Marginal tax rates are important. The represent the income tax you pay on the next dollar of income. Knowing your marginal tax rate both now and in the future can be extremely helpful when doing tax planning.
One tax planning opportunity is to make an RRSP contribution in a high tax bracket and withdraw later in a lower tax bracket. This opportunity can help defer tax until retirement when RRSP withdrawals are made at a lower tax rate. Ideally, an RRSP contribution allows you to contribute at a high marginal tax rate and withdraw at a lower marginal tax rate in the future.
This difference in tax rates can lead to a lot of tax savings. Contribute at a 40% tax rate now and withdraw at a 20% or 30% tax rate in the future and for every $1,000 that goes into an RRSP there is $100 to $200 in tax savings over a lifetime. Expand that to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of contribution and you can begin to see the incredible opportunity that a bit of tax planning can create.
But what if your marginal tax rate in retirement isn’t quite what you think it will be? What if its higher than you think? What if the typical marginal tax rate tables are missing something? You might be underestimating your future marginal tax rate in retirement.
In this post we’re going to explore a tax credit called the Age Amount and in particular the way that the Age Amount is reduced (or clawed back) based on income in retirement.
We’re also going to explore how this may affect your marginal tax rate in retirement. As we’ll see, the marginal tax rate you’re planning for may not be the marginal tax rate you actually experience in retirement.
If we knew how things would unfold in the future, then financial planning would be easy.
If we knew things like future investment returns and future inflation rates, then that would remove a lot of uncertainty in a financial plan.
If we also knew when we’re going to die, then we could make sure that we spend every penny and “bounce the last check”.
But because of all the unknowns, we have a lot of uncertainty within a financial plan. To create a great financial plan, we have to evaluate and plan for that uncertainty. We have to understand both the average and the extremes. We don’t want to run out of money in the future, so it’s important that we manage this uncertainty properly and avoid making bad assumptions.
Life expectancy is one of those assumptions and it’s a big assumption within a financial plan. Assume a life expectancy that is too short and there could be years (or possibly decades) of meager retirement income.
When it comes to life expectancy, we can’t just assume the average, we need to know how much longer our money needs to last. Is it 5-years past the average, 10-years, 20-years, or more? Hopefully it’s for a very long time.
Credit reporting has turned into a multi-billion-dollar business but getting your credit report doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, you can get a free credit report mailed to you once per year and all it takes is just 5-minutes.
A credit report represents all your recent credit history, mortgages, credit cards, vehicle loans, lines of credit, and even some bill payments. It’s often referred to as a “consumer disclosure” or “credit file disclosure” but most people call it a credit report.
Every piece of debt you’ve recently owned (even if paid off or closed) should be represented on your credit report. It will also capture your current and past addresses, phone numbers, even employers.
In today’s world your credit report is very important. It directly impacts your ability to qualify for new debt. Plus, it often gets pull as part of a thorough background check. It can also help identify fraud and identity theft early on, limiting the damage.
Your credit report is so important that it’s a good idea to check and review it on a regular basis.
What is advice-only financial planning exactly? What does advice-only financial planning entail?
Also known as fee-for-service financial planning, advice-only financial planning involves no products, no commissions, just advice.
With traditional forms of financial advice, there is always the nagging doubt about whether the advice is truly unbiased or if is it just to sell a product and receive a commission? There is always that lingering question, is this advice really in your best interest or is it in the best interest of the advisor?
Advice-only financial planning eliminates this conflict of interest. An advice-only financial planner is compensated directly by the client and only the client. There are no products, no commissions, just pure advice.
An advice-only financial planner works for the client to provide the best advice possible and good financial advice can be extremely helpful. It can reduce stress, provide peace of mind, capture unseen opportunities, avoid unnecessary risks etc. etc.
There are many different ways to receive financial advice, but one of the most unbiased and trustworthy is advice-only financial planning.
Let’s go deeper into exactly what advice-only financial planning is and why, in today’s world of low-cost self-directed investing, it makes more sense than ever to get an advice-only financial plan…
One of the hardest things about RESPs is choosing the right investment and managing the allocation between stocks and bonds. There are so many RESP investment options and it becomes especially challenging when families have more than one child. When families have a few children, who are perhaps a few years apart in age, it becomes very challenging to set the right asset allocation for the investments inside the family RESP.
Why is it important to set the right asset allocation?
Asset allocation is a large driver of risk. The more equity assets in a portfolio, and the less fixed income assets, the more risk. There is always risk when investing, whether that be in stocks or bonds, but stocks have always had a “risk premium”. That means they have a higher risk but also a higher return.
When managing asset allocation in an RESP we need to be very careful because were typically investing over a few different time horizons.
A 16-year old high school student is going to have a very different asset allocation in their RESP than a 4-year old pre-schooler. We want to make sure the 16-year old has money for post-secondary in two years and isn’t going to lose half of their education fund during a downturn. On the other hand, our pre-schooler has loads of time, so we can take on a bit more risk and hopefully grow their education savings over the next 14+ years.
It’s these different investment horizons that make investing inside an RESP especially challenging (even more so for self-directed RESPs where the individual investor is making all the decisions).
Typical investment horizons for RESPs include…
There are a large number of benefits available to low and moderate income households. Some of these benefits are government benefits, they provide direct income support. But some of these benefits are a combination of government & private benefits, and they help offset specific expenses.
Many government benefits are automatic based on annual tax filing. As long as an income tax return is filed on time each year, these benefits are automaticity calculated and paid based on adjusted family net income (aka. AFNI… this is essentially line 23600 of your tax return).
But there are other benefits that are available to low and moderate income households and these benefits must be applied for individually, and are not automatic based on annual tax filing, but they can still provide a significant benefit for low and moderate income households.
Most of these non-automatic benefits are delivered with help of private companies and they help offset specific types of expenses. These benefits are a combination of government/private and must be applied for every 1-2 years.