2014 Wrap Up

2014 December 22

So 2014 has been a fairly calm and positive year (knock on wood). The New Year started off with a guys night out with the Karb boys to see the Auto Show.

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We went on a trip at March Break with Adam’s mom to Atlanta and enjoyed all the sites, particularly the Coca Cola museum complete with a full tasting room of hundreds of Coca Cola flavours from around the world. If you go there you just HAVE to try Beverly – its a must.

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In the summer Corbin went to camp Winston as usual and Jeremy took part in Babcia Camp (staying with Adam’s mom) while Adam and I enjoyed a full week of bliss at the cottage (Thanks Jen).

2014-08-03 Cottage 106Then we did something even more amazing – we went back for a week not just us but with my brother Chris and his girls, Teegan and Madigan. It was a great week of swimming, game playing and just hanging out.

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Summer soon ended and the boys went back to school. Jeremy to Grade 6 and Corbin to Grade 10/11 (he’s doing mostly courses from grade 10 but he’s in Grade 11).  School has been a bit of a struggle for both boys this year but we think we are on the right track now.  Jeremy continues to enjoy skateboarding and Corbin is advancing in his music – both piano and guitar.

Adam continues at the City, he just received his 15 year pin.  Best news he has to share is that he recently purchased a Buick Envoy with heated seats (that Tina loves).

Tina continues at Children First and has recently decided to go back to school on a very part time basis (1 course at a time) to finish her BSW.

And that is pretty much a wrap up to our year. Hope you all are well. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours.


Fun in a little snow

2013 January 28

We haven’t had much snow this winter but when we did I couldn’t say no to the boys when they asked to go Tobogganing. Here are some pics from that day – it was really cold and I loved that I could take many of these pics while sitting in my van. Didn’t realize til much later that it never looks good for an adult to sit in a van and take pictures of kids.

 

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On Hiatus

2012 December 27

Between Facebook, Twitter, work and the rest of real life, we don’t have the motivation to post to this blog on a regular basis, let alone once a month or so.

My wife and I recently received a Nikon D3200 camera as a gift, so we may post about the trials and tribulations of using the D3200. Or we may not. Or we may choose to post about other things. Or we may not. The future is uncertain.

To that end, this blog is on indefinite hiatus.


Fees

2012 June 5

I was thinking of taking the family to a Detroit Tigers baseball game in July. Four seats in the outfield are $17.00 each or $68 total. Not bad, I say to myself.

But then the fees get added on.

There is a $4.75 per ticket “convenience fee” for a total of $19. The higher the ticket price, the higher the convenience fee. That $4.75 works out to 28% of the ticket price. Ouch.

Then there is a $4.10 “Per Order Fee”. Wait a minute. What is that for? Shouldn’t the Convenience Fee cover whatever the Per Order Fee covers?

So that’s a total of $23.10 in fees. That is 34% of the ticket price. Or a total of $91.10. That’s when it hurts. That’s when I’ll be spending $23.10 less on items at the ballpark.


Canada Revenue Agency – Ongoing Saga

2012 May 28

I collected all the information and faxed it to the Winnipeg Tax Centre on May 4. Not seeing a refund in my bank account or a letter from CRA, I called the Winnipeg Tax Centre and confirmed that they received the additional information. The polite lady said yes, they received the additional information, that it was under review and that I should hear back shortly.

Three weeks after submitting the additional information and one week after talking to a human at CRA, there is no refund or letter. Nothing.

It makes no sense.

Two (child care expenses and medical expenses) of the four requests for additional information regarding the “Disability Amount Transferred From a Dependent” have absolutely nothing to do with the Disability Amount. If I didn’t claim any child care or medical expenses, the Disability Amount Transferred would remain the same. Sounds like  a fishing expedition to me.

In fact, I didn’t claim the child care expenses. Per CRA rules, the spouse with the lower income claims them. In my case, my wife is the spouse with the lower income, so she claimed child care expense on her return. And CRA already issued her refund and notice of assessment.

So I sit and wait.

 


Canada Revenue Agency

2012 May 1

For the second year in a row, my tax refund is being held up by the pre-assessment review process.

In 2010, Corbin had major mental health issues that required hospitalization twice at CPRI (a facility operated by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Health) in London, Ontario. Part of the treatment plan approved by CPRI and ourselves, was for Corbin to come home for weekends. Corbin suffers from attachment disorder and both the medical staff and Tina and myself agreed that it was prudent that Corbin not be away from his family for long periods of time.

The treatment plan also required that we visit with the pediatrician, psychiatrists, social workers and other staff at CPRI. Due to Corbin’s complex neurological and mental health diagnoses, much of the ‘treatment’ falls on us, the parents. So over the two hospitalization period, were were travelling to London twice or three times a week.

Per the medical expense claim guidelines, trips for medical purposes can be claimed as a medical expense. We did not claim any trips that were for visiting purposes. We only claimed trips for the weekends and for meetings/appointments with CPRI staff. After Corbin was discharged, we had numerous appointments with doctors and psychologists. So I claimed them at the rates described in the medical expense guidelines.

The medical claim for the 2010 tax year was a higher than usual amount. I figured that CRA may ask for proof. And they did as part of the pre-assessment review.  I worked my butt off. I got a copy of every receipt, a copy of every medical report that CPRI prepares after any visit, a copy of the treatment plan and a copy of the intake and discharge dates. I prepared a spreadsheet outlining every trip to CPRI and wrote a detailed letter of all the medical expense claims. I was impressed with the two-inch thick of documents. ‘How could they deny the claims with all this detailed information’ I thought.

Well they turned down all the claims relating to CPRI. Every. Single. One. They asked for ‘more’ information including intake and discharge dates. It was at that moment I knew that CRA didn’t even bother looking through my documents I sent them. If they did, they would have seen documents with those dates – documents I referenced in my detailed letter to them.

By the time I heard back from CRA, we were having another crisis during the summer followed by another in the fall. I just didn’t have the time or energy to fight CRA. So I didn’t bother appealing the reassessment – I heard that appeals can take one, two or more years to be reviewed. My energy was better invested in stabilizing my family than fighting a huge bureaucracy, one that can apparently easily dismiss hard evidence simply by having a nameless bureaucrat ‘write’ a letter.

Fast forward to 2012 and guess what? Yet another pre-assessment review letter. This time they are questioning the “Disability Amount Transferred From a Dependent” amount and my “Annual Union, Professional or like Dues” amount.

Hey CRA, you have a Disability Tax Credit Certificate for Corbin on file. You have been giving me that claim for 9 years now. In fact, I had you revise three years of my returns when the first Certificate was back dated to before we adopted Corbin (well only after I called you four months after I submitted my request to review previous tax returns). Now you want me to provide his name, SIN date of birth – you have that information. I haven’t ‘changed’ or ‘swapped’ kids!

So I’ll have to submit another detailed letter and wait. So much for those TV ads encouraging Canadian tax payers to claim all their tax credits.


In The Meantime…

2012 March 31

It’s been a while since the last post. Halloween. Christmas. New Years. March Break. And all the good stuff and the crazy stuff that happens in between.

Corbin and Jeremy attend weekly practices for their respective soccer teams and both still have a strong desire to play soccer.

Corbin has triumphantly returned to horseback riding through WETRA. He no longer needs a lead and is able to guide the horse to where he wants the horse to go; Corbin can even get the horse to walk backwards. So lots of success here.

With an incentive program in place at home, school has also been a limited success. We would have like it if the school increased his time by another 30 minutes but that’s like unlikely to happen this late in the school year – just like every school year in the past. Why does it have to be so hard to work together?

Jeremy has his own issues at school, especially with math, but continues to plug away with the aid of an Educational Assistant.

Tina and I are dreaming ways to fix or improve both the inside and outside of the house. Just need to save some money and get on with it.

That’s life in a nutshell. Just motoring along.