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A couple of accountant Mark Goodfield’s clients have asked for his view on whether the federal government will do away with some favourite tax breaks – the 50-per-cent tax inclusion rate on capital gains, the tax exemption when selling a principal residence and the lack of an estate tax.

It’s a great question in light of the fact that Ottawa has a persistent deficit and may need to raise taxes as part of its strategy to balance the budget. Mr. Goodfield, who blogs as The Blunt Bean Counter, believes the capital gains tax rate is open to change, largely because it has been adjusted up and down in the past.

The tax-free sale of a principal residence and no estate tax in Canada are what Mr. Goodfield calls “sacred cows.” In other words, people are so attached to the status quo that it would be politically disastrous to make changes. Still, we should expect a lot of speculation about tax moves in the next federal budget, expected late this winter.

This will be the last budget before the next election, so the federal government will want to offer some tangible benefits to voters. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be both wins and losses. In adjustments made to federal tax brackets a few years back, taxes for the middle class were reduced and a new top bracket on income above $200,000 was introduced.

Remember, speculation about tax increases is sometimes dead wrong. A couple years ago, there was talk of a “soak-the-rich budget” that would include an increase in the tax rate on capital gains. It never happened.

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My new podcast

Here's a preview of my new podcast, which is called Looking Ahead: The Retirementality. All three episodes go live Oct. 1

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The Antique Roadshow’s greatest hits

The painting of four kittens that turned out to be worth up to US$12,000, and many more. How people get rich by decluttering their home.

What’s not to like about F.I.R.E.?

“Um, a lot, actually,” writes one blogger. A well-argued rebuttal to the hot “financial independence, retire early” trend, which has been featured in this newsletter in recent weeks.

Wannbe real estate investors, read this

Here’s a reality check for investors who imagine that buying rental property will give them an easy stream of investment income. It’s harder than you think.

This is what happens with stolen frequent flyer points

All about how hackers can steal your frequent flyer points and then sell them on the black market. Also, some tips on how to protect your points.

Today’s financial tool

A non-profit credit counselling agency created this debt calculator. It shows how long it will take you to pay what you owe using various payment strategies.

Ask Rob

Q: I teach personal finance to 15-year-olds. What would you recommend to people of that age?

A: A few years back, I watched an employee of one of the banks do a financial literacy presentation for a group of high school students. I’ll be honest – the kids were not 100-per-cent locked in for much of the session. But at one point, the discussion turned to the cost of university and of moving out and having your own place. This led to a productive back-and-forth about saving, budgeting and thinking long-term about money. These are foundational concepts for personal finance that can be taught to 15-year-olds, as long as you keep the conversation relevant to their lives.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

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