Anthony Layton MBA, CIM

Chairman & CEO, Portfolio Manager

Peter Guay MBA, CFA

Portfolio Manager
  • T514.875.7566 x 224
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  • Place Alexis Nihon
  • 3400 de Maisonneuve Ouest,
    Suite 1501
  • Montreal, Quebec H3Z 3B8

What is the Voluntary Disclosure Program?

You have probably heard about the Panama Papers, and the Paradise Papers late last year. Millions of documents revealed the offshore tax practices of vast corporations and very wealthy individuals including the Queen of England and more than 3,000 Canadian individuals, corporations and trusts. Why did I bring this up? Because you might have also heard of something called the Voluntary Disclosures Program.

Now before I start talking about the Voluntary Disclosures Program, I want to state that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has not yet determined if any of the Canadians mentioned in the Paradise Papers has done anything wrong.That’s because using offshore trusts and corporations isn’t illegal if it’s managed properly, But some corporations and people listed in the Paradise Papers perhaps may not have declared everything they should have to CRA. If you do find yourself in a situation where you made a mistake on your taxes or didn’t file and yes, that does happen, you can correct your mistake through the voluntary disclosure program.
For example, many people work abroad for a few years while remaining Canadian residents, but either don’t realize or forget to declare their worldwide earnings on their Canadian tax returns during that period.

The Voluntary Disclosures Program or VDP gives you a second chance to change a tax return you previously filed or to file a return that you should have filed. You can use this channel to ask for relief from interest, prosecution and penalties that might otherwise be charged if CRA had found the mistake themselves.
Almost anyone can apply from individuals, corporations, trusts, and partnerships. The trick to VDP is to apply for it before the CRA comes knocking on your door. That’s because there’s a strong chance that they will find you if you have evaded your taxes.

We all make mistakes, or have been given bad advice in the past. What’s important is that you correct these as soon as you find them. The CRA understands this, which is why they offer the VDP program in the first place. Choosing voluntary disclosure could prevent criminal charges and fines, avoid civil tax penalties, provide significant concessions on interest and immunity against audit. Plus you get peace of mind, which is priceless.


By: Peter Guay | 0 comments

How to assess your life insurance needs

Like those other unavoidable subjects—death and taxes, insurance isn’t something most people want to talk about. Nevertheless, many people wonder whether they’re carrying too little or too much life insurance. 

You can easily find a calculator on the Internet that will spit out an estimate. But it won’t take into account all the factors you need to consider.

If you’re like most people, you want to leave enough money to allow your family to maintain their standard of living should you die. To figure out your needs, you have to consider your life situation and goals. 

Indispensable protection for your family

If you have a spouse, a young family, and are carrying a mortgage and other debt, you and your spouse will need life insurance unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy. 

But how much? To help you find out, you will have to answer some questions:

  • How much do you owe to creditors?
  • How much does your lifestyle cost?
  • How long do you want to replace your income for?
  • Will your spouse stop working if you die?
  • How much do you want to set aside for your kids’ education?
  • Do you want to leave an emergency fund or money for other purposes like making a contribution to a favourite charity?

How much wealth do you have?

In calculating your insurance needs, you will also have to look at your current and future net worth. How much equity do you have in your house? How much have you saved? How fast do you expect your wealth to grow in the years to come?

In addition to life insurance, you have to consider the possibility you may become disabled and unable to earn an income. This can occur because of an accident, serious illness or a mental health issue.

In fact, statistics show that it is more likely to become disabled than to die prematurely.  That’s why it’s very important for the protection of your family to ensure you have disability coverage, either through an employer plan, or by buying a private policy.

Your needs change as you get older

It’s a different picture for those who have grown families and are nearing the end of their careers. 

At this stage of life, many people have accumulated a tidy amount of wealth. They’ve paid off their house or are close to doing so. And they’ve put away a good chunk of money for retirement.  At this point, the question becomes whether to reduce your coverage or forego life and disability insurance altogether. You may be able to take care of your family’s needs from the assets you’ve accumulated.

Now, some older people will still need life insurance. They may have debts or want to leave a larger estate than they otherwise could. Some want to leave a substantial final donation to a favourite charity.

A way to cover taxes on your estate

Other people use life insurance to cover the tax obligations on their estate, so they can leave 100 per cent of their accumulated wealth to their heirs. This normally isn’t a concern when both spouses are still alive because when one spouse dies, his or her assets usually rollover tax-free to the surviving spouse. 

However, when the surviving spouse dies that’s when the tax man steps in. The tax department takes its share from the money held in registered accounts—like RRSPs and RRIFs—and capital gains on non-registered investments and recreational properties. It’s to cover these obligations, that some people purchase life insurance.

Another use of life insurance is to help ensure the continuation of a company in the event of the death of a key shareholder or employee.

Talk to you advisor

The best way to figure out your insurance needs is to sit down with your financial advisor and/or insurance professional. They can go through all the different scenarios and insurance products with you.

Certainly, it’s a good idea for the many baby-boomers who are heading toward retirement and giving up their coverage at work.

You may not like to talk about insurance, but it’s a subject you shouldn’t wait to take care of.

By: Anthony Layton | 0 comments

Separation as to property and the impacts on your finances

In my last video I talked about Family Patrimony and the default matrimonial regime in Quebec, Partnership of Acquests. If you missed that one, check it out now. In this video, I’ll take you through the other matrimonial regime - Separation as to property.

The non-default regime in Quebec is known as Separation as to Property. This is where the couple has a notarized marriage contract or agreement, more commonly known as a prenuptial agreement. Under the Separation as to Property regime, each spouse remains the exclusive owner of their property, administers the property alone and assumes responsibility for their debts subject to the family patrimony rules.

So why would you consider marrying under Separation as to Property? Well, if there is a vast difference in wealth between the partners, such a regime can ensure that any inheritance or assets remain outside of the family patrimony and remains unsplittable. It also protects any children in the relationship so they will receive your assets, particularly in the case of second marriages. In other words, you can make sure the people of your choice get the right assets.

Default regimes tend to happen with first marriages or civil unions, and separation as to property regimes obviously tend to occur with second marriages or unions when both parties usually have more assets. Take the time to discuss and decide which regime is right for you. I know it’s not romantic but it can save a lot of heartache much later.

By: Peter Guay | 0 comments