My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - A Family Vacation- A Memory Worth Not Dying For

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting a May 8, 2012 post on the merits of a grandparent/parent taking their family on a vacation if they have the financial means.

A Family Vacation- A Memory Worth Not Dying For

I have written several times on the topic of whether parents, who have the financial means, should provide partial gifts while they are alive, as opposed to just leaving an inheritance to their children or grandchildren.

I am a proponent of providing partial gifts while alive if you have the financial resources. My rationale is simple. Why not receive the pleasure of your gift either directly (such as a family vacation) or vicariously (by observing your children or grandchildren enjoy their gift such as a bike, car or even cottage).

The concept of a partial gift being used at least in part for a family vacation has substantial appeal to many parents. A family vacation is appealing because a parent can participate in the experience, the vacation more often than not, results in memories that last a lifetime for all the participants, and lastly, the parent has control over the gift.

I can attest personally to the benefits of a family vacation. Several years ago, my in-laws funded a Disney Cruise vacation for their children, their children's spouses and their grandchildren. This trip had a profound impact on the bonding of the grandchildren. In the case of my in-laws, the memories and enhancement of their grandchildren’s relationships was priceless and continues to this day.

Another very poignant and moving example of the gift of travel is the story of Les Brooks. Les, a Vietnam veteran, had unresolved issues relating to the war and as he states in a Princess Cruises travel blog (unfortunately the link has expired)  “Vietnam was a place I left in 1966 praying I would never have to go back. But Christle sensed the deeper truth…I was curious about the place; I wanted and needed to see for myself what life was like today for the people of a country that I left so torn apart by war.”.

One day during the course of a conversation, Les’ mother asked him if he could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would he go. After thinking about the question he surprised his mother by saying Vietnam. Unbeknownst to Les, she later booked him on a cruise to Vietnam. 

Sadly, his mother passed away before Les took the cruise and could not observe the impact this gift had on her son’s life; but I would surmise, she knew the impact it would have as she paid for the cruise. Les says this about the special gift his mother provided while alive; “I realize my mother’s gift had opened the door to many profound gifts. Through her kindness and intuition, she provided the way back to Vietnam and my healing. There, through the smiling acceptance and unspoken forgiveness of that little girl and the many other Vietnamese who welcomed me, I was able to put aside much of the guilt that had gnawed at me for so long."


While Les’ gift was not a family bonding vacation, it was a gift provided while his mother was alive, a trip that may never have occurred if Les inherited the money and spent it otherwise.

The concept of using a partial gift to fund a family vacation has become popular for both family bonding and financial reasons as discussed in this USA Today article . As grandparent David Campbell says in the article, he is mostly motivated by a desire to make his children's lives a little easier. "It's getting to a point I'd like them to enjoy life," says Campbell, a regional sales manager. "And if they're going to enjoy it, they might as well enjoy it with me."

I have observed the family vacation phenomenon on several of my own vacations. Suddenly a horde of people arrive at the pool or restaurant (not necessarily a welcome site for other vacationers) with corny matching t-shirts, saying “Smith Family Vacation 2011” or some other similar sentiment. 

Although we all know that any large family gathering can veer off the rails, these trips often bridge the generation gap between offspring and grandparents and parents. I often hear people reference these types of family vacations when they have a family get-together or the topic arises over dinner with non-family members.

Personally, I would rather hear my grandchildren say or know they are saying "When I was young, my grandparents took me on the most amazing trip!", than, “I just inherited $25,000 from my grandparents, what should I buy with it?”

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - Estate Freeze - A Tax Solution for the Succession of a Small Business

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting a June, 2014 blog post on Estate Freezes. If this topic interests you, there were two follow-up posts based on noted author Tom Deans, that suggest an Estate Freeze could be the wrong solution for family succession and a discussion of some vital issues when transferring a family business.

Estate Freeze – A Tax Solution for the Succession of a Small Business


Winston Churchill once said, “Let our advance worrying, become advance thinking and planning.” Small business owners often worry about their exit strategy and/or succession plan. They may also be concerned about what would happen to their business if they have a health scare or receive an ultimatum from a child working in their business. Often a small business owner’s worry becomes their anxiety, instead of their advanced planning.

As a small business owner, at the end of the day, there are essentially only two exit strategy/succession options you need to plan and/or consider:

(1) A sale of your business, typically to a competitor, sometimes to current management or very infrequently, an actual sale to a child or other family member; or

(2) A transfer of the business to your children without a sale (for purposes of this article I will refer to this option as an “estate freeze”).

My blog post today discusses estate freezes. How you can transfer your business tax-free to a successor (typically your children, sometimes to existing management) while continuing to control and receive remuneration from your business.

As noted in the links in the first paragraph, Tom Deans the author of Every Family's Business (the bestselling family business book of all-time) believes a business should in most cases be sold and never handed over to the next generation (such as done with an estate freeze) without the parent(s) adequately being compensated for the business, including their children.

What is an Estate Freeze?

The most tax efficient manner to transfer your business to your children is to undertake an estate freeze. An estate freeze allows your child(ren) to carry on your business, while at the same time you receive shares worth the current value of your business. In addition, once your share value is locked-in, your future income tax liability in respect of your company’s shares is fixed and can only decrease. Keep in mind that when you freeze the value of your company you are not receiving any monies for your shares at that time. There may be ways to monetize that value in the future, but on an estate freeze, you typically only receive shares of value, not cash.

The key risk in any estate freeze is that your children may partially or fully devalue these shares and your company. So while an estate freeze may be the most tax efficient way to transfer your business, it may not be the best decision from an economic or monetization perspective. 

In a typical estate freeze, you exchange your common shares of your corporation on a tax-free basis for preferred shares that have a permanent value (“frozen value”) equal to the common shares’ fair market value (“FMV”) at the time of the freeze. Subsequently, a successor or successors, say your children or family trust can subscribe for new common shares of the corporation for a nominal amount.

This concept is best explained with an example. Assume Mr. A has an incorporated business worth $3,000,000 and wants to undertake an estate freeze. In the course of the freeze, Mr. A is issued new preferred shares worth $3,000,000 and his children or a family trust subscribes for new common shares for nominal consideration. Mr. A’s tax liability in relation to these shares on death, is now fixed at approximately $750,000 in Ontario at the high rate. Often, a key aspect of an estate freeze is a plan to reduce the tax liability by redeeming the preferred shares on a year by year basis as discussed below.

If you have access to your lifetime capital gains exemption (currently at $813,600 but indexed for inflation), your income tax liability may be reduced when the shares are eventually sold or upon your death if you still own them at that time. Finally, you may choose to crystallize your exemption when you freeze the shares.

The preferred shares received on the freeze can be created such that they allow you to maintain voting control of your corporation until you are satisfied your child(ren), is(are) running the company in the manner you desire. This maybe a double-edged sword, as you may tend to hold onto control long after your successors have proven themselves. This may become a contentious issue.

Preferred shares can also serve as a source of retirement income. Typically what is done is that your preferred shares are redeemed gradually. So, for example, if you need $100,000 before tax a year to live, you can redeem $100,000 of your preferred shares each year. Let’s say you live 20 years and redeem a $100,000 a year. By the time of your death, you will have redeemed $2,000,000 ($100,000 x 20 years) of your preferred shares and they will now only be worth $1,000,000 ($3,000,000 original value less $2,000,000) at your death. Your income tax liability on these shares at the time of your death will now only be approximately $250,000.

The Benefits of an Estate Freeze


1. On death (something we should all be planning for), an individual is subject to a deemed disposition (i.e. a sale) on all of his/her assets at FMV, which would include his/her shares of the business. An estate freeze sets your maximum income tax liability upon this deemed sale and as discussed above, this liability can be lowered over the years by redeeming the shares.

2. Family members will be able to become shareholders of the business at a minimal cost and be motivated to build the business (although Tom Deans would dispute this assertion).

3. Instead of having children directly subscribe for new common shares, you can create a discretionary family trust to hold the common shares. Every year, the corporation can pay dividends to the family trust which can then allocate the dividends to family members with lower marginal tax rates. This mechanism allows for great income splitting opportunities.

4. On the eventual sale of the business, the children or family trust may realize a significant capital gain. Assuming that the business qualifies for the capital gains exemption, the family trust can allocate this capital gain to each beneficiary who may be able to use his/her own lifetime capital gains exemption limit to shield $813,600 or more of capital gains from income tax.

One of the more critical aspects of an estate freeze is the determination of the fair market value ("FMV") of your business. In order to ensure that an estate freeze proceeds as smoothly as possible, the FMV of the company must be calculated. In the event that the FMV determined is challenged by the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”) the attributes of the preferred shares will have a purchase price adjustment clause that will let the freezer reset the FMV. The CRA has stated in the past that they will generally accept the use of a purchase price adjustment clause if a “reasonable attempt” has been made in valuing the company. Engaging a third party independent Chartered Business Valuator to prepare a valuation report is generally accepted as a “reasonable attempt” in estimating the FMV.

Issues to Consider Before Implementing an Estate Freeze


An estate freeze does not make sense for all business owners. While the above benefits do sound very enticing, it depends on each owner’s personal circumstances. Issues to be considered include:

1. Are you relying on the value of the company to fund your retirement? If so, it may be best to sell and ensure you have a secure retirement.

2. Do you have an identified successor, i.e. child, able and willing to work in your business?

3. Can you bring one child into the business without creating a dispute amongst your children?

4. Are your children married and how may a divorce or separation impact the business?

Long-time readers of my blog will know that I am a proponent of family discussions and getting over the money taboo. I cannot overstate the importance of having a detailed discussion with your family if you plan to hand your business over to one or more of your children. If you pass that hurdle, you must speak with your accountant and lawyer to ensure you understand the implications of the freeze and how to properly implement the corporate restructuring. Finally, your tax advisor will want to structure the freeze such that it can be “thawed” if the business suffers a setback due to the economy, or your child(ren) prove incapable of running the company.

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - Stress Testing your Spouse's Financial Readiness if you were to Die Suddenly

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting an October, 2012 blog on stress testing your spouse's financial readiness if you were to die suddenly. This post has proven to be my most impactful blog post ever. It spawned a couple of newspaper articles, led to a BNN appearance, various interviews and has been the topic of several speeches.

Stress Testing your Spouse's Financial Readiness if you were to Die Suddenly


I have written about several morbid estate planning topics on my blog. However, I think today’s post easily ranks as #1 on the morbidity scale.
I will have the impertinence to suggest that you should stress test how financially and organizationally ready your spouse would be should you die suddenly, or vice versa.

Essentially I am telling you to take a financial and organizational walk through your death.

As I don’t want to be known as Morbid Mark, I am going to provide a side benefit of undertaking this morbid task. Girls, instead of the usual headache excuse, tell your guy sure, but first lets stress test your death. I guarantee you will have the night off. Guys, if your wife is taking you to the ballet, just before you are about to leave, tell her you just want to financially stress test her death and I don’t think you will have to attend the Nutcracker.

Seriously though, even with today’s modern families, where both spouses often have some level of financial acumen, most families really give little thought to what would happen if god-forbid one of them passed away unexpectedly.

It is important to understand that this post is not intended for older readers, but to anyone married or in a common law relationship, no matter their age. A 40 year old can get hit by a car anytime, just as much as an elderly person can pass away due to old age. The idea for this blog came about because I realized if I passed away suddenly, I had only partially provided my wife a financial road map or our assets, insurance polices etc. Why I am even cognizant of such a morbid concern is that my father passed away suddenly 25 years ago and if I was not an accountant, my mother would have been overwhelmed trying to find insurance polices, bank accounts and various other investments at a time of intense grief and shock.

Many of the comments I make below were discussed in Roma Luciw's Globe and Mail article Why you should stress-test your finances for a sudden death, so I apologize for any duplication if you read that article, but there are additional links below.

Some of the issues that need to be stress-tested:

  1. If you have pre-paid your funeral or have certain wishes, ensure your spouse is aware of where this information is located.
  2. Does your spouse know where to find a copy of and/or the lawyer who drafted your will? More importantly, is your will up-to-date? If you own your own company, do you have two wills?
  3. Do you have a folder for all your insurance policies? Does your spouse know where it’s located? While in good health, you should prepare a summary of all insurance policies you have on an excel spreadsheet; list the policy number, the insurance company, the type of insurance as well as the value of the insurance and staple it to the front of your insurance folder. You may also want to create a special password protected file (let’s call it the “Information Folder” for lack of a better name) on your spouse’s computer that contains this summary information.
  4. Do you have a list of the assets you own and where they are located? As I discussed in my blog Where are the Assets, you should complete and update yearly a basic information checklist. Again, I suggest a PDF placed in your Information Folder.
  5. As I discussed in this blog on Memory Overload, the use of multiple passwords is so prevalent that you should consider making a list of your key passwords for your spouse, that again is either put into the Information Folder or another more secure location. The objective of this exercise is to ensure your spouse will not be locked out of your various financial accounts because he/she does not know the passwords.
  6. Do you have a contact list for your spouse with the phone numbers and contact information of your accountant, lawyer and financial advisor? Have you introduced your spouse to these people? Again, consider creating a PDF and putting it in the Information File.
  7. Consider any accounts, safety deposit boxes, etc. your spouse may not be aware of. There are various reasons one spouse does not make another spouse aware of these items. However, the reason for their existence is not relevant here, what is important is that you somehow ensure that someone will become aware of the existence of these accounts or safety deposit boxes if you die. 
The above list is far from comprehensive. However, the intention of this blog was not completeness, but to get you to take a step back and consider the unthinkable and whether or not you have prepared the proper trail to allow your grieving spouse to move forward financially with the least amount of stress. I know this is morbid and people tend to procrastinate or ignore anything related to death, but look at this as selfless instead of morbid and maybe you will be moved to act.
 
This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - Resverlogix - A Cautionary Tale

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting a November, 2010 blog post on my trials and tribulations as a shareholder in Resverlogix, a small Canadian public bio-tech stock. [Note: I have edited the original post to reduce the length and updated the tale at the conclusion of the post].

I selected this post as a "best of" for two reasons:

1. It is still an interesting story and my experience should still prove as a caution for your investing, even almost 4 years after my post was published.

2. This post has a soft spot for me. Back in November, 2010, I was a struggling blogger with maybe 3 readers. When I posted this blog, it was picked up by Seeking Alpha a large U.S. investment research and discussion site as a featured article and by several Canadian finance bloggers as a "blog to read". This publicity started my blog on the way to where it is today (a blog with 13 readers :)

Resverlogix - A Cautionary Tale

This post will recount the saga of my share ownership of  Resverlogix Corp. (“RVX”), a TSX-listed company. This is a cautionary tale in investing and a very interesting story and it should not be construed as investment advice. If I had the inclination, there is enough gossip and innuendo surrounding this stock that I could spin this story into one that could be printed in the National Enquirer; however, it is my intent to be mostly matter of fact and reflect the investment element.

The saga begins in the spring of 1996 when I was made aware of a bio-tech stock out of Calgary called Resverlogix Corp. (“RVX”). The company was working on a drug (RVX-208) to turn on Apolipoprotein A-1 (“ApoA-1”). ApoA-1 is the major protein component of high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is known as the “good cholesterol.” In extremely simplistic terms it is hoped that the protein will promote the removal of plaque from the arteries by reverse cholesterol transport (cholesterol is removed from the arteries and delivered to the liver for excretion).
With my eyes wide open to the fact that bio-techs are very risky, I dipped my toe into RVX as the concept denoted above was very novel and extremely exciting. In addition, the CEO Don McCaffrey stated it was the intention of RVX to sell pre-clinical, which in my mind removed substantial bio-tech risk.
In early December 2006, Pfizer announced that its cholesterol drug Torcetrapib failed its clinical tests and Pfizer’s stock plummeted. If I had done more then dip my toes in RVX, I would be writing this blog post from the Turks and Caicos because after Pfizer’s failure, RVX was seen as a possible successor and fueled by rumours of a sale, RVX stock went from $5 to $30 within about ten weeks. Helping fuel the fun was a press release stating that RVX has hired UBS Securities as an investment banker to help with a “strategic alternatives.” Not a bad profit for a ten week time frame.
What follows is the roller coaster ride from hell. The stock drops from $30 to $13 in two months as no deal emerges and by August of 2007 it is at $9.  By the end of the October, 2008 stock market crash, RVX is down to $2.30. I blow most of my gains on the initial huge run by buying back shares as I think the price is a bargain. This story includes my ignorance.
The dramatic stock drop was caused by RVX not receiving any public offers, Big Pharma’s reluctance to make purchases due to numerous drug failures and financing issues.
Anyone who has ever been involved with a small-cap stock, and especially a small-cap bio-tech stock, is aware that financing is a huge issue. RVX engaged in “death spiral financing,” a process where the convertible financing used to fund a small-cap company can be used against the company in the marketplace causing the company’s stock to fall dramatically. It can lead to the company’s ultimate downfall.
While RVX stock stayed low, the science moved along tremendously with positive testing and good results in Phase 1B/2A testing . In October 2009, RVX announced it would move ahead with parallel tests called Assert and Assure. These studies were to be run by renowned researchers  at the Cleveland Clinic. This was considered to be important confirmation that RVX had a potential blockbuster drug.
The primary endpoint of Assert was to determine if RVX-208 would increase ApoA-1 and to examine safety and tolerability. Assure was going to use a process called intravascular ultrasound to detect changes in plaque and examine early lipid effects and plaque on the coronary vessels. Assert moved ahead quickly, dosing patients ahead of schedule in late 2009.
What was extremely interesting to investors was that at the beginning of 2010, even though the stock price of RVX was only $2.40, the science had moved at a rapid pace and  if Assure was successful, a “big if,” investors were hopeful a bidding war for RVX would ensue, with estimates in the range of $30-$60. Of course, if Assure failed, RVX would most likely fall to less then $1.
I personally felt that $2.40 was a ridiculously low price for a drug with potential yearly sales of 10-20 billion dollar and purchased more shares at that point. Score one for my investing intelligence.
The stock floated around the $2-$3 range until March 2010 when the stock took off up to $7.50, mostly propelled by an article by Ellen Gibson of Bloom berg stating “Resverlogix Corp., without a marketed product, may accomplish what Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drug maker, couldn’t: Creating a new medicine that fights heart disease by raising so-called good cholesterol.” There was some additional publicity that followed and the stock jumped around in the $5 to $8 range. At this point I sold a portion of my stock and bought call options. The options provided me high leverage but could expire worthless, but most importantly, the options allowed me to remove a significant amount of my cash investment, while retaining potential upside to the stock.
In May 2010 it was announced that the Assure trial would be delayed as RVX was having trouble recruiting patients. The RVX spin was positive saying that since Assert had finished early, the researchers could now use what they learned in Assert to plan Assure; however, many months were wasted. The market did not appreciate the delay in Assure and the stock price fell from $6.80 to $2.80 in late June.
RVX decided to present the Assert data at a Late Breaking Trial Session on November 17th at the American Heart Association (“AHA”) conference. These session slots are supposedly only provided to those companies providing significant trial results, whether good or bad, and there is an embargo on any information being released prior to the presentation. RVX would lose their presentation spot if any information was released.
At RVX’s Annual General Meeting in early September, which I did not attend, the trial’s principal investigator Dr. Stephen Nicholls of the Cleveland Clinic spoke, and while he could not speak about Assert results, those there blogged about his appearance and said that his apparent enthusiasm for RVX 208 bode well for the AHA presentation. After the AGM, the stock rose from the high two's into the mid-fours over the next several weeks as attention was directed towards the November 17th AHA presentation.
Many investors were unaware that Merck would also be presenting results on a HDL drug they were working on known as Anacetrapib, a drug from the same family of inhibitors as Pfizer’s Torcetrapib which, as noted above, had failed miserably. Thus, investors who had heard of Merck’s presentation were not expecting much.
I expected an increase in RVX’s stock price as the AHA approached on anticipation of positive results that would put them one step closer to Assure testing and the small possibility that the Assert results would bring an offer from Big Pharma. Not much happened until the week of November 14th, which is now a week I will never forget and leads to the title of this article.
On Monday, November 16th, in anticipation of the AHA presentation, RVX stock ran from $5.72 to $6.39. On Tuesday, the day before the presentation, the stock ran to a high of $6.98 in the morning and then settled at $6.70 or so until 3:30, at which time, out of nowhere, the stock dropped to $4.50 on significant volume. Needless to say, it was a shocking last half hour of trading and rumours on the stock bullboards ran from a leak of bad results to the shorts pulling a “Bear Raid;” a tactic where shorts try and push the stock down to cover their shorts. This “Bear Raid” theory seemed to make the most sense at the time, since the shorts had a large position with RVX’s presentation scheduled for the next day. A leak did not seem to make sense based on the embargo by the AHA.
Apparently the embargo on the late breaking sessions at the AHA on Wednesday was lifted first thing Wednesday morning. Early Wednesday morning Bloomberg reported that “Resverlogix Corp.’s most advanced experimental medicine, a cholesterol pill called RVX-208, failed to raise levels of a protein thought to help clear plaque from arteries in a study.”
The Bloomberg report was followed by an RVX press release that said the “Assert trial data demonstrated that the three key biomarkers in the reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) process showed dose dependant and consistent improvement.”
Following the RVX release, the Dow Jones reported “A study involving a new type of drug being developed by Resverlogix Corp. showed it failed to meet a goal of boosting levels of a specific protein the drug was designed to raise.”
To put the final nail in the RVX’s coffin for the day, Merck reported its Anacetrapib had tremendous results in increasing HDL and also reducing LDL the bad cholesterol.
The stock opened around $5.30 on Wednesday morning with investors obviously thinking the shorts had caused the prior day’s stock price drop, but after the press releases, the stock quickly dropped to a low of $3.35 by 9:45 am. However, investors were clearly now not sure what to believe; the headlines by Bloomberg and the Dow Jones, or RVX’s press release. The stock rebounded to $4 by the time of RVX’s actual presentation. By all accounts the presentation was very factual emphasizing that RVX did not achieve a statistically significant  % change in ApoA-1. Supposedly, to be statistically significant the p (probability value) would have to be less than 0.05 and RVX’s was 0.06.
Following the presentation, RVX’s stock slid to $2.73. It then slid Thursday to $2.14 before rebounding on the Friday to $2.34 to $2 when this blog was (initially) posted.
All in all, there was mass confusion and huge paper or actual stock losses for RVX shareholders. I probably will now need RVX-208 to combat the heart attack symptoms this experience caused.

You are probably thinking “Why the heck did Mark not sell the day before the AHA?” In retrospect, that would have been prudent, however, I had decided I was going for a home run and would accept a strike out. In the bloody aftermath, more detailed analysis of RVX-208 and Merck’s Anacetrapib were reported. The analysis ranged from optimism for Anacetrapib (MedPage Today, quoted Elliott Antman, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (a very well respected researcher according to a doctor friend of mine) as saying "The important thing that we saw here with RVX-208 was the dose response. That means that something is happening with the drug. I think that the dose response trumps P-values.") to comments that the HDL levels were out of line and may never achieve clinical success.
I am not sure there is a moral to this story; this was cathartic to write and like I said, it is a saga, a saga that is still ongoing. I guess, if anything, this is just a cautionary tale about investing in biotech’s and investing in general.

Epilouge

In 2013, RVX came back to life as it undertook its ASSURE  Phase 2b clinical trial that evaluated RVX-208 in high-risk cardiovascular patients with low HDL. The company in early June spun-out RVX Therapeutics Inc.(a unit of RVX containing an epigenetics-based BETi drug discovery platform) to Zenith Epigenetics Corp. so that shareholders of RVX now owned one new common share of RVX and one common share of Zenith. As part of the spin-out, Zenith is entitled to a tiered royalty of 6-12% of revenue derived from RVX-208. Investors liked this transaction as if RVX did well Zenith shareholders would benefit to a lesser degree and they also had a separate platform of drugs. I received Zenith shares and still have them, as they are not publicly trade-able and I look at them as a lottery ticket.
Unfortunately, in June 2013, RVX announced the Assure trial did not meet its primary endpoint and the stock which had risen from the dead to as high as $4, again crashed down to around 23 cents.

In September 2014, the company announced that Post hoc analysis of data from the two Phase 2 clinical trials with RVX-208 showed a reduction in Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events (Mace) in patients with cardiovascular disease and a 77% reduction of  MACE in patients with diabetes mellitus. This news gave the stock new life and together with an April, 2015 announcement of a licensing agreement with an Asian company Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., the stock which seems to have nine lives, has awoken again and rose to a high of $3.14 in April. The stock has now settled back to $1.82 as of Friday as investors now wait in anticipation of a PHASE 3 trial that is scheduled to start in the fall of 2015.

This saga is now coming upon ten years for me as I still have some shares kicking around and the spin-off Zenith shares. Who knows, maybe the Phase 3 trial will finally cause a buy-out of RVX or maybe the stock is on its ninth life and the saga will finally come to a conclusion.

Disclaimer: This post is a cautionary investment tale. It is not meant in any manner, as an endorsement of RVX as a stock purchase. 
 
This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - Dealing With the Canada Revenue Agency

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting a May, 2011 post on dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA") that is as relevant today as it was four years ago. I would not be surprised if many of you have not already received an information request as detailed below. I know I have already received 25 to 30 of these requests to date, in relation to my client's e-filed tax returns.

Dealing With the Canada Revenue Agency


I discuss below, the six typical circumstances by which an individual may end up dealing with the CRA during the year. 

The least worrisome of the six situations is where you initiate contact with the CRA to report a late income tax slip (such as a T3 or T5 slip), or you realize you missed a deduction or credit (such as a donation slip, medical expense or RRSP receipt). These situations are very straight forward and relatively painless. You or your accountant file a T1 adjustment request using form T1-ADJ E to report the additional income or claim the additional expense or credit. You would typically attach the receipt to the form and most of these requests are processed without further query from the CRA.

The second circumstance is where you receive an information request from the CRA. These requests often strike fear into my client's hearts, but are typically harmless. In this situation, the CRA usually sends a letter asking for back up relating to a deduction or credit claimed on the return. Generally these requests by the CRA are to provide support for items such as a donation tax credit, medical expense claim, a child care expense claim, a children's fitness tax credit claim or an interest expense claim. These requests are fairly common and more often than not, relate to personal income tax returns that are e-filed. You have 30 days to respond to these requests, however, time extensions are typically granted if you call the CRA and request such.

The third situation, and a step up on the anxiety meter, is the receipt of a Notice of Reassessment (“NOR”) from the CRA. A NOR may be issued for numerous reasons such as; not responding to an information request, the receipt by CRA of a T3/T4/T5 slip that was not reported in your return, or a reassessment based on an audit or review of your return as discussed below.

The fourth circumstance is typically not pleasant. Under this scenario, the CRA has selected you for an audit, either randomly or because you have come to their attention for some reason. An audit can take the form of a desk audit which is less intrusive or a full-blown field audit. Desk audits are typically undertaken to review a specific item that the CRA finds unusual in nature and you have 30 days to respond.

A full-blown audit could encompass a review of self-employment expenses, significant expense or deduction claims, or a full review of your personal or corporate income tax filings for a specific year or multiple years. In this situation, you will be sent a letter requesting certain information and you will be required to provide such to a CRA auditor. This process could take months, and if the CRA auditor is not satisfied by your documentation, or reasons for claiming certain expenses or deductions, they will issue a revised NOR.

Upon the receipt of the reassessment, you will have to determine, likely in conjunction with your accountant, whether the CRA’s assessment is justified. If you don’t feel it is justified, you need to consider if the amount of reassessed tax is significant enough to warrant the time and energy to fight the reassessment. If you decide to "fight" the reassessment, you and/or your accountant would file a Form T400A Notice of Objection. In this fifth situation, the Notice of Objection would state the facts of your situation and the reasons that you object to the CRA’s reassessment. The objection will then be reviewed (probably months later) by a CRA representative and you can make and support your case as to why the CRA has incorrectly assessed or reassessed you.

It is very important to make sure that you file a Notice of Objection on a timely basis. For an individual (other than a trust) the time limit for filing an objection is whichever of the following two dates is later: one year after the date of the returns filing deadline; or 90 days after the day the CRA mailed the reassessment. For corporations, the time limit is 90 days.

Finally, the sixth and final situation, and last resort, is to go to tax court because your Notice of Objection was not successful. There is an informal tax court procedure if your income tax owing is less than $12,000. Where the income tax owing exceeds $12,000, the process becomes formal and is costly and time consuming.

The above summarizes the various circumstances and situations under which you may deal with the CRA in any given year. Hopefully if you have any contact with the CRA it is only in connection to situation #1 or #2.

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - How Much Money do I Need to Retire? Heck if I Know or Anyone Else Does! - Part 5


This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting Part five of my 2014 six part series titled "How Much Money do I Need to Retire? Heck if I Know or Anyone Else Does!" If you have not read this series, the links to each part of the series can be found down the right hand side of my blog, under the retirement section.

I decided to re-post this particular blog post because recently there have been numerous articles discussing whether the 4% withdrawal rate is too high (The 4% withdrawal rule is one of the most commonly accepted rule of thumb retirement strategies. Simply put, the rule says that if you have an equally balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds, you should be able to withdraw 4% of your retirement savings each year, adjusted for inflation, and those savings will last for 30-35 years).

One of the reasons retirement experts are concerned about using the 4% rule is that our longevity continues to increase. Longevity is just one of the many factors that can impact not only your withdrawal rate in retirement, but the funding of your nest egg.

Today's post discusses these various factors and how the unpredictable nature of most of these factors, make it virtually impossible to determine a definitive retirement number and is why I say the "Heck if I Know or Anyone Else Does" how much money you need to retire.


Your Longevity - The Ultimate Wildcard


It goes without saying, that if we knew who long we would live, retirement planning would be a lot simpler. Unfortunately, the best we can do is plan based on longevity studies and family medical history. The Vanguard paper I referenced in Part 3 of this series cites such as study by the Society of Actuaries which found:

“there is an 80% chance that at least one spouse will live to age 85, a 55% chance that one will live to age 90 and 25% chance one spouse will reach 95.”

In Canada, the average male lives to approximately age 79 and the average female lives to approximately 84. Based on the above, your retirement planning should at a minimum assume one spouse will live to at least 95 years old.

Inflation – Grasping for the unknown


The rate of inflation can drastically alter your retirement savings and consumption. An economic environment of low market returns and high inflation can severely impact the funds you accumulate to fund your retirement and the real returns you achieve in retirement. Conversely, interest rates tend to rise with inflation, providing a potential buffer if you lock in higher interest rates and inflation subsides (I remember Canada Savings Bonds paying 19.5% interest in 1981 when inflation was around 12.5%, however, inflation was back down to 4.5% by the end of 1983 and many people were very pleased they had CSB's or GIC's paying very high rates of interest for many years). An average inflation rate of 2% will mean that the $50,000 you expect to spend in retirement in 2014 dollars will require approximately $61,000 in spending in 2024.

One of the criticisms of the 4% rule is that the models cumulative inflation adjustment may force you to take larger and larger withdrawals without regard to your actual spending requirements. Substantive evidence for this criticism is provided below by David Blanchett, the head of retirement research at Morningstar in Chicago.

In this Wall Street Journal article by Kelly Greene, Mr. Blanchett said the following about the correlation between spending and inflation. "Pretty much every paper you read about retirement assumes that spending increases every year by [the rate of] inflation." Ms. Greene went on to say that "when he analyzed government retiree-spending data, he found otherwise: Between the ages of 65 and 90, spending decreased in inflation-adjusted terms. Most models would assume that someone spending $50,000 the first year of retirement would need $51,500 the second year (if the inflation rate were 3%). But Mr. Blanchett found that the increase is closer to 1%, which has big implications over decades, 'because these changes become cumulative over time,' he says".

Sequence of Returns – Bull vs Bear Markets upon your Retirement


The various studies that support a 4% retirement withdrawal, included periods of both bear and bull markets. If you are lucky enough to retire at the beginning of a bull market, your retirement funding will be drastically different than if you retire at the beginning of a bear market. William Bergen in his original 1994 article said:

“This is a powerful warning (particularly appropriate for recent retirees) not to increase their rate of withdrawal just because of a few good years early in retirement. Their “excess returns” early may be needed to balance off weaker returns later.”

It is interesting to note that Mr. Bergen showed that even if you started retirement in the great depression or in the recession of 1973-1974 (which also included a period of high inflation); your money would still have lasted over 30 years, because of the power of stock market recoveries.

However, Moshe Milevsky and Anna Abaimova in this report for MetLife (see page 4 of the report, page 7 of the PDF), very clearly reflect the dramatic difference in retirement outcomes you will have when you have negative market returns early in your retirement vs later in your retirement.

In this blog, Wade Pfau states that:

In fact, the wealth remaining 10 years after retirement combined with the cumulative inflation during those 10 years can explain 80 percent of the variation in a retiree's maximum sustainable withdrawal rate after 30 years.”

Thus, prudent planning would be to start your retirement following a bear market :).

Registered vs. Non-Registered Accounts


The allocation of your retirement funds between registered (RRSPs, LIRAs, Pensions, etc.) and non-registered accounts (bank, investment, TFSA, etc.) will have a significant impact upon your cash flow in retirement. If you consider all the money in those accounts as capital, the capital in the registered accounts is fully taxable, meaning that if you are a high income tax rate taxpayer, you may be paying as much as 46% or higher upon the withdrawal of those funds. For non-registered accounts, the withdrawal of capital is tax free. This issue raises the much debated question of TFSA vs. RRSP as you accumulate your retirement nest egg and for those who own corporations, the issue of salary vs. dividend (see my three part series "Salary or Dividend? A Taxing Dilemma for Small Corporate Business Owners" from last year on this issue and my 2014 Update). The drawdown of your RRSP/RRIF and/or funds from your holding company in a tax effective manner requires a detailed analysis of your specific situation and cannot be addressed here in a generic manner; however, suffice to say, it is an important cash flow issue. 

Home Sweet Home


Some planners suggest you try and exclude your home from your retirement savings and have it serve as a back-up for any retirement shortfall. However, for many people, part of their retirement will include at least the incremental benefit of downsizing their home. For others, their retirement will only be funded by selling their home and moving into an apartment or reverse mortgaging their home.

Spending in Retirement - Sharpen your Pencil


If you are diligent about this process, you should be able to at least determine a ballpark number for your anticipated spending upon retirement. The spending wildcard for many people is travel. Good health will allow for years of travel, while poor health will not only restrict how much you can travel, but could lead to significant medical costs. In a perfect retirement model you would factor in greater spending as you begin retirement and smaller spending as you grow older. In addition you need to consider occasional and lump sum expenditures.

The aforementioned David Blanchett suggests many peoples spending in retirement maybe overstated by as much as 20% in traditional retirement models. Mr. Blanchett details these views in a very interesting paper on “Estimating the True Cost of Retirement”.

You may also wish to consider your spending in context of the three stages of retirement Michael Stein CFP came up with in his book “The Prosperous Retirement, Guide to the New Reality". In his book Michael suggests there are 3 stages of retirement:

Go-Go Stage- Retirees maintain the same lifestyle and their spending remains fairly constant with their spending pre-retirement, essentially because they still consider themselves “young” and travel extensively.

Slow-Go Stage - Stein says that between the ages of 70-84, your budget will decline 20-30% as your body is not quite able to keep up with your mind and your intended activities or you just become weary of airports and trains.

 No-Go Stage - As you reach 85+, health issues tend to cause you to restrict travel and you are tied to a certain place, be it your home or a retirement home.

Pensions - The Older you are, the more you Appreciate them


If there is one thing this series has revealed to me, is that I truly underestimated the worth of a defined benefit pension plan. I had never really considered the possibility of purchasing an annuity in retirement, however, the more calculations I undertook, the more I realized that without a company pension plan, it may be prudent to consider purchasing at least a small annuity in my retirement. Moshe Milevsky and Alexandra MacQueeen suggest that annuities should be used to “pensionize” part of your retirement funds and that it may be worth the piece of mind to forgo potential growth of your nest egg to provide some comfort that you will not outlive your retirement funds.

If you have a pension plan that covers off most of your retirement spending needs, you are afforded the freedom to take greater equity risk in retirement; since you can withstand stock market swings, knowing your day to day costs are covered off by your pension. Those without a pension face the dilemma of whether to annuitize some portion of their retirement funds or not.

Healthcare coverage - Will we be Fully Covered in 25 Years


As Canadians, we assume we will always have full medical coverage. But who knows if the government will have the money in twenty-five years to support a top-heavy population. In addition, if your health deteriorates and you require private care, all your retirement funds could be eaten up by those costs.

Interest Rates – Will they ever Rise?


People have been expecting interest rates to rise for several years. Many of those same people now think the US government will be forced to keep rates low for the foreseeable future. Selfishly, higher interest rates would be welcomed by many people in or near retirement. A spike in interest rates would likely cause some disgruntled stock market investors to re-allocate their equity investments to fixed income instruments.

Inheritances - No One Plans for an Inheritance do They?


Baby boomers will inherit a massive amount of money in the next twenty or so years. However, the size of individual inheritances will fluctuate widely based on the longevity of their parents. I wrote a blog a while back on whether you should plan for an anticipated inheritance. I suggested that if you are certain you will inherit money, you should at least consider factoring a discounted amount of your potential inheritance into your retirement planning.

Lifestyle in Retirement


For Canadians who live in large cities, have expensive homes and lifestyles, an easy solution to an underfunded retirement is to downsize/sell your home and move to a less expensive city. Whether you are willing to do that is another question.

Evolving into retirement - Keeping the Income Stream Alive


Stan Tepner, CPA, CA, MBA, CFP, TEP, First Vice-President & investment advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy and an advisor to some of my clients, told me "he often finds many people consider retirement an absolute event. One day you are working and the next you’re golfing". He adds "that more and more people 'evolve' into retirement. They may shift into part-time employment or self-employment. This shift may be required for financial reasons or because you wish to keep your mind sharp. Either way, the extra income will assist in funding your retirement needs, especially if you have a savings shortfall because of poor market returns or you have just miscalculated your actual retirement needs".

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Best of The Blunt Bean Counter - Cottages - Cost Base Additions, are They a New CRA Audit Target?

This summer I am posting the "best of" The Blunt Bean Counter blog while I work on my golf game. Today, I am re-posting a May, 2012 blog on cost base additions to your cottage. You may want to print this out and read it while you have a beer at your cottage next weekend and then search your cottage for all your missing receipts :)

Cottages - Cost Base Additions, are They a New CRA Audit Target?


Canadians have a love affair with their cottages. They enjoy the fresh air, the tranquility, the loons calling out, drinks on the dock, the gathering of friends and family and in many cases; they often enjoy a substantial financial profit on their cottage properties.

When a cottage property has increased in value, it often brings unwanted income tax and estate planning issues. I wrote about some of these issues a year ago April, in a three part series for the Canadian Capitalist titled Transferring the Family Cottage - There is no Panacea. In Part 1, I discuss the historical nature of the income tax rules, while in Part 2 I discuss the income tax implications of transferring or gifting a cottage and finally in Part 3 I discuss alternative income tax planning opportunities that may mitigate or defer income tax upon the transfer of a family cottage.

Today, I want to discuss the fact that the CRA seems to be looking at cottage sales as audit targets and in particular, they are reviewing additions to the original adjusted cost base (“ACB”) of the cottage.

Income Tax Issues

Before I charge ahead with this post, I think a quick income tax primer is in order. Prior to 1982, a taxpayer and their spouse could each designate their own principal residence (“PR”) and each could claim their own principal residence exemption (“PRE”). Therefore, where a family owned a cottage and a family home, each spouse could potentially claim their own PRE, one on the cottage and one on the family home, and accordingly the sale of both properties would be tax-free.

Alas, the taxman felt this treatment was too generous and changed the Income Tax Act. Beginning in 1982 a family unit (a family unit of the taxpayer includes the taxpayers spouse or common-law partner and unmarried children that are 18 years old or younger) could only designate one principal residence between them for each tax year after 1981.

As if the above is not complex enough, anyone selling a cottage must also consider the following ACB adjustments:

1. If your cottage was purchased prior to 1972, you will need to know the fair market value (“FMV”) on December 31, 1971; the FMV of your cottage on this date became your cost base when the CRA brought in capital gains taxation.

2. In 1994 the CRA eliminated the $100,000 capital gains exemption; however, they allowed taxpayers to elect to bump the ACB of properties such as real estate to their FMV to a maximum of $100,000 (subject to some restrictions not worth discussing here). Many Canadians took advantage of this election and increased the ACB of their cottages.

3. Many people have inherited cottages. When someone passes away, they are deemed to dispose of their capital property at the FMV on the date of their death (unless the property is transferred to their spouse). The person inheriting the property assumes the deceased's FMV on their death, as their ACB. 

The Principal Residence Exemption


As noted above, if you owned a cottage prior to 1982, you can make a PRE claim for those years on your cottage. Where the per year gain on your cottage is in excess of the per year gain on your home, you may want to consider whether for years after 1982, it makes sense to allocate the PRE to your cottage instead of your home, if you have not already used the PRE on prior home or cottage sales. In these cases, I would suggest professional advice due to the complexity of the rules. In completing the PR Designation tax form (T2091), there are cases where you may need the ACB and FMV at December 31, 1981, but I will ignore this issue for purposes of this discussion.

Putting together the pieces of the ACB Puzzle


So how do all these rules come together in determining your ACB? First, if you owned your cottage prior to 1972, you will need to determine the FMV at December 31, 1971 as that is your opening ACB. If you purchased the cottage after 1971, but before 1994, your ACB will be your purchase cost plus legal and land transfer costs. Next, you will have to determine whether you increased your ACB by electing to bump your ACB in 1994.

If you inherited the property, you will need to find out the FMV of the cottage on the date of the death of the person you inherited the property from. If the property was inherited before 1994, you will have to determine whether you increased your ACB by electing in 1994.

Finally, most people have made various capital improvements to their cottages over the years. For income tax purposes, these improvements are added to the ACB you have determined above. Examples of capital improvements would be the addition of a deck, a dock, a new roof or new windows that were better than the original roof or windows, new well or pump. General repairs are not capital improvements and you cannot value your own work if you are the handyman type. I would argue however, that the cost of materials for a capital improvement would qualify if you do the work yourself.

Unfortunately, many people do not keep track of these improvements nor do they keep their receipts (in addition, I suspect one or two cottage owners may have done the occasional cash deal with various contractors for which there will not be a supporting invoice), which brings us to the CRA, who appear to be auditing the sale of cottages more intently.

I think it was six pages back I said something about a quick income tax primer before I discussed the CRA audit issue :(

The Audit Issue


Anyways, on to the audit issue (or more properly called an information request). Some accountants think the CRA is going directly to cottage municipalities to determine cottages that have been sold and then tracking the owners to ensure they have reflected the disposition for income tax purposes. Others think the CRA is just following up reported dispositions of cottages on personal income tax returns. In either event, we have seen a couple information requests/audits recently.

So once the CRA decides to review your cottage sale, what are they looking at and what information are they requesting?

Amongst other things they are asking you to support the adjusted cost base of the property, by providing the following:

a. your copy of the original purchase agreement stating the purchase price;

b. the statement of adjustments where the purchase of the property involved the services of a lawyer;

c. if the property was either inherited or purchased in a non-arms length transaction, indicate the FMV of the property on the date of acquisition and supply documentation to support your figure. If the property was inherited, indicate the date of acquisition;

d. a schedule of all capital additions to the property. The schedule must indicate the nature of the addition or improvement (i.e. new roof) as well as the cost.

A and B above just provide the CRA the original ACB. Item C is interesting in that where there was a family sale or inheritance, the CRA is asking for validation of the sale price, but surely it is also cross-checking to see if the family member reported the sale of the cottage and in the case of a deceased person, to ensure the terminal income tax return of the deceased reported the value of the cottage at death.

Item D is where the CRA is zeroing in on; the capital additions, which as I noted above, are often not tracked and source documents are often not maintained.

The CRA is also asking for support of the proceeds of disposition, requesting such items as a copy of the accepted offer to purchase, the statement of adjustments and the full name of the purchaser in addition to their relationship, if any, to you (i.e. relative or otherwise).

They are also asking if while owned by you, was the property your principal residence for any period of time. This relates to the discussion above on whether the gain was larger on your cottage than your house and thus you designated your cottage. The CRA will then most likely confirm you did not sell any other residence during that time period.

Another request is that if you elected to report a capital gain on the property in 1994, they want you to supply a copy of the form T664, Election to Report a Capital Gain on Property Held at the end of February 22, 1994, that was filed with your 1994 income tax return. This is interesting since many people have not kept their older tax returns and I don’t think the CRA keeps its returns that far back. I am not sure what the CRA is doing in cases where taxpayers have destroyed their elections.

In conclusion, if you have sold a cottage in the last couple years, make sure you have all your documentation in place should you receive an information request, and if you currently own a cottage, use this road map to ensure you have updated your cottage ACB and have a file for any documentation needed to support that ACB.

Bloggers Note: Here is a link to an excellent BDO tax memo titled "Calculating cottage capital gains: have you accumulated all eligible costs? " which you may also wish to read. 

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation.