tax-time

Before clients get caught up in the holidays, urge them to start tax planning, suggests a new EY report.

“Some of the most [significant] tax savings come from looking [at] the bigger tax picture throughout the year,” says David Steinberg, EY tax partner. “The end of the year can be hectic but there are benefits to tax planning at this time,” such as making sure clients won’t be surprised by their tax bills and helping them take advantage of strategies such as tax-loss selling.

Also, you should remind wealthy clients about the hike to the highest marginal tax rate for 2016, which was recently announced by the Liberals.

In its report, EY identifies eight questions investors should be considering. These are:

1. Are there any income-splitting techniques available to me? Clients should determine if they you can benefit from income-splitting. Read: 5 tax tips for business owners

2. Have I paid my 2015 tax-deductible or tax-creditable expenses yet? There are a variety of expenses, including interest and childcare costs that can only be claimed as deductions if the amounts are paid by the end of the calendar year.

3. Have I maximized my tax-sheltered investments by contributing to a TFSA or an RRSP? Clients should make TFSA and RRSP contributions for 2015 as well as catch up on prior non-contributory years. And, to maximize tax-free earnings, they can make 2016 contributions in January. Read: TFSA back to $5,500 as of Jan. 1. Here’s what to do

4. Have I maximized my education savings by contributing to an RESP for my child or grandchild? Tell clients they can make RESP contributions for children or grandchildren before the end of the year. And, with a contribution of $2,500 per child under age 18, the federal government will contribute a grant of $500. Read: Help lifelong learners save tax

5. Is there a way to reduce or eliminate my non-deductible interest? Interest on funds borrowed for personal purposes is not deductible. Where possible, investors can use cash to repay personal debt before repaying loans for investment or business purposes on which interest may be deductible.

6. Have I reviewed my investment portfolio? Clients should determine if they any accrued losses to use against realized gains, and if they have realized losses to carry forward. Read: How you can help clients with tax-loss selling

7. Can I improve the cash flow impact of my income taxes? Help investors determine if they’re eligible to request reduced source deductions.

8. Have I thought about my estate planning? The end of the year is a good time to update wills and review life insurance coverage needs. Read: Don’t let clients avoid estate planning

Originally published on Advisor.ca

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