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In “Snowbirds’ Florida Tax Crisis” The Canadian Snowbird Association Magazine’s Summer Edition (pp.18-19) contains an article written by yours truly. Florida’s property tax system has been called loony, outrageous, two-tier, discriminatory, confiscatory and worse. The bottom line is that Florida has a property tax system that is rigged against snowbirds and it is taxing many out of the homes they saved for their entire working lives. If you are a property owner in Florida or are thinking of becoming one, read this article to learn: (1) how “good intentions“ got us snowbirds carrying a disproportionate share of Florida’s tax load, (2) how a flawed property tax system is about to be replaced by another flawed one, (3) why the out-of-control spending in Florida’s counties and municipalities has been left unchecked by voters, and (4) what are possible actions that you may take to change the discriminatory tax system in Florida.
Barron’s in “How to survive the ETF onslaught” reports on the proliferation of ETFs (there 600 in existence now and 300 before the SEC in approval process). These are all competing by slicing the sectors and regions in narrower and narrower slices; certainly not a recommendation to somebody who is believes that diversification is what you need for your financial health. The article helps the readers with good sources of data. Among those mentioned were www.etftrends.com, www.morningstar.com/cover/ETF.html and http://finance.yahoo.com/etf.
Jamie Golombek’s article in the Financial Post entitled “The long, long arm of the taxman” reminds Canadians who own property in the U.S. (and other countries outside Canada) that taxes are due on capital gains upon sale of the property, as well as on rental income (after expenses). The countries where the properties are located usually impose taxes and at times withholding taxes for rental income and capital gains. Dual taxation is generally avoided when Canada and the other country have a tax treaty; in such cases you get credit for taxes paid to the other country and you end up paying the equivalent of the higher of the two taxes. Even worse, some countries like the U.S. imposes estate taxes on real estate, in which case a tax is imposed not just on the capital gain, but the full market value of the property. (You can read more about this, including what options you may have to mitigate this exposure, in Robert Keats “The Border Guide”)
In “CARP defends itself against critics” Financial Post’s Chevreau tables concerns about CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and its various for-profit satellite companies, about their ability (and inclination) to be objective advocates for seniors. He quotes forensic accountant Al Rosen “CARP has too many problems with independence, lack of expertise and unclear intentions to be able to represent seniors,” Rosen says, “Seniors should be very leery of what CARP has to say.” (Oh well, time will tell how this story will shake out. There is nothing wrong with being in business with a profit motive, but it is reasonable to expect clear labeling of the for-profit activities and the interests of the not-for-profit advocates, so that customers don’t get confused and they do the necessary due diligence)