Category Archives: Income Taxes

Only Child – my health continues to eat my life

Saturdays are supposed to be days to relax – well maybe catch up on some errands and/or housework. But not for dealing with health issues. That is how I seem to spend most of my Saturdays and I end up cancelling right and left what I plan to do – including social comittments. At least my friend and I had decided (at the last minute) to go to Canada Blooms the other week on a Sunday.

Saturdays I drag myself around the house, trying to get some chores done, but lying down part of the time. If the weather is bad, I wouldn’t be doing errands anyway. But if I am to relax, to read, I want to feel good when I do. Not have aches and pains, etc. I do not want to be like my late mother in this way – constantly having lots of health problems and going to multiple doctors’ appointments simultaneously. At least my weight is now back up to normal – it went down on my abbreviated liquid and semi-liquid diets for a few days or so after both dental surgeries.

Except for the daily eyedrop dose for my glaucoma, and constantly dealing with IBS symptoms, I try to focus on one health issue at a time. This week it is my eyes – two appointments, the regular annual eye examination, one and half months late thanks to the dental issues. And the quarterly appointment with the eye specialist on Thursday.

I’m hoping both give me good reports, new glasses not needed this year (I can’t afford new ones anyway  – I’m still paying off dental bills and there are things that have to be repaired and replaced in and around the house this spring, which are not optional. Then there are the dreaded income taxes. Even living below or around the poverty level the government stills comes at you to pay taxes.) And also hoping the double-prescription eyedrops the specialist prescribed from a year ago, are still doing the job. That is one thing I make sure I do daily – squirt the eyedrops in my left eye.

But experience has taught me the hard way to not expect the best. When I do; when I take it for granted that things will be okay; when I go merrily along as if they will – SNAP – I GET A RUDE AWAKENING. Better to follow the Brownie motto – be prepared.

And shake my fist up at the sky.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Income Taxes, Life demands, Mother

Only Child warns pensioners to be wary of government pension setup

Only child contemplated government red tape with pensions

Only child contemplates government red tape with pensions

When my late dad turned 65, the Canada Pension Plan was just coming into existence. The CPP was legislated in 1965 and came into effect in 1966 . So, of course Dad never paid into the CPP when he worked for the CNR as it was then called. Of course CNR paid a pension. My mother died before she reached 65.  Dad died at 66.

Fast forward many years and my generation – the so-called baby boomers-  are dealing with the current federal government pension plans and Guaranteed Income Supplement. And if you think once we sign up and get approved it is all smooth-sailing and we will get our regular monthly increments, sometimes with additions, think again.

There are many Federal Rules and Regulations that can screw up those receiving pensions. I know this from first-hand experience.

Because I can’t afford to retire (I didn’t say the pensions etc. were enough to live on), I still am self-employed. I am grateful that I am doing something I love (writing, editing, teaching writing) and would probably chose to do so until age 70. Then I would just write – to me, writing is for a lifetime. However, how many pensioners who have to work to make ends meet are working at something they love?

To make a long story short, if you are still self-employed and getting CPP you can elect to still contribute until you are 70.

Watch it here folks. If your self-employment income (after business deductions) is below a certain amount, you don’t have to pay into the CPP for that tax year. So, I followed this rule, didn’t have to pay,  and the powers that be at CPP punished me for that.

The b******* clawed back my CPP.  The monthly decrease is a mere $1.47 so I’m not quibbling about that. But they arbitrarily decided to deduct all the difference in the same month’s payment instead of spreading it over 12 months. And they pick a month barely three months from when they send you the notice letter so that if you do dispute it (which I did) your three months timeline for disputing runs into that month of cut-off. Yes, I disputed, after contacting my MP, and did the dispute for lots of time for the CPP rulers to do as the letter said can be done – have a different set of CPP rulers go over my situation.

Well, I got notice that I’m not getting it reversed. This notice came after the full clawback deduction in May’s payment. Their excuse? Legislation says they can’t repay once they do the clawback, once it is taken off. What do you want to bet they didn’t even bother to re-check it?

Sure, there is more procedure if I disagree. I am planning to take all that to my MP and hope his office will help me with that.

But in the meantime I’ve run into more government red tape – with the Guaranteed Income
Supplement (GIS). I did apply for it originally (as per government instructions) when I applied for the OAS.  Last year I got notice from the government (read Service Canada – they do all the government dirty work with us citizens) that I would be receiving the GIS monthly – how much extra, that it would be added on to my OAS for one payment, plus the first month of all that I would get a lump sum for past months.

Great. I thought.

My suspicious radar should have been on alert. June 30, this year, I received another application form for 2016 and 2017 GIS. I thought once you applied that was it. I did know they could claw back if your taxable  income went up too much. Well, for 2015 my taxable income went down, enough to put me below the poverty level for a single person (according to the Ontario Government). I thought they got the information about a person’s income from the CRA (they do; I checked with Service Canada). I always file my income taxes and on time. And this year for a change I don’t seem to have made any math errors. (And yes, I signed out of paying anymore into the CPP.) So, why are they sending me this application form, which arrived June 30, when the note with it says that if I don’t fill in this form and get it in by June 30, my GIS could be stopped until they receive it and then I would get reimbursed and the payments would continue?

What? Okay, if  I have to reapply, fine. Just get the damn form to me on time to do so.

I phoned Service Canada June 30 afternoon right after receiving this nonsense in the mail. The fellow I talked to checked into my account and said there was money there in my account to be paid in July. But he suggested that I fill out the form and deliver it to Service Canada on Monday just to be on the safe side.

Which I did. I had questions for the Service Canada employee at one of the desks. After waiting 30 minutes to do so, this fellow was not very helpful and wasn’t very polite either. He did give me one piece of information for filling in my form but he wouldn’t check into my account to see if the money there is OAS only or includes the GIS. His excuse “We don’t have the means to do this like where you phone Service Canada.”

Oh, please. Now I have to waste another 20 minutes to half an hour on hold at Service Canada and also worry if I filled in the form correctly because I just sat down at one of the tables and finished filling in the form and then handed it in at the front. I did find it is sent by courier, not Canada Post, so if there is a Canada Post strike it won’t be stuck in regular mail.

And if you think this is just me whining, think again. Some of my friends have told me similar stories of what has happened to them.

If any of you reading this have any bad dealings with your government pensions, I would like to hear.

Meantime, I’m going to set up an appointment later this month with my MP.

But first, I have some client work to finish. That got slowed down because of all this government red tape.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Income Taxes, Old Age pensions, Only child

Only Child’s thoughts on living below the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates living in poverty

Only Child contemplates living in poverty

A Google search on poverty levels in Toronto brought up this shocking information. The poverty level for a single person is $19,930 a year. That’s after taxes. Depending on your sources, that figure pertains to somewhere before 2014. See http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

Before or after 2014, that figure really hit home with me.

I just finished doing my 2014 income taxes in late April, so income before and after taxes was still in my mind. It turns out I am living around the poverty level for a single person – but before taxes, so I guess after taxes it is below the poverty level.

And that’s with having a boarder here most of last year – until late October – I kicked her out – with a few months leeway because according to her plan she could be here indefinitely until she found a job and was secure for six months in it. She is/was on social services (called Ontario Works here in Ontario). So the extra low monthly boarder rent income wasn’t making much difference to me as the poverty-line figure shows. My friends told me this boarder was just taking advantage of me anyway. But that’s a story for another post. At least my hydro and water bills are much less now.

I am also a senior and while I am grateful for the Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan, they aren’t high enough. Especially the latter, which varies with each person depending on how much you put into it when you worked. And being self-employed for the past 18 years, and before that, sporadic full employment from the late 1970s, doesn’t help increase the CPP. The Federal government does give you some extra CPP allowance (seven years I believe) to allow for raising a child from birth. There are tax credits that are doled out monthly and one in a lump sum – some are senior-specific. And I do get some alimony from my ex-husband.

My self-employment? Not as lucrative as even a couple of years ago.

The Feds also have something called the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which I signed up for when I signed up for the OAS. But I haven’t heard hide nor hare back about that – probably because your income has to be under $17,088 annually. See table at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/oas/payments/index.shtml

That’s  $2,842. less than the poverty level income for a single person. Something is wrong here.

All that isn’t enough for the rising costs of living. I have health issues and take natural supplements because drugs don’t agree with my body. Yes, there are drug plans for seniors and others but you are on your own with natural supplements. The basic Ontario medical coverage gets skimpier and skimpier in what it covers and purchasing extra health coverage from private companies is too expensive.

So I end up using my line of credit to cover the more monthly expenses than money coming in. And I don’t go on shopping sprees for anything and take only one holiday a year – visiting family. I forgo a lot of entertainment (like plays and movies and some concerts) I would like to go to because I can’t afford it. Free entertainment is what I look for. Street festivals and other free events and lectures outside home. I walk a lot, garden, read (mostly books from the library but I do buy a few from writing colleagues) and do readings and other presentations with other crime authors for my Beyond mystery series. I socialize with friends, an occasional meal out – sometimes they pay – and sometimes we go to garden events (free ones) together. I am fortunate in that I have a son who helps me with computer problems and takes me out to dinner for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He is even paying for a new chesterfield for my living room – his idea at Christmas – if I can find the time to finish looking around for one.

This all makes me wonder how others with less or even the basic poverty level income, can manage. I don’t have to pay rent as I’m a homeowner (and fortunately no mortgage), although with all my utility bills needing paying this month, plus other regular monthly bills to pay, the total here came to above what my May income is. And that’s before the cash items such as food and health.

So I grow some of my vegetables and fruit in the garden.

That is if I can get someone to take me to the garden centre to get some topsoil. Another long story here for another post perhaps.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot of the time. I think I have a right to be cranky.

Cheers.

 

Sharon

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Filed under Family, Gardening, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Income Taxes, Money, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Seniors

Only Child looks for any silver lining

Only child contemplates the world we live in

Only child contemplates the world we live in

The world circa 2015 is going to worse than hell in a hand basket. Try nowhere in a rocket. Even Superman, faster than a speeding bullet, can’t save us.

Every day I wake up to more bad stuff – both in the wider world and personally.

The worst part may be that 90 to 95 per cent I didn’t cause.

Consider the following:

Worldwide: the weather – there is not a place in the world that is safe from extreme weather. Those who follow my blog posts here know who I blame for this (Hint: “dog” spelled backwards). Even waking up to the sun shining doesn’t provide much hope. Think skin cancer, windburn to evergreens, etc.

Worldwide: terrorism, financial debt, unemployment, overuse of too much technology, rudeness as the norm, etc.

Personal: problems with utility companies (don’t get me going here), computer problems, house and yard damage (much due to weather) and resulting financial problems and health problems, time management problems (some of the latter is my fault), etc.

I think you get the picture and it isn’t pretty.

The only solution seems to be to get away from it all – but where to go – a one-way ticket to outer space?

So I “hide” deeper in my writing. But excuse me – first I have to finish going through all the year-end bookkeeping for my business and do the tax stuff. No doubt to get “robbed” by the CRA – more money I don’t have much of to be forked out.

I am polishing up my tin can – a big tin can.

Lottery tickets don’t work for me.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, Computer problems, Health, Income Taxes, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Sign of the Times, Technology overload, Technology problems, Uncategorized, Weather, Writing

Only Child on more government/consumer issues

Only Child gearing up to tackle government depts and companies that screw up her life

Only Child gearing up to tackle government depts and companies that screw up her life

Last Saturday morning was grey, rainy and windy. A perfect premonition for snafus. If that didn’t warn me then my bus being nearly 10 minutes late should have.

It didn’t. And although I put it out there (God, universe – take your pick) to have things work out for getting my Photo ID card – they didn’t. So much for any smidgeon of trust.

No trouble finding the new Service Ontario outlet – a short bus ride from my home. Somewhat long line-up inside but it seemed to move quickly enough – until I got to one of the four wickets.

When I phoned the day before I was told for a photo ID card I needed a birth certificate, my Ontario Health Insurance card and my divorce papers (the latter bridgingthe name change gap as well as giving certified dates of marriage and divorce.)

The latter two were no problem. The unfriendly government employee behind the counter said my original birth certificate wasn’t valid – I needed one issued by the City of Toronto and this one looked like a church one – was it?

“I wouldn’t know; I was a baby then,” I replied.

Then I pointed out that the title said “Birth Certificate” and the part where the issuer was the City of Toronto in the County of York (back in the grey ages) and that it was signed by a Toronto City registrar. She wouldn’t buy it so faxed a copy to her superior in the downtown office. This “superior  idiot” agreed with her. She said that it was issued by a hospital. Now there was no indication of a hospital issuing it and if that were true, it should be valid. Even as late as 1978 when my son was born, his original certificate came from the hospital (but has all the city – Newmarket here – info on it.). In the 1980s I used my original paper birth certificate to obtain the laminated one the Ontario Government were creating and this ***hole Service Ontario employee stated that the laminated ones were valid.

Why has the original paper birth certificate worked for proof of birth elsewhere?

Why has the Ontario government been considering chucking issuing new laminated birth certificates? What will they accept then? Invisible birth certificates?

The photo ID is supposed to be for those of us who don’t have a driver’s licence and costs much less. Is what happened to me a variation of being discriminated against because I don’t drive?

I have a laminated birth certificate. Yesterday I took it (and other ID cards) out of my safety deposit box. They were all in there for safety purposes – the police tell us to do this instead of carrying them around with us or leaving them lying around in our homes in case of b and e’s and/or muggings.

But with government stupidity it looks like you have to constantly carry them around. You never know when you might need them.

I talked to a few people at the CARP Zoomer show (for adults 45 plus) Sunday and was told to complain to the Ontario Ombudsman and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Will do – once I get my damn ID card and get all the other becoming senior issues and procedures done.

For the record, at this point here are my lists – gratitude/good companies/government depts. And my *hit list of the baddies. Note: some get on both lists – short explanation in brackets afterwards.

Only Child’s Gratitude Good Companies/Government Depts.

  1. Service Canada – phone and in person, in particular one branch at Gerrard and Pape in Toronto – others praise their helpfulness, friendliness. What government service should be like.
  2. Dell Canada (in part – for being able to lease laptops for years at a continually reduced monthly rate)
  3. Sears Canada (in part – Optical Department, Home Services – particularly window blinds – and watch repair)
  4. State Farm (they handle my house and business insurance and did a good job switching the former to monthly payments)
  5. Kristin Green and Associates (manage my website and domain and I have two email accounts connected to this) – despite their switchover to a new server, after my email request for help, Kristin phoned me back and walked me through any changes to my accounts that I couldn’t do. And explained it all in a friendly helpful manner.
  6. Scotiabank – for usually being helpful – and they accepted my original paper birth certificate for eliminating some costs for seniors

Only Child’s *hit list

  1. Service Ontario – see beginning of blog post.
  2. CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) – for lack of  knowledge of recent changes to paying taxes with CPP payments – cost me a lot of time and phone running around and delay paying the extra which I was required to pay (but was first told it wasn’t necessary)
  3. Empire Life Insurance Company for never informing me about the setup for my life insurance premium – it’s part investment –  and that there is a built-in what’s it that if you don’t add in extra to cover  increase in premiums you get a letter stating that if you don’t pay the extra by a certain day, your policy is canceled. The kicker? You have to phone them at the end of each fiscal year that you want to increase your premium or they don’t on your bill. I’m looking into other companies’ life insurance premiums where a medical isn’t required and will take this company to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Ontario Ombudsman for unethical stupid practices. Today I put my foot down and said if they didn’t send me a bill for the real amount owing for the next quarter I’m paying the faulty lower one they just sent – technically and legally I can do that.
  4. Sears Canada (because the idiot new CEO is planning on closing the flagship store in downtown Toronto in the Eaton Centre. That’s my store for optical, etc. Now I’ll have to go further into Toronto outskirts – if they have Sears Optical there for any warranty-covered follow-ups to new eyeglasses which I would get before the anticipated February 2014 closing. Also I like their clothes better than Hudson Bay)
  5.  Direct Energy for trying to tell me my heating protection plan with them was not valid.
  6. Enbridge Canada for closing my account because they thought I moved and some guy named Peter moved in. They mixed up our streets – same name except mine is a Crescent and Peter’s is a Circle. This was two years ago and was fixed after I phoned several times.
  7. All utility companies for raising the rates and putting many of us deeper into the poor house – no matter what we do to save energy.
  8. The Canadian federal and Ontario provincial government for their service-cutting (mostly the feds) and its results and the province’s errors with hydro and gas and making the taxpayer pay (there is a debt repayment amount in our bi-monthly hydro bills).
  9. Dell Canada for screwing up my original new laptop lease order – they didn’t put in the order and wouldn’t admit they made a mistake. But they ordered it again and it is now here.

The list can go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Income Taxes, Problems, Seniors

Only Child finds solace in her garden

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

I’ve been seeking solace in my garden to get away from all the crap that has been shoved my way the last month or so. That is when one of these stressors – weather, i.e., heavy rain and winds – hasn’t gotten in the way. And the crap keeps piling up. Now the CRA messed up my tax returns on the notice of assessment and when I called they admitted their mistake and it will be fixed. Meantime, “the system”  won’t know this and so unless it is fixed before early July, the amount the Notice of Assessment says I still owe (but don’t) will come off my GST rebate for July and I won’t get my provincial tax credits (also July) until the situation is fixed. All for some clerical error at CRA. Not fair. I need that little extra to survive, or once the property tax and utility bills are paid, I do without somewhere (read health expenses for one).

My garden is my lifeline to comfort and some food. When I walk out into my garden and see they symmetry of the perennials, the shrubs, the raspberries starting to form, the onions and other vegetables coming up – even the ground where recent seeds were planted – I get some solace. The blend of colours – some white, red, yellow, blue, greens, silvers, and lots of shades of purple – the only spiritual nourishment in my life as I get no spiritual nourishment and help elsewhere such as traditional or non-traditional religion and faith. Faith and trust don’t seem to be in my vocabulary these days and it’s not by choice but from what’s been happening.

So I go out into my garden and absorb – sight, sound (birds), fragrance. I literally smell the roses which are now just beginning to bloom.

But there is a dark side to when I’m in the garden. Pulling weeds and digging are good ways to vent your anger and frustration. Each weed I dig up or yank out symbolizes the people, etc. who make my world worse. The pulled weeds are placed in the yard waste bins for city “garbage” collection to be dumped somewhere to go back to the earth. Appropriate. When we die our bodies disintegrate (if not done for us with cremation) back into the earth. A fit place for my stressors.

Sitting out in the garden in the sun or shade, reading a book, eating meals on the patio, or just taking in all the garden or collecting flowers are (along with writing) how I cling to sanity. Whatever sanity means these days.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Income Taxes, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford