The other day I happened to notice an immigration consultant’s advertisement encouraging immigration to Canada. One of the encouragements was that Canada does not have an estate tax. Yikes I thought. We may not have an estate tax but we sure do tax on death. Under the Canadian Income Tax Act, an individual is deemed to have disposed of his or her capital assets at fair market value immediately before death. This allows the heir to the assets to receive it at fair market value at time of death. The estate pays the capital taxes due if any. For the reader who is curious, a capital asset is a long-term asset that is not purchased or sold in the normal course of business such as furniture, land, buildings. Do note that upon death, one can defer the deemed disposition through a spousal trust.
I have noticed a fair amount of my readers are from outside of Canada and wanted to clarify that although we tax capital assets at death here in Canada this does not make Canada less attractive. I have been fortunate to have worked in Vancouver, Montreal and currently carry out my law practice here in Toronto and can attest to the beauty of this vast country. The natural beauty of Vancouver where my twins were born will always stay with me – especially at this time of the year when the city’s cherry blossom trees are all abloom. I adore Montreal – the food, the ambiance, Old Montreal. Toronto – what I love about this city – is that it truly is a reflection of the United Nations. Our dentists hail from the Philippines and Cuba. Our dental hygienist is from Serbia. Our close friends are Russians, Croatians, many generations ago Canadians and I can continue on. Of course we are all Canadians but it is nice when I can go for Congee in Richmond Hill and feel as if I am in Hong Kong and can carry on a conversation in Dutch. The twins experienced the celebration of Holi and got covered in colored powder a month ago in Toronto.
But what I love best about Toronto is the honesty and kindness of its inhabitants. I can attest to that – one of the twins lost her cell phone on the board walk last summer – a flip blackberry – someone found it and called my number which was on the display of the phone. I managed to lose my Prada wallet with credit cards, all identification and cash – was returned by the Toronto Police – delivered to my door. I left my gold bracelets in a change room in a shop – returned after I realized I had left it behind four hours later with the sales person telling me “people leave their jewelry behind all the time”. My daughter left her Marc Jacobs bag behind in a shoe store in the Eaton Centre containing her wallet and yes the same phone which was left behind on the boardwalk – of course we got it back.