Life insurance is commonly thought of as a simple estate planning tool. Yet it can also make a very powerful investment tool due to its favourable tax treatment.
Deposits and cash growth in life insurance policies are generally tax-free within certain limits, as are death benefits, which makes life policies used as investments very valuable.
On January 1, 2017 the part of the Canadian Income Tax Act governing life insurance policies will be amended to more accurately reflect changes in mortality rates (people are now living longer). It will also place additional limits on life insurance deposit amounts considered tax exempt.
If you decide to take advantage of life insurance for investment purposes and estate planning before these tax changes take place, your life policies will be grandfathered and provide you with the ability to invest more money tax-free than life policies purchased in 2017 and beyond.
There are many situations whereby you should consider investing in life policies before December 31, 2016. A couple of key situations include:
- Your business is growing. Insurance taken out on the owners can create or strengthen succession plans to insure the business won’t suffer when key people are unable to continue working for any reason.
- You own properties whose value has grown beyond the capacity of your estate to cover estate tax obligations. It’s possible that capital gains taxes will not allow you to have your estate assets distributed in the way that you’d like. Life insurance can be purchased to cover big tax hits such as these, and allow you to leave more to loved ones and charities.
If you’ve already set aside specific funds to go to beneficiaries such as your spouse, grandkids, kids, community causes and charities, Bequest Insurance’s Generosity Multiplier™ can mobilize those funds to guarantee that your beneficiaries receive even more than you hoped, at no additional cost to you.
Rates of return on our Generosity Multiplier™ are based on age, and since none of us are getting any younger and tax changes are coming on January 1st, this could be the perfect time to contact Bequest Insurance to learn more about how you can reduce your taxes and leave more to meet your personal or business needs!
Living longer than people in previous generations is great but more and more people are now worried about the possibility of outliving their savings.
Because of this, guaranteed-for-life income solutions are becoming a vital investment component for many Canadians.
Within the available choices of guaranteed-income solutions, prescribed annuities provide much higher annual take-home income than you’ll get from other typical guaranteed savings choices due to both their structure and the overlay of significant tax benefits. For example*:
A 60 year old in the 40% tax bracket using $100,000 in savings to provide income for life :
Scenario 1: 2% GIC is purchased
Gross Income: $2,000
Taxable amount: $2,000
Net Annual Income: $1,200
Scenario 2: 5% Prescribed Annuity purchased
Gross Income: $5,000
Taxable amount: $1,054 (if purchased in 2016)
Net Annual Income: $4,578
*Please note that this example is for illustration purposes only.
Your annual taxable amount is set for life when you purchase prescribed annuities. If this same 5% prescribed annuity is purchased in 2017 the taxable amount is expected to increase from $1,054 to $1,450.
It is also important to consider how various retirement income streams might lower or even eliminate your income tested government benefits such as your Old Age Security pension (OAS). For the 2015 taxation year OAS clawbacks begin when your total annual taxable amount (not your total income) exceeds $72,809. OAS benefits are completely eliminated when your net income (including your OAS income benefit) is just over $117,000.
For many people, increasing take-home income that’s earned from savings can end up being a bit of a balancing act that often includes tax-friendly income streams such as prescribed annuities. In fact, prescribed annuities are a very effective triple win for many people because they can provide higher incomes, lower income taxes and preserve as much as possible from income tested government pension plans.
You may now be asking yourself these questions:
- How do prescribed annuities or other guaranteed-for-life income options work?
- At my age what rate of return would I get on a prescribed annuity?
- How is prescribed annuity income guaranteed and for how long?
- How are my prescribed annuities valued for my estate, spouse and other beneficiaries when I die?
- Are annuities suitable for me? Would they be suitable for my dependants?
- Are there guaranteed income-for-life annuities that allow me to access my capital just in case I need it?
- Should I get prescribed annuities now to avoid tax increases coming in 2017?
As many of you already know, there’s no obligation when you reach out to us and we make every effort to answer these and any other questions you might have within one business day.
The great things that you wish to accomplish with charitable gifts in your Will may be affected by changes to Canadian tax rules in Bill C-43 that come into effect January 1, 2016.
The new rules are generally more advantageous to gifts in Wills than the existing framework. They allow executors to allocate charitable tax credits to the donor’s final tax return, the previous year’s return, and/or any of the first three years of estate returns. Also, charitable gifts will also be valued on the day the gift is received by the charity. This is a major change – previously, the gift was receipted based on its fair market value on the donor’s the date of death.
You should also know that the first three years of an estate are now called a Graduated Rate Estate, or GRE. This means that income taxes paid by an estate in it’s first three years are based on a graduated scale. After three years estate income is taxed at the highest marginal income tax rate.
Your estate may be impacted if your charitable gifts are distributed after the three year GRE period. If this happens, the charitable tax receipt can only be applied against that year’s estate tax return, and can’t be allocated retroactively to the tax returns of the deceased or any of the years of the GRE’s existence.
If you want to donate appreciated assets to charities, the capital gains tax exemption for gifted property will no longer be available to the estate after the three year GRE period. This may result in smaller settlements to all beneficiaries due to unintended additional income taxes owing by the estate.
In many circumstances, the new GRE will be a non-issue. However, it may become expensive if your estate is complex and takes more than three years to settle, since your estate can lose the advantages of the GRE. For example, this may happen when charitable gifts are delayed until your spouse dies, or where other entities are involved such as corporations or family businesses that may need more time to be settled or restructured. The possibility of challenges to the Will may be another concern.
In fact, anything that may delay an estate from winding up before the 3 year GRE period expires may become an unintended and expensive situation for an estate that expects to use charitable donation tax credits and other tax-friendly strategies available only to the GRE. If your valuable charitable tax credits are forced to go unused, this will almost certainly throw a wrench into your best-laid estate plans.
If nothing else, Bill C-43 is a compelling reason to get proper legal and financial advice on your circumstances today to determine whether any changes should be made to your Will and to your current investment strategies to ensure that all of your legacy intentions will be met tomorrow.
Posted in Annuities, Annuities, Charitable Gifts, Capital Gains Tax, Executor, Avoid Probate Tax, Charitable Gifts, Financial Planning Solutions, Graduated Rate Estate, Insurance, Probate Tax, Retirement Income, Retirement Planning, Wills
Tagged annuities, Capital Gains Tax, GIC's, Graduated Rate Estate, GRE, life insurance, nest egg, retirement planning, RRIF, RRSP