5 End of Year Tax Strategies to Maximize 2010 Earnings

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1. Sell Looser Stocks
This was a tough year for stock investors. With business investment lethargic and hiring gains only in a few key sectors stocks had little to draw from to advance in price. If you purchased stocks this year and have a significant loss from the purchase you may consider selling the stock before year end. If you’re hopeful that a losing investment will recover and you’re thinking of buying it back shortly after selling, be wary of the ‘superficial loss’ rule. A superficial loss occurs when you or your spouse sell an investment to realize the loss only to buy it back within 30 days after the sale date. The CRA can deny a superficial loss and instead add it back to the adjusted cost base (tax cost) of the repurchased security, meaning the benefit of the capital loss can only be obtained when the repurchased security is sold again and not repurchased within 30 days.

2 . If you turned 71 in 2010, it’s time to convert your RRSP
Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) annuitants who turned 71 in 2010 must convert their RRSPs into either a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) or a registered annuity on or before December 31, 2010. And if you plan on making any final contributions to your RRSP, you will only have until December 31 to do so as you no longer have the extra sixty-day advantage of delaying until March 1, 2011. If, however, your spouse or partner is under 72, you can continue contributing to a spousal RRSP in his or her name, provided you still have contribution room.

 3. Contribute to an RESP
If you have a child or grandchild who has never participated as a beneficiary in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and who turned 15 sometime in 2010, December 31 is your last chance to contribute at least $2,000 to his or her RESP in order to collect the 20% Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) for 2010 and create eligibility for CESGs in 2011 and 2012. If you miss the deadline, the child or grandchild will not be eligible for any CESGs in the future.

4. Spread some goodwill
December 31 is the last day to make a donation and get a tax receipt for 2010. Keep in mind that gifting publicly-traded securities, mutual funds or segregated funds with accrued capital gains to a registered charity not only entitles you to a tax receipt for the fair market value of the security or fund being donated but eliminates any capital gains tax as well.

5. Pay off investment expenses and interest
To deduct any investment-related expenses on your 2010 tax return, the amounts must actually be paid by year-end (December 31). Such expenses include interest paid on money borrowed for investing, investment counseling fees for non-registered accounts, professional accounting services for tracking rental or business income and safety deposit box rental fees.

As always, it’s best to discuss all tax-planning strategies with a financial advisor or tax professional to properly determine your eligibility and see how these and other potential tax-savings opportunities might fit into your overall financial plan.

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