Thursday, July 5, 2018

Preserve the Knowledge of Others

The CAFA (Canadian Association of Farm Advisors) Parkland Chapter ended their membership year in late June on a high note. The meeting’s theme was “Why Advisors are Valuable to Farm Families. Our presenters, ranchers and farmers, shared their first-hand experiences working with advisors on their businesses. 

Robert and Karen Ivey, partners in Evergreen Cattle Company, and Terry Aberhart, CEO of Aberhart Farms and Sure Growth Technologies and Managing Partner with Aberhart Ag Solutions, graciously shared their knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  Their insights are worth capturing and preserving in writing so that others may learn from their journeys. Here are a few take-aways from their presentations.

1. Have a keen interest and passion – important ingredients to drive success.  This sound advice may have been reiterated previously by different people as they pursed their careers.  Today, our presenters confirmed this again.  If your heart is not in the work you do – whatever it may be – then no matter how hard you try, you will not drive yourself to do better than average.  Your passion causes you to lie awake at night, dream about your work, and devise strategies. Living and breathing what you know and love becomes part of your DNA.  The fuel -- your interest, passion, and dedication to your work -- are the driving forces of your mission and vision statements. This takes us to the next point.  

Robert and Karen Ivey
Evergreen Cattle Company
2. Create and review your mission and vision statements for your business.   A person does not realize the value of words. A well-designed and crafted mission and vision statement motivates people to succeed especially through setbacks.  Failures, obstacles, and challenges will happen.  Our determination to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel helps us to persevere through the tough times.  Robert and Karen designed their mission statement four decades ago when they first began farming.  This important step should not be overlooked.  The vision statement tells you where you want to be (and what you represent) and the mission statement tells you how you’ll get there.  

Terry Aberhart
Aberhart Farms / Sure Growth Technologies
Aberhart Ag Solutions

3. Embrace change.  Change occurs with or without your permission.  New ways of doing things -- technology, processes in a business operation,legislation (legal and tax rules) – affect a business.  You cannot control everything so you need to focus on the things you can control.  “Have the right mindset and work with future-minded people,” was Terry’s advice.

4. Anticipate the storms, the financial setbacks. You may need to rely on a different strategy.  In the farming industry, severe weather conditions and disease infestations can hamper the bottom line.  Regroup. Strategize. Persevere. Rely on your mission and vision statements.

5. Know your financial situation. If you are not a number person then linking up with an advisor who can help establish your yearly budgets and analyze the financial data is vital. The Management Trinity has been previously discussed. Generally, people are good at two of the three essentials necessary to carry on a business. These three are finances, marketing, and the hands-on work. Business plans with realistic financial projections are road maps.  Robert and Karen had created their business plan with financial projections and asked their banker, “Do you want to come into business with us?”  They proved to their business advisors their capability for achieving their business goals with a concrete plan.    

6. Engage with other advisors.  Advisors help you think and plan realistically.  Terry said it best, “You may be blinded by what sounds like a good idea until someone shoots holes in your boat for good reason.” Advisors fill in the gaps with their knowledge and expertise then advise accordingly.

7.  Find a way which works for you.  “Canned programs” with a step-by-step process do not work for every business family.  Two examples are whether to implement an estate freeze or purchase land inside a corporation.   The strategy has to be right for you.

8.  Keep your business and family affairs separate.  Treat your business as “business first” which results in doing what is in the best interest for the business. The Three-Circle Model illustrates that the family business has three unique groups within its structure: the owners (or shareholders), the family, and the business.  

To operate a farm or ranch successfully, like any business, you must have a great understanding of all the elements.  Our presenters shared the core foundation for any successful business remains unchanged in order to strive, thrive, and survive. 

Reflecting on the years when our ancestors first came to Canada, you can see how agriculture has evolved over the years. Breaking new land was first done with horses and plows. Roots were handpicked.  Labour was intense and backbreaking. Today caterpillars and heavy discs relieve the strenuous labour.  Yet others stressors, which are uncontrollable, remain constant. Weather is one factor.

The benefit of learning from others is hearing about their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Naturally, a person thinks others have it so good until we hear how bad they had it. But their ability to turn their situation into good is reassuring and encouraging.  Advisors and mentors help us find the way.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Deliberate Thinking

Many times I agonize over 'what to write'.  The reason is one of the steps in writing the perfect blog is to determine your audience.  In the financial planning world the conversation could go in a hundred different directions.  If the truth be known, I either precisely hit or completely miss the mark.  Everyone's needs are different at different stages in their lives.

Nevertheless, the one thing I am certain about is that we all “think”.  It’s our thinking which shapes our days, the days we call the future.  We think about…

  •       Our profession or business.  What kind of work will we do in our lifetime?
  •       Our finances.  Depending on our income, how much can we afford to pay?
  •       Our goals.  If we decide to do something, how will we achieve these goals?
  •       Our ideal life partner.  What kind of person is the perfect match for us?

The straight-forward question is:  “How much thought do we devote to thinking? “  In John C. Maxwell’s book, Today Matters (2004), he writes:

I believe that many people take thinking for granted.  They see it as a natural function of life. But the truth is that intentional thinking isn’t commonplace. What you do every day in the area of thinking really matters because it sets the stage for all your actions, and it will bring you either adversity or advantage.

According to Mr. Maxwell there are actually eleven different thinking skills when it comes to good thinking. Who knew?  To give you a sense of the skills, here’s an overview:

  1. Big Picture Thinking:  the ability to think beyond yourself and your world in order to process ideas with a holistic perspective.
  2. Focused Thinking:  the ability to think with clarity on issues by removing distractions and mental clutter from your mind.
  3. Creative Thinking: the ability to break out of your “box” of limitations and explore ideas and options to experience a breakthrough.
  4. Realistic Thinking: the ability to build a solid foundation on facts to think with certainty.
  5. Strategic Thinking: the ability to implement plans that give direction for today and increase your potential for tomorrow.
  6. Possibility Thinking: the ability to unleash your enthusiasm and hope to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations.
  7. Reflective Thinking:  the ability to revisit the past in order to gain a true perspective and think with understanding.
  8. Questioning Popular Thinking: the ability to reject the limitations of common thinking and accomplish uncommon results.
  9. Shared Thinking: the ability to include the heads of others to help you think “over your head” and achieve compounding results.
  10. Unselfish Thinking: the ability to consider others and their journey to think with collaboration.
  11. Bottom-Line Thinking: the ability to focus on results and maximum return to reap the full potential of your thinking.

This tidbit of information may have piqued your interest.  This curiosity may trump your need to know why this is important.  Much to your surprise, as the title of the book implies, when you change your thoughts, you change your life.  Mr. Maxwell’s follow-up book, How Successful People Think (2009), dedicates a chapter specifically to each thinking skill.  These eleven thinking skills also appear in detail in his other book, Thinking for a Change (2003). 

Believing we will master all of these skills is a fallacy.  However, understanding these skills enables you to determine your strengths in each area on a scale of 1 to 10. Previously, I asked the question, Are Negative Thoughts About Money Holding You Back?  Now I am asking you to consider how you think simply because I honestly believe we don’t give this much thought. 

The danger lies in the consequences of our rushed decisions. When we don’t take the time to adequately think our way through our thoughts and ideas, we experience conflicts with ourselves and others.  I can think of an instance when someone recently shared, “I wish I hadn’t bought that new truck.  My budget is stretched with the new payment.”   Any kind of impulsive no-thought purchases cause people stress more than they would like to admit.  Mr. Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Think, changes our perspective about thinking.   When we take the time to think through our thoughts, like he encourages, we have a greater sense of control over the outcome of our decisions.  

I love the mental projections in my mind when I think about the strategy.  I see “clarity” as we concentrate, map out the details with pen and paper in hand, and weigh the pros and cons of our decisions.   It’s much like the feeling I have when I decide what I will say in my blog posts.  

I distinctly remember Mr. Maxwell’s lesson about our thoughts either requiring a runway or launch pad.  When our thoughts are so small we don’t need a runway to fly them, a launch pad will do.  So how big are our ideas?  Are our thoughts like a Boeing 747 in need of a long runway or a helicopter in need of a small launch pad?  I wish I could say all my thoughts and ideas were great “runway” thoughts.

I have made some good decisions but I also made some poor ones, like my idea for a U-Pick Raspberry Farm.  The U-Pick idea turned into an I-Pick because people were interested in purchasing berries, not picking them. Intense labour problems compounded with flood issues resulted in downsizing.  The small business venture existed for a number of years but in reality never soared.   This serves as an example of my launch pad idea.

Taking time to think and create a business plan (even if the plan is designed for your personal growth) is extremely important. We are so geared up in “go-mode” that we often don’t consider where we are going.  The consequence of this kind of drive creates regrets especially when money is involved.

The vision of purchasing a cabin or acreage can serve as an example. With dreamy eyes, we think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to look out the front window onto the lake.”  “Wouldn’t it be nice to hear only the birds and not the traffic sounds if we lived on an acreage?” Often our dreamy state gets us into financial hot water. “Big Picture” or “Realistic” Thinking helps work out the details of our dreams. 

Mr. Maxwell has been my mentor through his books and monthly mentoring lessons; he certainly has shaped my thoughts.  His inspiration and teaching offer encouragement to all his readers and listeners.  I recommend taking hold of his information and applying it to our lives.  Listening to our thoughts is like formulating lifetime goals. If we don’t allow ourselves time to think then how will we know what we should be doing with our time, wealth, talents, and abilities?  In the end, thinking benefits us by offering us a chance at a changed life. 

Literally taking a page from Mr. Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Think, is the best way to end this blog post.  “One Final Thought” is the section of his book where he shares inspired thoughts based on quotes from renowned people.

1.  Everything begins with a thought.

“Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

2. What we think determines who we are.  Who we are determines what we do.

“The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke.

3. Our thoughts determine our destiny.  Our destiny determines our legacy.

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you.  You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen.

4. People who go to the top think differently than others.

“Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” – William Arthur Ward.

5. We can change the way we think. 

“Whatever things are true… noble… just… pure… lovely… are of good report.  If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; think on these things.” – Paul the Apostle.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Our Expectations Need to Be Realistic

A Facebook post caught my friends’ attention.  They reacted by sharing the message.

The post read:

Time for change..

The base rate for old age 

pension in Canada is $586.00 

Time to raise it to $2,000.00 

Share if you agree.

It’s true enough that the base rate isn’t sufficient to pay anyone’s monthly bills but is it the responsibility of the Government of Canada to do so? 

When the first old-age pension was implemented in 1927, the government’s intent was to provide some financial relief for the elderly. What started then as a monthly benefit of $20 per month has now increased to a benefit of $589.59.  

In the early years, many deprived Canadians had to verify their need for financial support by undergoing a means test revealing their income and assets.  Even children had to prove they were unable to provide financial support for their elderly parents. History has shaped and changed the rules since 1927.

In 1951, The Old Age Pension of 1927 evolved into the Old Age Security Act.  At the height of Canada’s prosperity following World War II, the government passed legislation for a universal monthly pension benefit of $40 for all men and women who were 70 years old and older.  The best outcome was seniors did not have to undergo a means test to prove their eligibility.  However, one requirement was they must have lived in Canada for twenty years.  Eventually this condition was reduced to 10 years along with further changes.

The most notable change to the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit was when the legislation of the Canada Pension Plan was passed in 1965.  The qualifying age was changed from 70 years of age to 65 and continues to remain as such unless you chose to defer your Old Age Security benefit to age 70.   

It’s difficult to fathom the total cost to finance Canada’s largest pension plan until we have a grasp of the number of Canadians entitled to the OAS benefits.    The latest quarterly report, published by Employment and Social Development Canada, indicates the number of benefits paid in January is 6,062,989.  The amount paid in millions is $3,364.9.  No one contributes directly to the Old Age Security program; the benefits are paid from the Government of Canada’s general revenue accumulated from personal, corporate and sales taxes. Of course, the cost escalates even higher when the other social security programs, Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Allowance, and the Allowance for the Survivor are included.  

The off-handed comment made on social media to increase the Old Age Security benefit was probably done with minimal consideration.  Currently, the federal and provincial governments fund many programs, including major ones like health care and education. Prior to the federal government’s recent acquisition of the Trans Mountain pipeline, their current spending continues to increase the deficit; the promise to return to a balanced budget in 2019 is unlikely to occur.

The lesson on budgeting is to work with what we have.  We should try and operate with a balanced budget. The magic formula is:
There is no negative sign in front of the zero value.  Everything balances.  The after-tax income stretches over our day-to-day spending including debt repayment and savings.  From time to time, we find borrowing money necessary because we do not have sufficient cash on hand for major purchases. 

The pledge to yourself is to prepare for the future. The plain and simple fact is one day we will be old and will not be able to work.  The stark reality in 1867 was that most Canadians did not “retire”.  We are told, “Canada was then a largely pre-industrial, agricultural society.  Most people lived and worked on farms well into their old age.  When they were physically unable to work, they were supported by their families on the farm.Those without family support had few options.”

Today, we have more options if we are unable to work due to disability or injury.  However, the intention is not to rely on the government to fund our “dream retirement.”  If we do, we can’t expect much. They will and can only afford to pay a minimum amount.  The combined Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan generally equal 25% of a typical retirement income.

Our expectations need to be realistic.  Expecting the government to support us would be like our children asking us to support them for their lifetime.  This may sound like a good plan for them but for parents not so much.  We need to step up and share in the responsibility to create our desired income for the future with the resources we are given today.     

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Does Mediation Work?

If you can’t resolve your family conflicts respectfully, does mediation work?  That is the question I asked Robert (Bob) Stocksa business consultant and coach.  Our usual chit-chat eventually turned to a conversation about mediation, Bob’s area of expertise. 

Networking is learning.  Learning is networking.  When anyone attends a Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (CAFA) meeting, they are privy to a wealth of knowledge offered by other advisors in attendance.  This is exactly what I received, a first-hand glimpse into the role of a mediator when families stop talking about important matters.   

Many years ago, Bob made the decision to take courses in Conflict Resolution through a college in Boulder, Colorado.  Today, he vows that his old school mentality has helped him serve his clients effectively both in the past and present.

The two styles of family conflict are matrimonial (between a husband and a wife) or inter-generational (between parents and children or siblings).  When a family is having disputes, bringing them together into a room to air their concerns and grievances doesn’t work.  Bob prefers to have the initial conversations with them individually.  You have an opportunity to hear everyone’s objectives in advance on a one-on-one basis.  You not only hear their objectives but you understand their objectives.  This is critical.  People need to feel they have a say if the issues are ever to be resolved.  They want to feel they are in control of their destiny if a deal is to be made.

Bob shared his father’s wisdom. His father combined a valid statement with a direct question, “You might be right and I hear you, but will it do you any good?”  It’s a question we probably should ask ourselves often when confronted with the choice of either winning the argument or winning the relationship.   Harboring resentment against family does not do any good for anyone.  When you do, you unknowingly cause more harm to yourself.  This phrase shines a new perspective on the subject: “Holding a grudge is like drinking the poison and waiting for the other person to die”.  We never want to be in a position where our thinking is clouded by our emotions.

The first step in resolving conflict always involves an important communication skill, listening.  When people feel they have been heard, then they are ready to move to the next step, finding a resolution.  So the probing begins.  Bob starts by asking:  “What deal do you need so you can move on from this place of being stuck?”  

Bob referenced a very insightful and popular book. Christopher W. Moore’s book, The Mediation Process, Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict  is used by many conflict resolution practitioners, faculty, and students as the all-inclusive guide to the discipline of mediation and conflict resolution.  Here’s the logic behind this process.  Mediation is a better alternative compared to having matters settled in court.  The decisions made by the courts might not result in a desired outcome.  A mediator, like Bob, helps people decipher their own solutions. There are no easy answers but the important thing is to find a way to talk about the issues which have people feeling stuck.  The families are persuaded to push through their problems and hurt feelings and to think about how they can get to a better place than where they are presently.         

Another best-selling book, Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In written by Roger Fisher and William Ury, supports Bob’s belief that no one should cave into agreement.  “No one wants to feel forced to do something they do not want to do.  They should not be forced into a deal they do not like.”   All options needs to be considered.  The decision is to pick an option which is better than a worse one.  Reaching a Win-Win agreement far outweighs a Win-Lose or Lose-Lose agreement.  

Mediation always works.  The only time mediation doesn’t work is when the parties are not willing to pay the consultation fees to have the conflict resolved.  That’s the clincher. If people could see into a crystal ball the situation going from bad to worse, they might change their minds.  Do they want to pay a little now for a consultant or pay a lot later for a lawyer and court fees?  In the end, the result may not be pretty if they choose to wait by avoiding both the conversations and the fees.    

As I write this blog, I think of my family’s situation.  My father and his brother passed away without talking to each other.  I reflected on the question Bob poses to his clients, “What are we trying to accomplish so you don’t spit at each other when you pass on the street?”  I realize that my family’s situation is not an isolated case.  Many families find themselves in a similar dilemma.  Hurt feelings and unresolved conflicts cause relationships to blister with anger, grief, and sadness.  If there’s a slight chance you can mend the broken bridges in your relationship with mediation, you are encouraged to try regardless of the cost.  

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Where Do You Fit?

The information is hot off the press.  I am not picking through old data.  This week the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) released its latest report on Financial Stress.  When asked, people will share their biggest fears and concerns but generally money isn’t something we discuss with our family and friends.  We might complain about the price of groceries and gasoline but we are reluctant to fully disclose every detail about our personal finances. 

If you were asked the same five basic questions about views on money that 1,106 Canadians were, where would you fit in the conversation?  Here’s your chance.  Below are the questions.  Once you have answered them, you can compare your results with those people surveyed.

Question #1

In general, what tends to cause you the most stress in your life?

  • Money
  • Personal Health
  • Work
  • Relationships

Question #2

How often, if ever, do you feel embarrassed about lacking control over your current financial situation?

  • Always
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never
  • No Answer

Question #3

How much do you agree, or disagree, with the following statement:  I have lost sleep because of financial worries.

  • Strongly Agree
  • Somewhat Agree
  • Somewhat Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree
  • No Answer

Question #4

To what extent, if at all, do you feel pressure to keep up with your friends’ or colleagues’ financial status?

  • Very Pressured
  • Somewhat Pressured
  • Not Very Pressured
  • Not At All Pressured
  • No Answer

The results are found in this Omni Report:Financial Stress.   We can determine whether or not our answers align with others. 

Money is the one thing we all have in common.  It’s certainly understandable not to share our money concerns with every person; however, when we struggle about doing the right thing with our finances, talking with a financial planner may give us peace of mind.  Doing so is no different than seeing a doctor about a health concern.

We are usually looking for something: where we buy our new car or home, where we spend our next exotic vacation or where we purchase something small like a camera or an appliance.  We tend to do homework in our endeavors to make the right choice. Therefore, we shouldn’t be reluctant to seek advice about money matters when we can’t figure things out on our own.  The main reason for doing so is to live your life without regrets.

Here’s the final survey question. 

Question #5

What is your greatest financial regret – that is, if you could go back in time and do things differently, what would that be?

  • I would have saved money/more money/saved earlier
  • I would have invested more/invested earlier
  • I would have bought a property/invested in real estate/land
  • I would have done more schooling/higher education/different stream
  • I would have avoided debts/not overspent on credit cards
  • I would have made the right decision when selling/buying property
  • I would have kept my job/worked longer/wouldn’t retired earlier
  • I would have been more responsible with money/budgeted earlier
  • I would have saved more for retirement/retirement plan
  • I would have spent less money on leisure/gambling
  • I would have tried to get a higher paying job
  • I wouldn’t have bought a car
  • I would have spent less money
  • I would have had a separate bank account with spouse/no divorce
  • I would have avoided bankruptcy/managed business better
  • Other
  • No regrets
  • No Answer

The survey reveals that more than eight-in-ten Canadians (83%) have at least one financial regret.  What’s yours, if any?

This article, Change Your Mindset If You Want to Succeeddoesn’t talk about money.  It simply talks about life.  My biggest takeaway was this quote from business coach, author, and speaker Ali Golds. She says, Celebrating triumphs can also help put self-doubt to flight and take the spotlight off setbacks. “Who cares about mistakes? I don’t,” adds Golds. “I celebrate every achievement, even tiny ones, because without them I’d never have gone on to bigger successes.”

After answering the above survey questions, we may want to change one way we handle money. Ali Golds’ reasoning can apply to our money concerns.  If we need to make changes to our financial circumstances, then we need to develop a strategy.  Ignoring the problems doesn’t help.  Action may or may not result in triumphs and successes every time but we can celebrate the strides we do make towards our financial goals.  Any change, big or small, to improve our financial well-being is a step worth taking. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tax Time Again!

Preparing a tax return, even if your part is only gathering all the information for your accountant, can be an overwhelming and stressful chore. However, it’s a task which must be done every year. It ranks right up there with spring cleaning around the house and yard. 

Many have a tendency to procrastinate and push the deadline as far as midnight on April 30th.   If you step over this deadline, then you may face interest and penalties.  If you are a proprietor of an unincorporated small business, your deadline is June 15th.  However, tread cautiously.  If you owe taxes as a result of your business income, the tax bill is still due and payable on April 30th.  The most sensible thing to do is to file your tax return by the end of April.   You want to avoid adding more money to the government coffers with interest charges on the balance due. 
The best rule is to follow Thomas Huxley’s advice. “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”   This is the power of discipline. 

Why Should We File a Tax Return?

I believe we need to understand “why” we need to do something to motivate us into action.  Once we know “why” then we are apt to file our tax returns on time.  

1. One reason for filing a tax return is to take advantage of applicable tax credits to reduce the amount of taxes payable.   Your income information slips report only your income and the minimum required deductions but other eligible provisions may lower your taxable income further.  Specific examples are tax deductions like RRSP contributions or tax credits for a dependent child under the age of 18.  Ultimately, the result is the possibility of a “tax refund” once the calculations are completed. 

2. Another reason is you may be eligible for money through one of the government’s social benefit programs once your return is filed.  Without taking the initiative of reporting your income, you may be saying "No thank you" to money that rightfully belongs to you.  Depending on the level of your combined family income, you may be eligible for the GST/HST credit benefits or Child Tax Benefit.      

Other social benefit programs for people over the age of 65 are Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement.  The Allowance provides a benefit for those between the ages of 60 and 64.

3. Your tax returns keep you “in the know”.  If you are not a financial guru, your return may be the only document to tell how you are doing from an income vantage point. Are you descending or ascending the income ladder?

4. If you are still not totally convinced that you should file a tax return, my last resort is you have to do this because it is the law. There are late-filing and failure-to-file penalties in addition to the interest charges due on outstanding taxes.  Coming up with the money to pay taxes is difficult; we certainly don’t want to add additional charges to the balance.   If you choose to ignore Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), they will chase you for the money that rightfully belongs to them. 
5.  When you are self-employed and are applying for a loan, the one way for a lender to verify your income is your annual tax returns for the last three years. No verification of income means no loan.

Why Are We Reluctant to File Our Tax Returns?

The most likely reason for failing to file a tax return is quite often linked to fear.  We may be afraid we may have a tax bill and won’t have the money to pay CRA.

In the Toronto Sun news article, Failure to file taxes could bankrupt you, John Waters, head of tax and estate planning at BMO Nesbitt Burns, says, if you’re struggling to meet the deadline, even if you don’t have the money to pay, "at least file to stop the bleeding on that 5% penalty and just get hit with the interest charges on the unpaid taxes."

The truth is you don’t want to get on the wrong side of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  Even when you file your return and are unable to pay the taxes, you should explain your situation to CRA. If you don’t, CRA is a powerhouse with the ability to collect the money.  Funds can be garnished from your bank account to satisfy the debt.  Your financial institution will receive a “requirements-to-pay” order (also known as a Third Party Demand).  If the money is not in your account at the time, then your account will be frozen.   The Third Party Demand will only be lifted once the payment has been made or at the very least satisfactory financial arrangements are in place to have the order removed.  To read more, click here to read, CRA Garnishments: Requirement to Pay Tax—A Canadian Tax Lawyer Analysis.

How Can We Overcome the Obstacles?  

Once we understand that we can run but we can’t hide from CRA, we need to take a proactive approach and prepare for the yearly routine of submitting our tax returns. 

  • The first step to eliminate our feelings of frustration is to find a method to keep all our important documents in one place. With unlimited access to the Internet, we can always search for ways to organize our tax information. 

  • If you can’t do this yourself, the second step is to ask for help.  There are people, even friends, who are “number people”. They would love to help us get organized and stay organized.  

  •  Lastly, we can pay for the service of a professional tax accountant to prepare our tax returns. 

The completion of an onerous task results in the greatest feeling. This is especially true when our tax returns are filed on time and our relationship with Canada Revenue Agency is maintained.  There is a reward at the end for doing this.  If it’s not money, then it is peace of mind or if we are lucky, it might even be both.

If you need additional information, the Government of Canada has prepared a series of videos, Preparing your Income Tax and Benefit Return.  These videos may provide helpful information for you.