It's Your Money  

Tax planning tips for what to do before the end of the year

End of year tax tips

With the end of the year fast approaching, Canadian taxpayers will want to consider all the tax planning opportunities available to them.

While you can make an RRSP contribution in the first 60 days of 2022 that can be used as a deduction on your 2021 tax return, most other tax-related strategies must be implemented by Dec. 31, 2021. Overall, the key to effective planning is being well-prepared. In this article, we’ll discuss key opportunities and strategies to consider.

If you have non-registered investments with unrealized capital losses, you may want to consider triggering these losses to offset capital gains from the current year, or net capital gains in any of the three prior taxation years. This is referred to as "tax loss selling”.

Capital losses can be applied against net capital gains realized this year. If those capital losses exceed any capital gains recognized this year, they can be carried back to offset net capital gains realized in any of the three previous years (or forward indefinitely).

If tax loss selling is something you are considering, it’s important to be aware of a complicated set of tax rules that can potentially deny those capital losses called the “superficial loss rule”. Lastly, if you are considering this approach, we also encourage you to speak with your accountant to ensure any losses you trigger can be claimed as intended.

If you are considering selling a non-registered investment that has an unrealized capital gain, you could delay the sale of the investment until the new year to defer the taxes on the capital gain one year. Although this may be beneficial from a tax perspective, you also need to consider your investment objectives in considering this option.

You may alternatively be considering making a charitable donation before the end of the year to take advantage of the charitable donation tax credit for 2021. If you have non-registered investments with unrealized capital gains you should consider using those funds to make an in-kind donation to the charity as you will receive a charitable donation tax receipt equal to the market value of the investment and the capital gain triggered by the donation will be exempt from tax.

From a registered account perspective, the considerations will vary based on the type of account and your specific situation. Examples include:

• If you are considering making a TFSA withdrawal, a withdrawal before the end of 2021 would create additional TFSA contribution room in 2022 while a TFSA withdrawal in 2022 would not create additional TFSA contribution room until 2023. If you are planning a TFSA withdrawal in early 2022, consider whether it could be withdrawn before the end of 2021 instead.

• Do you have a child who turned 15 in 2021 and have not yet opened a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)? Making an RESP contribution of $2,000 before Dec. 31, 2021 would not only allow you to receive the Canada Education Savings Grant for this year, but also for an additional two years on contributions of up to $5,000 per year.

• If you are considering purchasing a home in 2022 or 2023 and using the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) to help fund the down-payment, you should delay the HBP withdrawal until 2022 as this will extend the timeframe to purchase a qualifying home an additional year, until Oct. 1, 2023, compared to a withdrawal made before the end of 2021 This will also delay the timeframe in which you must start to repay the HBP withdrawals by a year.

Income splitting can be one of the most effective ways to save tax for your family, now and in the future. Some examples include:

• If you are saving for retirement, consider a spousal RRSP. While the pension income splitting rules (currently) allow a spouse who is 65 years of age or older to allocate up to 50 per cent of their RRIF income to the other spouse a spousal RRSP contribution will provide a tax deduction for you now and 100% of the future retirement income is taxed in the hands of your spouse (assuming the spousal RRSP attribution rules are not triggered).

• Certain income splitting strategies can be implemented with adult children and/or your spouse or common-law partner, such as gifting money to a spouse or adult child to make contributions to their TFSA account.

• Another consideration is loaning funds at the prescribed rate to your spouse or adult child, directly or indirectly through a family trust, to invest in non-registered funds. The prescribed rate loan strategy may be particularly attractive now as the current prescribed rate is only one per cent.

There are many other strategies that could be suitable for you as well. While I don’t have space to go into detail for each one, here are a few other areas that you may want to explore further with your Financial Planner professional:

• Charitable giving

• Maximizing your tax credits and deductions

• Planning for disabled individuals

Taking the time to review your tax situation before the end of the year may result in significant savings. And don’t wait until the last week of the year to get the ball rolling!.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and took over as board chairman in 2019. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations of the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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