Golden Girl Finance
Nancy Woods
Posts (13)

Ask the Expert

Q&A: Non-resident & cross-border investments

December 10th, 2012 by

I'm a Canadian and have been living in Brazil with my husband for 3 years. Both our careers are taking off and we are interested in investment opportunities in this international context. I have permanent residency here and he has the same in Canada, so we are lucky that we skip most of the red tape. We think that real estate might be the best opportunity but we are by no means financial experts. Any advice on cross-border investments?

Asked by Anonymous, Sao Paulo


You can purchase an investment property in Canada as a non-resident but there are several things to take into consideration.  There can be difficulty managing a property when not being nearby if there are any repair or emergency issues.  Furthermore, there needs to be a 25% withholding tax based on the monthly rental income that is sent to the CRA by the 15th of each month.  This does not require any tax filing by the owner.  This can either be submitted directly by the tenant or from an agent that collects the rent.  If you use an agent, they can directly deduct the rental expenses and remit 25% of the net rent by filing a form NR6.

Investments in equities done by an investment advisor are also possible.  With knowledge of any tax treaty between the two countries, an advisor can help to reduce or eliminate some non-residency withholding taxes by making specific investments.  Each country may or may not have a tax treaty with Canada allowing exclusions or not.

Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like direct help with your non-resident investment planning.


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Q&A: How do I purchase stocks within a TFSA?

December 1st, 2012 by

How do I purchase stocks within a TFSA? Do I have to pay a broker to do this?

Asked by Anonymous, London, ON


You can open a TFSA at a discount or full-service brokerage firm.  The amount charged to make the purchase of a stock investment varies from company to company.  Start with the current bank you are dealing with as it may be easiest to set up services like monthly contribution plans within the same institution.  You can own the same types of investments in a self-directed TFSA as you can in an RRSP or RIF.

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Q&A: Is a reverse mortgage advisable?

November 10th, 2012 by

I am 67 years old and working part-time. In my retirement, I will have a work pension of 1,000/month plus $750 CPP, as well as $150,000 in RRSPs. My house is worth $280,000 with a $50,000 mortgage. I also have a rental suite in the basement, rented at $700 a month. A reverse mortgage is on my mind so I can do home renovations; is this advisable?

Asked by Sternly, Winnipeg, MB


I am hesitant to suggest that you add on any debt to your existing mortgage in the form of a reverse mortgage or by increasing your existing mortgage. 

Before giving any advice, I would need to know further information, such as how much your mortgage payments are and specifically if the rental income covers the payment amount or not.  Similar information such as your income and expenses on a monthly basis are needed.  Based on the limited amount of information provided, it is difficult for me to give a more detailed response. 

Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like a more definitive answer.

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Q&A: Is my retirement plan on track?

February 29th, 2012 by

I am taking my CPP - at age 61 - and am considering putting it into a TFSA every month. From there, I plan to use the funds to pay whatever extra income tax I will owe and use the rest to pay down my mortgage in the following year. I contribute 12% to my RRSPs already. Is this plan the right path to take?

Asked by Debbie, Calgary, AB


I would use your CPP and add it to your mortgage payment each month. You should be able to increase your payment without penalty to a specific capped amount.

There is no benefit in delaying the mortgage payment by passing it through your TFSA for the year. The interest you save on the mortgage will likely offer a greater benefit than the gain on an investment within the TFSA.

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Q&A: How do I get my investment portfolio assessed?

January 16th, 2012 by

I'm not thrilled with my financial planner (FP). What is the best way to get my investment portfolio assessed? My FP is unable to tell me what my overall percentage growth is year over year and I recently read that this should be a red flag; is this true? Plus, I've never received any tax strategy tips to save me money. Looking for more...

Asked by Anonymous, Georgetown, ON


If you are not getting answers to any of your reasonable questions, it definitely is a "red flag". Your financial advisor is fully accountable to you for your money. They need to be able to tell you what the portfolio breakdown is for asset mix, sector diversification, suitability, yield and income, to name a few. They should be able to tell you what your past growth/loss has been year over year and especially relative to the market benchmarks.

As for tax strategies, this is certainly a component of investment planning. Your advisor should have had a lengthy conversation with you at the beginning of your relationship and should update it periodically. He or she should know your family dynamics, your retirement goals, family history, estate wishes, tax levels, past investment experiences, future goals and risk tolerance. Should you decide to interview for a new advisor, see if they ask you about these things and more importantly, how closely they listen to your answers.

The relationship between an advisor and client is a sacred one. It can and should last a lifetime. It involves a high level of trust, honesty and the ability to communicate well with one another. It is much like a marriage. If you have a good relationship, you will be with that advisor for many, many years. (I have some relationships with clients that have lasted even longer than their own marriages.) It is not something that a good advisor takes for granted and because of that, they do their utmost to look out for your best interests.