Starbucks For Life Sweepstakes is Back!


For members of the Starbucks Rewards™ loyalty program (like me!), it’s time for the annual return of the Starbucks for Life sweepstakes.

For the third consecutive year, Starbucks has featured this popular game of chance, which launched December 6th, 2016 here in Canada (also in the US).  Starbucks Rewards™ members have an opportunity to win prizes, including Starbucks for Life, Starbucks for a Year, Starbucks for a Month, Starbucks for a Week* and millions of Bonus Stars.

The Way to Play

From now through January 16th, 2017, eligible Starbucks Rewards™ members can earn game plays when they make a purchase* using either their registered Starbucks Card or the Starbucks® Mobile App in participating U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) stores.

Members can redeem their game plays and collect digital game pieces by logging on to www.starbucksforlife.com in the U.S. or www.starbucksforlife.ca in Canada. Starbucks Rewards™ members may earn up to two game plays per day by making an eligible purchase transaction with a registered Starbuck Card or App.

What’s New This Holiday?

Members can complete challenges found within the game to earn extra game plays. Examples of challenges include “Jump the Line,” which rewards customers for making a purchase via mobile order, and “Hot Streak,” which provides three extra plays if a purchase is made five days in a row. Also new this year is the ability to trade three duplicate game pieces for one new game play.

Exclusive Prizes

Starbucks Rewards™ members can win prizes by collecting all of the game pieces in a given row on their digital game board. Only seven lucky customers (five in the U.S. and two in Canada) will win the grand prize of Starbucks for Life. 45 customers (25 in the U.S. and 20 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Year. 250 customers (125 in the U.S. and 125 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Month. 800 customers (500 in the U.S. and 300 in Canada) will win Starbucks for a Week.

Customers can also collect game pieces to win Bonus Stars in increments of 125 and 50 Stars. Instant-win prizes with Bonus Stars in increments of 5 Stars will be awarded as well. When Starbucks Rewards™ Gold Members collect 125 Stars, they earn a Reward, which they can redeem for a food or beverage item of their choice at participating stores.


*“Starbucks for Life” means the winner will receive a daily credit for 30 years for one free food or beverage item redeemable at participating Starbucks® stores in the U.S. Alcoholic beverages excluded. Winner must present a registered Starbucks Card. Credits are non-transferable and expire within 24 hours.

“Starbucks for a Year” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one year (three hundred sixty-five days) for one free food or standard menu beverage item (excluding alcoholic beverages) redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. (and likely Canada although not mentioned in their blurby). Food and beverage credits expire daily.

“Starbucks for a Month” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one month (thirty-one days) for one free food or standard menu beverage (excluding alcoholic beverages) item redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. Food and beverage credits expire daily.

“Starbucks for a Week” means the winner will receive a daily credit to his/her Account for one week (seven days) for one free food or standard menu beverage item (excluding alcoholic beverages) redeemable at participating Starbucks stores in the U.S. Food and beverage credits expire daily.

Abbreviated Canada Rules

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. LEGAL RESIDENTS OF CANADA, 18 AND OLDER AND WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE STARBUCKS REWARDS™ LOYALTY PROGRAM AT THE TIME OF ENTRY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Starbucks Partners are not eligible to win prizes. Participating stores only. Promotion ends 1/16/17. For Official Rules, how to enter without purchase, prizes, and odds, visit https://www.starbucksforlife.ca. Limit for earning Game Plays:  2 transactions per day or up to 2 requests without purchase per day. Mathematical skill-testing question must be correctly answered to win. 300,000 instant win prizes (approximate retail values of $0.20 available to be won. 14,947 collect and win game prizes (approximate retail values from $2.00 to $51,574.50 available to be won.  Sponsor: Starbucks Coffee Canada, Inc., 5140 Yonge Street, Suite 1205, Toronto, ON M2N 6 L7, Canada.

Limit of one instant-win-game prize per day. “Starbucks for Life” means the winner will receive a daily credit for 30 years for one free food or beverage item redeemable at participating Starbucks® stores in Canada. Alcoholic beverages excluded. Winner must present a registered Starbucks Card. Credits are non-transferable and expire within 24 hours.

US Politics: Can You Hear it? Locker-Room Talk All About Trump’s Campaign Implosion


As a Canadian who has been besieged by US Presidential election coverage for over a year and a half I have to say it was Donald Trump who actually made me by attention for the better part of that year-and-a-half.  Heck, I even watched half of one of the debates.

If this were Canadian politics, I would have watch both debates in their entirety and would be bitching and whining on my blog.

But how could I not maintain interest in this election?  The 1st woman President was only going to be held back by her husbands wandering genitals until Trump, always the entertainer, told us she was dying, unfit, stupid, and that she would continue to do nothing for the US public…

He made her package of Hilary Clinton as confusing as his comb-up, comb-over, comb-across hair style, or the colour of his skin.

Sure, we have a Trump Tower here in downtown Toronto which, if I recall correctly, has been dropping panes of glass for a couple of year, but it’s Donald Trump!  He’s rich, he’s owned parts of Vegas, and he’s been bankrupt before once or twice.  Heck, he’s the host of the Apprentice!

You’re fired!

While everyone was discounting his chance of winning, Trump kept zinging left, right and centre at anyone and everyone in his way.  Sure, there was talk of a wall between Mexico and the US (Mexico is paying for it!), or the talk of a wall between Canada and the US (can’t trust those friendly Canadians, eh?  Might want to come to the US because our health system sucks).  Trump made noise which resonated with more and more people for all the wrong reasons, and he was gaining momentum.

Attacks on US soil by Americans who may or may not have had ties to Islam prompted Trump to propose a ban on “Muslims” coming to the US, which morphed into a “loyalty” test for Muslims travelling to the US, or applying for citizenship.

Call it crazy, insane, stupid, or impossible but it got people talking Trump.  The bigots bought into it, while the tree huggers called him a fascist.  He was in the news for all the right reasons.

The campaign progressed and out came comments praising China, Russia, Putin, etc., and Trumps popularity grew as he became the unpolitician.  Everyone knew these countries were huge violators of human rights, but boy were their leaders ever popular!

Trump campaigned as being different than the rest.  He was going to make America great again, and save citizens from the same “politicking” that goes on day in and day out.

He said Hilary Clinton has Parkinsons disease and his legend grew along with his approval ratings.

He deflected negative talk, had answers for everything except for his policies, and he was great to watch for his entertainment value…

He WAS entertaining.

Now he’s not.

Trump is in deep trouble because someone left the closet door open and there are a LOT of skeletons in his closet!

He sexually assaults women.

And he’s okay with it.

No, he brags about it.

He bragged about grabbing a woman by the “pussy” and kissing them if he feels like it.

He’s gross, vile, and a criminal who just admitted to sexually assaulting woman.

“Just locker room talk” he said.

Rob Ford said he wasn’t addicted to crack cocaine.

If that isn’t enough reason to not vote for him, I don’t know what it.

Say what you will about Trump now… It really doesn’t matter.  He’s tainted himself and the American public.  If he gets elected, he’s the US President who grabs woman by the crotch.  If he wins, the American people voted in a leader with extremely poor ethics.

While voting for him doesn’t mean that you’re condoning sexual assault in the same way that supporting the Conservative party here in Canada doesn’t make you anti-abortion, pro-guns and anti-immigration, it does mean a man who admits to sexually assaulting women becomes the US President over a woman and that just seems wrong.

As a parent, of a girl and boys, do we really need to send the message to our youth that even if you sexually assault, or admit to / brag about sexual assault, it’s all okay and you can be anything you want.  I don’t think so!

Sideshow aside, Ronald Reagan was US President, and if Bobo can go to college, anything is possible…

 

Starbucks Prices Going Up in Canada and the US on July 12th, 2016.


Word broke a couple of days ago that Starbucks is planning to increase the price on select drinks, upwards of $0.30 per drink on July 12th, saying only that the increase would impact “select beverages.”

Starbucks raised its prices by 5 to 20 cents for some of its drinks in July 2015. That increase mostly impacted hot beverages.

Since 2013, Starbucks have been increasing prices every summer, including last summer’s increase of between $0.05-$0.20 on hot drinks.

Heck, they even changed their rewards program to make it a longer timeframe for purchasers of the cheapest drinks to reach their free coffee.

And, they posted a revenue of nearly $5 billion last year!

What a business model!

According to the Canadian operations, the price of a Venti coffee will increase by $0.10 in some but not all provinces, and the price of their lattes in Grande and Venti sizes will increase $0.20, again in some provinces.

In the US, Starbucks announced that their Tall, Grande and Venti-sized coffees will see a price increase of $0.10 each in most States in the country.

At this time of declining coffee prices, we can clearly see that Starbucks coffee prices are not closely tied to the price of the bean alone, but also tied to the other costs, including the stores, employment, and other items which comes with a Starbucks drink.

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!

Taxation Post: FATCA for Americans Living In Canada. It’s Time to Prepare.


Copied in whole, with permission, from www.intaxicating.wordpress.com.

In case you have just starting to catch wind of FATCA and you are wondering if you are going to get caught up in its web, you might find this post very useful.  I have gone to the Internal Revenue service (IRS) website and pulled out their passages on American’s living in Canada and the expectations on how they will be handled under FATCA – coming globally January 1st, 2013.

The IRS has clearly stated that “All persons born in the United States are US citizens.  This is the case regardless of the tax or immigration status of a persons parents.  Furthermore, a person born outside the United States may also be a US citizen at birth if at least one parent is a US citizen and has lived in the United States for a period of time.”

This is the link to that information from the IRS website; http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=244868,00.html

If you are of the belief that as an American living in Canada that you do not need to file a US tax return because you do not generate any US source income in any way, that is also incorrect;  “The IRS reminds you to report your worldwide income on your US tax return and lists the possible consequences of hiding income overseas.”

More information on consequences of hiding income overseas (including Canada) in this link.  I have broken out some key facts below; http://www.irs.gov/businesses/article/0,,id=180946,00.html

As a US citizen living in Canada, the rules for filing income, estate and gift tax returns and for paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are living in the US or not.

Not reporting income from foreign (including Canadian) sources may be a crime.  The IRS and its international partners (including the CRA) are pursuing those who hide income or assets offshore to evade taxes.  Specially trained IRS examiners focus on aggressive international tax planning, including the abusive use of entities and structures established in foreign jurisdictions.  The goal is to ensure US citizens and residents are accurately reporting their income and paying the correct tax. 

In addition to reporting your worldwide income, you must also report on your US tax return whether you have any foreign (Canadian or international) bank or investment accounts.  The Bank Secrecy Act requires you to file a Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), if:

  • You have financial interest in, signature authority, or other authority over one or more accounts in a foreign country, and
  • The aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

More information on foreign financial account reporting requirements is in News Release FS-2007-15, Foreign Financial Accounts Reporting Requirements and Publication 4261, Do You have a Foreign Financial Account?

This link below outlines the filing expectations for US Citizens and resident aliens abroad.  You have until June 15th to file your US tax returns each year:

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=97324,00.html

Most common question I have been asked:

“I am a U.S. citizen who moved to Canada to live and work there as a Canadian permanent resident, do I pay both U.S. and Canadian Taxes?

Answer: As a U. S. citizen living in Canada you:

Are required to file annual U.S. income tax returns and may be required to file certain information returns if applicable (e.g. Form 8891, U.S. Information Return for Beneficiaries of Certain Canadian Registered Retirement Plans; Form 3520, Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts; TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)).

You must report your worldwide income on your US income tax return if you meet the minimum income filing requirements for your filing status and age.

You must contact the Canadian Government to determine whether you must file a Canadian tax return and pay Canadian taxes – unless you are already filing tax returns here in Canada, then this step is obvious.

You may be able to elect to exclude some or all of your foreign earned income, if certain requirements are met, or to claim a foreign tax credit if Canadian income taxes are paid.

Behind on your filing to the IRS, are you?

The IRS began an open-ended offshore voluntary disclosure program (OVDP) in January 2012, on the heels of strong interest in the 2011 and 2009 programs, which may end at any time.  The intent of this program is to offer people with undisclosed income from offshore accounts another opportunity to get current with their US tax returns.  The 2012 OVDP has a higher penalty rate than the previous program but offers clear benefits to encourage taxpayers to disclose foreign accounts now rather than risk detection by the IRS and possible criminal prosecution.

Rumour has it that in September, the IRS will be releasing some new documents (besides the final regulations) aimed at helping Canadians file their US tax returns up to date – the IRS wants the most recent 3 years and 6 years of FBAR information from Canadians.

My thoughts here are that the IRS thinks all Americans living in Canada are not paying taxes so that anyone with over $1500 owing will still be penalized.  Once these US persons provide proof of their filing of Canadian tax returns at a higher rate, then the best the IRS can get from these residents if valid certifications and by adding them to the database, another potential income source to track.

FAQ Offshore voluntary disclosure program:

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=256774,00.html

So if after all this you are unsure if you need to file you might want to seek out an accountant or lawyer which a strong US presence to advise you.  Remember if you are a US person and you let your bank know, they are required under FATCA to notify the IRS.

At the very least you should prepare your US tax returns for the previous 3 years and include the Canadian taxes paid under “foreign tax paid” to see where you fall under FATCA.  Then take them to an accountant with a strong knowledge of US tax in order for them to ensure the US return is correct and have them advise you on where they feel you fall under FATCA.  From there… It’s up to you.

There is no hiding from FATCA, so prepare now and prepare for the future before the IRS gets to you first.

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