The Motley Fool

CRA Fines Quebec Man $500k: Is There a LEGAL Way to Avoid Taxes?

Image source: Getty Images

Last week, Advisor’s Edge reported that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) had fined a Quebec man $500,000 for tax evasion. The individual’s tax scheme involved trying to shelter his “luxurious” Quebec home from taxes, through complex offshore arrangements. The man had been investigated by the CRA for years and was finally charged when he returned to Canada after a period of living overseas.

This story illustrates the dangers inherent in trying to lower your tax bill. Aggressive tax avoidance measures can get you in trouble with the law, with fines and even jail time coming as a result. If you really play it fast and loose with your taxes, you never know what the worst-case scenario could be. Fortunately, there are several legal ways to lower your taxes. And the best part is you can get started lowering them today.

The LEGAL way to lower your taxes

The single best legal way to lower your taxes is to hold your investments in tax-sheltered and tax-deferred accounts. There’s the RRSP, which gives you a tax deduction on contribution; and the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), which offers tax-free growth and withdrawals.

Between the two, the TFSA has the most obvious benefits. An RRSP could come back to bite you if you withdraw early or have too much income in retirement. A TFSA, on the other hand, will always save you taxes as long as you’re realizing net gains.

5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Click here to gain access!

An example of how much you could save

To illustrate how much money you could save with a TFSA, let’s imagine that you bought $10,000 worth of Shopify Inc (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) at its IPO date, and held to today.

On the day of its IPO, SHOP closed at $34.9. Today, it’s worth over $1,400. That’s a return of over 4,000%. So, your $10,000 position would be worth around $400,000 now. In a TFSA, you’d pay no taxes on that gain.

Outside of a TFSA, it would be a completely different story. Of a $400,000 capital gain, half is taxable. That’s $200,000. The amount of tax you’d pay on that $200,000 would depend on your marginal tax rate.

However, that’s not much of an open question in this case: the gain alone would push you close to the maximum tax bracket in most provinces. So you’d likely pay about 50% on that taxable portion of the gain. The end result would be a tax bill in the vicinity of $100,000.

Foolish takeaway

As the above example shows, you can save massive amounts of money by holding investments in a TFSA. What’s even better is that such tax savings are completely legal. When you try to lower employment taxes through aggressive deductions or overseas corporations, there’s always the chance that the CRA will come looking for you.

Ultimately, it’s not a smart thing to do. But saving money on your investments is very do-able. It all starts with a bit of savings and a TFSA.

On the topic of TFSA investments...

Just Released! 5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today for under $49 a share.
Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued, but more importantly, could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.
Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your FREE 5-stock report now!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Andrew Button has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Shopify. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Shopify and Shopify.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss an important event.

Iain Butler and the Stock Advisor Canada team only publish their new “buy alerts” twice a month, and only to an exclusively small group.

This is your chance to get in early on what could prove to be very special investment advice.

Enter your email address below to get started now, and join the other thousands of Canadians who have already signed up for their chance to get the market-beating advice from Stock Advisor Canada.