Don’t Tax My Health Benefits!


taxRecent media reports suggest the Government of Canada is considering a new federal tax on the employer-paid portion of your health and dental plan coverage.

In 1993, a similar provincial income tax on the employer-paid portion of benefit plans was introduced in Quebec. It resulted in almost 20 per cent of Quebec employers (including up to 50 per cent of small business employers) terminating their group benefit plans. Under the proposed legislation, employee coverage would be considered a taxable benefit (additional income).  So that $500 visit to the dentist, would now have to be declared, not as an expense but as income on your T4.

So What?

Taxing the employer-paid portion of benefit plans may have the following implications:

  • As an employee, you would have to pay tax on the amount of the employer-paid portion of health and dental coverage, as it would be a taxable benefit. While it’s not clear how much such a tax could cost, the additional amount subject to tax might be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • Termination of employer-paid health and dental benefit plans could lead to serious public health issues. According to a recent IPSOS poll, without coverage through group benefit plan, 84% of Canadians would end up delaying or forgoing treatment or medication if they didn’t have coverage. This will ultimately drive up treatment wait times and public health costs.mental-health
  • Among many other health outcomes, Canadians’ mental health will suffer as their covered access to needed psychological and other mental health supports will be reduced.

Take action

You can help protect the health care coverage that over 22 million Canadians rely on. Visit www.donttaxmyhealthbenefits.ca to tell your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Finance that you oppose a tax on your health and dental coverage. To ensure your voice is heard, use the hashtag #donttaxmyhealthbenefits on Facebook, Twitter.

 

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Saturday Night Live vs Donald Trump


When Humor Isn’t Meant to be Funny

alecbaldwintrumpEver since Alec Baldwin created his Saturday Night Live caricature of Donald Trump and even a bit before that, the late night comedy shows have had a field day making satire out of the political landscape. Of course late night comedy has always gotten laughs through satirical commentary so why should things be any different now? I vaguely remember Dana Carvey’s caricatures of George Bush in the early 90s which rumor has it President Bush himself made it a point to watch so that he could take a moment to laugh at himself.

There is something honestly refreshing about our ability to look at serious issues with a bit of humour. It’s healthy too. Dr. Avner Ziv, chair of the educational sciences department at Tel Aviv University has written extensively on the psychology of humor as an aid to education. His 1984 book “Personality and a Sense of Humor” is his most cited scholarly work on the subject and contains a large section on the purpose of humor in public discourse.

Less serious and self-involved people have held that things might be changed by a less tedious approach – that is, by means of humor. Humor exposes ugly human phenomena (those that render the world almost unbearable) to mockery, in the hope of thereby eliminating them. Man makes a mockery of man. In his efforts at changing and improving mankind, man turns matters he thinks grave into absurdities. He does this sometimes with delicate casualness, sometimes with disrespect, and sometimes with ferocity. The laughter that derives from the perception of absurdity reforms the world. [Avner Ziv – Personality and a Sense of Humor]

For this type of humor to work it must be delivered as broadly as possible. Originally theatre was the means to deliver humorous political commentary today we have the late night comedy show.

thatresatireThe English playwright, Ben Jonson described comedy as an educational instrument its goal is not to make us laugh but to arouse in us a form of moral outrage that leads us to improvement. The French novelist Stendhal concluded that the main aim of comedy is to expose people to mockery. The person who is the object of ridicule may be able to accept a reasoned rebuke without making significant changes, “thanks for the input but that’s just your opinion”, they may say. But that same person may not bear to be laughed at. Just before he died Charlie Chaplin said in an interview that the function of comedy is to sharpen our sensitivities to the perversion of justice.

We are entering a time when politicians seem hyper sensitive to this type of humor. Why, in contrast to former president Bush does Donald Trump refer to Saturday Night Live as “over-rated”, “unfair” and “biased”? Why did a prominent Texas republican senator who once likened president Obama to a Nazi recently say that we need to show more respect to the new president?

Why indeed?

Mockery and satire are the final frontier of political debate. As government becomes more totalitarian descent must become more direct and mean spirited.

Comedy is generally received in a friendly spirit. Satire is not. Its victims fear it as a threat to their power and position. Thus in totalitarian countries satire directed against the ruling powers is banned, and any manifestation of satire earns harsh punishment. [Avner Ziv – Personality and a Sense of Humor]

freespeachWhile most western democracies are a long way from a curtailing freedom of speech it is clear that there is a large contingent of politicians and citizens across the political spectrum who either feel that their only recourse is mockery or that they are being unfairly attacked. As we stand on the threshold of the Trump administration we would all do well to remember that governments do themselves a disservice by prevent or complaining about humor against themselves. Laughter is a safety value for the release of tension and one that should point the ruling party toward what the masses are really thinking. When they ignore it, seek to oppress it or complain too loudly about it they do so at their own peril.

I’m not laughing at any of this political satire anymore. I don’t find it funny in that way, it is very serious and the reaction that Mr. Trump has had to it is downright horrifying. Satire is not meant to illicit laughs it is meant to spark debate in a society where reasoned discourse has been oppressed.  When president Trump consistently complains that his detractors are “over-rated” and “sad” he is doing nothing to advance his agenda or enhance his image, he is fanning the flame. By attempting to discredit his detractors in this way the feelings of hostility will likely continue to increase. As these feelings build up they will create a kind of “pressure cooker” which will explode in time. Without satire and the laughter it invokes this hostility might be demonstrated in far more violent ways.

During the Obama administration we saw the advent of the Occupy Movement, a largely peaceful protest directed at the banks and other large institutional elites. Obama met the concerns of the masses with reasoned discourse and eventually helped temper their fears through the democratic process. I fear that unless the politicians start listening to each other again and learn to laugh at the satirists rather than seek to oppress and discredit them, the next time won’t be so peaceful.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated farming operations, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, has written 3 books on Economics and Christian Ethics and presented his ideas to business owners and ministry leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

Quote of the Day – 1/10/2017


By all means let us assist the poorer people as much as we can in their own efforts to build up their lives and to raise their standards of living. An international authority can be very just and contribute enormously to economic prosperity if it merely keeps order and creates conditions in which the people can develop their own life; but it is impossible to be just or to let people live their own life if the central authority doles out raw materials and allocates markets, if every spontaneous effort has to be “approved” and nothing can be done without the sanction of the central authority. – F.A. Hayek; The Road to Serfdom

Quote of the Day – 1/9/2017


Yet in fact, the economy is a subsystem of the earth’s ecosystem, its biosphere. You see, any economic system – like barter, slavery, feudalism, socialism, or capitalism – is a human invention. Since humans are just one of the earth’s many species (albeit a powerful species, what with our written words and our weapons), any invention of ours is a subsystem of the earth’s ecosystem. Once we understand that (which is not my opinion, but plain fact), it leads to other insights. – Annie Leonard; The Story of Stuff

 

Life Insurance in 2017: Business Unusual


The process has changed but the need and value remains the same.

jengaNobody wants to buy life insurance. A recent study by industry association LIMRA (Life Insurance Market Research Association), over six million households across Canada admit that they don’t think they have enough life insurance. To put that in perspective that’s 45% of households, up from 38% in 2006 and 33% in 1999. One of the reasons sited for the widespread discrepancy is a perceived notion that the process of applying for appropriate coverage is difficult and time consuming.

That may have been the case in the past but the truth is it’s no longer true. Like just about everything else, the process of purchasing life insurance is getting faster, easier and more flexible. So, if you’re like nearly half of Canadians surveyed and you would like to purchase more life insurance but have been hesitant to start the process, there is no time like the present to explore the many new solutions that are out there.

Applications are easier

Streamlined applications, less intrusive questions, and web based applications make it much easier to get the “paperwork” done. We are living longer and healthier lives which means that many of the new products don’t require medical evidence, such has blood tests at all, saving time, inconvenience and discomfort. In some cases the entire process can be wrapped up in one meeting, enter the agents office under insured, leave with an active policy in your hands.

Decisions are faster

decisiondiceEven when you still require the old fashioned medical evidence most insurers have implemented more streamlined processes, making it easier to approve applications and provide coverage more quickly. What used to take weeks in some cases can be approved in just one or two business days.

Choices are flexible

The products themselves have evolved significantly in recent years. You can now tailor key aspects of your coverage to fit your specific needs and lifestyle. For instance, it is now possible to earn rewards and save on premiums when you make healthy lifestyle decisions. This is just the beginning, insurers continue to innovate and you can expect more choices and greater flexibility in the future.

Value was never a question

In that same survey 54% of respondents expressed concern about how their family would manage if they died unexpectedly and 43% said that the main reason to have life insurance was that it was a necessary and wise investment. Fully one-third said that if the main breadwinner died, became disabled or experienced a critical illness they would have immediate concerns regarding how to meet everyday expenses.

The thing that has held back many is the impression that life insurance is complex. The reality however is that with the right support from a qualified advisor getting the coverage you need shouldn’t be a hassle. With all of these recent enhancements buying life insurance may be the easiest part of setting up your financial plan.

Ask before you buy

askHere are some of the most important questions to ask your advisor before you sign for a new life insurance policy.

  • How much insurance do I need to adequately protect my family?

  • What’s the best kind of insurance for me – term or permanent?

  • Will this always be the right choice? If not how often will we review my needs?

  • What do I have to do to apply? Are the forms complicated? Will I need to take a medical exam?

  • How quickly can I expect a decision?

  • What happens if I get sick after I buy?

  • Is there any flexibility if my finances change and I can no longer afford the premiums?

  • Can I add any riders to protect other family members as well?

Purchasing life insurance is easier than ever before.  Contact us for a free personal needs assessment.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated farming operations, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, has written 3 books on Economics and Christian Ethics and presented his ideas to business owners and ministry leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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