How I Explained Taxation to a Class of Kindergarten Students

How I explained taxes to children in a kindergarten classroom without having them lose focus or fall asleep on me:


Q: Do you know what a tax is?”

It’s something you have to pay.

Q: Why do we have to pay taxes?

We pay taxes for things we need.

We have to.

We pay taxes so poor people can have some money too.

Q: Any examples of things we need?  How about some examples of things we need that we all share.

1) Roads

2) Lights

3) Signs

4) Sidewalks

5) Playgrounds

6) Schools

7) Policewomen

8) Firemen

9) The trucks that come to take our garbage away.

10) Hospitals

11) Doctors

12) Food – Do taxes pay for food?

Not usually.

We have to pay for our own food. But taxes pay to make sure our food doesn’t make us sick.

Money we pay as taxes make sure we have clean water.

Q: Does anyone remember the ice storm, and when all those branches and trees fell on peoples houses and cars and all over the street?  Men and women had to come to take the branches away.  Taxes paid for that.”

Snack time – I brought cupcakes for the kids.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing is certain except (Hello Kitty) death and taxes,” and just as your children will gradually learn about (Hello Kitty) mortality, they will also find out about taxes and other financial issues.

There are taxes everywhere on almost everything to make sure that everyone has a chance to pay taxes and share.

Paying taxes is like this container of cupcakes.  This pile of cupcakes is the economy. This is the money that belongs to the whole country and everybody needs a piece – the schools, the street cleaners, the hospitals, and the TV stations.

Without their cupcake, the government can’t provide any of the things we need.

If we gave all of our cupcakes to the government we would have nothing left.  But taxes are like taking a little bit off – the wrapper, maybe – to give to the government while we keep the rest.  The government collects all the wrappers and uses them to keep all of us safe and healthy and helps us learn and grow…

Apart from enjoying a fun time, your kids will learn a very valuable financial lesson…sometimes you can’t have your cake and eat it too.


Stanford’s Who’s Who 2013 Canadian Edition: I’m in there… Or am I?

I received a call on my business line the other day from a young man with a fairly heavy New York accent who called to congratulate me for being recognized for my contributions and to welcome me to the 2013 Stanford’s Who’s Who – Canadian Edition.

For those of you unfamiliar with this organization, Stanford Who’s Who, is an “elite organization of selected executives, professionals and entrepreneurs from around the world who’s members are hand selected from across the globe and invitation is granted only to those individuals who have demonstrated leadership and achievement in their occupation, industry, or profession.”

I got that from their Linkedin page.

After explaining to me a little about the organization and boosting up my confidence, he then needed to cross-reference information from me, which to be honest seemed like he was gathering information he should have known if I was really “one of Canada’s most influential people”, as he claimed.

“You should have done your homework” I thought to myself.

“I just need to verify this information for your biography” he quickly said as if he were reading my mind.

Then the questions started, and as I was answering them, a whole bunch of things entered my mind;

1) Who are Stanford’s Who’s Who? Certainly not part of Stanford University otherwise they would have mentioned that right away one would think, and the phone number would have identified that.

2) What specifically are they calling in regards to? Am I being recognized for my Blogging? Tax expertise? 20+ year Ball hockey career? Coffee expertise? For having a MBA? Really I’ll take any of those but should he have identified this right away so I don’t have to ramble!

3) How much is this going to cost me, because if there is a huge fee, I’m out. I started my own business 2 weeks ago so I need to be even more fiscally responsible over the next couple of months as my practice grows.

and so he continued… Pumping up my ego and making it seem like they were waiting to make contact with me for the publication.

There are some 100,000 people world wide in this publication, so it’s not as prestigious as they led me to believe right away, but heck, I can share the spotlight with these folks, right?

Then he said the magical words to me; “Well, based on the information you have just confirmed with me I would say you are definitely someone that will continue to have a large impact in your field and we would like to welcome you to the 2013 Stanford Who’s Who Canadian Section”.

As well as networking opportunities with tens of thousands of “like-minded people”, I just need you to decide between the Platinum and Gold packages, the first being $899 for five years and the second being $699 for five years.”

“I see,” I said, pausing ever so slightly so he would not think that I just dropped the phone. “Canadian or US dollars” I asked.

He paused… much too long for my liking.

“US Dollas” he replied.

“Oh” I replied, now looking at my watch and realizing that I had 15 minutes to get to a client who was 15 minutes away.

“Is it the money?” he asked.

“No, it’s not that at all” I replied. “I’m an influencer… You said so yourself. Money is not the problem, but time is. I’m scheduled to meet a client in 15 minutes and I have to leave now. Can we talk later today?” I asked.

“Does it seem expensive?” he said. “We need your decision today so we can meet our print deadline.”

“Um …” I said. “If I’m holding up the print deadline then either you waited too long to contact me, or I’ll have to wait and be in next year’s edition. I mentioned that I just opened my own practice and I’m going to be late for a client meeting if we continue. Can we speak later on? Is there a number I can reach you at?”

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do. I’m going to take the price down to $599 for the Gold membership AND you can upgrade to a Premium for free after three years if you choose to. But you can’t tell ANYONE about this deal we’re making.”

“Sure,” I said. “And I have my credit card in my hand, but I am pressed for time and will not be making any decision which requires me to give a credit card over the phone in 15 minutes because you are pressed for time. I have a client meeting to attend to and either we are able to touch base later or I’ll have to opt of of this version. Which will it be?”

“I’ll need an address to send your paperwork to,” he said. “Can you give me that? There’s some stuff you need to sign.”

“I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time right now…”


And so the conversation ended. They hung up on me. Can you imagine? I’m an influencer. I’m a somebody. Or in reality, I’m just like everyone else looking for an edge over our competitors and peers and clicked through an ad on LinkedIn prompting the flattering phone sales pitch.

Would I ever give my credit card over the phone? No.

Would I sign up for something that seemed too good to be true without reading the fine print? No.

Would I want to be recognized for something special, sure, who wouldn’t but there is a price I would be wiling to pay and it would have to be something legitimate where they want me to read the fine print before taking my money. Once the hard sell starts, I walk away, and so should you.

Have you heard of Stanford’s who’s who? Have you bitten on their offer?

About the Urban Daddy

I update the about me section of this blog and thought it might be time to post it in order to answer questions I frequently get sent to me via email and twitter.  Who I am and what I do…

About me

I am the urban daddy because my wife of 11 years who got me into blogging in 2004 was calling herself the urban mummy. It only made sense.

I am a father of two boys, Linus (because he carries around a security blanket and a white stuffed cat which is my avatar) who is 7 and Stewie (because we feel he’s trying to kill us) who is 5. Our baby girl, Berry (who makes us laugh) is 2-years-old. We live in mid-town urban Toronto where we live our lives as a laid back, no fuss family. We eat healthy (my wife was a vegetarian for 12 years when I met and converted her – but she has recently returned to the land of veggies). She is studying to be a holistic nutritionist.

Both her and I have our Master’s degrees, her in education, me a MBA which we completed with newborns preventing us from sleeping. Crazy, eh?

I love politics, especially Canadian, and have fundraised for Councillor Karen Stintz and was approached by the Conservative Party to run municipally or provincially in my riding. I would have, except I love my job as a taxation executive.

I’m also a sports junkie, love playing ball hockey (21 years in organized league play), and watching it on TV. I also love wrestling and Star Wars so my nerd side gets equal jock play too.

I have always been on the slightly more than I should weigh side, gained that with Linus’ birth and have yet to shed it.  Yes, it’s my pregnancy weight!  I have been described as being freakishly strong and can run 5K in my sleep, now.

I’ve been blogging since 2004 and have made some year-end award lists, been mentioned by CBS news, asked to be on a local Canadian TV show as their daddy blogger expert and been ripped for my views by some really great people and some real jerks. My views.  My opinions.

You’ll find a lot of posts about my kids, about politics, coffee, Toronto, sports, pop culture, current events and things I endorse for free, and things I think people should steer clear of.

Everything here comes out of my head and this blog is meant to allow me to empty my head of thoughts and opinions and if you choose to read and like it or if you find something offensive let me know. Just nothing personal, racist or rude. I can delete them… And block you. 🙂

I also blog for money, but I won’t ask, it’s a bonus and not the reason I blog. If you want an expert opinion, or a family opinion on a wide range of things, drop me an email at I have a large pool of contacts and connections who can assist too. I’m on twitter @urbandaddyblog and on Facebook . Find me, drop me a note, like me, vote for me… All that jazz!

Those who do not call me “Daddy” or “Urban Daddy” call me Warren, but as Linus liked to tell his teacher when we have to meet with her / him, “His name is Warren but they call him the urban daddy”.

Read on… You might actually like something here…

Thursday Thirteen – Taxation Related

As a taxation professional, it was only a matter of time before I posted a Thursday Thirteen that was taxation related.  I have a timely post this week around tax season – Canadian style – however some of it crosses the globe.If you ever want to read more taxation information or read my thoughts on managing, you can do so at

But in the meantime, with tax filing season fast approaching, here are the 13 things you need to know before you file your 2011 tax returns;

13.  Contrary to popular belief of those on the left and those silly “Occupy” folks, in Canada (and the US), the top 10% of Canadian earners pay half of all personal income taxes, while the half of earners with the lowest income pay less than a tenth (1/10th) of the total. So those in the driver’s seat, the high and middle-income earners, they DO have some choice as to how much they want to spend and how much they plan to save, so by spending less, they pay less consumption taxes, less property tax, less gasoline tax, and other taxes and user fees – bank fees, late fees. interest on credit cards, etc., 

12.  Regardless of where you are and what you do, you really should file a tax return.  Canadian reporting is voluntary in certain conditions, but be sure before you pass on filing.  The CRA has a great list of when you need to file and why you should file right here;

11. You have the option to defer the paying of taxes, in some cases, when you save for retirement inside a RRSP / IRA or any other form of registered retirement savings plan.  In these plans, you defer payment of income taxes until later in life.  There are taxes assessed, when you withdraw the money after you have reached a certain age, usually 65-years-old, but those tax rates are probably lower than you would be paying now, if you have above-average income.

If your income is below average, you may be better off to pay taxes now and save in a tax-free savings account (TFSA).

If you save for your family inside a registered education savings plan or a registered disability savings plan, there will be a deferral of taxes on interest earnings, other investment returns and government grants. Then the child or other relative will likely pay little or no taxes on those savings.

10. Before you file make sure you have all your slips.  Amending sucks and looking for them last-minute can cause a lot of stress.  Trust me on that one.

9.  Make sure the government has correct information for you – address, name, direct deposit because you want your refund and if they audit you, they might not be re-assessing you, but rather they may be looking for an additional copy of a receipt they lost in the processing of 20 million tax returns.  Get to it and get to it quickly.  Do not ignore government mail and not open it.  Open it and action it..

8.. File this one electronically – but keep your receipts handy for audit and verification purposes.  It’s quick, you may get your money earlier and you’re saving trees,  My kids say thank you..

7.  If you owe money, do not write a note and attach it to your return, but contact the government and make a payment arrangement and honor it.  When your paper return comes into the processing centres, the processors, who are usually temporary hires to help the CRA get through the tax season, rip of cheques and process them right away, then they tear off any unnecessary paperwork and send the returns to a data processing group.  So if you include a piece of paper or maybe gold glittery powder, it’s in the classified waste bin right away.,

6. Think before you bitch – A third of all income in Canada is paid in taxes. But before you consider moving out of the country, consider that the Canadian tax burden is less than that of 19 other developed nations.  We, as Canadians only pay more taxes than 10 developed nations.

5. Why all the taxes?  Where does this tax revenue go?  With the tax revenue, 62% of it goes to pay for health care, education and social assistance, including unemployment benefits.  The rest, a measley 38% goes for everything else we need, like infrastructure, social programs, etc.  Not such a bad deal afterall, eh?

4. Not everything is taxed, here are some examples – There is no tax on a winning Lottery tickets, on scholarships, inheritances, gifts, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to the taxable Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Canada Child Tax Benefit cheques or child support payments after a divorce.  You pay no tax on at least the first $9,000 of waged earnings or $40,000 of income per year if you receive only eligible corporate dividends and $18,000 if you receive only capital gains.

3. On the flip side, some high-tax items – The income tax rate on income beyond $127,021 a year in 2010 was 46.4%. Taxes on cigarettes in Ontario was 63.5%; alcohol, 52.7%; and regular gasoline, around 36%.

2. The HST effect – The combined 13% federal and Ontario sales tax, the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) has boosted the incentive to conserve energy, because provincial sales tax did not apply to energy before July 1, 2011 – Thank you Dalton! – So you will save more if you choose a compact, well-insulated home close to your job and buy fuel-efficient vehicles – like my hybrid vehicle – appliances, lighting – get those halogen, CFC-free bulbs, and furnaces.

1. Tax relief opportunities – Numerous tax breaks and benefits aim to encourage you to better yourself or the economy, such as seek higher education, earn high grades, raise children, move closer to a job, belong to a professional group, take public transit, make charitable and political donations, invest in companies, start a small business, and save for retirement.  So get cracking. 

There are some easy wins here and some clear opportunities to save money and where we are all letting money slip through out fingers.

But whatever you do, get it there on time!  No point in paying the government a late filing penalty of $400.00 for your procrastination.

 Income Taxes By County