Sunday, July 22, 2012

Middle-Age Honger

My mom enters my apartment unannounced, without knocking. I ran into my room to put more clothes on, already irritated.
She needed to drop off something at my place and she happened to be downtown working. Her co-worker was carpooling with her so she wanted to check out my apartment.

The whole time while my mom were discussing what she was dropping off and her asking me what else she needed out of her grocery bag, the woman kept up her soliloquy in Cantonese:

"WAH! Apartment so small! (WAH GUM SAI, etc.) The bed doesn't even fit the bedroom! WAH! That is the fridge? So tiny, never seen any this tiny! That sink, you can only fit one pot. No counter space. How is this possible a place so small. How is this liveable? That's it to the place? Nothing else? WAH, I can never live here, how does one live here? I would never be able to live here"

This went on for approximately 5-10 minutes, all the while she's sucking her teeth and shaking her head "tse tse tse" I looked at this women a couple of times with my eyebrows raised but didn't say a word the entire time. My mom pretended I didn't understand cantonese and looked at me horrified and giving me a look like, "don't talk back."

Before she left, she says to me in canton-laden mandarin, "your pantry is very pretty."
I gave her a tight-lipped smile, did not say anything, and closed the door behind them.

I was polite enough, considering I have never met her before.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Canadian Non-Resident with Rental Property

Lately I've been trying to figure out the process of renting my place out before I move to Paris. Ironically, finding a tenant is the easy part - the hardest part is actually trying to figure out how the income tax is going to work. After refusing to call Canadian Revenue and searching online, and then finally giving in and being transferred a billion times, I've finally figured it out (I think).

To begin, all Canadian-income generated by a non-resident is subjected to 25% tax withholding from your gross income. That means if you are receiving $1000/month, you must pay $250 of that to Federal Canada every month, regardless of your expenses. At the end of the year, I don't even know if you can claim it back - I'm not really sure how that works, because this entry is not about that, it's about paying taxes just from your Net Income.

Now, if you are poor like me, the alternative to that would be to pay 25% of your NET income. That is, your gross income, minus things like maintenance fee, utilities (if you're paying), things you've fixed in the home, interest from your mortgage, property tax, etc. If all of that totals to $300/month, you only need to pay 25% of $700, which is $175/month. A tiny bit better. Nevertheless, in order to do this, you have several things you must do before you start collecting rent, as listed below.
  1. Get an Agent: What's an agent you ask? Basically anyone who is a Canadian resident and has a Non-Resident (NR) Tax account number. Their responsibility is as follows:
    • Submit 25% of your net rental income to Canada Revenue every month
    • Fill out an NR4 Slip and NR4 Summary and the end of the year (Dec) and submit it to Canada Revenue

  2. Agent Open a Non-Resident Account: This must be done by your agent as it will be under his/her account. S/he will need to call 1-855-284-5946 with the following information:
    • His/Her name and address
    • His/Her SIN
    • Non-resident's name and the property rental information 
    Once the account has been opened, the agent will receive an NR75, which is a form that specifies all the information with regard to the account. If all the information is correct, the agent does not have to do anything. Along with the NR75 are remittance vouchers - these can be used to pay for the monthly taxes at a financial institution. If you are paying on behalf of the agent online, you will not need those vouchers.

  3. File an NR6: The NR6 is known as the "Undertaking to File an Income Tax Return by a Non-Resident Receiving Rent from Real Property or Receiving a Timber Royalty." This must be done at the beginning of every year (before your first rental income received of the year). This is an optional form that would only be filed if you want to do 25% of your net income instead of gross. On this form you must specify:
    • Your information
    • You rental property information
    • Your Agent information, including the NR account number.
    • A statement that details your gross rental income, and the deductions that lead to the Net income.
    Once you filed the NR6, you must wait for it to get approved.
After steps 1-3 are done, the next thing you must do is ensure that you pay the withholding to the government on-time.

  1. Pay the Government Monthly: You must pay 25% of your net income (the amount as approved by the NR6) to Revenue Canada on a monthly basis (this is the actual withholding), within 15 days after receiving your rental income. If you overpay, you'd be able to claim it back when you file your yearly income tax (which you MUST DO or else they will make you pay the tax from the gross income). There are several ways to pay - but the easiest way is of course electronically. I am going to be using My Payment, which will require that you have either a TD, Scotia, RBC, or BMO bank account. All you will need is:
    • The NR Account Number
    • Your Bank Account Number
    • The amount and the period for which you are paying
At the end of the year what you must do is the following:
  1. Agent Submit NR4 and NR4 Summary: This process is essentially done by your agent before March 31st. The steps are as follows:
    • The agent fills out one NR4 and makes 4 copies of it
      • one copy s/he keeps
      • two copies s/he provides to the non-resident
      • one copy he/she must send to the Canada Revenue Agency along with the NR4 Summary
    • The NR4 Summary is almost exactly like the NR4 except that it tells Canada Revenue how many NR4 slips were sent throughout the year.

  2. File T-1159: You, or the Non-Resident who owns the property, must file a T-1159 "Income Tax Return for Electing under Section 216" before June 30th of the following year. This is the most important(!!!!!!) part of the process. If you do not file this before June 30th, everything you have done is nullified and the government will charge you tax on your GROSS INCOME TAX and ask you for more money. If you file this on time, you might even get some money back because more tax has been withheld (for example, you had to fix your dishwasher, which can be deducted from your income, or your maintenance fee has increased, etc.) than necessary. If you never filed the NR6 then you have two years to file this form. You will need to also submit:
    • A rental statement
    • The NR4(s)

    You can send the package to:
    International Tax Services Office
    Post Office Box 9769, Station T
    Ottawa ON K1G 3Y4
That's all you have to do. For references, you can check the following:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


The way Chinese character works is that a single character on its own has a partial meaning and when combined with another character that has its own partial meaning, it creates a phrase that solidifies and strengthen the meaning, sometimes due to repetition of meaning, sometimes through extension of meaning.

For example, the Chinese word "róng" [容] generally means having room, in the context of having the room to accept or allow something to happen.

The character "bao" [包] generally means wrap/include/package. Together, they make the phrase "bao rong" [包容], which would transliterate to include room for acceptance, which would translate to "tolerance." Another phrase that can also be translated to "tolerant" is "qwan rong" [寬容], which comes from the character "qwan" [寬], which means wide, therefore, wide acceptance or lenience. Now if you put the character with the world "sho" [收], meaning collect, you get "sho rong" [收容], which means having the room to take in something. If you put the character with "ren" [忍], meaning endure, you get "rong ren" [容忍], or the room to endure

  • Endure, or "Rong ren" [容忍], is generally used in the context of people and behaviour so that you have room to endure others behaviour.
  • Take in, or "Sho rong"[收容], is generally used in the context of having room to adopt/house another person or pet of some sort (collecting, accepting another physical being).
  • Lenient Tolerate, or "Qwan rong" [寬容], is generally used in the context of the law or social rules, meaning you are lenient towards someone who's done something bad, and that you are forgiving.
  • Acceptance tolerate, or "Bao rong" [包容], is generally used in the context of relationships, meaning that you are accepting of others' flaw.

Without going into all the denotations and connotations of that character (there are definitely more), already we can see that the character "rong" [容] has a positive connotation.  To have the room/air/capacity means you are the bigger person and therefore educated, erudite, and classy.

Asian philosophy dictates that in a happy marriage, husbands and wives must "hu hsiang bao rong" [互相包容] - mutual mutual include acceptance, i.e., be tolerant of each another. A man must have the capacity to be receptive to the flaws of his wife and a woman must have the room to be open-minded about her husband's failings. Of course, from a general standpoint, tolerance is necessary for any relationship. A person who has the capacity to tolerate differences from others, to have an open-mind about the world is someone who can easily love and be loved. After all, no one is perfect. If you cannot tolerate another person because you think they are dumb, or boring, simply beneath you, then you are asking to be treated the same way by someone else who cannot tolerate your flaws.