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!

This is GREAT! Now only if I could add more hours in the day…


All things being considered, the past week was a pretty darn good one for The Urban Daddy.

He has the WWE Network.

He found Impact Wrestling.

He gained 8 points in his hockey pool.

 

The only problem is that there is not enough hours in the day for all of these “events”.

 

I showed my kids the WWE Network and they cannot quite understand the concept of 24/7.

“Every time I turn to that channel, there is wrestling on…”  Yup.  For the kids that means they get to see all the wrestler I have been talking about for years, and they get to see the wrestlers who belong to the wrestling figures they play with.

For me, it means no more reality TV when I morph into The Urban Daddy at night time.  No more Kardashians, no more Honey Boo Boo, nothing to do with fixing household problems, no more cooking competitions, and no more I can’t believe I was… (pregnant / fat / thin / dead / an alien / a boy / a girl…)

As the Miz would say, “Quiet on the set.  Quiet on the set!”  AWESOME!

 

As for Impact wrestling, at the start of the new year (2015) Impact left Spike and headed off to nowhere land with a Canadian World Champion and other Canucks on the roster without a TV deal for us Canadians.  More importantly, Impact has FINALLY ditched the “TNA” part of their name (Total Non-stop Action) and the most important change was the removal of their terrible announce team!  I’m okay with Taz, and Josh Matthews will grow into the role, but I hated the old announcer whose name thankfully escapes me.

Now I found out that Impact has set up a Canadian-only link so we can view their shows.  The link is here:

http://www.impactwrestling.com/videos/Canada

I’m watching their most recent show now!  It’s apparently updated Saturday mornings at 10am.

YAY!

 

And finally, I’m out of last place in my hockey pool, thanks for some key players who have gotten hot (Kris Letang, Alex Barkov, Wayne Simmonds, to name a few).  I’d be much higher than 10th out of 15 teams if I had selected better goaltenders.  I chose the Edmonton Oiler goalies, who remind me of that old joke out of Detroit when the Red Wings had a struggling Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon as their backstoppers.  The comment was that the Wings were going to play Osgood or No-good, and the Oilers goalies have me so far in dead last in all goalie categories that my other 2 goalies, Robin Lehner in Ottawa and Kari Ramo in Calgary cannot help me out of.

I need a goalie.

Other teams want all my good players for little in return because they know I’m ready to shed salary, but I’m waiting for a really good return so I can make up some group this year and have the best group ready for next year.

 

So, who needs sleep?

WWE, Impact, and all the west coast hockey games…

Awesome!!

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!

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announce Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program, formerly known solely as the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), and the Canadian government hopes that these improvements will:

  • Result in faster processing at all stages of the program
  • Provide faster reunification of families in Canada
  • Create better career opportunities upon completion of the program, and
  • Establish better protection against potential workplace vulnerability and abuses

These reforms were put in place to address some key concerns of the old Live-In Caregiver program through the removal of the live-in requirement and increasing the processing time for permanent residence.   In the old program there actually were employers who felt that since the caregiver was living in their homes that they were available to work 24/7, and even questioned their caregivers who wanted to go out in the evening, or stay away on the weekends.

Another major problem with the old program was the lack of long-term opportunities for caregivers who, through talking to their peers, waited for their program requirements to end so that they no longer needed to live-in, and could demand a higher wage.  Often this was not a discussion between the employee and the employer and thus a job change was the often outcome.

The resulting job change often meant a higher salary, but in the same field, or with less hours, or with less “perks” like meals and living accommodations earned as the caregiver and the families bond over the years.  It’s usually a major step backwards when the caregivers should be leveraging their employers for their next step once their employment is no longer required.

In addition, CIC plans to reduce the backlog by admitting 30,000 permanent resident caregivers and their family members in 2015, an all-time high, and also a major change in direction from a government which has always publically stated that the Live-In Caregiver Program was not meant to be used for reunification.

CIC also announced that they will be dropping the live-in requirement for caregivers.  If employers and caregivers wish to agree to live-in arrangements, they can continue to do so.  In addition, caregivers currently in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) may choose to live out and later apply for permanent residence by applying for a regular work permit to replace their LCP-specific work permit.

On November 30th, 2014, the Canadian Government launched two new pathways for caregivers which will:

  • accept up to 5,500 applicants for permanent residence per year plus family members,
  • process these permanent residence applications with a 6-month service standard, and
  • accept applications from those already in the LCP queue who prefer one of the improved pathways

The 2 New Pathways:

1.  Caring for Children Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided child care in a home, either living in the home or not.

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a home childcare provider, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and language level of at least initial intermediate

2.  Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided care for the elderly or those with disabilities or chronic disease at higher skill levels in health facilities or in a home

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse aide, orderly, patient service associate, home support worker or other similar occupation, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and an appropriate level of language proficiency to practice their occupation, ranging from initial intermediate to adequate intermediate

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What sort of work permit should I apply for if this is my first time as a caregiver in Canada and my employer applies for a Labour Market Impact Assessment after November 30, 2014?

A1: You will need to apply for a regular work permit, not a specific caregiver work permit.

You can live in your own home. If you and your employer have agreed that you will live in their home, this should be:

  • in your employment contract, and
  • noted in the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) request by your employer to Employment and Social Development Canada. Your employer will have to confirm that the accommodation they are providing meets acceptable standards before they get the LMIA.

Q2: I am working as a live-in caregiver but would like to move into my own home. Can I?

A2: To work as a caregiver on a live-out basis, your employer will need a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and you will need to apply for a new work permit based on that LMIA. In addition, you would have to apply for permanent residence through the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway, and not through the Live-in Caregiver Program.

Q3: I have submitted an application for permanent residence through the Live-in Caregiver Program. Can I submit an application to either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway as well?

A3: If you meet the requirements of either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathways, you may submit another application for permanent residence, including providing the required information and processing fee.

Q4: I am already working as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A4: Yes. You may continue working as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence when you meet the work requirement. You do not need to switch to one of the new pathways.

If you choose to remain in the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will still be based on the requirements of that program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Q5: I just applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A5: Yes. You may come to Canada to work as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence based on the requirements of the Live-in Caregiver Program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Summary: What are the improvements to the Caregiver Program?

As of November 30th, 2014, the Caregiver Program includes two new pathways for permanent residence for foreign workers with experience as caregivers in Canada.

The two new pathways are:

  • Caring for Children
  • Caring for People with High Medical Needs

For both the Caring for Children Pathway and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:

  • You do not need to live in the home of your employer to qualify for permanent residence.
  • You do need to work in Canada with a work permit in an eligible occupation for two years.
  • You do need to meet requirements for language ability and education.

In addition, the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway to permanent residence is still open for all live-in caregivers who:

  • have started working in Canada as a live-in caregiver, or
  • have applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver, or
  • apply for their initial work permit based on an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment that had been submitted by the employer to Employment and Social Development Canada by November 30, 2014, and
  • complete the work requirement of the Live-in Caregiver Program.

All your questions, plus more, can be answered here; (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/index-featured-int.asp), on the government’s website.

(Happily) Sponsored Post: Dove Men + Care Pro-Moisture Shave Cream


I’m not much of a fan of the sponsored post concept for a couple of reasons, the most obvious one being that I find it difficult to put my name behind a product that I have not used, or do not use without making it feel like I’m just copying a press release.  The other reason is because, generally it’s a lot of work trying to organize my thoughts to make the post sound like you need to run out and grab this product right away, if that is the intent of the post.

But when the kind folks behind the Dove Men + Care product line came to my rescue a couple of years ago, I told them I would be happy to speak about their products at any time… Just because.

What happened was – caution personal information following – I got a red rash in my armpits after a ball-hockey game a couple of years ago, and being a dad with work, household expectations and putting my well-being last, I waited a couple of weeks (okay months) before going to the doctor for the antibiotic cream.

What came out of that appointment was a promise made to my doctor to stop using that great smelling antiperspirant with all the chemicals which was inflaming the rash, and to find and start using a natural deodorant so I could heal and not smell.  (YAY!).

So the Dove Men + Care deodorant became my go-to choice for all those great reasons and it’s still my brand of choice.  It’s great and the smells are subtle and don’t make me smell like I’m going to a rave at night or that I drank some cologne and it’s now seeping out of my skin.

Then came a couple more Dove products to try, in the face-care area, which always concerns me because I’ve had eczema since I was 14-years-old, so whatever I use on my face has to be mild but get that oily glow off of my face so it looks like I’m clean.

Then a couple of months ago, Dove Men + Care reached out to me regarding a brand new line of shaving creams.  I was absolutely interested since the regular cheap foams have a ton of terrible products in it, and being that I’m meeting clients daily, I have to shave at least once every couple of days.

Then this came in the mail for me;IMG_1829

 

It contained a cool old-school razor, plus a couple of tubes of this funky shaving cream that was the consistency of tooth-paste.  I was a bit nervous at first to try it, but once I bit the bullet, I was hooked.  It’s been great for my sensitive skin, and it’s in a shower-friendly tub, so that was great as well.  I’ve tried both the Sensitive and the Hydrate formula’s and they are equally as effective.

The added bonus, I have discovered is that because it comes in what they call a “low-foaming cream” I actually have to rub it into my face which means my stubble is that much softer and as we all know, a smooth shave means less pulling out of hair and thus less nasty rashes and ingrown facial hairs..

So I am writing this post as a consumer who has bought these products and who has used them and continues to use them.  I recommend you give them a try!

Find everything you could want and more right here; http://www.dovemencare.com/

 

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