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Personal finances, investments, consumption, retirement… Our columnist Marie-Eve Fournier covers the small and big issues that concern readers of Press.

Posted at 6:00 am

Money that legally expires

Why is Canadian Tire no longer refunding our merchandise returns, but instead giving us an applicable card on a purchase at their stores? This card is good for one year. Is this legit?
– Jacques M.

Nothing forces a trader to withdraw a good if the consumer simply no longer wants it.

Companies that allow exchanges, returns, and returns do so on a voluntary basis, primarily for marketing purposes, to differentiate themselves from the competition, or to have a good reputation. And they are not even required to disclose their policy before the purchase or to display it, except in the case of a contract concluded at a distance, explains the spokesman for the Consumer Protection Agency, Charles Tanguay.

However, while merchants are free to create the policy of their choice, they are required by law to abide by it.

When a retailer accepts merchandise returns, they also decide how they will do so. The refund is often made in the same way as the payment (credit card, debit card, cash).

Instead, other companies reimburse their customers by depositing the sum on a gift card, which guarantees them to see the person again one day.

This type of card, which has not been paid for directly by the customer, is not subject to Consumer protection law. As a result, the card may have an expiration date, unlike purchased gift cards. Something to remember: “The law establishes the rules that govern prepaid cards. Therefore, the rules only apply if someone has paid for the card”, says Charles Tanguay.

Thus, cards awarded as a prize, within the framework of a contest, a promotion, as compensation for a previous purchase or for any other reason, are therefore not subject to the rules on prepaid cards.

Let’s go back to the specific case of Canadian Tire. The media relations officer did not respond to my questions directly. But the employees of two stores explained to me that returns are still refunded in cash, to the credit or debit card, depending on the original payment method, if the person has their invoice in hand and the good is resellable (box in good condition). ) .

In other cases (no invoice, box in poor condition, purchase made with a gift card), the amount is remitted in “a return card valid for one year”.

Also, if you buy something that goes on sale the following week, you can claim the difference. Which will then be given to you on this type of card.

Joint accounts upon death


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, PRESS ARCHIVE

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery in Montreal

In Quebec, the joint bank account is temporarily frozen in the event of the death of a co-owner. This can become problematic if all sources of income (PSV, QPP, pension) are paid and expenses are automatically deducted. In other provinces, the surviving holder becomes the sole owner. Why is it different in Quebec?

Martin L.

In fact, the rules surrounding joint accounts are not the same in Quebec and the rest of the country.

“In the other provinces, common law provides that the surviving co-owner retains the balance of the account and continues managing it, because it is presumed that the co-owners pursue a common goal,” explains the Banco Nación spokesperson. Jean-François Cadieux.

Thus, upon the death of one of the co-owners, the survivor can still make withdrawals, and automatic withdrawals (electricity, insurance, telecommunications) are made without a problem.

In Quebec, where the Civil Code dictates the rules, it is different.

Joint bank accounts are subject to the principle of joint ownership. This means that it is not possible to determine the participation of each of the co-owners.

When a person dies, their property passes to their heirs and a trustee will have to distribute it. Therefore, the money in the joint account cannot belong directly to the owner of the joint account. It may belong to someone else.

Thierry L. Martin, Attorney at Martel Cantin

Therefore, to protect the estate, a decedent’s accounts are temporarily frozen.

But financial institutions enjoy a little room for manoeuvre. “Requests related to living and funeral expenses can go through. So there is an analysis that is done on a case-by-case basis, depending on the client’s situation. […] There is always a question of judgment”, summarizes Timia Di Pietro, Senior Director of Legal Affairs at National Bank.

A joint owner who needs cash must go to a branch to request it, with the will in hand. If he is the sole heir to the deceased, this will obviously make things easier and faster.

Direct debits, however, no longer work. “So we opened another account for the co-owner,” says Timia Di Pietro.

However, things are about to change.

Quebec adopted Bill 2 in early June, which creates a new law specifically related to joint accounts at death.

Financial institutions should assume that the sums held in a joint account belong equally (50-50) to the two people, “unless the co-owners have specified different percentages to their bank”, stresses Jean-François Cadieux.

Thus, a co-owner may be able to withdraw funds owed to them after a death and deposit them into another account, particularly for automatic withdrawals. The other part will remain frozen until the estate is resolved.

Financial institutions have six months to comply with the provisions of the new Quebec law.

A primary residence outside of Canada?


PHOTO SEAN KILPATRICK, THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

A residence outside of Canada qualifies as a taxpayer’s primary residence.

If I rent an apartment in Canada and own a residence in the United States, can the residence in the United States be considered a primary residence for Canadian tax purposes?

Rejean L.

When it comes to taxes, the basic principle is this: Canadians living in Canada pay taxes on all their income, regardless of where it comes from in the world. Thus, when selling a condominium in Florida, for example, the gain (capital gain) will be taxed at 50%.

Réjean could avoid this tax: a residence outside of Canada is eligible as the taxpayer’s primary residence. Thus, during the sale, the profit will not be subject to taxes, as if the property were in Canadian territory.

However, during the transaction, 15% of the sale price will have to be withheld and sent to the US tax authorities. “It’s your security,” explains David Truong, advisor to the National Bank Private Banking Center of Expertise 1859. For For example, if the property is sold for US$500,000, the sum of US$75,000 will be withheld… even if it is greater. than the profit obtained.

Depending on the rather complex US tax rules, it will then be necessary to determine whether a tax is payable in the US by consulting a tax specialist who is familiar with local law. The retention of US$75,000 can then be recovered in whole or in part, as the case may be. Please note that if the buyer is purchasing the property for residential purposes, no withholding is required if the sales price is less than $300,000.

Remember that a married couple or common-law spouses can only have one primary residence.

Also, the number of days in a year that one lives in a property has no impact on its status (primary or secondary). The tax collector will not ask you to do calculations with a calendar or to provide proof.

To determine which of your properties is the principal, we prefer to use the average annual profit, David Truong specifies.

For example, if you have owned a house in the country for 20 years that has appreciated in price by $200,000 ($10,000/year) and a condo in the city for 10 years that has increased in price by $150,000 ($15,000/year), year), it is more tax efficient to declare the condo as your primary residence. Even if we only live there three months a year.

Be careful, though, a primary residence must be “normally occupied” by its owner, notes David Truong. Therefore, a condo intended for rent on Airbnb, for example, might not qualify.

aluminum spinning


PHOTO IVANOH DEMERS, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

For peace of mind before putting your property up for sale, we suggest having your wiring checked by a master electrician.

My house is built with aluminum wiring. When I have to renew my home insurance, as soon as the insurer becomes aware of this situation, they refuse to give me a price. Should I sell my house at a discount to put it up for sale, because a new buyer will never be able to insure it?

Maria V.

Before you let your house go for a pittance, let’s first see what impact spun aluminum has on its price.

The collegiate appraiser Simon Beauchemin, of the Montreal firm PCG Carmon, assures that he does not automatically reduce the value of properties whose walls hide aluminum, “if everything is functional and the house is insurable”. And above all, “we do not put a house to spin! “, He insists.

For peace of mind before putting your property up for sale, he suggests having a master electrician check the wiring. The latter will be able to determine if corrective measures should be taken and estimate the possible cost of such an operation. Once the quotes are in hand, we can start the work, which could be an advantage at the time of the sale. Otherwise, the price of the work may be deducted from the sale price.

When it comes to insurance, there is no motto in the industry for not insuring homes with aluminum wiring. Each company is free to take the risks they want.

But it turns out that these properties present “increased risks of fire causing significant damage,” says Anne Morin, manager of public affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)..

This reduces the number of companies that agree to insure these properties, confirms Louis-Thomas Labbé, chairman of the independent brokerage firm Gallagher GPL. “There are three that we know of, and they only accept if a master electrician has done an inspection. These are Intact, Economic and Ultimate.

“An insurer has no obligation to insure a home or renew a contract. She could decide to stop securing houses with aluminum threads. Based on their claims experience and risk assessment, insurers review their underwriting and pricing policies,” continued Ms.me Morin.

If a property owner is having difficulty finding an insurer despite all their efforts, they can seek the help of an independent broker. Or the intervention of the ACBC. For this, he must fill out a form available online. The BAC will guarantee access to insurance, but will not intervene in setting prices.

That said, the difficulty in insuring a home could theoretically have some impact on the property’s appeal. Because during the sale, the Seller’s Statement, a required form, contains the following question: “Has an insurance company ever refused to insure the building in whole or in part?” Whether a positive response will dampen a potential buyer’s enthusiasm in the current market environment remains to be seen.

Furthermore, this document does not contain any precise questions about the type of yarn. But if an electrician has told us about possible problems, it is better not to take the risk of hiding the information, of course.


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