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In The News for Dec. 16: Are Canadians losing money by not filing taxes?

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 16 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
The Canada Revenue Agency sign outside the National Headquarters at the Connaught Building in Ottawa is seen on Monday, March 1, 2021. Canadians who don't file their tax returns are sometimes shocked to find out how much money they're owed by the government for years of missed benefits, says the head of a non-profit organization working to build financial literacy among low-income people. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 16 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Canadians who don't file their tax returns are sometimes shocked to find out how much money they're owed by the government for years of missed benefits, says the head of a non-profit organization working to build financial literacy among low-income people.

Prosper Canada CEO Elizabeth Mulholland says her organization collaborates with other community partners to deliver financial services and literacy programs, including tax-filing programs that help Canadians who might otherwise not file their returns. 

She says some people seeking out such services find that they're owed as much as tens of thousands of dollars in benefits they haven't collected.

That newfound cash can open the door to a conversation about money and financial planning, she said, recalling that one family was able to put a down payment on a condominium after receiving the money they were owed. 

"Often, the first question is: 'well, what am I going to do with all that money?'" Mulholland said. 

The federal government is increasingly relying on the Canada Revenue Agency to deliver income-tested benefits to individuals, including the recent top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and the temporary doubling of the GST tax credit. 

However, some vulnerable Canadians are missing out on payments because they don't file their returns.

Taxpayers' Ombudsperson François Boileau raised that issue in his latest annual report, published this week. During a news conference on Tuesday, Boileau said he's planning to provide the CRA with recommendations on how to address the issue.

"We're still trying to fully understand the problem and actually propose concrete solutions, so that's why there's no recommendations this year. But you bet there will be at another point," he said. 

A paper published in 2020 found that about 10 to 12 per cent of Canadians don't file their tax returns. In total, the researchers estimated the benefits lost to working-age non-filers was approximately $1.7 billion in 2015.


Also this ...

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations says the ongoing tension around public financing to save nature stem from a "trust deficit" because wealthier countries have failed to fulfil their financing promises to developing nations in the past.

Amina Mohammed joined the COP15 nature talks in Montreal this week as negotiations went their way toward Monday's finish line with no certainty yet that a new biodiversity agreement will be reached. 

The pinnacle target to protect 30 per cent of land and marine area by 2030 has yet to be agreed to, with some developing nations and Indigenous communities saying they fear they will be forced from lands that they have already been conserving for decades.

But the fight between wealthier nations and developing countries about funding the estimated US$700 billion annual price tag to conserve nature may be the harder chasm to close.

Mohammed says that over the past few years, a sense of mistrust has arisen as wealthy countries' financial promises, on climate action and adaptation in particular, have fallen short.

She says every country has to do everything it can to overcome that "trust deficit" because allowing nature to be destroyed at current rates will lead to the downfall of humanity.

"The ambitions for biodiversity are about all of us," Mohammed said. "They are commitments that we all need to take because it affects us as humanity. If we don't take care of our biodiversity, there will be no us."


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

NEW YORK _ At a gas station outside New York City, retired probation officer Karen Stowe was faced with a pump price she didn't want to pay. She bought groceries from the convenience store instead, planning to buy cheaper gas elsewhere.

"The price is so high, people have to think very hard about where they're driving to,'' said Stowe, who had just been volunteering at a food pantry. "People are in trouble, and that's the truth.''

Though drivers in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere are getting a break from the sky-high gasoline prices they endured over the summer, the cost is still difficult for many who have been struggling with relentless inflation. The U.S. average was $3.19 per gallon, down from a record $5 in June, while European Union pump prices have dropped nearly the equivalent of 40 cents, to $6.58 per gallon, since October.

Drivers now hope the situation doesn't get worse after a series of cutbacks tied to Russia's war in Ukraine, accidents and the slowing global economy have strained the world's oil supply. While oil and gasoline prices have dropped despite a recent supply crunch, those threats could end up pushing costs higher this winter.

"The global system can withstand probably a few more days of these outages, but if they persist, they're going to play a major role in price hikes,'' said Claudio Galimberti, senior vice president of analysis at Rystad Energy.

A key reason restrictions on oil supply have not sent prices higher: Traders think there will be less demand for oil in the future, due to fears that the global economy is headed into recession, which would mean less driving and manufacturing. And some investors worry China's looser COVID-19 restrictions could backfire for the nation's economy.

The restrictions on Russian exports are likely to have a bigger impact on oil prices next month. Although Western nations have banned Russian oil, customers in India and China are buying it, so there's enough oil on the market for those who need it. More than 97 per cent of Russia's seaborne crude exports went to China and India last month, according to Refinitiv, a financial market data provider.

In February, global oil supply could get more limited, because European nations won't be able to buy Russian refined products such as gasoline and diesel, so Russia could cut back on producing oil. Russia also could decide not to produce oil due to the G-7 price cap. Its oil is selling for less than that now. But if the price goes up and approaches the cap, Russia could decide to take oil off the market, analysts said.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ Ukrainian authorities reported explosions in at least three cities Friday, saying Russia has launched a major missile attack' on energy facilities and infrastructure.

Local authorities on social media reported explosions in the capital, Kyiv, southern Kryvyi Rih and northeastern Kharkiv as authorities sounded air raid alarms across the country warning of a new devastating barrage of the Russian strikes that have occurred intermittently since mid-October.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on the Telegram social media app that the city is without electricity. Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov reported three strikes on the city's critical infrastructure.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a top official in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, reported a strike on a residential building in Kryvyi Rih, warning on Telegram: "There may be people under the rubble.'' Emergency services were on site, he said.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions in the northeastern Desnianskyi and western Holosiivskyi district, urging residents to go to shelters.

"The attack on the capital continues,'' he wrote on Telegram.

The strikes targeting energy infrastructure have been part of a new Russian strategy to try to freeze Ukrainians into submission after several key battlefield losses by Russian forces in recent months.


On this day in 1991 ...

The Canadian government agreed to create a third territory in the North called Nunavut. (It officially became a territory on April 1, 1999.)


In entertainment ...

NEW YORK _ Ryan Seacrest will usher in 2023 on "New Year's Rockin' Eve'' from Times Square, with iconic bands from the 1980s and 1990s as well as a member of BTS and a TikTok sensation.

Duran Duran, fresh off an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, will play from a catalogue that includes hits like "Hungry Like the Wolf,'' "The Reflex'' and "Rio.'' R&B and pop group New Edition will celebrate their 40th anniversary by performing a medley of chart-toppers and solo hits like "Rub You The Right Way,'' "My Prerogative,'' "Poison,'' "If It Isn't Love,'' and "Cool It Now.''

J-hope, South Korean songwriter and member of BTS, will play a medley of his "= (Equal Sign),'' "Chicken Noodle Soup'' and the band's "Butter.'' And Tik-Tok star Jax will sing pop hits "Victoria's Secret'' and "90s Kids.'' Singer and rapper Farruko will perform from Puerto Rico.

Actress and producer Liza Koshy will return as co-host alongside Seacrest, actor-singer Roselyn Sanchez will co-host from Puerto Rico and Billy Porter will be back in New Orleans for the Central Time Zone countdown.

There will be pre-taped performances in Disneyland from Aly & AJ, Bailey Zimmerman, Ben Platt, Ciara, Fitz & The Tantrums, Halle Bailey, Lauren Spencer Smith, Maddie & Tae, Shaggy and TXT. And from Los Angeles, there will be performances by Armani White, Betty Who, Dove Cameron, Finneas, Nicky Youre and Wiz Khalifa.

Seacrest, inheritor of ABC's legendary "New Year's Rockin' Eve'' from Dick Clark, reached 19.6 million viewers between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., last New Year's Eve, according to Nielsen. During the 15-minute interval where the ball dropped in New York's Times Square, his audience jumped to 24.2 million people.

 "New Year's Rockin' Eve'' will air Dec. 31 on ABC.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may not have started the day thinking about whether mermaids reproduce like fish or like humans, but that's what one person is asking him to consider.

In a tweet, Trudeau invited people to ask him any question they want, and the denizens of Twitter immediately granted that request with a variety of queries on everything from affordable housing to shoe polish.

He said that anyone who had a question should post it in the replies to his tweet and "stay tuned.''

There were more than 6,000 replies a little over an hour later, including one that challenged the prime minister to a mixed martial arts fight and another that simply asked: "Why are you?''

There were many serious policy questions on issues such as electoral reform, climate change, health care and electric vehicles, and lots of angry replies calling for Trudeau to resign.

But Trudeau has also created for himself an opportunity to respond to whether dogs would wear pants covering just their hind legs or all four, and whether grated cheese belongs on curry _ "yes or no.''

The call-out came a day after the House of Commons adjourned for a holiday break.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2022

The Canadian Press

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