Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block


For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at www.hrblock.ca.

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!

 

This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

OMG, it’s True! Bruce Jenner Will Sit Down With Diane Sawyer to Discuss His Gender Transition


When my wife told me about Bruce Jenner’s transformation from a man to a woman, what I thought and what I said were completely different.

I said something to the effect of, “yeah, well it’s not true, the sources are from complete rags and I have watched the Kardashian show once or twice and it’s all BS”.

What I was thinking was; “Who really cares.  It’s his life, his body, if he wants to be a she, then good for him/her!”

Then I forgot all about it until I saw this article: https://ca.yahoo.com/celebrity/s/bruce-jenner-sit-down-diane-sawyer-discuss-gender-021500201-us-weekly.html

So if you don’t know, (William) Bruce Jenner is a former U.S. track and field athlete and current motivational speaker and reality TV personality, who won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal.
He’s been getting ready for this transformation by stepping out recently sporting longer hair, fuller lips, painted nails, and diamond earrings.

bruce-jenner-sports-bra-gallery

He apparently has the full support of his 10 children and stepchildren, including stepdaughters Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, daughters Kendall and Kylie, and sons Brody and Brandon.
Amazing!

Real, or not real?

Target Corporation Announces Plans to Discontinue Canadian Operations… Immediately!


MINNEAPOLIS — January 15, 2015target

Today Target Corporation announced that it plans to discontinue operating stores in Canada through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, Target Canada Co. and an application for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) has been made to protect Target Canada from it’s creditors.

I’m shocked, and sad.

With 133 stores across the country and around 18,000 employees many saw this news coming, and now that it has arrived, it’s still left many with their mouths open in shock.

According to Target’s press release, and to ensure fair treatment of their Canadian employees, Target Corporation has asked the courts to approve a contribution of $70 million (Canadian) into an Employee Trust which would provide nearly all Target Canada-based employees a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation, including wages and benefits coverage for employees who are not required for the full wind-down period.

Target Canada stores will remain open during the liquidation process, which is expected to begin immediately.  Speculation is that as stock is sold, stores will continue to close until there are few left with merchandise which will be either sold off or returned to Target’s inventory.

One of the leading factors behind this decision is the $5.4 billion of pre-tax losses in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone.

Additional factors leading to this decision include the poor introduction into the Canadian market after much excitement, when locations chosen were poor, shelves empty and prices much higher than prices in US Target locations or in rival Wal-Mart stores (which entered Canada nearly 20 years ago).

It will cost Target Corporation between $500 million to $600 million to leave Canada (less the sale of any real estate assets) and this is not expected to have any impact on US operations nor should any customers south of the border see an increase in prices to cover these costs.

With the departure of this big box brand, it will be difficult to see what could replace Target in the locations it held.  With K-Mart and Zellers, Simpsons, Woolco, Eatons and Sears leaving Canada it could spell the end of the this business model.  I did, however, notice on a recent trip through Western New York, that many malls had replaced their big box retailers with activities like mini-golfing and go-karting and they were packed with people.

Having had the opportunity to meet and become friends with some of Target Canada’s management team, I can say that this is a very sad day for us not only having to say goodbye to a business which failed in Canada, but to some really great people who tried their hardest to make it work.

See you in Minny!

Nowhere To Go But Up: ESPN Ranks The Toronto Maple Leafs the worst sports franchise in North America


ESPN The Magazine has released its “Ultimate Standings” for 2014, ranking sports franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB), The National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) according to a variety of categories and in a couple of them, the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked dead last at 122, and fared poorly in most of the rest of them.  Great.

To come up with these rankings, ESPN took the following steps:

First: Consulting firm Maddock Douglas surveyed 1,002 North American fans to form 25 criteria for what you want most in return for the emotion, money and time you invest in the 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams.

Second: Teaming with NetReflector, an opinion research firm, ESPN.com asked fans to rate their home teams in each area and more than 101,000 did.  They grouped grades into the categories listed below.

Third: In order to determine the “Bank for the Buck” calculation, ESPN.com used calculations developed with Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to figure how well teams turn fans’ money into wins.  Then they combined each team’s score across all categories into a weighted average.

The Categories, plus the highest ranked team and the lowest ranked team.

Affordability
Price of tickets, parking and concessions
1. Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
122.  Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

Coaching:
Strength of on-field leadership
1. San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
122. Florida Panthers (NHL)

Fan Relations
Courtesy by players, coaches and front offices toward fans, and how well a team uses technology to reach them
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. New York Knicks

Ownership
Honesty; loyalty to core players and the community
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. Florida Marlins (MLB)

Players
Effort on the field, likability off it
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. NY Knicks

Stadium experience
Quality of venue; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
1. San Francisco Giants (MLB)
122. NY Islanders (NHL)

Bang for the Buck
Wins in the past year, per fan dollars
1. Indiana Pacers (NBA)
122. Toronto Maple Leafs

Title track
Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans
1. St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)
122. Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

A review of the ESPN website revealed that The Leafs fared poorly in every category. They placed last in both bang for the buck and affordability; second-last in title track; in the bottom 10 in fan relations, players and coaching; and 105th and 109th in ownership and stadium experience, respectively.

Possibly because this was done by ESPN and the majority of the respondents came from the US, all Canadian teams fared poorly in their rankings with the exception of the Montreal Canadians who appeared in the top half of the list. Here are the rest of the seven teams’ rankings at 55 out of 122.

The other Canadian teams ranked as follows;

Toronto Raptors – 74

Toronto Blue Jays – 81

Calgary Flames — 89

Ottawa Senators — 92

Winnipeg Jets — 97

Vancouver Canucks — 112

Edmonton Oilers — 115

 

The last 2 teams were the New York Knicks at 121 and the Toronto Maple Leafs at 122.

At least at last there is nowhere to go but up.  At 121, the Knicks could drop.

How The Eglinton Avenue Re-Development Message Got Lost: It’s NOT About You!


This was a very troubling week for The Urban Daddy and our community.  An apparent sudden decision by the municipal government here in Toronto had thrust our neighbourhood into chaos and as citizens moved into action our efforts to seek the truth were suddenly derailed by the actions of one man – whom I will not mention by name, nor show his picture – who feels his 15 minutes of fame are far more important than the residents and taxpayers in this area.

It all started with a news report on CP24 alerting residents in Toronto that Toronto City Council was going to vote on the narrowing of Eglinton Avenue from Allen Road to Bathurst Street from 5 lanes, to just 2 lanes, so that the sidewalks could be widened, trees and artwork placed on the strip and bike lanes added.

All of this seems very nice, and very practical, and as a resident in Toronto, specifically someone who lives in between those streets and who is already impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT / subway, this information came as quite a shock to me, and apparently to many of my neighbours.

This strip as it currently stands is terrible – construction aside – as a result of many one-way streets, and the absolute lack of traffic on the strip.  At night-time, the street is aglow with “MASSAGE” signs and very few people walk in this area at night because, frankly, there is nothing to walk to.  If the goal was to make this strip feel more “European”, then maybe Toronto City Council might want to think about the 3 months a year in which weather would comply with this drastic transformation.

In addition with St. Clair Avenue already being down to one lane in parts as a result of the transit right-of-way, doing the same to Eglinton Avenue, the next major road north, makes even less sense.  Eglinton is the end of Allen Road, an “expressway” of sorts which helps traffic flow north and south from Wilson Avenue without traffic lights, but with a lot of traffic.  People use Allen Road to head north to the 401 highway, and the delays have always been long and frustrating with or without construction, one could imagine it would only get much worse.

Let me at this point identify that I am pro every method of transportation.  Cars, bikes, walking, public transit are all great.  If I could take public transit everyone in Toronto, I would, where it makes financial sense.  If I could bike safely, I would, and my kids would too.  But we are not there yet, and don’t appear to be for quite a long time, so in the meantime, doing anything to slow down traffic does not make sense at all.  But that is my opinion…

So where is traffic going to go, if it cannot move along Eglinton Avenue, or St. Clair?  Well the side streets, of course.  We are already seeing a huge increase in traffic as a result of the construction, and in front of my house, for example, there is a stop street which very few cars actually stop at, some do not even try, and they fly through without even braking.  The “30km” traffic limit is always ignored, and speed bumps only cause a momentary delay as cars race off after passing them.  Even one-way streets are ignored, and it’s going to get worse.

But what about the kids?

This community, Cedarvale, which lies just north of Forest Hill, has a ton of children, and these children cannot safely walk in this community as it already stands.  Is Toronto city Council’s shortsighted view of the war on cars overlooking or ignoring the impact this re-development will have on the children in the community who are already scared to cross streets because vehicles travel very fast and do not follow the street signs when using Cedarvale as a short-cut to avoid the delays on Eglinton?

It would appear so.

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford came to speak to the community about this issue, a couple of says after his return from rehab, I met some community members who lived on the other side of Eglinton Avenue in the next phase of this narrowing of Eglinton were just as shocked as I was, and who had put together a traffic study, which can be found right here; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjP4HWMeieo&feature=youtu.be)

Adding to this frustration is that we learned that the City Planner had approved high density building along this strip with the widening of the laneways behind these buildings (which would require residential houses to be removed) to accommodate the traffic from these buildings.

More construction.

More traffic chaos.

Has the city planner, or city council ever been to these neighbourhoods?  $700K bungalows, and $1.5 million houses are common place in Cedarvale, much higher south and east of here, and a lot of families reside here who are certainly not going to need the extra sidewalk to walk to a massage parlour, a Whole Foods maybe, but clearly no one asked the residents what they want or need.  To look at the map of the area and declare it ripe for additional density of short-sighted.  This is not the right community for that.

Mayor Ford came to speak to us, and his message was lost, because of the actions of man who ran across the street, through frustrated traffic, so he could take off his shirt, pull out signs from his garbage bag and stop the community from hearing the Mayor’s views on this proposal, or to allow us to ask questions of the Mayor about what he knows about this plan.

The media at the event helped even less, but asking questions of the Mayor with disdain, like “How is it that you don’t know about this vote?  Is it not your job to do so?” when members of the community also knew nothing about this proposal, and then by diverting the attention to the few who took off their shirts for their own 15-minutes of fame.

If you watched any of the footage on TV, you probably heard me, and several others yelling for these 3 protestors to “shut up” and “let the Mayor talk” and while we did get a very short moment of quiet from them, it was when the guy yelling “resign” over and over again elbowed the Mayor’s campaign leader in the head while trying to get right behind the Mayor with his sign.

To his credit, the Mayor’s staffers did not respond or get as annoyed as the members of the community did, although, the police stepped in which this protestor yelled “don’t assault me” to the Mayor’s staff after apparently being kicked (I did not see this – I was recording the events) but the police decided to not charge either person, and the protestor was allowed to return and annoy the mayor and the residents.

The result of his actions were that the message of this proposal got lost.  The community were livid, the Mayor frustrated and the only person who got any attention was the guy with the sign, who proceeded to tell his story to everyone and anyone about how the Mayor lied, and how he works in a flexible position where he can follow the Mayor around and yell at him.

I waited after almost everyone left, and listened to his story evolve and change.  It was not about Eglinton Avenue and the residents or about traffic, but about someone who wanted to talk about how his was kicked, and assaulted, and how much support he has.

“Me Me Me”.

But it’s not about him.

It never was about him.

I looked at my video and saw a different unfolding of events which threw some key details of his story into dispute, and I shared that with the media and with the other Mayoral candidates teams so that they can be aware of the true intent of this individual.  He’s taking a very serious situation of an unwell person struggling with an addiction problem, who took the time to enter rehab and is now back trying to do his job, and he made it about him.

At the end of the day, we all lose.

As for the proposal along Eglinton….  I have no idea.

My message to Toronto City Council, Councillor Joe Mihevc, and the guy with the signs who likes to take off his shirt and disrupt important discussions impacting people their families and their community, is this:  It’s not about you.  It’s not about your legacy or your vision.  Leave Eglinton alone.  Don’t force another St. Clair on us because you want to be on TV.

Toronto City Council, don’t waste your time looking to spend money you do not have.  Clean up the area instead.  Fix the sidewalks, make sure the lighting is working, that dogs are on leash near schools, that the intersections are clearly marked and are safe (Ava and Strathern, for example), step up safety in the area and PLEASE, get rid of the raccoons!

Make the area safe and people will use it.

But Leave Eglinton Avenue alone.

And if you have a problem with the Mayor, address it the way everyone else does… At the ballot box.

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