorced/separated persons, not widows.

Regarding the suggestions that are made:

  1. “Write your MP and demand that tax system be made more fair for single seniors”. The article refers only to married/coupled and divorced/separated seniors after the age of 65. It dis criminates by exclusion against true singles and early divorced/separated persons.
  • “Look at having permanent life insurance on both members of a couple to compensate for the gaps”. This is a great idea. The author of this blog has long thought this would be a solution to providing benefits to survivors once spouses have died and they would actually be paying for those benefits through premiums. At the present time, survivors are getting marital manna benefits, but then are asking for more as this article suggests. They are also getting survivors benefits from pension plans and paying very little for these benefits. An example is a pension plan where only $100 is deducted each month from living spouse for pension benefits in the thousand dollar range. Deduction of $100 per month or $1200 per year does not pay for survivor pension that is two-thirds of full pension of the spouse. Life insurance plans at present time do not extend to 90 years of age without excessive premiums. To stop all the marital manna benefits that survivors get, life insurance plans need to be extended to 90 years of age, and spouses need to pay premiums for entire life. Another critical thinking, outside the box idea is to eliminate marital manna benefits and make permanent term life insurance plans compulsory, just like house and car insurance, so that married/coupled persons would actually pay for the benefits they receive. This methodology would allow true singles and early divorced/separated persons to be on more level financial playing field to married/coupled persons since generally true singles do not need life insurance. A longer term for collecting premiums should help to offset the costs of the premiums that will be paid out. Permanent life insurance would ease burden that married/partnered benefits place on government programs. There also would then be more monies to bring government programs for true singles and early divorced/separated persons to have same standard of living as married/coupled and widowed persons.
  • Consider a common law relationship for tax purposes. He says he is only half kidding. Really? According to Canada Revenue Agency rules this is not legal. Ever singles and divorced/separated persons cannot just shack up with someone for tax purposes. More true singles and early divorced/separated persons would be doing this if they could.

Lessons learned

  1. Writers who wish to write about the financial affairs of singles should use correct definitions for singles. The persons in this article were not true singles. In other words, correctly identify who your audience is.
  2. Writers of financial institutions who wish to write about the financial affair of singles should include all singles in their discussions. To do anything less is discriminatory and disrespectful to singles who truly are single.
  3. By all means vote and contact your Members of Parliament, but insist that true singles and early divorced/separated persons (senior and otherwise) be included in financial discussions and formulas equal to and at the same level as widows and middle class families. (Seventy to 85% income of married/coupled persons would be wonderful).

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

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