Archive for January, 2008

This and That

January 31, 2008

  1. How did a junior-level trader with a major French bank manage to bet 50 billion Euros of the bank’s money on stock futures?
  2. If you are renewing your mortgage, Rob Carrick feels that variable-rate might be the better option now.
  3. It is shocking to read the sleazy tactics employed by the door-to-door salespeople selling fixed-price natural gas or electricity contracts in Ellen Roseman’s column and blog post.
  4. James Daw writes in The Star that the current bargain gas price of 24.5 cents per cubic metre charged by Enbridge may not last.
  5. Money manager Leith Wheeler explains why they are bullish on natural gas.

Blog Round up will return next week. Have a nice weekend everyone!

Intuit’s Response on QuickTax

January 30, 2008


In response to an earlier post, the QuickTax product manager sent the following email, with permission to post on the blog. Please note that he clarifies that all versions of QuickTax include all the forms to address any tax scenario but the tools and optimizers are specific to the product tiers.

One of the reasons QuickTax has done so well in the Canadian market has been because a lot of customer feedback is incorporated into our products. For several years now, we’ve conducted Follow Me Home programs where we go to customers’ houses and watch them preparing and filing their taxes. (We don’t help or hinder; just observe). We take the positive and negative feedback and much of it does make its way into the products. The RRSP optimizer, for example, came out of one of those ”You know what would be really helpful?” comments.

All this is to say that we pay a lot of attention when people talk about QuickTax.

On the number of returns: Sixty per cent of QuickTax users prepare only one or two returns over $25K net individual income. That means more than half our QuickTax customers will pay less this year than they did last year when they take advantage of the ECO-Choice $10 Cash Back Offer.

Extra returns can be purchased for $10 per QuickTax Basic additional return, or $15 per QuickTax Standard, Platinum, or Business Unincorporated additional return. QuickTax installed software products also include 18 returns for taxpayers with under $25K net individual income. The Canada Revenue Agency has set a 20-return limit for all NETFILE-certified personal tax software, so no NETFILE products offer more than a total of 20 returns, regardless of income.

The majority of our customers choose QuickTax because it makes taxes easy, and gives them access to the support they need to make sure their taxes are done right. In addition to built-in tutorials and videos, QuickTax’s English and French support teams provide free technical support 7-days/week by phone, chat and email during tax season, from January 21 to May 2, 2008.

Lastly, we have extended the QuickTax range this year, from Basic to Business Unincorporated. It’s important to note that all versions of QuickTax come with all of the forms to complete any tax scenario, such as declaring dividend income. However, different products will have different tools and optimizers to meet specific needs based on individual tax situations.

Currency Effect on Foreign Equity Holdings

January 29, 2008


Many investors are interested in investing in currency neutral versions of foreign equity index funds given the recent rapid appreciation of the Canadian dollar. The Brandes Institute has researched the effects of currency on a portfolio and in a report titled Currency Hedging Programs: The Long-Term Perspective concludes that:

We believe that it’s appropriate for investors to choose either a hedged or an unhedged benchmark, and then stick with it for the long term (a 10-year horizon or longer).

You may also want to check out an earlier report published by the institute on the same topic that looked at the results of hedging for Canadian investors from the start of the floating exchange rate era to the end of 2005. The study found that the impact of hedging to be strongly cyclical and each cycle, on average lasting just under three years.