Getting a tax refund is exciting, but should it be?

Roxanne Arnal, Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner© has made her article available in audio format.

Click the play button below to listen.

Dr. Roxanne Arnal, CFP®

It’s that time of year again – when most of us have had to open up our wallets and make a special contribution to the CRA. As many optometrists receive income in multiple formats such as salary, dividends, and self-employment, we typically find ourselves owing additional taxes at this time of year. But not always.

If you haven’t strategized your annual tax bill well in advance, you may have found yourself with a refund coming your way.

Do you get excited when you hear you are receiving a REFUND? I’d like to challenge you to think differently about this.

Strategize your Tax Bill

What? You mean I can strategize my tax bill? Yes you can! Every year after you file your taxes and receive your notice of assessment from the CRA, I highly recommend that you spend some time with your Certified Financial Planner working out the best strategy for your income draw over the balance of the current tax year.

Adjusting your RRSP contributions is one simple task that everyone should review annually. Reviewing your tax installments is another. Salary and dividend splits need to be reassessed on an ongoing basis. Although your accountant has calculated your tax contributions for the coming year, this does not mean these figures are written in stone. Yes, there are CRA guidelines, but these are based on your tax bill from your previous two years of filing.

Your tax contributions for the year can always be adjusted based on a number of projections that we review in our annual tax meeting. Will your RRSP contributions increase or decrease this year? Have you had your payroll deductions adjusted for variances from the standard table? Do you anticipate placing a hefty medical expense submission on your next tax return? And on that note, do you know that medical expenses are any 12 consecutive months and not tied to the calendar year? Changes to your charitable contributions? Disability tax credit qualification change? Has there been a fundamental shift in taxation that will directly impact you?

We all know these things matter when we submit our paperwork to our accountant annually, but have you taken the time to plan for them earlier in the year and adjusted your tax contributions accordingly?

Why does planning ahead matter?

We all appreciate the social services that Canada offers. If you’ve ever been sick or seriously injured, you recognize the value of our health care system. Pandemic? Well you probably appreciated several of the government programs. Free highway access – yes please. Our social services are part of what makes this country great. But they do come at a cost and our tax system is designed to fund these costs – in one form or another.

So yes, pay your taxes, but don’t go donating extra to the government. When you make installments in excess of your tax bill, you are actually lending the government your money for free. FOR FREE!

With all due respect, if we owe them money, we will be charged interest and penalties. So don’t just ignore those tax installments, but adjust them to make them closer to target.

Do you like getting a tax refund? Well I don’t know about you, but I don’t like lending out my money interest free. Savings accounts might be paying dismally low interest right now, but they are still better than zero and maintaining the control of your own money is directly linked to opportunity flexibility,

Let’s get smarter about our money.

Need help planning your next tax year? Start with your tax return and an understanding of your year ahead – and let’s talk.


Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner

Roxanne Arnal graduated from UW School of Optometry in 1995 and is a past-president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS).  She subsequently built a thriving optometric practice in rural Alberta.

Roxanne took the decision in  2012 to leave optometry and become a financial planning professional.  She now focuses on providing services to Optometrists with a plan to parlay her unique expertise to help optometric practices and their families across the country meet their goals through astute financial planning and decision making.

Roxanne splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Dr. Glen Chiasson.


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