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Life can throw unexpected events your way that can hit you in the wallet. Whether it’s falling ill, getting laid off, or facing hefty repair bills for your car or home, these situations can strain your finances. To stay ahead and avoid falling into debt, it’s a good idea to have an emergency fund. This is cash you set aside specifically to handle unforeseen expenses, so you’re not left scrambling for money when the unexpected happens.

Why Emergency Funds Matter

An emergency fund is like an insurance policy for unexpected expenses that everyone can benefit from. It’s a stash of money specifically saved to cover daily living costs during emergencies that catch you off guard, such as:

  • Sudden car repairs

  • Vet visits

  • Losing your job

  • Sudden home repairs

  • Medical emergencies

Creating an emergency fund helps you to:

  • Deal with surprise costs without going into debt

  • Stay away from expensive loans like payday loans or credit card cash advances

  • Keep control of your finances

  • Feel less worried about unexpected expenses.

An emergency fund offers peace of mind during life’s surprises, preventing debt by covering costs without needing to use up savings or retirement funds, which could result in extra fees.

How much do you need?

The amount you should save depends on your financial situation, like how much you earn, what you spend each month, and if you have any dependents. A good rule is to have enough money to cover three to six months of necessary expenses, like rent, groceries, bills, and childcare.

How to Build Your Emergency Fund

Building an emergency fund to cover three to six months of essential living expenses might feel overwhelming, but the key is to start saving gradually. Even putting away a small amount regularly can add up significantly over time.

Here are some ways to build up your emergency fund:

  1. Automate your savings: Pick how much money you want to save, when you want to save it, and how often. Then, arrange for the money to be automatically moved from your regular account to your savings account. You can set up this automatic transfer to happen on your payday. That means the money you’ve chosen to save will be moved as soon as your paycheque is put into your account.

  2. Take advantage of opportunities to boost your emergency fund whenever you can. This might happen when you get extra money, like a tax refund, a pay raise at work, or when you sell things such as a car. Even receiving money as a gift or getting a bonus from your job can help. Additionally, when you finish paying off a loan, consider putting the money you used for payments into your emergency fund instead. Since you’re already used to budgeting for those payments, it’s an easy way to increase your savings without much extra effort.

  3. Make it a habit: Make saving a regular part of your routine by incorporating it into your daily habits. Here are some simple tips to help you get started: drop any loose change into a container whenever you come home, set up a savings, mark your saving dates in advance on your calendar, and use sticky notes on your fridge to remind yourself to save regularly. These small actions can make a big difference in building your savings over time.

Where to keep your emergency fund?

Given that emergencies can occur unexpectedly, having quick access to your funds is important. Although a regular chequing account may offer immediate access to your money, it’s best to keep your emergency fund separate from your regular account. This prevents accidental spending on non-emergencies. Look for an account that:

  • Is distinct from your regular spending account

  • Has minimal or no transaction fees

  • Permits penalty-free withdrawals

  • Earns interest on your savings

Consider exploring “cash equivalents” as an option to invest your money. They’re a bit like cash but can also help your money grow with interest. They’re safe and easy to get your money from. But before you decide, make sure you understand how and when you can take your money out and if there are any extra fees or charges. Examples of cash equivalents include:

  • Savings accounts

  • Chequing accounts

  • High-interest rate savings accounts (HISA)

  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC)

  • Money market funds

Having an emergency fund can be a lifeline during tough financial times, preventing you from falling into debt. While there’s no fixed amount you should stash away, assessing your financial situation can guide you in determining your ideal emergency fund size. If you need assistance in planning your emergency fund, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for personalized guidance and support.

On April 16, 2024, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, presented the federal budget.

While there are no changes to federal personal or corporate tax rates, the budget introduces:

  • An increase in the portion of capital gains subject to tax, rising from 50% to 66.67%, starting June 25, 2024. However, individual gains up to $250,000 annually will retain the 50% rate.

  • The lifetime exemption limit for capital gains has been raised to $1.25 million. Additionally, a new one-third inclusion rate is set for up to $2 million in capital gains for entrepreneurs.

  • The budget confirms the alternative minimum tax changes planned for January 1, 2024 but lessens their impact on charitable contributions.

  • This year’s budget emphasizes making housing more affordable. It provides incentives for building rental properties specifically designed for long-term tenants.

  • Introduces new support measures to aid people buying their first homes.

  • Costs for specific patents and tech equipment and software can now be written off immediately.

  • Canada carbon rebate for small business.

Capital Gains Inclusion Rate

The budget suggests raising the inclusion rate on capital gains after June 24, 2024:

  • Corporations and trusts, from 50% to 66.67%.

  • Individuals, on capital gains over $250,000 annually, also from 50% to 66.67%.

For individuals, the $250,000 annual threshold that applies to net capital gains—the amount remaining after offsetting any capital losses. This includes gains acquired directly by an individual or indirectly through entities such as partnerships or trusts. Essentially, this threshold acts as a deductible, considering various factors to determine the net gains eligible for the increased capital gains tax rate.

Individuals in the highest income bracket, who earn above the top marginal tax rate threshold, will face a higher tax rate on capital gains exceeding $250,000 due to these changes. Furthermore, the budget modifies the tax deduction for employee stock options to align with the updated capital gains taxation rates yet maintains the initial 50% deduction for the first $250,000 in gains. Regarding previously incurred financial losses, the budget plans to adjust the value of these net capital losses from past years so that they are consistent with the current gains, upholding the uniformity with the new inclusion rate.

The budget outlines transitional rules for the upcoming tax year that straddles the implementation date of the new capital gains rates. If the tax year begins before June 25, 2024, but ends afterward, capital gains realized before June 25 will be taxed at the existing rate of 50%. However, gains accrued after June 24, 2024, will be subject to the increased rate of 66.67%. It’s important to note that the new $250,000 threshold for higher tax rates will only apply to gains made after June 24.

Consequently, for individuals earning capital gains beyond the $250,000 threshold and who fall into the highest income tax bracket, new rates will be effective as outlined in the table below. Specifically, this pertains to individuals with taxable incomes exceeding $355,845 in Alberta, $252,752 in British Columbia, $1,103,478 in Newfoundland and Labrador, $500,000 in the Yukon, and $246,752 in all other regions.

Further details and guidance on these new rules are expected to be provided in future announcements.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

The budget proposes raising the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) for qualified capital gains from $1,016,836 to $1.25 million, effective for sales made after June 24, 2024. Additionally, the exemption will once again be adjusted for inflation starting in 2026. This change aims to increase the tax benefits for individuals selling certain types of property, such as small business shares or farming and fishing assets.

Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive

The Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive is a new tax measure which provides a reduced inclusion rate on capital gains from the disposition of qualifying small business shares.

Qualifications for the incentive include:

  • Shares must be of a small business corporation directly owned by an individual.

  • For 24 months before selling, over half the corporation’s assets must be actively used in a Canadian business or be certain connected assets.

  • The seller needs to be a founding investor who held the shares for at least five years.

  • The seller must have been actively involved in the business continuously for five years.

  • The seller must have owned a significant voting share throughout the subscription period.

  • The incentive does not apply to shares linked to professional services, financial, real estate, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or personal care services sectors.

  • The shares must have been acquired at their fair market value.

  • The incentive allows for a reduced inclusion rate of 1/3 for up to $2 million in capital gains during an individual’s lifetime, with this limit being phased in over 10 years.

This measure will apply to dispositions after December 31, 2024.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

The 2023 budget included updates to the AMT, with proposed changes outlined in the summer of 2023. The budget suggests revising the charitable donation tax credit for AMT calculations, increasing the claimable amount from 50% to 80%.

Further proposed changes to the AMT include:

  • Permitting deductions for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, social assistance, and workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Exempting employee ownership trusts (EOTs) entirely from AMT.

  • Allowing certain tax credits, like federal political contributions, investment tax credits (ITCs), and labour-sponsored funds tax credit, to be carried forward if disallowed under the AMT.

These changes would take effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2023. Additionally, the budget proposes technical amendments that would exempt specific trusts benefiting Indigenous groups from the AMT.

Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) Tax Exemption

The budget proposes a tax exemption on up to $10 million in capital gains for individuals selling their businesses to an EOT if certain criteria are met:

  • Sale of shares must be from a non-professional corporation.

  • The seller, or their spouse or common-law partner, must have been actively involved in the business for at least two years prior to the sale.

  • The business shares must have been solely owned by the seller or a related person or partnership for two years before the sale, and mainly used in active business.

  • At least 90% of the EOT’s beneficiaries must be Canadian residents after the sale.

  • If multiple sellers are involved, they must jointly decide how to divide the $10 million exemption

  • If the EOT doesn’t maintain its status or if the business assets used in active business drop below 50% at any point within 36 months after the sale, the tax exemption may be revoked.

  • For Alternative Minimum Tax purposes, the exempted gains will face a 30% inclusion rate.

  • The normal reassessment period for the exemption is extended by three years.

  • The measure now also covers the sale of shares to a worker cooperative corporation.

This exemption is valid for sales occurring from January 1, 2024, to December 31, 2026.

Home Buyers Plan (HBP)

The budget proposes enhancements to the HBP for 2024 and beyond, effective for withdrawals after April 16, 2024. These include:

  • Raising the RRSP withdrawal limit from $35,000 to $60,000 to support first-time homebuyers and purchases for those with disabilities.

  • Extending the grace period before repayment starts from two to five years for withdrawals made between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2025, deferring the start of the repayment period and thereby providing new homeowners additional time before they need to commence repayments

Interest Deductions and Purpose-Built Rental Housing

The budget proposes a selective exemption from the Excessive Interest and Financing Expenses Limitation (EIFEL) rules for certain interest and financing expenses related to arm’s length financing. This exemption is for the construction or purchase of eligible purpose-built rental housing in Canada and applies to expenses incurred before January 1, 2036. To qualify, the housing must be a residential complex with either at least four private apartment units, each with its own kitchen, bathroom, and living areas, or 10 private rooms or suites. Additionally, at least 90% of the units must be designated for long-term rental. This exemption will be effective for tax years starting on or after October 1, 2023, in line with the broader EIFEL regulations.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) – Purpose built rental housing

The budget introduces an accelerated CCA of 10% for new rental projects that start construction between April 16, 2024, and December 31, 2030, and are completed by December 31, 2035. This accelerated depreciation applies to projects that convert commercial properties into residential complexes or expand existing residential buildings that meet specific criteria under the EIFEL rules. However, it does not cover renovations to existing residential complexes.

Additionally, these investments will benefit from the Accelerated Investment Incentive, which allows for immediate depreciation deductions for properties put into use before 2028. Starting in 2028, the regular depreciation rules, including the half-year rule, will apply.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA)- Productivity-enhancing assets

The budget introduces immediate expensing for newly acquired properties that become operational between April 16, 2024, and December 31, 2026. This applies to specific categories such as:

  • Class 44- Patents and rights to patented information

  • Class 46- Data network infrastructure and related software

  • Class 50- General electronic data-processing equipment and software

Properties that are put into use between 2027 and 2028 will continue to benefit from the Accelerated Investment Incentive.

To qualify for this accelerated depreciation, the property must not have been previously owned by the taxpayer or someone closely connected to them, and it must not have been received as part of a tax-deferred deal. Also, if a tax year is shorter, the depreciation will be adjusted accordingly and will not carry over to the next year.

Canada Carbon Rebate for Small Businesses

The budget introduces a Canada Carbon Rebate for small businesses, offering a new refundable tax credit automatically. To be eligible, a Canadian-controlled private corporation must:

  • File a tax return for its 2023 tax year by July 15, 2024, for the fuel charge years from 2019-20 to 2023-24. For subsequent fuel charge years, it must file a tax return for the tax year that ends within that fuel charge year.

  • Employ 499 or fewer people across Canada during the year that corresponds with the fuel charge year.

The amount of the tax credit for each eligible business will depend on:

  • The province where the company had employees during the fuel charge year.

  • The number of employees in that province multiplied by a rate set by the Minister of Finance for that year.

  • The CRA will automatically calculate and issue the tax credit to qualifying businesses.

We can help!

Wondering how this year’s budget will impact your finances or your business? We can help – give us a call today!

2024 Financial Calendar

Welcome to our 2024 financial calendar! This calendar is designed to help you keep track of important financial dates and deadlines, such as tax filing and government benefit distribution. You can bookmark this page for easy reference or add these dates to your personal calendar to ensure you don’t miss any important financial obligations.

If you need help with your taxes, tax packages will be available starting February 2024. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started on your tax return – make an appointment with your accountant to ensure you’re ready to go when tax season arrives.

Important 2024 Dates to Know

On January 1, 2024 the contribution room for your Tax Free Savings Account opens again. The maximum contribution for 2024 is $7,000.

If you qualify, on January 1, 2024 the contribution room for your First Home Savings Account opens. The maximum contribution for 2024 is $8,000. 

For your Registered Retirement Savings Plan contributions to be eligible for the 2023 tax year, you must make them by February 29, 2024.

GST/HST credit payments will be issued on:  

  • January 5

  • April 5

  • July 5

  • October 4

Canada Child Benefit payments will be issued on the following dates: 

  • January 19

  • February 20

  • March 20

  • April 19

  • May 17

  • June 20

  • July 19

  • August 20

  • September 20

  • October 18

  • November 20

  • December 13

The government will issue Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security payments on the following dates: 

  • January 29

  • February 27

  • March 26

  • April 26

  • May 29

  • June 26

  • July 29

  • August 28

  • September 25

  • October 29

  • November 27

  • December 20

The Bank of Canada will make interest rate announcements on:

  • January 24

  • March 6

  • April 10

  • June 5

  • July 24

  • September 4

  • October 23

  • December 11

April 30, 2024 is the last day to file your personal income taxes, and tax payments are due by this date. This is also the filing deadline for final returns if death occurred between January 1 and October 31, 2023.

May 1 to June 30, 2024 would be the filing deadline for final tax returns if death occurred between November 1 and December 31, 2023. The due date for the final return is six months after the date of death.

The tax deadline for all self-employment returns is June 17, 2024. Payments are due April 30, 2024. 

The final Tax-Free Savings Account, First Home Savings Account, Registered Education Savings Plan and Registered Disability Savings Plan contributions deadline is December 31.

December 31 is also the deadline for 2024 charitable contributions.

December 31 is also the deadline for individuals who turned 71 in 2024 to finish contributing to their RRSPs and convert them into RRIFs.

Please reach out if you have any questions.