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New federal rules meant to increase transparency around trusts and boost housing affordability are creating a lot of extra paperwork and headaches for many Canadians this tax season.

To start with, there’s the unused housing tax, or UHT, which imposes a yearly 1-per-cent levy on foreign-owned residential properties considered to be underused or vacant. My colleague Erica Alini has written that, while tax experts have long warned that, while Canadians don’t generally have to pay the tax, they may be required to file a UHT return – if only to claim an exemption – in certain cases.

The other tax issue concerns the reporting of trusts, notably bare trusts. A bare trust arrangement may exist where seniors add their children as joint owners for investment and banking accounts. To disclose a bare trust to CRA, you must file a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return and a related Schedule 15 form.

If you had to hire an accountant or lawyer – or both – to help you with Ottawa’s new tax-filing rules for trusts or the federal underused housing tax, please take this superquick survey:

Would you be open to being interviewed by Globe personal finance reporter Erica Alini about your experience? If so, please share your name, age and e-mail. Her e-mail is

We’ll report back on the findings. As I said in a recent column, it’s outrageous to force people to pay for the services of an accountant or tax preparer to disclose routine family business to the CRA.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

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The average annual cost of a dog in Canada jumped 23 per cent in three years to $3,020. One of the themes in this data is that small breeds are more budget friendly. Here’s what Globe reporters Chris Hannay and Erica Alini found when they looked into pet costs recently.

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A how-to for surviving a layoff

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Ask Rob

Q: I recently switched my investments from high-fee mutual funds to Wealthsimple. My next decision is whether to go with self-directed or managed investing. The managed route put me through a simple Q&A that recommended a “balanced” approach with a 65-35 equity to fixed income ratio. However, customer service says the managed approach does not give specific investing advice or help. Managed investing has 0.5 per cent higher fees than self-directed. Would it be prudent to simply choose a self-balancing ETF such as the Vanguard Balanced ETF Portfolio (XBAL-T) to mimic the managed approach, with lower fees?

A: Managed investing means you would have a portfolio of exchange-traded funds assembled for you and maintained on an ongoing basis. When you contribute money to your account, it would be allocated in the right proportion to all the ETFs in your portfolio. When the portfolio needed rebalancing to bring the components back into the right mix, that would be done as well. All of these services are replicated in a low-cost asset allocation ETF, which you could buy at no cost through Wealthsimple’s self-directed trading platform. Asset allocation ETFs tend to offer mixes of 60 per cent stocks and 40 per cent bonds for balanced investors. For more aggressive investors, there are 80-20 and 100 per cent equity portfolios. I take a close look at asset allocation funds in this instalment of the Globe and Mail ETF Buyer’s Guide.

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.

Tools, Explainers, Guides and Charts

Four signs of investment fraud, and a cybersecurity tool kit from the Canadian Bankers Association. March is fraud prevention month.

The Money-Free Zone

Gnarls Barkley absolutely crushes the song Reckoner, which could be my favourite Radiohead song.

On social media

A post on X that explains life insurance quite succinctly.

What I’ve been working on
  • Which will outperform in the year ahead: Bonds, GICs or high interest savings accounts?
  • Seniors and their families caught up in botched CRA attempt to crack down on tax evasion
  • Online bank Tangerine cuts interest rate on its savings account, bucking the steady interest rate trend

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