The Case for Life Insurance

When it comes to most forms of insurance, many people understand the importance of having coverage. Whether it’s your car, your home, or other valuable possessions, having insurance means that you’re financially protected should disaster strike.   One of the first things you do when you buy a new car is to make sure it is protected before you drive it off the lot.  Why? Because if you are involved in an accident chances are good you would suffer financially.

But, what about life insurance?

Although this form of protection works the same way as all other types of insurance, many are reluctant to open the conversation.  Perhaps one reason is that life insurance involves the planning for the worst-case scenario – your death.  The truth remains however, that if someone, your family or your business for example, would suffer a financial loss due to your death, life insurance is the answer.  In fact, life insurance is one of the smartest ways to provide for both yourself and your loved ones.

For today, take stock of your current situation and consider these important reasons why life insurance is needed:

Protect your future insurability

 Even if you are just starting out, perhaps single, with no immediate dependents, life insurance should still be considered.  If your future includes having a family and all the obligations that go with that then your continuing insurability is important. Selecting an insurance plan now that guarantees your ability to purchase more coverage in the future regardless of your insurability will go a long way in protecting your future family. For young people, the cost of life insurance is minimal and could also provide a long-term saving plan growing tax-free that could be utilized later.

Insure your debts

Unfortunately, debt is a natural part of modern life for most Canadians.  The Bank of Canada reports that for every $1 of income earned by Canadians, $1.70 is owed. So, chances are good that you have significant debt, whether it’s tied to credit cards, a car payment, or a mortgage. Ideally, you’ll be able to pay off these debts long before you die. However, should the worst happen, much of that debt will pass to your loved ones.

If you don’t want to burden your family with debt, having a life insurance policy is a wise choice. Not only can the death benefit cover any debt you already owe, but it can help alleviate additional costs, such as funeral expenses.

Provide for your family

If you are married and/or have children, then you owe it to your family to have life insurance.  This is especially true if you are the primary breadwinner in the household. Although most people don’t want to think about what may happen if they pass on at a relatively young age, the fact is that you need to make sure that your family is still looked after financially if that does occur. A life insurance policy can offer peace of mind, knowing that your spouse and children will be provided for no matter what.

Benefit from the tax advantages

If you want a more pragmatic reason for getting life insurance, what about the fact that the death benefit is tax-free?  This fact is the reason why life insurance is used to provide estate liquidity in paying taxes that become payable as a consequence of death. In addition, there are several ways that you can make your policy a haven for any funds that you don’t want exposed to income tax.

If you invest in permanent, cash value life insurance such as Universal Life or Participating Whole Life, the investment growth in the policy is tax-free should you die.  The cash value may also be accessed while you are living.

Transfer assets to children and grandchildren

Establishing cash value policies for your children and grandchildren is a recognized method of both guaranteeing their insurance future while you control the investment portion which is growing tax-free on their behalf.  When the time is right for you to transfer the policy to them, the change of ownership occurs free of income tax.  This is truly a tax-free intergenerational wealth transfer.

Save for retirement

Although life insurance is typically paid out when you die, there are options to take advantage of the money in your policy while you’re still alive.   If you have exhausted other retirement vehicles (e.g. RSP’s, TFSA’s), investing in a Universal Life or Participating Whole Life policy is a method to augment your retirement savings.  Universal Life policies will perform based on the equity or other asset class investment options you select.   Participating Whole Life policies provide stable, increasing returns which are favourable compared to the risk.

Using cash value life insurance for building wealth to be accessed in the future, is a strategy consistent with proper diversification of assets.  The fact that the investment growth in a life insurance policy is tax-advantaged is a definite bonus.

To protect your business

 If you own or operate a business, you most likely are aware of the corporate need for life insurance.    All significant corporate debt should be insured.  In fact, many lenders will insist upon it.  Just like all machinery and fixed assets of a business are insured, so should the key people who contribute to the profits be life insured as well.  If the company or partnership has a Shareholders or Partnership Agreement, they should be funded with life insurance to provide for the transfer of shares or partnership interest from the beneficiaries of the deceased to the firm.

Using cash value life insurance in a private corporation avoids the punitive tax levied against any passive investments in the corporation which, depending on the province, could be higher than 50%.  Tax-free benefits can be paid out of the corporation upon the death of the insured for the benefit of the surviving shareholders or family.

Remember that in addition to you and your family, there may be employees who are dependent on the continued success of your company for their livelihood.  Life insurance owned by the business goes a long way to guarantee this.

To equalize your estate

If your estate includes shares in a business that you may have designated one of your children to inherit in lieu of another child, consider equalizing the bequests by life insurance.  Another example of where life insurance could be used for estate equalization is leaving your primary residence or other real estate (such as a cottage) to a specific child instead of one or more of his or her siblings.  If the other assets being left are not enough to compensate, life insurance should be considered.

To donate to charity

You can provide significantly for your favourite charity using life insurance.  Whether it be by taking out a policy to benefit the charity, by transferring an existing policy you no longer need to a charity, or by just naming the charity as a beneficiary to a life insurance policy prior to your death, you or your estate will benefit from significant tax credits.  Your legacy will be remembered by the fact that your generous act contributed to the charity’s humanitarian endeavors.

Consider how life insurance can fit into your financial plan

Even though some people have a reluctance to think about life insurance, no matter how you look at it, life insurance is a necessary part of modern life. Without it, you could be condemning your family to financial instability. Whether it’s debt, last expenses, guaranteeing your children’s education, providing for income for your family, protecting your business, or tax and estate planning, life insurance provides tax-free dollars when it will be needed the most.  You buy life insurance, not for what it is, but what it does.

Protecting Estate Values When Your Investments Decline

The total net value of your estate represents what you will leave to your family when you die. It may include the following:

  • Your residence;

  • Cottage or other recreational property;

  • Investment real estate;

  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and commodities

  • Life insurance;

  • Any other assets you wish to leave to your heirs.

After paying off any liabilities, taxes arising at death, last expenses etc., what is left over is what your family will use to maintain the lifestyle that you created for them.

Two easy ways to make sure debt and investment losses do not impact the estate you leave for your family

  • Insure your debt

  • Insure against market drops and other investment losses

Consider life insuring your debt and investment declines so that your heirs are not burdened by outstanding liabilities and market fluctuations.

In 2008, many investors experienced a decline of 40% to 50% in their equity portfolios resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of the estate to be left to their beneficiaries.

A greater problem was experienced by those that had used bank loans to leverage their investments.  The value of those investments may have declined by up to 50% but the loan balance didn’t decrease at all.

Even if the investments are not leveraged, there is always a risk to the estate should the equity markets decline.

Be Prepared – The risk of waiting to insure for losses

Of course, you could always top up your life insurance when the market declines right?  Not necessarily.  If you have lost all or part of your insurability due to health that could be a problem.

Consider hedging against possible future decreases in your investments by purchasing life insurance specifically for this reason.

For hedging purposes, any form of life insurance can be used. Term insurance is an inexpensive way to insure for shorter terms such as 10 or 20 years.

Participating Whole Life Insurance should be considered for protecting your investments through diversification and building in stable returns. It is the only type of life insurance that is guaranteed to increase in value and death benefit regardless of equity market conditions.

Other benefits of Participating Whole life include

  • Can be used as an investment in place of bond or GIC-type investments.

  • The cash values of these policies grow on a tax-deferred or tax-free basis.

  • If funds are required for unforeseen expenses or to make additional investments, the policy can be borrowed against either from a lending institution or directly from the insurance company.

Using Participating Whole Life insurance satisfies two objectives – providing a hedge against equity values declining prior to death and adding additional stability and less volatility to the overall portfolio.

Summary of how to manage the risk of estate shrinkage due to adverse equity market conditions:

Hedge the estate value of your investments

Select a percentage of your equity investments that you wish to protect if you die when market values have fallen.  Purchase life insurance for this amount.  For example, if you have $2,000,000 of equity investments and you wish to hedge 40% consider buying $800,000 of life insurance.

Life insure the loan in a leveraged investment strategy

It’s always a good idea to life insure debt. This is particularly the case when insuring leverage loans to protect against investment values falling prior to death while the loan is still outstanding.

Consider Participating Whole Life as a method to optimize your estate

Unlike equity investments, the values of a whole life policy cannot decrease.  As long as the premium is paid the cash value and death benefit will continue to increase.  This provides stability in your investment portfolio and reduces volatility.  The increasing death benefit will optimize the value of your estate for the benefit of your family and heirs.

Combining your investment portfolio with an effective life insurance strategy to maximize the value of your estate is a prudent means to provide for your family.  Great comfort comes with the knowledge that even if your investments decline your family will be adequately provided for in the manner you wished them to have.

Connect with me if you wish to discuss this further.  As always, please feel free to share this with anyone you think will find it of interest.

Does your Business Qualify for the Small Business Gains Exemption?

As a business owner, you may be aware that when you dispose of shares in your business you could receive an exemption on all or a portion of the capital gains that ordinarily would be taxable. This is due to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption which says that, for 2019, up to $866,9121 of capital gains is exempt from taxation.

The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) is available to individuals who are disposing of or deemed to have disposed of:

  1. Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) shares;

  2. Qualified farm property; or

  3. Qualified fishing property2.

For the shareholder of a small business corporation this valuable benefit could reduce or eliminate the tax bill that otherwise would be payable upon the sale or succession of the company. The important thing to understand, however, is that the exemption is not automatic.  There are some conditions that must be met.  In order for the business to be considered a QSBC and therefore qualify for the Small Business Gains Exemption (SBGE) there are two main rules:

Rule # 1 – Ownership of Shares

During the 24 months immediately preceding the disposition the shares must not have been owned by anyone other than the individual tax payer or a related person;

Rule # 2 – Use of Corporate Assets

Also, during this 24 month period;

  1. 50% or more of the fair market value of the corporate assets must have been used in an active business conducted primarily in Canada;

  2. At the time of the disposition (sale or upon death of shareholder), all or substantially all (defined as 90% by the CRA) of the fair market value of the assets must have been used to produce active business income. Some examples of corporate assets which could put a corporation offside with respect to its being a QSBC are cash, bonds, non-business related real estate and other investments.

In situations where corporations do not qualify for the SBGE due to failing to meet the 90% rule, remedies are sometimes available which may provide a solution.  This will usually involve a “purification” of the corporation to distribute or transfer the non-business related assets.  Some examples as to how this could be accomplished are:

  • Paying a taxable dividend to shareholders;

  • Paying down any bank debt or accounts payable;

  • Pre-paying corporate income tax installments;

  • Purchasing new assets which will be used in the business to produce active business income.

There is another area in which careful attention is warranted.  In order for a business to be a Qualified Small Business corporation it must first be a Canadian controlled private corporation (CCPC).  Should there be a sale of shares to either a non-resident or a public corporation, there may be a denial of the capital gains exemption as the corporation may no longer be a CCPC.  This could also be the case where a non-resident executor is named in the shareholder’s will and the shareholder dies.

The rules governing whether or not an individual who owns shares in a small business corporation receives a capital gains exemption are complex and often confusing.  It is important to obtain professional advice when undertaking the appropriate planning.

If I can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.  As always feel free to share this article by using the share buttons below.

Notes:

  • The 2013 federal budget increased the LCGE to $800,000 for 2014 with indexing commencing in 2015.  The indexed amount for 2019 is $866,912.

  • The 2015 federal budget increased the maximum LCGE for Qualified farm or fishing property to the greater of $1 million and the indexed LCGE realized on the disposition of qualified small business corporation shares.  When indexing increases the SBGE to $1 million then both SBC shares and farm and fishing property will enjoy the same LCGE.

The Need for Corporate Life Insurance

Life insurance is used for two general purposes in a private corporation – managing risk and creating opportunities.  The risk management function is satisfied as life insurance provides the corporation with a tax-free payment in the event of the death of an owner or someone vital to the success of the business.  As life insurance also allows for the tax-sheltered build up of cash value additional planning opportunities are additionally created.

The primary needs for corporate owned life insurance to satisfy the risk management purpose are as follows:

Key Person Life Insurance

Any prudent business would insure its company facilities and equipment that is used in creating revenue.  It follows then that the business should also insure the lives of the people that run the company and make the decisions which contribute to its profit.  Any owner, manager or employee whose death would impair the future growth and success of the company is a key person and should be insured as such.

The proper amount of key person life insurance should be determined through discussion with the company’s management, life insurance advisor and accounting professionals. This discussion would analyze and estimate the amount of the loss that could occur to the company should a key person die.

Funding the Shareholders or Partnership Agreement

When more than one person join together to own a company or partnership, it is common business practice that there be a Shareholder’s or Partnership Agreement.  These documents set forth the terms and conditions under which the parties co-exist in the business venture.  It also spells out the financial interest that each hold in the concern and how much would be owed to the heirs of a shareholder or partner should that individual die.  The use of life insurance owned by the corporation for this purpose guarantees that sufficient funds will be available to trigger the agreement.  If there was no life insurance in place and no agreement covering how those funds were to be used, the future existence of the company could be in jeopardy.

 To Repay Debt

Like an individual insuring debt to avoid burdening his or her family with outstanding liabilities in the event of death, a business owner should also consider providing life insurance to cover the corporation’s obligations.  This would ensure that the net value of the company is optimized when it passes either to the heirs and beneficiaries of the owner or to a successor owner which might be a family member.

One of the advantages of corporate owned life insurance to retire debt is the existence of the Capital Dividend Account.  Should the insured business owner die, the life insurance proceeds are received tax-free by the company.  The death benefit less the adjusted cost basis of the policy is credited to a notional account – the Capital Dividend Account (CDA).  Even if all the life insurance proceeds are paid by the company to the creditors to retire the outstanding debt obligations, the credit remaining in the CDA can still be paid tax-free to the surviving or successor shareholders.  This allows any surplus or future earnings to be received by the heirs as tax-free capital dividends up to the amount of the balance of the CDA subsequent to the death of the insured.

To Facilitate Business or Investment Financing

Often when a company borrows to invest or for business operations, the bank will require that the principal(s) of the corporation be insured.  In this case, if the life insurance is purchased as a condition of the bank loan being granted, part of the life insurance premiums become tax deductible to the corporation.  The reasons for providing life insurance to cover the bank loans are consistent with the reasons stated in repaying debt, but with the bank’s written requirement for life insurance, there is now a tax deduction available as well.

There also may be a situation where an investor would look favourably on the business owner being insured before he or she invests in the company.  While there would be no collateral insurance deduction in this case, it may create a comfort level for an investor.

To Assist Family Business Succession

With a family business there is often a desire to transition the ownership of the company to the next generation.  One of the common objectives of this transition is to ensure that the company is left financially sound when it is received by the next generation.  This can be accomplished by having life insurance on the first generation owner to guarantee that the company is left financially viable and debt-free should the succession occur as a result of the death of the business founder.

The above items are all situations where life insurance is used by a business for risk management purposes.  When life insurance is held in a corporation it also can result in attractive planning opportunities.  These opportunities include the following:

Estate Planning for the Business Owner

Owners of private corporations in Canada that are qualifying small businesses have the first $500,000 of annual corporate income taxed at a very favourable rate.  For example, in B.C. and Alberta it is 12%.  The low small business tax rate combined with the Capital Dividend explained above presents the business owner with an opportunity to place life insurance designated for estate planning purposes (e.g. paying taxes arising at death from capital gains), in the corporation.

Sheltering of Corporate Investment Income

While the income tax rate on active business income is quite low, the tax levied against corporate investment income is extremely high.  In some provinces, this tax is over 50%.  Using tax exempt life insurance policies to shelter this investment income can provide substantial opportunities to defer taxes which would otherwise be payable.  All the insurance opportunities for risk management itemized above can also be satisfied by using cash value tax-exempt life insurance.  As a result, there are significant planning opportunities available with corporate owned life insurance.

Protecting the Small Business Income Tax Rate

In addition to the above, once a corporation earns more than $50,000 of passive investment income it starts to erode its small business tax limit of $500,000.  Once the passive investment income reaches $150,000 it loses all of the small business limit for that tax year.  This can be avoided by investing in tax-exempt life insurance policies.  Combined with the previous comments not only does the investment grow tax sheltered, it will not impact the small business income limit.

These are the primary reasons why business life insurance is so important.  Not only does it help manage risk, it can also provide significant planning opportunities for the business owner.  I am available at any time, should you wish to discuss how these ideas could benefit you and your company.

If anything should happen to me…

Don and Kate were nervously anticipating Don’s upcoming life saving surgery.  Don was also concerned that, should he not survive, Kate might not know everything that needed to be done upon his death.  The night before his surgery he made this list for Kate of the things she should do if he didn’t make it through the operation: 

My Dearest Kate

Although I expect to make it through this surgery it has got me thinking that anything could happen to any of us at anytime and we are rarely prepared. 

So, if anything should happen……………. 

  1. Before you tell anyone that I didn’t make it– Clean out our safety deposit box and joint bank accounts. Everything is going to you anyhow and when the bank finds out I’m dead, they’re liable to close off all access to them until my will is probated.

  2. Call the funeral director– But go there with somebody who won’t be suckered into buying the fanciest coffin.  Just remember, the money you spend on my funeral won’t be available for the big wake I want you to throw for me!

  3. Gather up all my important papers– My will, life insurance, disability insurance, and general insurance policies, business agreements, banking information, notes receivable or payable, stock or bond certificates, real estate deeds, recent tax returns, marriage, birth and death certificates, military records, automobile registration forms and all recent contracts. Don’t throw away anything that looks official, even if it appears to be terminated.

  4. My passwords are in the bottom left hand drawer of my desk in a note book which should be a big help to you in managing those accounts.

  5. Call our life insurance agent– He’ll not only help you in collecting the money from my life insurance, but also in collecting the death benefits of my group insurance, company pension, social security, as well as the death benefits from my variable annuities.

  6. Call our accountant– He’ll be needed for the various tax returns that must be filed.

  7. Call our attorney– She’ll tell you what other stuff is needed and what must be done to settle my estate.  She’ll also tell you whether my will has to be probated (a process to prove my will is valid).  Our attorney will also advise you on whether there are any federal or state estate taxes. As far as state probate costs, I’ve tried to minimize them through joint ownership of most of our assets and naming beneficiaries where I could.

  8. Call the other executors– You know you are my primary executrix, and you know who the other two are, so call them.  Even though our lawyer will probably call them, it would be nice if they heard from you first.

  9. Call my business associates– My partner will want to know that our buy-sell agreement has just been triggered so he can collect the insurance money to buy my share of the business from you.  And call my assistant Marie in Admin to spread the word.  Ask her if there’s anything else coming to you such as unpaid expense accounts, ongoing group benefits, etc.

  10. DON’T PANIC! I picked my executors and the above-mentioned professionals to assist and advise you in this situation.  So let them do their jobs and help you.  And don’t rush into anything, like selling the house, or anything major, for at least a year.  With my life insurance and all the other benefits coming to you, you can take your time and make better decisions when the time is right.

Fortunately, Don survived his surgery and is on the road to recovery. Don decided that he would attach this list to his will for Kate to refer to in the future, because, well, you never know….

Life Insurance – Do You Buy, Rent, or Borrow?

Without a doubt, life insurance is valuable protection provided by your employee benefit plan, but should it be the only life insurance coverage you have? Probably not, if you want to ensure you have sufficient long term protection to cover all your family’s financial needs should you die unexpectedly.

In a recent study conducted by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA), it was reported that 61% of Canadians hold some form of life insurance. Surprisingly, it also revealed that only 38% of Canadians own an individual life insurance contract. This means that almost 40% rely solely on the life insurance provided by their employer. This can be problematic. The disadvantages of having your employee benefit plan as your only life insurance protection include the following:

It is probably not enough to pay off your mortgage and/or provide income for your spouse and family.

The amount of life insurance protection provided by group insurance in most cases is equal to only one or two times annual income. If this is not enough to do the job, the addition of individual life insurance should be considered.

If you lose your job, you may also lose your life insurance protection.

If you are currently employed in an industry or with a company that may be at risk due to economic conditions, you may find yourself with no life insurance at all.

Upon retirement, or if you leave your job, in most cases you will lose your group insurance. While group life insurance usually contains an option to convert to an individual plan, the plans that are offered are usually restrictive or very expensive.

What place should group life insurance hold in your planning?

To answer that question, let’s first look at the differences that individual life insurance has compared to group. Individual life insurance comes in two forms– term life insurance (which expires at a certain age) and permanent life insurance (e.g. Universal Life or Whole Life) which provides protection for one’s entire life and can also build savings through a cash value.

One can consider the specific type of life insurance, therefore, as being one of three categories:

• Permanent life insurance – the type you own. By paying your premiums each year you build up equity in your insurance. At some point in time, the policy may be fully paid up or self-supporting. You can even take advantage of your equity in the policy by borrowing – similar to borrowing against the equity in your home.

• Term life insurance – the type your rent. Term life insurance usually has a renewal period which could be ten years, twenty years, or even longer. At the end of this period, your “lease” renews for a higher premium (“rent”). When you rent a home you never build up any equity and this is the same with term insurance. After paying all those rental premiums the policy expires at a certain age with no cash value.

• Group life insurance – the type you borrow. You, the insured do not have a contract with the life insurance company as that arrangement rests with the employer. The employer and the insurance company retain the right to cancel the entire benefit plan. As a result, the analogy can be made that your employer is “lending” you the coverage.

In reviewing these three types of coverage, it is advisable that you should have a base or foundation of permanent coverage which would provide protection for life at a fixed cost. This also provides the added advantage of creating equity which could be borrowed against should a future need for cash arise.

You could then consider layering lower cost term insurance to protect a growing family and ensure that there would be enough capital to retire debt and provide for family income. With a family, there is a very high dependency period when the children are young, and the expenses are high. Low cost temporary insurance is used to provide adequate protection during this period. Term insurance also comes with the bonus of being convertible to permanent coverage should you become uninsurable with a far greater choice of options than those with a group life conversion.

Lastly, for those with group life insurance, this coverage can be looked upon as forming part of the term insurance needed or as a top up to provide for contingencies.

Give me a call if you would like to discuss restructuring your life insurance coverage to provide the maximum result. As always feel free to share this article with those you think would benefit from this information.

Private Health Spending Plans for the Owner/Operator Business

Individuals who have incorporated their business such as consultants, contractors and professionals often find that providing affordable health and dental care coverage for themselves and their families can be an expensive proposition.

Take Bob for example. Bob had just left his architectural firm to set up on his own. In looking at the options available for him to replace his previous firm’s Extended Health and Dental coverage for he and his family, he discovered that the monthly premium would be between $400 and $500 per month. This was for a plan that didn’t provide coverage for all practitioners and procedures, had an annual limit on the benefits, and a co-insurance factor of 20% (only 80% of eligible costs were covered). There wasn’t even any orthodontia coverage although he could purchase that in limited amounts at an additional cost! He also had to move quickly to replace his lost coverage as he had a pre-existing condition that most likely would not be covered if he waited too long to implement the new plan.

It seemed to Bob that there was a possibility of not receiving full value for his extended health and dental premiums. It was possible that he would spend far less than the $6,000 of premiums he would pay over the course of the year. The monthly premiums were also not tax-deductible. Fortunately, Bob found out about the Health Spending Account (HSA).

What is a Health Spending Account?

An HSA is becoming a popular alternative to traditional health insurance. An HSA is defined by the Canada Revenue Agency as a Private Health Spending Plan. Under the terms of a PHSP, eligible small business owners can;

• pay for their family’s medical expenses

• deduct the cost from the business income

• not have the benefit taxable to the business owner/employee

This article focuses on HSA as it applies to a one-person owner of a small business corporation. As you might expect, there are guidelines that must be met and restrictions that will apply.

• These plans cannot be for shareholders only. The shareholder must be a valid employee and receive a portion of his or her remuneration in the form of salary.

• The CRA prefers that the corporation employ the services of a third party to manage the plan and adjudicate the claims.

It is in the business owner’s best interests to use the services of a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) who specializes in PHSP’s to ensure that all the requirements are met, and all claims and payments are valid.

What does an HSA cost?

The cost of the Third-Party Administrator is very reasonable. There is usually an initial set up charge of a few hundred dollars and on-going fees run 5% to 15% of the claimed amount (plus taxes), with the typical fee being approximately 10%.

Some firms also charge an annual fee, so it is best to shop around or ask your financial advisor for advice. Being able to submit claims online and receive reimbursement by EFT almost immediately is a benefit that many of the third-party administrator’s offer.

How does it work?

Bob’s first experience with his HSA illustrates how the plan works. The HSA that Bob had implemented is referred to as a Cost-Plus plan which is the most popular arrangement with one-person corporations.

Let’s Break it Down

• Bob’s daughter started orthodontic treatments and his first charge was $1,000.

• Bob paid this amount by credit card (yes, he got points for that).

• Bob then forwarded the receipt for his payment directly to the TPA who would reimburse Bob his full $1,000.

• The TPA then bills Bob’s company for the amount of the treatment plus their 10% charge.

• Bob’s company pays the invoice and gets to deduct the $1,100 from corporate taxable income.

• The payment Bob’s company made is not taxable to Bob.

A good result! Bob has his expense reimbursed tax-free while his company gets to deduct the amount of the payment plus the administrative cost.

What are the advantages of an HSA?

• All medical procedures, necessary equipment and certified practitioners as listed by the CRA are covered in full.

• There are no medical questions for starting a plan and no pre-existing conditions clause to satisfy.

• All dependents may be covered.

• Deductible portions or shortfalls in other plans can be claimed.

• Benefits are not taxable while the costs to the corporation are tax-deductible.

As with any government regulated plan, make sure you employ the services of those who are experienced in advising on PHSP’s. They will not only guide you as to the best way to set up your plan, they will keep you out of trouble once you do.

As always, please feel free to share this with anyone you think may find it of interest.

Canada Pension Plan – Should You Take it Early?

New Rules governing the Canada Pension Plan took full effect in 2016. Under these rules, the earliest you can take your CPP Pension is age 60, the latest is 70. The standard question regarding CPP remains the same – should I take it early or wait?

If you take it at the earliest age possible, age 60, your CPP income will be reduced by 0.6% each month you receive your benefit prior to age 65. In other words, electing to take your CPP at age 60 will provide an income of 36% less than if you waited until age 65.

CPP benefits may also be delayed until age 70 so delaying your CPP benefits after age 65 will result in an increased income of 0.7% for each month of deferral. As a result, at age 70, the retiree would have additional monthly income of 42% over that what he or she would have had at 65 and approximately 120% more than taking the benefit at age 60. The question now becomes, “how long do you think you will live?”

Assuming that an individual has $10,000 of CPP pension at age 65, and ignoring inflation (CPP income benefits are indexed according to the Consumer Price Index), the following table compares the total base income with that if benefits are taken early or late:

Total benefit received    CPP Benefit Commencement

                           Age 60    Age 65      Age 70

One year               $ 6,400    $ 10,000  $ 14,200

Five years              $ 32,000   $ 50,000   $ 71,000

Ten Years               $ 64,000   $100,000   $142,000

The question of life expectancy can be a factor in determining whether to take your CPP early. For example, according to the above table if you take your pension at age 60, by the time you reach age 65; you would already have received $32,000 in benefits. With $10,000 in pension income commencing at age 65 the crossover point would be age 73 (the point at which the total income commencing at age 60 equals the total income commencing at age 65). If you were to die prior to age 73, you would have been better off taking the earlier option.

If your choice is to delay taking the pension until age 70 instead of 65, the crossover would not be reached until age 85.

Some individuals may wish to elect to take the pension early and invest it hoping that the income from age 60 combined with the investment growth will exceed the total income that would be received by starting at 65.

Remember, if you elect to take your pension before 65 and you are still working, you must continue to contribute to CPP. After age 65, continuing contributions while working are voluntary. On the plus side, these extra contributions will increase your pension under the Post-Retirement Benefit (PRB).

Reasons to take your CPP before age 65

  • You need the money– number crunching aside, if your circumstances are such that you need the income then you probably should exercise your option to take it early;
  • You are in poor health– if your health is such that your life expectancy may be shortened, consider taking the pension at 60;
  • If you are confident of investing profitably– if you are reasonably certain that you can invest profitably enough to offset the higher income obtained from delaying your start date, then taking it early may make sense. If you are continuing to work, you could use the CPP pension as a contribution to your RSP or your TFSA.

Reasons to delay taking your CPP to age 70 

  • You don’t need the money– if you have substantial taxable income in retirement you may want to defer the CPP until the last possible date especially if you don’t require the income to live or support your lifestyle;
  • If you are confident of living to a ripe old age– if you have been blessed with great genes and your health is good you may wish to consider delaying your CPP until age 70. Using the earlier example and ignoring indexing, if your base CPP was $10,000 at 65 then the pension, if delayed until age 70, would be $14,200. If you took the higher income at 70, you would reach the crossover point over the age 65 benefit at age 84 and after that would be farther ahead.

This information should help you make a more informed choice about when to commence your CPP benefits. Even if retirement is years away it is never too early to start planning for this final chapter in your life. Call me if would like to discuss your retirement planning.