Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Why You should Never Go to a Bankruptcy Trustee in Ontario Without Representation

A bankruptcy trustee is a court appointed officer. Their job is to administer bankruptcies and consumer proposals in Canada – and they do this by representing both you and your creditors. This means that they are expected to get as much as possible from you for your creditors.
Take a look at the typical process and you will see how people get themselves in trouble:
A trustee advertises a financial solution, and you contact them for help (thinking that because you have contacted them that they represent you). However, even though you are the one looking for assistance, they in fact represent both you and your creditors.
Next, the trustee will pitch you on the financial solutions they can provide, which are usually bankruptcy or a consumer proposal. Since a trustee doesn’t make any money if you don’t sign up, things are often very pleasant at the beginning.
At no point during this meeting will they tell you how they get paid, but it is important information. A trustee gets paid based on a tariff (a fee set by the government in the case of bankruptcy, a percentage in the case of a consumer proposal, a percentage of surplus income in the case of a bankruptcy) – this comes out of your monthly payment.
How much you have to pay and the amount of your monthly payments in a proposal and bankruptcy depend on your income and assets – the more income and assets you have, the more you end up paying. In the case of a consumer proposal the amount of proposal you negotiate will be locked in once the proposal is accepted.
In the case of bankruptcy you have to report your income to the trustee each month and they do a calculation called surplus income. If you have income above a certain threshold you will have to pay your trustee 50% of the amount that has exceeded the threshold. In bankruptcy, when there is surplus income (income over the amount defined by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act) your bankruptcy will go from being 9 months to 20 months which can make a huge difference.
So, why is being represented when going to a trustee a much smarter idea? Because it gives you the chance to, firstly, openly discuss your information without reprisal or pressure to sign. This representation can mean negotiating a much lower proposal, or a much stronger financial picture with contingencies in place to help you bounce back quickly. Finally, when you have your own representation, you won’t have to deal directly with the bankruptcy trustee – that individual will handle most negotiations and correspondence for you!
Before you call a bankruptcy trustee directly, call DebtCare Canada – we can help keep you protected. Contact us today by calling 1-888-890-0888.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Self Employed? Is a CRA Garnishment Going to Your Clients?

Anyone who is self-employed knows the many challenges that come with owning a business – and one of the greatest is dealing with the many complexities that come with the intricate tax process in Canada. Because of these complexities, many self-employed individuals find themselves owing money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), for numerous reasons, and if unable to pay, face strict enforcement actions as a result. One of the most common of these is a CRA garnishment of your receivables.
Here are some numerical facts when it comes to a CRA garnishment:
The CRA can garnish up to:
·        100% of subcontracted income
·        100% of other income like pension
·        100% of self-employed income
If you are self-employed, the CRA can send a notice to your clients to direct your receivables to the CRA. This can cause significant financial hardship and stress, as well as the negative impact it can have on your client relationships.
So, can you stop a CRA garnishment? It is difficult, but you do have options.
1.     You can try to get the CRA to agree to stop, but know that the chances of this happening are slim to none. As far as the CRA is concerned, you owe the money and their job is to retrieve it. Also important to remember, in the process of trying to cooperate, many who attempt to negotiate divulge information to the CRA that can cause even more problems; providing financial disclosure can prompt further enforcement action, a frozen bank account or a property lien for example. This option should be avoided at all costs!
2.     Consumer proposal. By entering into a consumer proposal you can immediately stop a garnishment – with the added benefits of stopping interest and likely reducing the size of your overall debt. However, there are a few caveats:
o   If you have other creditors they will be included in the proposal too.
o   If the CRA is your majority creditor, they have to agree to the proposal (if they don’t respond within 45 days they are deemed to have agreed).
o   If you own a home and the CRA has a lien on it, this greatly complicates things.
3.     Bankruptcy. Like a consumer proposal, this would immediately stop a garnishment, and is likely to stop interest and perhaps reduce the size of your overall debt. Things to keep in mind:
o   You have to report income and your financial circumstances to a trustee every month – if your financial situation improves you will have extra repayment added which has to be paid before you can get discharged.
o   Your payment to the trustee depends on your income and can change if there is an increase in income.
o   If you own a home and the CRA has a lien on it, this greatly complicates things.
If you are suffering from a CRA garnishment of your receivables, there are options to have the garnishment lifted while keeping yourself protected from further enforcement action. DebtCare has the tools and experience to help. Contact us today by calling 1-888-890-0888.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Will a Consumer Proposal Ruin my Credit?

Many of us have been there – finances are tight, and even making the minimum payments on your credit products has become difficult. Maybe you are opting to make payments on one card each month, or are continually increasing your available limit just to be able to keep your head above water. Whatever the situation, know that there are solutions, one of which is the consumer proposal.
Maybe you have already looked into this option but are asking yourself, ‘will a consumer proposal ruin my credit.’ Among the many things to be considered with this form of debt relief, the impacts are important. That being said, it definitely isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about.
The Process: The process is fairly straightforward. A consumer proposal must be conducted by a trustee in bankruptcy, but it is always smart to have your own representation – someone who can negotiate on your behalf and keep your best interests in mind. A proposal is drawn up that addresses your debt, and this is forwarded to your creditors. Once the majority of your creditors have approved the proposal (they have 45 days to accept or reject it), it is filed and you begin making monthly payments to a trustee, and that is then handed over to your creditors. Most proposals are made over five year terms, but can be paid off in full at any time.
The Benefits: There are many benefits of a consumer proposal. Firstly, it reduces your debt. Since you make a proposal to your creditors with an amount that matches your budget, this can mean a significant reduction in the overall amount that you owe. Secondly, it stops interest. Often, especially with regard to credit card debt, it is the interest that kills you, and so with a consumer proposal the interest is stopped and you can actually make significant payments of the principal, rather than the majority continuing to go to interest. Furthermore, a consumer proposal means a single monthly payment, rather than a bunch of payments on different days (again, a great deal of which goes directly to interest). 
The Impacts: Will a consumer proposal ruin my credit? Firstly, if you are considering a consumer proposal, your credit may not be in the best shape as it stands currently, and so before getting even further in over your head, it is best to gain control of your finances. The consumer proposal, like any credit activity, will show on your credit. It will remain on your report for 3 years following the date it is paid in full (so it is better to pay it off quickly).  Although it is not considered positive credit activity, you can actually start rebuilding your credit as soon as you enter into a consumer proposal.
If you are thinking about a consumer proposal but are worried about the impacts on your credit, please contact DebtCare Canada today for a free consultation:  1-888-890-0888.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Challenges of Dealing with Debt Through a Divorce

In Canada, divorce is one of the biggest causes of debt, and debt is one of the biggest causes of divorce. No matter how you look at it, financial strain wreaks havoc on your life in a number of different ways.
When you separate, and go from a 2 income household to a 1 income household, it can become incredibly difficult to navigate this change in your financial situation. Maintaining a hold on your current debt load, meeting minimum payments, even establishing and sticking to a realistic budget can be really tough.
Check out this video of DebtCare’s own Pam Shimmerman, our financial restructuring specialist. With a legal background, Pam has helped countless individuals deal with the debt that comes from divorce.

One of the best things that you can do once a divorce is initiated is to take a detailed look at your household income and expenses, as well as your current debt load and future financial goals. Working through these items with a financial specialist can help ensure stability and can help you to achieve your financial goals.
If you are in the midst of a divorce and would like some help dealing with the financial repercussions, please contact Pam for a free consultation. You don’t have to do it alone. Please call 1-888-890-0888 or email Pam directly at pshimmerman@debtcare.ca.