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improving futures (14)

Sharper Image Story

I got this really interesting story this morning from the purveyors at Hustle, it is long, interesting, cool and worth sharing. Enjoy. 

Timothy Ross

 

 

How one man built The Sharper Image into the world's wackiest gadget store

It took a marketing genius to build the kingdom of flashy gadgets — and a $229 air purifier to take it all down.

BY ZACHARY CROCKETT

The Sharper Image was a kingdom.

It was a kingdom where you could, in an afternoon trip to the mall, purchase an electric nose trimmer ($39), a motorized surfboard ($2,450), and a bulletproof raincoat ($400), then take a ride in a $1,500 massage chair while being serenaded by a bird-calling robot.

It was a kingdom once described as the “breast implant” of retail, a place where man and child alike could bask in the artificial glow of flagrant consumerism.

This is the story of the man who founded this great kingdom — and how one flashy gadget ultimately led to its downfall.

King Richard I

Richard Thalheimer had all the trappings of a world-class salesman.

Born in 1948 in Little Rock, Arkansas, he spent his youth working odd-jobs in the toy section of his father’s department store. He went on to study psychology and sociology at Yale University, where — during his freshman year — he sold enough encyclopædias to buy a brand new Porsche.

In his early 20s, Thalheimer ventured to San Francisco and started a wholesale business that catered to the then-burgeoning photocopier industry.

“I named it The Sharper Image,” he says, “because I thought that my paper and toner would help people make good copies.”

Left: A young Richard Thalheimer poses for a yearbook photo; Right: In the early days of The Sharper Image (via SF Examiner)

While running The Sharper Image, Thalheimer enrolled at Hastings Law School — but making physical deliveries to businesses in the Financial District every afternoon between classes began to take its toll.

“I was completely taxed,” he says. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I try mail-order?”

The million-dollar running watch

The mail-order catalogue — a publication that lists products and allows customers to order them remotely via mail or telephone — had been around for a century. As early as the 1880s, Tiffany’s and Sears were hawking their wares in 300-page booklets. 

But in the 1970s, the mail-order industry was having a renaissance moment: Roger Horchow had just launched the first luxury color catalogue without a physical retail location, and Joe Sugarman was running the first-ever mail-order magazine ads — beautiful, full-page photos with poetic product descriptions.

Thalheimer wanted to try his hand at it. But first, he needed a product.

At the time, Seiko had just rolled out a first-of-its-kind fully digital watch — but at $300, most runners couldn’t afford it. Coincidentally, Thalheimer came across a small booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a man was selling a “very similar” product for $35 wholesale.

He struck a deal with the vendor and bought out a full-page ad in Runner’s World Magazine, offering the watch for $69. For the copy, he chose to feature his friend, Walt Stack — a “legendary, fully-tattooed 70-year-old” who was known around San Francisco for his crazy daily routine, which included a 17-mile run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Left: Walt Stack on his daily 17-mile-run in the ‘80s (Eric Risberg/AP); Right: Thalheimer’s first Sharper Image ad, for the Realtime watch, starring Stack (Courtesy of Richard Thalheimer)

At a cost of $1k, the ad netted Thalheimer $10k in sales (about $5k of which was profit). He repeated this process — each time, with better results — and by the age of 27, he’d made his first million dollars. 

By 1979, Thalheimer’s system of advertising was so successful that he decided to launch his own catalogue high-tech gadgets nobody knew they needed.

The Sharper Image catalogue

Thalheimer embarked on a quest to find the most unique products on the market — things that “other people didn’t sell.”

“At the Consumer Electronics Show, everyone would gravitate toward the big guys, Sony, Panasonic,” he says. “I’d go straight for the little booths, the people selling things nobody had ever heard of.”

The first catalogue contained 25 items, including the first cordless phone, answering machine, and car radar detector. He avoided superfluous adjectives in his copy, and focused on the features that made the products exceptional.

Very quickly, his experiment began minting money: The first year, sales topped $500k; the second year, they reached $3m; by 1980, $12m. Soon, the catalogue was being sent to 3m people around the world, at a cost of $1.4m per mailing.

He catered specifically to the 20% of Americans who had credit cards, and offered them a 1-800 number to place orders over the phone. In a small San Francisco office, with a staff of 5 or 6 people, a dozen orders were processed every 60 seconds.

The Sharper Image catalogue featured products like the Snore-No-More ($59) — a device that shocked snorers with an electric pulse (via Flickr user Mike Mozart)

The Sharper Image struck at the right time.

In the 1980s stock boom, flashy gadgets and conspicuous consumption were in. “He who dies with the most toys wins” was the ethos of the decade.

Thalheimer expanded into physical retail, opening stores in well-to-do enclaves across America. In New York, bankers dipped in to peruse $1500 massage chairs; in Hawaii, tourists fawned over electric nose hair trimmers and talking scales. By 1985, The Sharper Image was grossing $100m in sales — with no outside capital or debt.

At the company’s helm, Thalheimer was what the New Yorker described as the “very model of a major entrepreneur:” Tanned and muscular, deliberate and tenacious, and infallibly gifted at curating ridiculously niche gadgets, like a mini electric fan on a necklace (priced at $49, it sold 10k units a month).

“I can see the future,” he toldan LA Times reporter in 1984, “I know when a trend is coming and when it’s leaving.” In an AP interview, he hailed himself as a “marketing genius.” Nobody could disagree.

When The Sharper Image IPO’d at $10 per share in 1987, the chain, and its outspoken CEO, seemed incapable of failure. That is, until the ‘80s ended.

Do I really need that gadget?

In the early ‘90s, the economy weakened and sparked a recession: Suddenly, conspicuous consumption was out and frugal environmentalism was in. 

The Sharper Image tried to switch gears by selling more “socially responsible” products (like Birkenstocks, vitamin energizers, and benches made of recycled plastic), but the strategy had a limited effect.

Between 1989 and 1991, sales fell by 28%. Staff was was cut by 20%. Stock tumbled to $2. And for the first time in company history, The Sharper Image posted a loss.

The Sharper Image saw a dramatic decline in the early ‘90s (The Hustle)

“The Sharper Image has become a cliche for the worst excesses of the last decade — the Donald Trump of specialty retailing,” wrote the SF Examiner. “Nobody needs what they sell.”

For a CEO of a publicly-traded company, Thalheimer was unusually involved in minute decisions: His penchant for controlling what color clothes employees could wear, how they decorated their desks, and what type of coffee mugs they used earned him a citation in California Magazine’s 1988 Worst Bosses in America list.

So, he decided to step back from day-to-day operations and go back to his roots: Finding wacky, one-of-a-kind products. It didn’t take long.

At a “hippie street fair” in San Francisco, Thalheimer stumbled across a blue gel shoe insert — the first of its kind. “I stood up in front of all my deflated employees, pulled this thing out of my suit pocket, and said, ‘This is going to turn us around,’” he recalls. “Everyone thought I was nuts.”

At $19.99 a pair, the inserts went on to become the company’s best-selling product, selling hundreds of units a day and adding 50% to their sales figures.

Several years later, in 2000, Thalheimer came across another game-changing product at a toy fair in Hong Kong: The Razor scooter. He negotiated an exclusive 24-month deal and sold a million of them in the first year. It was, he says, “a second lease on life” for the company.

Razor scooters revitalized The Sharper Image, but raised new concerns (via the AP)

Bolstered by the rise of the internet and online sales, the Razor led The Sharper Image to the best performance in its 23-year history. It was no longer just a place for “tech-loving snobs” to buy elitist gadgets.

But this success came with a looming concern: The Sharper Image was turning into what analysts described as “a one-product company.”

The air purifier that killed the company

Thalheimer had long operated by finding intriguing products elsewhere, signing exclusive distribution deals, and selling them under The Sharper Image brand name. But he knew that if it designed and patented his own products, margins could be higher.

In a secret location north of San Francisco, Thalheimer assembled a team of engineers and designers and formed Sharper Image Design to make gadgets in-house. 

“[It was a place] where where the inner child could come out in every man, with gizmos blinking and whirling,” later recalled an employee. “The only thing missing were white coats and propeller hats.”

The team churned out some 300 patents and 100 products, ranging from fogless mirrors to anti-snoring wristbands that jolted the offender with an electric shock.

But the crown jewel of the operation was a noiseless air purifier called the Ionic Breeze.

Ads for the the Ionic Breeze (via The Hartford Courant, 1999)

The Sharper Image put all of its resources behind the machine, taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of magazine, newspaper and TV ads. Despite its $229 price tag, it became a smash hit.

By the turn of the millenium, the Ionic Breeze was so popular that it made up 45% of all of the chain’s sales. And as it turned out, this was a huge problem.

In 2002, Consumer Reports(a nonprofit product review publication) ranked the Ionic Breeze dead last in a feature on air purifiers, deeming it “ineffective.” Thalheimer was furious, and filed a lawsuit against the magazine, claiming it had “negligently disparag[ed] the product.” It was tossed out, and cost Thalheimer $525k in legal fees.

“We did a very stupid thing by making a big stink out of it,” cedes Thalheimer. “It was like suing Jesus Christ...it infuriated them, and just led to more trouble.”

Three years later, Consumer Reports struck again — this time alleging that the Ionic Breeze didn’t just suck at purifying air, but actually emitted harmful amounts of ozone. Once again, Thalheimer took them to court and lost.

The blowback cost The Sharper Image millions of dollars in store credits and refunds — and soon, stockholders began to question Thalheimer’s magic touch.

Held at Knightspoint

In the Spring of 2006, a group of outside shareholders by the name of Knightspoint Partners snapped up 13% of the company.

Led by famed corporate raider Jerry Levin, the group demanded a shakeup of the board. At first, it seemed they genuinely wanted to help Thalheimer guide The Sharper Image back on track, but it soon became clear that they were gunning to oust him and remodel the company in their own image.

The Sharper Image’s “new image” included some poor decisions, like featuring Trump Steaks on the cover of a catalogue; meat packages started at $1k (The Hustle)

In September, Thalheimer was fired and forced to sell all of his remaining shares for a sum of $26m — a fraction of what his holdings were once worth. When he came into work the next day to gather his belongings, the door was locked. His desk, still covered with the wacky emblems of his career, his now occupied by Jerry Levin.

Knightspoint set to work recrafting The Sharper Image into a general electronic retailer, like Circuit City or Best Buy. Or, in Thalheimer’s estimation, “stripping away the imagination.”

By 2008, stock had plummeted to 28 cents per share. Within a year, The Sharper Declared bankruptcy, closed down all 183 stores, and laid of 4k employees.

The company, now run by an investor group, continues to exist online — but it’s a shadow of its former self. The weird gadgets have been usurped by USB drives and motion-activated light bulbs — and Thalheimer’s oddball charm is nowhere to be seen.

Richard Solo

Looking back, Thalheimer doesn’t harbor much ill-will. He runs his own gadget site, aptly named RichardSolo.com, and has taken up investing.

“My days are a lot more enjoyable,” he says. “It’s not as egocentric as being the head of my own company. But at this point, I’d rather be alone.”

He tells The Hustle that his net worth is “3-4x higher” than when he got pushed out, and that his studies of the stock market have earned him beefy returns of between 50% and 100% per year.

Thalheimer poses with a favorite from The Sharper Image catalogue (via Richard Thalheimer)

But Thalheimer hasn’t completely abandoned the kingdom.

At his Marin County mansion stands a lavishly-adorned suit of armor — a $2,450 relic from The Sharper Image catalogue. An old cordless telephone dangles from its ear.

It is a sight that can only be described as perfectly Thalheimerian: A blend of the old and the new, the eclectic and the cutting-edge, the blunt and the sharp.

 
 
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Weekend Recap

Miss an email this week? Here’s a rundown of our top headlines from the past 7 days:

1. WORDPLAY OF THE WEEK: You smoke, bud?

Canadians once again prove they’re chill after the country officially made weed legal for all uses on Wednesday, but some industry experts believe the share prices have gotten too highhhhhhhhhhhhhh, man. What a buzzkill.

2. OUR FAVORITE: The Palm Pilot is back -- but more useless than ever

All was a buzz as the Palm Pilot brand announced its new “ultra-mobile” Palm phone that is smaller than a regular cell phone and aims to eliminate digital distractions -- only problem is it has pretty much all of the same features as normal cell phones.

3. ‘TODAY I LEARNED’: That if a concert sells out, it usually means ticket prices were too cheap

As ticket scalpers and resell sites continue to run rampant on the industry-wide ticket inflation problem, Taylor Swift and her team concocted a strategy to help combat the issue… and so far, it’s working.

4. OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS: The ‘Real World’ returns... on Facebook?

The world’s first hit reality show announced it is coming back to a cell phone screen near you. The old format will come with some new interactive surprises, and air on Facebook’s new premium content platform, Facebook Watch.

5. TECH TROUBLES: Lime tried to sue San Francisco for getting snubbed on scooter permits

After being denied the highly anticipated San Francisco scooter permit, Lime filed for a temporary restraining against the city, in hopes that it would delay scooter releases for the 2 companies that did receive permits.

 
Now Playing Now Playing:
The Masterplan, Oasis. Everybody’s got one.
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REFERRALS
http://ambassadors.thehustle.co/?ref=b7d8bb140b
YOUR UNIQUE URL

 

 

Now, back to the corn field

Read more…

Harvest for Food Banks

Yesterday was a full day. I was in the field shortly after 8 getting setup. Robert Dentz and Bill lifted some more rows, they had done a number the afternoon before. People started driving in after 9. We were out of the field by 5. I headed to Prescott Food For All Food Bank with Megan with our final load, came back, cleared the field of pails and hauled the second trailer back for unloading of the pails tomorrow wrapped up just after 7, will get them back into storage and be ready for the next adventure tomorrow. We gathered over 18,000 pounds of potatoes and squash for local food banks and feeding organizations in our community of Brockville and Prescott. There had to be over 50 volunters assist throughout the day, maybe more.

Greg Houldcroft , Executive Director of Cross Town Impact stepped up another year to help get the word out and inspire youth and families to journey to the fields. This event started over 9 years ago when I coordinated with Highway Pentecostal Church to help glean the fields, that would put it around 2010.

Looking back at some old notes , we often stretched this into the colder months

 From: advisor@timothyross.com
Sent: Monday, December 2, 2013 3:08 PM
To: Leigh Bursey  Cc: Rodger McCabe  Subject: Re: ummmm.
​​
Hi Rodger and Leigh, I did a site inspection this afternoon and met with the Dents, there is not enough left to make it viable to do anymore harvesting, what is left will remain for personal consumption and perhaps some secret weapon chips :) Interesting the Kale that is still left is in good shape considering the recent weather, very impressive cole crop.
Thanks for your help and interest, Together We Did Some Great Good, thanks again . Over 4 Thousand Tons of food. Tim
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
From: advisor@timothyross.com
Sent: Monday, December 2, 2013 4:41 AM
To: Leigh Bursey  Cc: Rodger McCabe Subject: Re: ummmm. 

That year Leigh had a car accident on the Sunday before this email. I missed seeing Leigh this year, however he was out for a bit in the morning and picked a few pails that added to the effort.

We had a beautiful day and were blessed with a great day and effort. The passing of the rain clouds was huge answer to prayer, early that morning it did rain a bit, fortunately not enough to stop the process. It had been wet leading up to the harvest, Thursday morning it ws hopeful that things would turn around as we would not be able to get on the fields on Saturday if it did not. Fortunatly Thursday and Friday the wind picked up and the sun came out to help allow the fields to get dryed out enough so Robert could dig the potatoes and then the volunteers pick and bag them .

There is lots of pictures on facebook, this link should take you there.

https://www.facebook.com/omegastewardship/media_set?set=a.10155511473375563&type=3

Greg has album at

https://www.facebook.com/pg/CrossTownImpact/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1967092233371333&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARDtObyWVXOjfdP30bSAK5IMyZzpo1udXwEkDIFvQHge3gtKUnpTypeK3anCpEq9Q5ratXNl9Zi_-Rmlu5ZlhJhnLNryvXbc-LwiG4XrYCjBBFHsosKv0PnlUTTH5144_EWWCYxFqb-C_jE907X04pukCfsSSrjiJ2zibaE9bIFkMZxdb1k0_3-PEI2bixPMkLgB2xav5Sy1cRWMzQYu3Ze4lf--4r2mXQ&__tn__=-UCH-R

There is also some video 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ8Ci_E95Ns&index=2&list=PLhhVyaUmOQur0rWarodS7R-IZ83neSIGv&t=0s

 

Event Page yr 2018

https://www.facebook.com/events/252158168820736/

Event Page Year 2017

 https://www.facebook.com/events/136567547086454/

Event Year 2016

https://www.facebook.com/events/546632402194822/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/CrossTownImpact/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1169036719843559&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCazWgQ4SdKeLuU6JG6HLwReyBALnuVOYCwpBx_C6WDGgY58PKrKiOuaMD0nwPqIMvQaeDQPrqK8Ok0lhk4RYun3UFB5O8Wsq1pvKF6PB-yt37OBc5j-BIQxnTczhxHhj6ydidL04yIz3nHse6ylKh6OhJAWK8WwSMmp5DS50NbSfNyP5HqX8PU_Cs0stifUPwrgdz7Ap3OACiQwoDfYUcmDn4scB7qKg&__tn__=-UK-R

https://www.facebook.com/omegastewardship/media_set?set=a.10153781321420563.1073741895.727085562&type=3&pnref=story

Event Year 2015

https://www.facebook.com/greg.houldcroft/media_set?set=a.10154776959060282&type=3

https://www.facebook.com/omegastewardship/media_set?set=a.10153026923140563&type=3&hc_location=ufi

https://www.instagram.com/p/8aF0sTR60w/

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156091696175282&set=a.10151301171315282&type=3&fref=mentions

https://www.facebook.com/greg.houldcroft/media_set?set=a.10154776891170282.1073741933.510830281&type=3

Event Year 2014

https://www.facebook.com/greg.houldcroft/media_set?set=a.10154754538255282&type=3&hc_location=ufi

https://www.facebook.com/greg.houldcroft/media_set?set=a.10154754538255282.1073741928.510830281&type=3

Event Year 2013

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=630250570350187&set=a.609011945807383&type=3&theater

 

 

 

 

We don't always get potatoes, in 2011 there was none. 

reviewed with Iris next weekend, for church harvest , Sat Oct 29
​- need shovel's, pitch forks, knives for processing
​carrot's, beets, cabbage, squash

Hotlist Task Created: Phone Call, no potatoes this yr. but other stuff
With: Dentz, Robert & Iris
Scheduled by: Tim Ross  Assigned to: Tim Ross  October 17, 2011

I believe I started this back in  2009 so we have about 10 years of harvesting under our belt at this point. I say about as over time our memories float around the beginning , going to search my archieves and confirm at some point :) 

In the year 2013 I wrote 

Year2014 - Tentative Date Set , Year 5 , it will be an all day event, come and go as you please. Rodger and I have worked the full day almost every time in the past , so it really needs a full day's effort and depending on the produce availability a few extra visits may be required to get it all gleaned.
There was about 5000 pounds of potatoes that we were unable to glean, plus beets , kale, squash , tons of stuff that we just didn't have the people power to glean. Hopefully next year with a greater outreach of volunteers, and expanded time line, that can all change, many hands make for light work.

 

so that is looking like year 2010 start harvest, the planning seed began in 2009 from a conversation I had with the Dents's that fall. 

So, looking like year Year 10 will be 2019, and for fun, lt's set a tenative date  Sturday October 12, 2019 with a rain date oct 19

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleaning

 

 

 

Read more…

Inspirational Tipping Point

My notes from IFB Ottawa Ccnference  last month that I attended as part of our professional development . 

An  encouraging session 

  • Tim

 

Simon Reilly, Leading Advisor



You can go out there and add value.

Cicero and Damenthosis, speech, let’s March

Get the why right or you will just do

We have a vocation not a job,  a vocation has it in your soul, the why you do it !

Passion and pulls you forward

Get rid of fear !

Inspire from deep within

We all have values inherent within you, tie values and inspiration together

If your acting tired, burn out, overwhelmed, no time, why would clients want to work with you, they will feel that from you

Feel you have time and money, make is

Wake up to gain additional understanding

We have to take responsibility, if it is going to be it’s up to me

Being, your soul

Bob Dylan , back seat driving quote Time magazine

Control I need to do it myself, need of approval and recognition, thoughts are a wheel of fortune, pick up the vibe , and they disempower themselves , and they start making mistakes , they will last 6 months if your lucky

We get distracted from making a difference by all the baggage we carry

Front seat driver or back seat driver

People walk through their days unconsciously

The emotions and belief systems get in the way

Leading Advisor , testimony from Robert Clark,   Millennium, extremely bright ,

We can’t superimposing judgements on them

Missy Pursley, became the leader as she got strong vision

He works for a short period of time, you don’t need a paid friend

Don’t need to be driven by the back seat driver, doesn’t need to be that way

We need to seize the day and see the people

Understand and discover how to get your needs met

People are getting overwhelmed with the decision processing

Work out business puzzles and solve them

Create the family office

Free book, presentation they did

97$ to get started , after evaluation to start,

Get changed at a cellular level, help get past hang ups that I have

So you don’t have to prove to much, just explain how it will happen

What ever you resist persists

What is out needs DNA ?

What is the story behind it? Step 1, Step 2

Work through the emotions and belief

Develop your conviction  

Your greater than your body, your mind ,!its your soul

We can provide extraordinary value to our clients

Say Yes

Good presentation, positive ideas , perhaps could benefit from this coaching going forward

Ted Talk Link

https://youtu.be/1gNUpM0Dz7Q



Thank you
Tim Ross, Family Advisor ®
Family Office providing Omega Stewardship ®
Www.BrockShoresFinancial.ca
613-345-0016 Office
613-213-4625 Cell/Text  advisor@timothyross.com

Helping Families Achieve ...Life’s Major Goals ®

OMEGA STEWARDSHIP  ®
* One Stop Process Driven Approach for Retirement & Income Planning
* Personalized Tax Management Solutions for Individuals & Business Owners
* Confidential Wealth Management Solutions

Mutual Funds through Professional Investments

Brock Shores Financial
#ImprovingFutures

 

Thousands of years ago, the story of Let's March was born. Two of the greatest public speakers of all time were Cicero and Demosthenes. Cicero was the greatest speaker in Rome; Demosthenes was the greatest speaker in Athens. After every time Cicero gave a speech, the audience would give him a standing ovation, wildly applaud, and say, "Wow, what an incredible speech." When Demosthenes was done speaking, the people would say, "Let's March."

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/ciceros-speeches

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/ciceros-speechesculture-magazines/ciceros-speeches

 

http://10point1.blogspot.com/2010/10/really-truth-is-just-plain-picture-bob.html

Bob Dylan Interview -Time

Read more…

FSCO update Insurance Regulations

http://trk.mmail.lst.fin.gov.on.ca/list/euidlxqe/180928E/dxqy8f.vib?a0=875

 

 

Reviewed the guidebook today. Fairly good common sense, communication. Take care of clients needs. Due diligence and go the second mile to ensure clients understand what they have and what their options are. 

 

Click on the link above for the full guidance report. 

 

A couple things I would like our firm to get better at is letting clients know the broad range of products we have available. Travel insurance, health benefits and hospitalization insurance come to mind. 

Tim Ross, Founder Brock Shores Financial

#ImprovingFutures

 http://ouradvisor.ca/TimothyRoss

 My license link

Licence Confirm

Check others 

Confirm other agents

Read more…

2018 Annual Tax Season Letter

Brock Shores Financial

Formerly Timothy Ross & Associates

 

4502 Airport Road – Tincap

Elizabethtown, ON

K6T 1A2

“Serving clients since 1988”

 

www.BrockShoresFinancial.ca

Voice: 613-345-0016

Fax: 613-345-5231

advisor@timothyross.com

 

 Another year is upon us, “the sap is running” and we are beginning our tax season once again. Our biggest announcement this year is that we have happily made a name change. We hope you like the fresh look of Brock Shores Financial. I feel it better suits our path going forward and positions us into the next 30 years as we develop our growth and succession plans. We have expanded our team, hiring on additional staff to help keep the office balanced and efficient to meet our growing client’s needs. This is now my 30th year in business and it is still my pleasure to serve you and your family as a tax consultant and advisor. Our new staff members include Cody King, Katina King, Neil Norman, and Lisa Quenneville. Heather Kiley remains our Administrative Assistant and Megan Hough is our Client Support Service Coordinator. Peter Young continues to provide out of office accounting support. Bob Harper, has come on board as our Business Development Consultant, helping promote our year round business support services. Many may know Bob for his efforts in bringing great awareness to the area and abroad about the origins of our Canadian Maple Leaf Flag and our local connection to the historic events and loving hands that lead to our countries flag creation.

 

Brock Shores Financial is set upon a good foundation that has been built on the Family Office concept where you can get a variety of services and advice, a one stop place for the majority of your financial services and advice. We will continue to provide what we call Omega Stewardship ® which helps us help you reach your families major goals in life.

 

Things are always changing, just yesterday the Canadian Government announced a number of updates in the budget which we will be monitoring going forward as some of them may impact you and or the people you work for. There was also a number of changes last year and some of these changes will effect various credits which we will adjust this year while doing your taxes.

 

Some of the routine news for the tax season year is as follows:

 

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

TAX SEASON OFFICE HOURS

We have now expand our front desk office hours for the next few months. Monday through Friday we open at 9:30 am and close at 8pm. This will be our goal during the weeks ahead. That being said, we take appointments beyond our “office hours” all the time throughout the year. Working Saturdays is an option as well especially during tax season if you cannot possibly make it in during the week or evenings.

 

If you do not require an appointment, please feel free to drop off your tax papers at the office. Staff are setup to receive and gather the necessary information. They will have you sign some papers and send some home for signing if required so we can get your returns prepared, reviewed and filed in a timely manner.

 

We also have had more people emailing their documentation to us from across Canada 24/7. This has been a very effective way to extend our reach and provide service across the country or simply down the street. This is not always convenient for everyone, however if you would like to, simply email a pdf of your slips or a clear photo from your smart phone. Please send them to advisor@timothyross.com and we will be able to start your returns that way.

 

CRA CONTACT

We will continue to select the e-filing option that CRA will contact us directly first vs you for any pre-assessment and post assessment requests for information. That has worked fairly well this past year. There has been occasions CRA didn’t cooperate with this policy and we had surprise reassessments, nevertheless we will work through those for you.

 

As noted last year, in the past we had CRA contact clients first after your returns had been processed (post assessments), this gave one a chance to respond on your own and avoid any additional professional charges. We found however over the last few years that people were typically bringing this to our attention anyway and sometimes completely not dealing with the matter. Then one would get reassessed, with a debt owed to CRA because no information was sent, or the wrong information was sent, missing information, etc. This causes too much stress for everyone, additional work and often requiring more expertise to sort out. So we are going to take on the responsibility of receiving these notices first and then responding to CRA on your behalf. This will involve gathering any documentation that is required from you or our records, making sure it is correct, make any necessary adjustments if it is determined it is in your best interest, submitting in a proper format to CRA.

 

We are now able to electronically submit documentation which gives us another level of assurance that they got it, eliminating a lot of questions regarding did they get? How long will it take? Or “they” lost it.   You will always maintain the option to do it yourself, however there is often thousands of dollars on the line and we feel it best to invest in some professional service and protect your tax file for the year in question and by responding in a good manner, this often helps reduce future requests, so it protects you from future audits, not always, however from our experience, it often does. Often it can take longer to respond to even what I consider the simplest of tasks than it does for us to do someone’s tax return.

 

With 30 years’ experience, I use the words “simplest of task” from that perspective. To help you and our office, I have trained my team to help in this process. Everyone has different charge out rates and various experiences, so depending on the request from CRA and what they require, we will have the appropriate person work on your file and review with me to make sure that your tax file is protected.

 

“Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.” ~ Charles Kettering

 

CLARIFYING OUR “Dang It” POLICY

Every once in a while, we will make an error. No one wants to admit it, however I will. Frankly we are humans, and despite all our experience, and all the steps we take to make sure we input the correct information, it can happen. A number gets transposed, or put in the wrong spot, or gets missed… just being human. Last year it happened a few times, and worked out to be 0.25% of our work load. Property taxes vs rent happened on a couple this year, so if you’re getting too big of a trillium benefit let us know right away and will double check, it’s a very tiny box on our forms.

 

When any error happens CRA will probably pick up on the error and adjust it right away. Sometimes it takes longer, and they ask us or you to clarify, or they will send out a reassessment if they are sure they have the correct information. When this happens, we will do the necessary professional work to correct the problem at no cost to you, sometimes it is what it is. Always let us check whenever you get something from the government. Taxes are a big web and one thing leads to another, and CRA doesn’t usually connect the dots, especially if it is in your favor. We will look at the big picture and pursue it out of principle for you, because we take a lot of pride in what we do.

 

If we made the error, I will give you a credit on your tax returns for any interest you are charged related to the error we made, up to the time it is discovered and corrected. You are responsible for any tax owing, as you would have been if there had been no error in the first place. When the error comes from missing information that we did not receive, you are responsible for interest and taxes payable. Depending on the work required, we often waive the professional fee to clarify the matter, however, there are times when it takes a lot of work and it falls under our CRA contact procedure policies, and while we appreciate your business, unfortunately our staff do not work for free.

 

We feel there is value in knowing when you have had contact from CRA, as it triggers future questions for us next time we file your return (i.e., where is that tax slip from the bank?) You do not want to be missing stuff, because after just a few things missing with CRA, they can classify you as a delinquent filer, not reporting all your income, and when you miss something next time they penalize you in the future for forgetfulness. They call it the “repeated failure to report income penalty” and the numbers can get crazy. The government has implemented some changes for income under $500, but above that it is crazy expensive, (just google it you will see what I mean, various calculations), and it takes about 3 years to get off that list, so we will do everything that we can to keep you off the list in the first place, it’s not good for you or us. You may never see it, but rest assured that we take a lot of care and due diligence, so this never or rarely happens. However, if it does, I just want you to know in advance what we will do so you’re not left hanging and wondering. Our staff have clear direction to answer any questions that come up and implement a timely solution. That being said, we encourage you to check over your return, I think it is important that you understand your finances and how things generally work, and CRA makes it quite clear that in the end you are responsible for your taxes, so, if there is something missing, you have the responsibility to bring that to our attention, and we will adjust it. We will do our best to have it correct the first time, but if we made a human error, we welcome the opportunity to get it right. Jim Rohn said, “Accuracy builds credibility” and we are just keeping it real because we are here to serve you and your family and we look forwarding to having a long term relationship that is beneficial to us all. Our greatest compliment is when you refer others to us, it says a lot and is frankly how I prefer to do business.

 

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”    ….. Thanks for continuing to work with us, your business and friendship over the years is sincerely appreciated.

 

We Like to Be TAX SMART

Things are always changing, yet our goal remains as always, to get you the highest refund possible and minimize your tax burden. Working with us has many other benefits as we are a full-service firm with many options available to service your needs.

 

We encourage you to be Tax Smart; Some new things to be aware of this year

 

  1. The sale of a residence must be reported on your taxes , since 2016
  2. The Seniors Pension Split is still available and we do not charge extra for that service
  3. We do not charge extra for e-filing, it’s now law that we e-file your return, and saves us time and postage, so we are not going to charge extra for that like some places do.
  4. Our basic fees are up on average 20% over last year, we have held off increases for several years now, unfortunately inflation continues to impact all of our cost of operations and we had to make an increase this year to reflect these realities.
  5. If you owe money, we can now setup a preauthorized payment for you with CRA, since 2016
  6. If you have a business or employment expenses there is great tax benefits, providing you keep track of things properly. One area that we continue to see deficiencies is in logging mileage. Please make this a habit, it is so very important to do this and protect your deductions. If you’re not doing this currently start today. I got an APP on my phone called MileIQ it works pretty good and is worth the deductible investment. There is others as well or the standard write it in a little book works as well, the important thing is to do it so you have the proof, document, and document.
  7. Fitness and Art credits are no longer a deduction
  8. Transportation credits ended June 30th last year, however if your 65 or over there is a seniors public transit tax credit in Ontario.
  9. Tuition credits and transfers from the kids are calculated a little different this year
  10. There is a number of other items that may impact you, please let us know of any questions you may have regarding your situation.
  11. Bonus …If we are not already friends on face book, be sure and send me a friend request, I post a lot, and there are many articles there that can save you money, create wealth, and encourage a more reflective life, but more than that, I just like connecting and even if it is just to wish you a happy birthday, that is worth it all. Many connect with me by private message as well, it’s a good way to communicate. We also have a couple pages setup, one for Timothy Ross & Associates which has a purely business related focus and a new one for Brock Shores Financial. Be sure to like it, and if you want adventure, do check out “Be The Adventure”.

 

 

PAYMENTS & FILES

Payments can made by cheque, cash or e-transfer. Our fees are based on the complexity of your tax return(s) as well as you’re your monetary situation. If you have a file you have dropped off or previous paper work that we have been holding, please be sure to pick it up once your taxes are done. Unfortunately, we do not have the space to hold everyone’s files for consecutive years.

 

Wrap Up

We value you, and we look forward to serving you once again this year. We hope you appreciate our name change and welcome our new staff as we build our service. We aim to bring value to your life, family or business. Please see the attached document introducing you to some NEW hydration that may improve your everyday living! Be sure and journey down to O’Mally Kourt & Fudgery at 55 King Street West Brockville , grab yourself a cold one and #BeTheAdventure

 

A little story about #ImprovingFutures , when we were working on the name change, I had a spot on the business card and it was calling me for some text, so I gave it some serious thought and I asked “What do we ultimately do for people ? After some reflecting we decided that Improving Futures is really what we do at the end of the day, then Megan said, “Put a hash tag on it”, and that is what we did.

 

PS: We are working on a new website, we have a lot of articles there already, we encourage you to simply check it out. The site is being setup as a member driven community site, so we encourage you to become a member while you’re there. www.ImprovingFutures.ca will take you there. It’s value will grow with time and as a member you will certainly hear about stuff first.

Looking forward to hearing from you; Call, Visit, and/or Email 24/7

  

Thank you

Timothy Ross

advisor@timothyross.com

Brock Shores Financial – Formerly Timothy Ross & Associates

www.BrockShoresFinancial.ca #ImprovingFutures

"Where Client Goals Become Our Goals" ®

"Helping Families Achieve ... Life's Major Goals" ®

 

OMEGA STEWARDSHIP ®

* One Stop Process Driven Approach for Retirement & Income Planning

* Personalized Tax Management Solutions for Individuals & Business Owners

* Confidential Wealth Management Solutions

 

Family Office providing Insurance Products in Association with Financial Horizons Group

Family Office providing Mutual Funds in Association with Professional Investments (Kingston) Inc."

Family Office providing Tax and Consulting Services

 

“Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind the stronger the trees” - John Willard Marriott

 

“We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.” ~ Earl Nightingale

 

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

“Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein

 

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

~ Rob Siltanen

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

"The beauty of being in business is that your business engages all aspects of your mind, I think that is why you become successful, business challenges you to be more than you are, and that is where the miracle takes place." ~ Timothy Ross, May 2004

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EFILE Startup Feb 26 2018

EFILE system is currently closed for personal tax returns and will re-open on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) for the electronic filing of our clients 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 initial personal income tax and benefit returns and 2015, 2016 and 2017 amended T1 returns.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/efile-electronic-filers/efile-news-program-updates.html

 

EFILE Helpdesk Support

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/efile-electronic-filers/efile-helpdesk-support-t1-returns.html

Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre-Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 5C1
Local calls: 705-670-6499
Long distance calls: 1-800-361-6283
Fax: 705-670-6500 or 1-855-338-5495

Eastern Time

7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

The following services will still be available after January 19, 2018:

  • Corporation Internet Filing for Corporation Income Tax (T2) returns. 
  • Electronic filing of Form T1013.

Note:  You must use the current-year version of the tax software to electronically submit the 2016 form through the T1013 transmission web service until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2018. When the T1013 web service re-opens at 8:30 a.m. Monday, February 12, 2018 it will only accept the 2017 version of this form.

 

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The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs

www.thefinancialfairytales.com/blog/about/

A great blog on finances from the UK. 

I found this resource when I was searching for the story about taxes and how taxes relates to the care and feeding of the golden goose and how that goose does perhaps eat too much. Jim Rohn spoke about it back 1993 when I first met him.  The text is below and a link to the article that inspired the search of the memory bank. ~ TLR

Jim Rohn on Taxation – The Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs

One of the original Financial Fairy Tales – The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs tells the tale of a farmer with a steady and reliable stream of passive income. Sadly he gets greedy and ends up killing the source in the search for instant gratification.

In this article, one of my mentors Jim Rohn uses the Golden Goose story to discuss taxation. Here’s what he had to say:-

I realize that the topic of  taxes may seem like a strange place to begin the discussion of creating wealth.  And yet throughout our lives, whether young or old, we must learn the necessity  of paying taxes. And as soon as they have any money at all, our children, too, must  learn that when they spend money they immediately become consumers. And all consumers  of goods and services, no matter how young, must pay taxes. Why?

Because we have all agreed  to live as a society, and for that society to function properly, there are some  things we cannot do for ourselves alone. For example, we cannot each build a piece  of the street. The machinery would be too expensive, and it would take too long  to learn how to use it. So we have a government. And a government is made up of  people who do things for us that we cannot or do not want to do ourselves. Because  the streets, the sidewalks, the police, and the fire department must all be paid  for, we’ve agreed to add some money each time we buy something and give it to the  government.

We then move on to federal  taxes. Here is a good way to explain federal taxes. I call it “The Care and Feeding  of the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs.” It’s so important to feed the goose-not  to abuse the goose or tear off its wings-but to feed and care for it.

What’s that you say? The goose  eats too much? That’s probably true. But then, don’t we all eat too much? If so,  let not one appetite accuse another. If you step on the scales and you’re ten pounds  too heavy, you’ve got to say, “Yes, the government and I are each about ten pounds  too heavy. Looks like we both eat too much.” No question about it. Every appetite  must be disciplined-yours, mine, and the government’s. Hey, we could all go on a  diet!

My mentor, Mr. Shoaff, urged  me early on to become a happy taxpayer. Now, I must admit it took a while, but I  finally did become a happy taxpayer. Part of this transformation occurred when I  began to understand the function of taxes and that it is right for everyone to pay  his or her fair share.

I finally decided I didn’t  mind picking up my share of the tab for defense. It’s so necessary for our safety  as a country to keep the bullies away. Some people say, “Why bother with all that  expensive equipment? They won’t come over here.” Obviously, those people haven’t  been reading their history books.

Others say, “We’re not about  to pick up the tab for defense.” Well then, I suggest they go to a place which doesn’t  offer defense as part of the package. If one is going to enjoy the benefits, one  should pay a share.

Now, let me add this: Don’t  pay more than you should. By all means take advantage of the incentives. They were  given to you as a reward for channeling your money into areas the government thinks  helps the economy.

All I’m saying is that when  everything has been computed, all legitimate deductions have been taken, and you  reach that last line on your income tax form, whatever the amount, pay it. And pay  with happiness, knowing that you’re feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs-the  golden eggs of freedom, safety, justice, and free enterprise. Some goose! Some eggs.

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/blogs/ten-year-end-facts-canadians-need-to-know

And while here, check out the think tanks other thoughts, I am sure there is some gold nuggets in there !

Bonus ... Goose or Eggs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjF2SvzlOm0&list=PLhhVyaUmOQupT95UiO_74c0-wATcRxceV&index=15

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Sleepless Govenor

https://www.wealthprofessional.ca/market-talk/these-are-the-biggest-fears-for-the-canadian-economy-235530.aspx Things that keep the govenor awake at night One thing he said was that young people just starting need jobs and without those jobs they can get stuck right from the Get go. I had an idea, stewardship thought moment. The government should make a job for every young person for their first job, give them the experience of having a job, limit it to at least a year, and have a lot of young people with a good first job, launch them into the world with a good foundation, bring the age down for the permanent positions to make room for our young people and redeploy these people into industry and other services. Stabilize, Train, Encourage, Launch A little utopia idea , I think it could have merit and would increase the value for society as a whole - TLR
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Rewire The Brain

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/how-complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity/article31893948/ A great article on the effects of negative thinking and talking. Interesting the bridges that are laid down for the bad or the good. Reminds me of some Jim Rohn says. Look for them in the comment sections going forward. A merry heart is the ticket to a good life. Have a blessed day! Tim
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Year-end planning for RRSPs and TFSAs

Year-end planning for RRSPs and TFSAs (December 2017)

"Wolters Kluwer's insider tips for year end planning, worth reviewing the little details that might apply to you" ~ TLR

For most Canadians, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) don’t become top of mind until near the end of February, as the annual contribution deadline approaches. When it comes to tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), most Canadians are aware that there is no contribution deadline for such plans, so that contributions can be made at any time. Consequently, neither RRSPs nor TFSAs tend to be a priority when it comes to year-end tax planning.

Notwithstanding those facts, there are considerations which apply to both RRSPs and TFSAs in relation to the approach of the end of calendar year. Failing to take those considerations into account can mean the permanent loss of contribution room, a loss of flexibility when it comes to making withdrawals, or having to pay more tax than required when funds are withdrawn. Some of those considerations are outlined below.

When you need to make your RRSP contribution on or before December 31st

While most RRSP contributions, in order to be deducted on the return for 2017, can be made anytime up to and including March 1, 2018, there is one important exception to that rule.

Every Canadian who has an RRSP must collapse that plan by the end of the year in which he or she turns 71 years of age – usually by converting the RRSP into a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) or by purchasing an annuity. An individual who turns 71 during the year is still entitled to make a final RRSP contribution for that year, assuming that he or she has sufficient contribution room. However, in such cases, the 60-day window for contributions after December 31st is not available. Any RRSP contribution to be made by a person who turns 71 during the year must be made by December 31st of that year.

Make spousal RRSP contributions before December 31

Under Canadian tax rules, a taxpayer can make a contribution to a registered retirement savings plans (RRSP) in his or her spouse’s name and claim the deduction for the contribution on his or her own return. When the funds are withdrawn by the spouse, the amounts are taxed as the spouse’s income, at a (presumably) lower tax rate. However, the benefit of having withdrawals taxed in the hands of the spouse is available only where the withdrawal takes place no sooner than the end of the second calendar year following the year in which the contribution is made. Therefore, where a contribution to a spousal RRSP is made in December of 2017, the contributor can claim a deduction for that contribution on his or her return for 2017. The spouse can then withdraw that amount as early as January 1, 2020 and have it taxed in his or her own hands. If the contribution isn’t made until January or February of 2018, the contributor can still claim a deduction for it on the 2017 tax return, but the amount won’t be eligible to be taxed in the spouse’s hands on withdrawal until January 1, 2021. It’s an especially important consideration for couples who are approaching retirement who may plan on withdrawing funds in the relatively new future. Even where that’s not the situation, making the contribution before the end of the calendar year will ensure maximum flexibility should an unanticipated withdrawal become necessary.

Accelerate any planned TFSA withdrawals into 2017

Each Canadian aged 18 and over can make an annual contribution to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) – the maximum contribution for 2017 is $5,500. As well, where an amount previously contributed to a TFSA is withdrawn from the plan, that withdrawn amount can be re-contributed, but not until the year following the year of withdrawal.

Consequently, it makes sense, where a TFSA withdrawal is planned within the next few months, perhaps to pay for a winter vacation or to make an RRSP contribution, to make that withdrawal before the end of the calendar year. A taxpayer who withdraws funds from his or her TFSA before December 31st, 2017 will have the amount withdrawn added to his or her TFSA contribution limit for 2018, which means it can be re-contributed as early as January 1, 2018. If the same taxpayer waits until January of 2018 to make the withdrawal, he or she won’t be eligible to replace the funds withdrawn until 2019.


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.
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Dec Steps for Tax Planning

Year-end tax planning – some steps to take before December 31st (December 2017)

"Some great advice from my CCH partners" ~ TLR 

As the 2017 calendar year winds down, the window of opportunity to take steps to reduce one’s tax bill for the 2017 tax year is closing. As a general rule, tax planning or tax saving strategies must be undertaken and completed by December 31st, in order to make a difference to one’s tax liability for 2017. (For individual taxpayers, the only significant exception to that rule is registered retirement savings plan contributions. Such contributions can be made any time up to and including March 1, 2018, and claimed on the return for 2017.)

While the remaining time frame in which tax planning strategies for 2017 can be implemented is only a few weeks, the good news is that the most readily available of those strategies don’t involve a lot of planning or complicated financial structures – in many cases, it’s just a question of considering the timing of expenditures which would have been made in any case. Below is a list of the most common such opportunities available to individual Canadians.

Charitable donations

The federal government and all of the provincial and territorial governments provide a tax credit for donations made to registered charities during the year. In all cases, in order to claim a credit for a donation in a particular tax year, that donation must be made by the end of that calendar year – there are no exceptions.

There is, however, another reason to ensure donations are made by December 31st. The credit provided by each of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments is a two-level credit, in which the percentage credit claimable increases with the amount of donation made. For federal tax purposes, the first $200 in donations is eligible for a non-refundable tax credit equal to 15% of the donation. The credit for donations made during the year which exceed the $200 threshold is, however, calculated as 29% of the excess. Where the taxpayer making the donation has taxable income (for 2017) over $202,800, charitable donations above the $200 threshold can receive a federal tax credit of 33%.

As a result of the two-level credit structure, the best tax result is obtained when donations made during a single calendar year are maximized. For instance, a qualifying charitable donation of $400 made in December 2017 will receive a federal credit of $88  ($200 × 15% + $200 × 29%). If the same amount is donated, but the donation is split equally between December 2017 and January 2018, the total credit claimable is only $60 ($200 × 15% + $200 × 15%), and the 2018 donation can’t be claimed until the 2018 return is filed in April 2019. And, of course, the larger the donation in any one calendar year, the greater the proportion of that donation which will receive credit at the 29% level rather than the 15% level.

It’s also possible to carry forward, for up to 5 years, donations which were made in a particular tax year. So, if donations made in 2017 don’t reach the $200 level, it’s usually worth holding off on claiming the donation and carrying forward to the next year in which total donations, including carryforwards, are over that threshold. Of course, this also means that donations made but not claimed in any of the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 tax years can be carried forward and added to the total donations made in 2017, and the aggregate then claimed on the 2017 tax return.

When claiming charitable donations, it’s possible to combine donations made by oneself and one’s spouse and claim them on a single return. Generally, and especially in provinces and territories which impose a high-income surtax – currently, Ontario and Prince Edward Island – it makes sense for the higher income spouse to make the claim for the total of charitable donations made by both spouses. Doing so will reduce the tax payable by that spouse and thereby minimize (or avoid) liability for the provincial high-income surtax.

This year, there is an additional last-chance incentive for Canadians who have not been in the habit of making charitable donations to make a cash donation to a registered charity. In the 2013 Budget, the federal government introduced a temporary charitable donations super-credit. That super-credit (which can be claimed only once) allows individuals who have not claimed a charitable donations tax credit in any tax year since 2007 to claim a super-credit on up to $1,000 in cash donations made during the year. The super-credit works by providing an additional 25% credit for cash donations. Consequently, when the super-credit is combined with the regular charitable donations tax credit, the total credit claimable is equal to 40% (15% + 25%) of donations under $200 and 54% (29% + 25%) of donations over the $200 threshold. This year (2017) is the last year for which the super-credit can be claimed, and only in respect of qualifying donations made before the end of the year.

Timing of medical expenses

There are an increasing number of medical expenses which are not covered by provincial health care plans, and an increasing number of Canadians who do not have private coverage for such costs through their employer. In those situations, Canadians have to pay for such unavoidable expenditures – including dental care, prescription drugs, ambulance trips, and many other para-medical services, like physiotherapy, on an  out-of-pocket basis. Fortunately, where such costs must be paid for partially or entirely by the taxpayer, the medical expense tax credit is available to help offset those costs. Unfortunately, the computation of such expenses and, in particular, the timing of making a claim for the credit, can be confusing. In addition, the determination of which expenses qualify for the credit and which expenses do not isn’t necessarily intuitive, nor is the determination of when it’s necessary to obtain prior authorization from a medical professional in order to ensure that the contemplated expenditure will qualify for the credit.

The basic rule is that qualifying medical expenses (a lengthy list of which can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/medical/#mdcl_xpns) over 3% of the taxpayer’s net income, or $2,268, whichever is less, can be claimed for purposes of the medical expense tax credit on the taxpayer’s return for 2017.

Put in more practical terms, the rule for 2017 is that any taxpayer whose net income is less than $75,500 will be entitled to claim medical expenses that are greater than 3% of his or her net income for the year. Those having income over $75,500 will be limited to claiming qualifying expenses which exceed the $2,268 threshold.

The other aspect of the medical expense tax credit which can cause some confusion is that it’s possible to claim medical expenses which were incurred prior to the current tax year, but weren’t claimed on the return for the year that the expenditure was made. The actual rule is that the taxpayer can claim qualifying medical expenses incurred during any 12-month period which ends in the current tax year, meaning that each taxpayer must determine which 12-month period ending in 2017 will produce the greatest amount eligible for the credit. That determination will obviously depend on when medical expenses were incurred so there is, unfortunately, no universal rule of thumb which can be used.

Medical expenses incurred by family members – the taxpayer, his or her spouse, dependent children who were born in 2000 or later, and certain other dependent relatives – can be added together and claimed by one member of the family. In most cases, it’s best, in order to maximize the amount claimable, to make that claim on the tax return of the lower income spouse, where that spouse has tax payable for the year.

As December 31st approaches, it’s a good idea to add up the medical expenses which have been incurred during 2017, as well as those paid during 2016 and not claimed on the 2016 return. Once those totals are known, it will be easier to determine whether to make a claim for 2017 or to wait and claim 2017 expenses on the return for 2018. And, if the decision is to make a claim for 2017, knowing what medical expenses were paid and when, will enable the taxpayer to determine the optimal 12-month waiting period for the claim.

Finally, it’s a good idea to look into the timing of medical expenses which will have to be paid early in 2018. Where those are significant expenses (for instance, a particularly costly medication which must be taken on an ongoing basis) it may make sense, where possible, to accelerate the payment of those expenses to December 2017, where that means they can be included in 2017 totals and claimed on the 2017 return.  

Reviewing tax instalments for 2017

Millions of Canadian taxpayers (particularly the self-employed and retired Canadians) pay income taxes by quarterly instalments, with the amount of those instalments representing an estimate of the taxpayer’s total liability for the year.

The final quarterly instalment for this year will be due on Friday December 15, 2017. By that time, almost everyone will have a reasonably good idea of what his or her income and deductions will be for 2017 and so will be in a position to estimate what the final tax bill for the year will be, taking into account any tax planning strategies already put in place, as well as any RRSP contributions which will be made before March 2, 2018. While the tax return forms to be used for the 2017 year haven’t yet been released by the CRA, it’s possible to arrive at an estimate by using the 2016 form. Increases in tax credit amounts and tax brackets from 2016 to 2017 will mean that using the 2016 form will likely result in a slight over-estimate of tax liability for 2017.

Once one’s tax bill for 2017 has been calculated, that figure should be compared to the total of tax instalments already made during 2017 (that figure can be obtained by calling the CRA’s Individual Income Tax Enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281). Depending on the result, it may then be possible to reduce the amount of the tax instalment to be paid on December 15 – and thereby free up some funds for the inevitable holiday spending!


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.
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