Six Steps To Dealing With Tax Debt – Your CRA Debt Solution

Tax debt is easy to create, it doesn’t take much to result in a balance owing. For example, you may have worked an extra job or cashed out RRSP funds early for a personal emergency. A small business owner may lose track of business receipts or HST input tax credits. Regardless of the reason you owe the government money, we can help you find your best CRA debt solution.

Tax Debt

Whether you are self-employed or working for someone else, it is never a good idea to ignore tax debt. You will need a good plan to clear up your debt and avoid a CRA wage garnishment. Here are six steps we recommend you take to deal with your tax debt:

1. Review Your Books Again

Accuracy is key when dealing with taxes. Before accepting an assessment from Canada Revenue Agency, double check everything. Go through your books, records and business receipts and compare your numbers with the numbers CRA has listed on your assessment notice. If you find an error, contact the Canada Revenue Agency right away.

2. Ask An Accountant To Review Your Tax Return

Even if you have been over your books and records with a fine tooth comb and can’t see any mistakes, it is never a bad idea to get a second opinion. A paid professional tax specialist may have new ideas to help you resubmit your return and reduce what you owe. Engaging the services of an accounting professional is a highly recommended business practice.

3. Talk to Canada Revenue Agency

If you can’t pay in full it is important to communicate with Canada Revenue Agency and let them know what course of action you are taking. If you are planning to resubmit returns due to errors made during your initial filing, make sure the government knows. For extra time to figure out what to do, you may want to discuss a payment plan with CRA. Remember, the government charges daily interest on their debt(s).

4. Make sure All Prior Tax Years are filed

Once you have corrected any discrepancies in filings and ensured that you have filed all of your tax returns up to date, you are ready to explore your options. Before making a decision about filing bankruptcy, it is important to know how much you owe to Canada Revenue Agency. In part, a Consumer Proposal is determined by how much debt you owe. Regardless of which solution you choose, it is helpful to know your total debt owed to CRA. Up to date filings also help CRA decide how to respond to your Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

5. Review Bankruptcy As An Option

Bankruptcy will stop the Canada Revenue Agency from taking money off of your pay cheque. However, bankruptcy is not always an easy road for people with a lot of tax debt. If you owe a lot of money to CRA this may impact what you do next. You will want to review your situation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee before deciding how to proceed. Some bankruptcies end in bankruptcy court. We can help you understand the process if you will fall under this category.

6. Review Consumer Proposal As An Option

Once your Licensed Insolvency Trustee has reviewed bankruptcy as an option, he/she can advise you regarding the Consumer Proposal option. An alternative to bankruptcy, a Consumer Proposal is a deal that you make with your creditor(s). Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to make a deal with Canada Revenue Agency.

In addition to tax debt Canada Revenue Agency is also responsible for the collection of debts for overpaid benefits and defaulted student loans. Overpaid Canada Child Tax Benefit or HST may be offset by your income tax refunds. CTB and HST belong to a specific group of government debt(s) that cannot be wiped away by a bankruptcy. Our experts can review your overall debt load and give you advice regarding any debts that a bankruptcy cannot get rid of.

Searching for a CRA debt solution or have questions about tax debt? Please call us to discuss, 310-4321. Let us help you develop a plan to become tax debt free.


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Four Medical Marijuana Questions About the Bankruptcy Process

Every financial situation is unique, but the causes of bankruptcy are often very similar. Our federal bankruptcy system exists to help when you can no longer afford to pay bills as they become due. There are three reasons the majority of people find themselves in this position; family breakdown (i.e. divorce or separation), job loss (or a significant change in household income) and, arguably the most stressful debt contributor – illness or injury. One might argue that illness or injury can lead to both job loss and complex issues within the family unit.

Bankruptcy Process and Medical Marijuana

How Can A Medical Marijuana Prescription Impact The Bankruptcy Process?

Unfortunately, when we are not well our medical expenses go up while our income goes down. When dealing with chronic illness or a difficult injury prescriptions can be costly. Medical Marijuana is useful in the treatment of a variety of illnesses and conditions Many Canadians are now seeking out this “new” alternative to traditional medicine. But, health benefits don’t always cover cannabis, making it an expensive out-of-pocket cost.

A first-time bankruptcy typically lasts a minimum of 9 months. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee monitors your income. A bankrupt who earns a lot of income can expect to be bankrupt for 21 months. A bankrupt who includes expensive medical costs can expect bankruptcy to cost less. A medical marijuana prescription can have a significant impact on the length of the bankruptcy process.

What is a Non-Discretionary Expense?

While it is true that the length of a bankruptcy is determined by income, it is also impacted by a specific group of expenses referred to as “non-discretionary”. Expenses under this category include child support payments, daycare, and prescribed medications that are not covered by a medical plan (which includes doctor-prescribed cannabis). During the initial months of bankruptcy, you are required to send your Licensed Insolvency Trustee monthly reports summarizing all income earned and receipts for non-discretionary expenses. We review your non-discretionary expenses and deduct them from your income. As a result, your non-discretionary expenses can change the length and cost of your bankruptcy.

What is Surplus Income?

Our National household income averages are based on family size and statistical data. Currently, the average monthly household income of a single person is $2,152.00. Average family income amounts are updated annually on the federal government’s website here: 2018 Surplus Income guidelines. During bankruptcy you will submit a report of income and expenses each month. Your Licensed Insolvency Trustee will review this information for any “surplus”.

Surplus income is the difference between your net monthly income and the national average for your family size – less non-discretionary expenses. The bankruptcy process takes longer if you earn significantly more than the national average. Your net income will be lower whenever your non-discretionary expenses are high. A lower monthly income may fall below the national average. If your prescription for medical cannabis is expensive and out-of-pocket, deducting this cost from what you earn each month can shorten your bankruptcy. Submitting accurate monthly budgets with proof of your expenses is a very important part of the bankruptcy process.

Will I Need a Doctor’s Note?

You must provide proof to benefit from the inclusion of your medical costs and lower your income. In fact, all non-discretionary expenses require supporting documentation during your bankruptcy. Your Licensed Insolvency Trustee may not require a doctor’s note. Keep all prescription receipts and submit them with your monthly budgets to include them.

To learn more about the bankruptcy process and to find out if your medical marijuana costs will significantly decrease the time you will spend in bankruptcy, please call 310-4321. A Spergel expert will review your household income, expenses, and advise you of your options.





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How Will A Consumer Proposal Change Your Life?

You work hard but you still have debt, have a good job and a nice place to live but you are still carrying debt. Managing your bills is ok, you’re able to stay afloat – but at the end of the month, you still have debt. What you might not know, is that the path to debt freedom can begin with a Consumer Proposal.

Consumer Proposal

A Consumer Proposal can change your life and help you overcome the burden of your debts. During the proposal process you will learn to adjust to a life without credit cards. A proposal is an opportunity to gain a new perspective on managing your money and accomplishing your financial goals.

You will need the help of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to get a Consumer Proposal started. After you have committed to your new repayment plan, and your creditors have accepted the terms, your life will begin to change in the following ways:

A Consumer Proposal Stops Creditor Calls

Dealing with debt collectors can be very stressful. When your bills are piling up a Consumer Proposal can protect you from aggressive or harassing creditor calls. Reducing stress and aggravation in your life allows you to focus on your job, family, and most importantly, your health. Health experts agree that how we approach day-to-day life challenges (including financial trouble) can help to decrease our risk for many known stress-related health problems. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, a Consumer Proposal can change your life by eliminating financial stress and increasing your chances of avoiding many serious threats to your health.

No More Interest Payments

A Consumer Proposal is a deal that you make with your creditors. We can help you offer a reasonable monthly payment over a maximum of five years. Creditors will stop charging interest on your debts once the proposal is accepted. The remaining balance on these debts will be written off at the end of the process. Without interest charges to inflate what you owe, your debts will never grow. Your debts are frozen in time at the balance you owe today – if you stick to the terms of your proposal.

Budgeting and Savings

Included in the Consumer Proposal process are two counselling sessions where we discuss budgeting and savings strategies. One of the many benefits of filing a proposal is that your income is not monitored. A Consumer Proposal gives you the freedom to take any additional income that you earn (for example, tax refunds, bonuses at work or a move to a job with a higher salary), and use it where you need it most. We can help you set yourself up for success with smart budgeting and strategic savings tips. Adjusting to your new financial reality can be very exciting! You will begin to realize you have money in your budget to save for emergencies and plan for irregular expenses.

Goal Setting and Rebuilding

Once you have addressed your debts in the present, you will want to think about your future plans. Setting new financial goals beyond the end of your proposal will encourage you to work towards the future. Whether your goal is to save for a vacation, purchase a home or a new car, return to school or start a new business venture, your future plans should be realistic. Let us provide you with tips on how to work towards your financial goals and teach you how to rebuild your credit. Our experts will give you lots of useful information that can be used both during and after your Consumer Proposal.

Are you ready to change your life with a Consumer Proposal? In one simple phone call we can schedule a free consultation to review all of your proposal options.  Let the experienced Spergel team help set you on the path to debt freedom. Call us today: 310-4321.

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Five Things You Should Know About Bankruptcy


We said it, the earth didn’t move and you’re still here, reading this article.

5 Things You Should Know About Bankruptcy

Consumer debt in Canada is steadily growing – and so are bankruptcy filings. Younger generations are turning to credit cards and loans to bridge the gap between low income and high expenses. Older generations are struggling to live on fixed income while helping children and grandchildren stuck in the debt cycle. During 2017 alone the average consumer debt grew to $29,312. While this amount may sound manageable, imagine a sudden job loss, injury or illness. What would you do if your debt repayment plan became a debt struggle?

We recommend that you discuss your debt problem with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Here are five things about bankruptcy that might help make it easier to take this step.

  1. You Are Not Alone

In Canada there were almost 60,000 personal bankruptcies filed last year. At Spergel, we meet with new people every day who are considering bankruptcy as a solution to their debt problems. If bankruptcy is the right solution for you there is no reason for you to feel like you are alone. With so many Canadians facing the same difficult financial decision that you are, believe us when we say that you are not alone.

  1. The Consultation Process Is Free

Licensed Insolvency Trustees do not charge for an initial consultation. You should not have to pay to learn about your options. A consultation will supply the information that you need without any commitment until you are ready to move forward. Why pay for help when you can talk to a Trustee for free?

  1. Sometimes Bankruptcy Isn’t the Answer

You won’t know if bankruptcy is right for you until you learn more about the process. The best part about talking to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee is that you will get the information you need to understand bankruptcy. You will also learn about alternative options that may be a good fit for you. For some people bankruptcy is not the best decision and another solution may work better.

  1. You Will Need a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

The Canadian bankruptcy process is monitored by our Federal government. Trustees are granted a license after completing years of tests, training and studying. The Bankruptcy Act requires that a licensed individual oversee the process and this is why you cannot file on your own. So, even if you are unsure if bankruptcy is right for you, a Trustee is always the best source for information about the process because of the training and education provided to them.

  1. Life After Debt – You Can Have Good Credit Again

People worry that “going bankrupt” is trading debt relief now for a credit-less future. Bankruptcy does not mean the death of your financial goals and dreams.  Dealing with the debt problem you have now will help that you get back on track to begin working towards your goals and dreams again – debt free. A first time bankruptcy will remain on your credit record for approximately 6 years, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to begin rebuilding your finances.

Bankruptcy is a good solution for many people facing debt problems today. However, fear of becoming a “bankrupt person” can make it hard to ask a Licensed Insolvency Trustee for help. With all of the myths and misunderstanding surrounding the bankruptcy process, it’s not really surprising that this option can be overlooked while searching for a debt solution.

A great strategy for approaching fear is to look at the least desirable outcomes first and then work through your alternative options. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee will demonstrate what bankruptcy looks like for you and then work through alternative solutions as well. We can help you find the solution that makes the most sense.

If you are ready to learn more about the options available to you, Spergel’s team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees are here to help. Please call us at 310-4321 to schedule your free consultation today.



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Preparing for Divorce in Canada: Things You May Not Have Thought About

If you’re going through a divorce in Canada, there is plenty that you need to plan and think about. Although your emotions may be spiralling, it’s important that you take a step back and assess your situation as there are critical decisions to be made, especially if children are involved.

Preparing for divorce in Canada or elsewhere can be overwhelming. We have broken down some items here that you may not have considered for your divorce financial planning.

  1. Separate Finances

You may have looked into dividing your property, but what about your finances? If you have a joint bank account, consider separating it. You want your own account and to have any payments you receive going into it. Make a budget for how much you’ll need each month to live on your own, or with your children if kids are involved. Protect your credit rating by freezing or closing joint credit cards and by blocking your spouse’s access to other joint credit, such as home equity loans or lines of credit. If you think you may be the party in the marriage that has the most debt and are worried how you will manage, consulting a professional who can look at your debt will be critical.

  1. List Assets & Debt

Make a list of assets (all assets count as property — including cars, jewelry, household furniture, and businesses) and debts. If taxes are owed, ensure they are paid. If you are unable to be pay them, take copies of any notices of assessment.

  1. Copy Important Documents

Canada Pension Plan statements, wills and trust agreements, insurance policies, business statements, bank accounts, tax returns, loan documents, etc. — make sure you take copies of all of these documents. It may seem tedious, but it could help you in the long run if the divorce becomes contentious and for assessing your financial situation.

  1. Keep Spending in Check

It may be tempting to rack up a large credit card bill with a shared card, but it’s not a good idea. Savings and personal finances are more important than ever when going through a divorce and you do not want to put yourself in a precarious position due to an impulsive spite purchase. It’s also best not to create any additional debts or make any large purchases. If you were thinking of buying a new car or boat, perhaps hold off until everything is finalized and you can see what you are left with.

  1. Transfer Your Mail

If you and your spouse are still living in the same house, have your mail forwarded to another address — either a post office box, or the home of a trusted friend or relative.

Be sure to have a divorce financial plan in place. Even the most amicable divorces can turn sour if it becomes contentious.

If you are going through a divorce in Canada, Spergel can help you assess your financial situation and manage outstanding debts.

Call us today for a free consultation: 310-4321.

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2017-2018 Income Tax Deadline Right Around the Corner – What to Do if You Will Owe

It’s nearly that time of year again — tax time. The income tax deadline is looming and Canadians will need to file their taxes to Canada Revenue Agency. But if you already know you’ll owe a tax debt, what is the best course of action?

DO confirm how much you will owe.

Have you claimed in all areas you were able to? Have all your past returns been filed and claims made in all areas available to you? Getting a clear number of what you will need to pay will help you evaluate what options you have.

DON’T delay filing.

When you know you’ll owe a tax debt — especially if you can’t afford to pay it — it’s tempting to want to ignore the situation and not file at all. But missing the income tax deadline when you owe is about the worst thing you can do. It does nothing to make your situation better, and actually leaves you worse off instead. If you miss the income tax deadline, in addition to the tax debt you would have owed, you’ll now be liable for late filing fees and penalties from Canada Revenue Agency. You’ll also be subject to higher late fees and penalties if you miss filing again in the future. So, you’ll owe even more money to Canada Revenue Agency, plus you’ll be on their radar to report you to the credit bureau and send collections after you.

DO speak to a financial consultant about outstanding tax debts.

If you’ve missed filing in the past or if you had a tax debt and didn’t pay, speak to a financial professional who routinely helps people with tax problems and routinely deals with CRA about what you should do. A great example is Licensed Insolvency Trustees.

DON’T assume there is no help available.

If you will owe you want to get financial advice BEFORE you speak directly to CRA. Do not disclose information to CRA or attempt to make financial arrangements until you work with a professional to understand your ability to pay and what arrangements CRA may or may not accept.

Ignoring your tax debt won’t make it go away. With the income tax deadline looming, you’re best to take proactive action — find out how much you’ll owe and seek financial advice for how best to pay it off. This will put you back in control of your finances and stop a bad, but fixable, situation from becoming unmanageable.

If you will owe a tax debt, Spergel’s Licensed Insolvency Trustees offer free consultations and help you determine the best way to move forward.

Contact us today at 310-4321.

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Thinking of Filing a Consumer Proposal in Ontario? You’re Not Alone!

If you’re thinking of filing a consumer proposal in Ontario, here are some facts for you.

In 2016, 22,956 consumer proposals were filed in Ontario. Nationally, 63,471 consumer proposals were filed across Canada. Both figures are up from 2015, meaning the number of Ontarians and Canadians filing consumer proposals is increasing. At the same time, the number of people filing for bankruptcy decreased slightly between 2015 and 2016.

Canadian household debt is growing — it’s currently at the highest it’s ever been. Easy access to credit and increasing interest rates are meaning people owe more than ever without a plan to pay it all off. A consumer proposal can be an alternative to making an application for personal bankruptcy, which is perhaps why it’s become more popular in recent years.

If you’re thinking of filing a consumer proposal in Ontario, you likely already know its definition. But to recap, a consumer proposal is a formal offer to your creditors to settle your debts, usually for an amount less than what is owing, but for a greater amount than the creditors would receive if you filed for bankruptcy. You offer to pay an amount that you can realistically afford for a fixed period of time – often up to five years.

The benefit of a consumer proposal over a bankruptcy is that you generally get to keep your assets. Often in bankruptcy, assets that can’t be paid for must be repossessed. Not so in the consumer proposal process. If your consumer proposal is approved by your creditors you will have a binding debt repayment contract. You can make your payments as agreed and you will have no further obligations to your creditors.

At Spergel, our Licensed Insolvency Trustees can create a customized consumer proposal for you that can set up a payment schedule with payments in higher or lower values at certain times each year, depending when you need more or less money. When you choose Spergel for filing your consumer proposal in Ontario, harassing collection calls and garnishments stop immediately after your proposal is filed.

If you have a high level of debt, but want to maintain your assets and lifestyle and can make set monthly payments, the consumer proposal process could be right for you. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee, such as the experts at Spergel, can help you determine if it’s a viable option.

To find out more about filing a consumer proposal in Ontario with Spergel, contact us today for a free consultation: 310-4321.

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Getting a Divorce in an Uncertain Real Estate Market

Colleen and Bill bought a home recently for $800,000. They lived in marital bliss for a few months, but then disaster struck — their marriage exploded and they ended up getting a divorce. They couldn’t bear to retain their home, or anything else they owned together. Colleen and Bill sold their house at the end of 2017 for $660,000. They ate $140,000 in losses on the value of their home alone, in addition to marital debt they carried.

Joint finances and assets are a big reason why many people stay in unhappy marriages. Having a plan to manage the financial impact of a divorce, especially if you have debt in your name and insufficient stand-alone income, is paramount.

If you’re considering getting a divorce, but worried about the cost of divorce — including that in an uncertain Canada real estate market — there are several items you may want to consider.

  1. Tax Implications

Getting a divorce can mean different tax deductions and debts when the CRA income tax deadline comes around. Consulting a financial advisor, particularly if you’re worried you will owe a tax debt, can help you navigate changes.

  1. Joint Accounts and Joint Debts

Joint financial debts — including a mortgage — can be a huge cost of divorce. You’ll need a plan to look at how much debt you can carry individually, plus how much you can take on as part of the divorce. A financial advisor can show you the options you have available and take steps to pay down your debt, leaving you in a secure financial position.

  1. Watch Additional Debt After Divorce

Getting a divorce can have financial implications in a lot of ways. First, there are the costs associated with lawyers’ fees and the like. But further to that, there are fees that come into play with smaller items. If you do decide to sell the house, for example, there may be a loss of profit. Even if you don’t sell, but decide to move out, you might have to buy new furniture, buy a new car, get your own credit cards, etc. It’s paramount you have a plan to deal with all of these expenses, especially if you don’t have your own sufficient source of income.

If you’re considering getting a divorce, Spergel’s Licensed Insolvency Trustees can help you develop a financial strategy and understand your debt relief options. Call us today for a free consultation: 310-4321.

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Ontario Housing Market on the Decline

The Ontario housing market has been showing signs of slowdown for some time now, but new measures, such as a provincial foreign buyers’ tax, new mortgage rules, and interest rate increases have cooled it even further.

In the Ontario housing market, house price indexes showed consecutive monthly decreases in the last quarter of 2017. Traditional dwelling types, such as attached and detached homes along with row houses, have all dropped in sales.

What does this mean for current homeowners? The decline of the Ontario housing market does not only affect house hunters. It also affects those who already hold a mortgage.

According to a CBC News article, a higher interest-rate environment could lead to a significant increase in Canadian household debt financing, as opposed to consumer spending. People would have to spend more on existing debt, such as their mortgages, and would have less to put towards other economic activity. This is what happened in the U.S. in 2006, bringing in a consumer-led recession.

Already, Canadian household debt is higher than ever. The average consumer debt in Ontario is $22,022. As the housing market has declined, mortgage values have also rapidly increased. When your mortgage term is up, you will probably face a higher interest rate at renewal, even if you have a fixed-rate mortgage. In addition, the increasing interest rates affect more than just mortgage debt. If you have a line of credit or a home equity line of credit, your payments will likely increase along with interest rates. It could also make it harder to sell your house if you need to make a move.

Those who currently hold a mortgage could benefit from getting their finances in order now as you may find in a declining market that you do not have enough equity to do it if your mortgage rate increases or the value of your property depreciates. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you examine your financial situation so you’re not left staring at an empty bank account if interest rates increase further and the Ontario housing market declines even more.

At Spergel, we can help you best understand and explore the options that meet your current needs. We have the experience that translates to real results, no matter the current housing market. Want to talk to someone about dealing with debt that has become overwhelming?

We’re here to help: toll-free at 310-4321.

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BOC Interest Rate Increases to 1.25% — Highest in Nine Years

The Bank of Canada (BOC) has raised interest rates again. As of January 17, 2018, the BOC interest rate is now 1.25% — the highest it has been in nine years.

“Recent data have been strong, inflation is close to target, and the economy is operating roughly at capacity,” the BOC said in a press release.

“However, uncertainty surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is clouding the economic outlook.”

The BOC interest rate impacts all forms of debt, from mortgages, to student loans, to credit card debt. The interest rate was first increased in July of 2017, going from 0.5% to 0.75%. It rose again in September of 2017 to 1%. The January 2018 increase is the third hike in less than six months. The Bank of Canada says more increases are likely in 2018, though the Governing Council will “remain cautious” in determining future hikes.

The next BOC interest rate announcement is scheduled for March 7.

Two factors the BOC cited as a reason for increasing interest rates again were the strong economy and job growth. However, while the economy may be doing well, Canadian household debt is still at record highs. Some Canadians were already feeling pressure from the previous increases, as Spergel trustee Gillian Goldblatt told The Globe and Mail in October.

“You can live in a bubble for a while until some event snaps you out of it,” Goldblatt told The Globe. “That’s when we have people come to see us.”

The BOC did acknowledge the high level of Canadian household debt, but indicated that higher interest rates and new Canadian mortgage rules would likely curb some consumer spending.

The latest BOC increase means that those already struggling with debt will have higher interest to pay on those debts. For some, it could be the difference between meeting monthly payments.

At Spergel, we can help you adapt to this BOC interest rate increase, and potential further increases. Our team of experienced financial consultants can help you explore your debt consolidation options and make a plan to move forward.

Want to talk to someone about dealing with debt that has become overwhelming?

Spergel is here to help. Call us toll-free at 310-4321.



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