Financial news and advice — March 2015

A UK accountant’s luxury entertainment centre is in limbo after breaching planning laws. Plus, a Canadian renounces his US citizenship to avoid the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.


UK accountant’s luxury leisure complex in limbo

Gloucestershire millionaire Graham Wildin, 62, seemed to consider every detail when building his 10,000-sq.-ft. backyard entertainment centre, which includes a two-lane bowling alley, 16-seat movie theatre, casino and bar, indoor tennis and badminton courts and a 25-ft., three-storey dollhouse. Unfortunately, the one thing the accountant and grandfather of five overlooked was getting permission from the local planning department to construct it in the first place. Officials say the building breaches planning laws and Wildin may be forced to tear down the entire complex


More than one way to skin a FATCA


At least one Canadian has gone to great lengths to avoid Uncle Sam under the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires banks in Canada to give the IRS data on clients who may be US citizens. According to Global News, Rocky Martin, of Sundre, Alta., went to Tijuana, Mexico, to give up the US citizenship he inherited from his mother at birth, despite not owing any US taxes. Why Mexico? The US State Department announced in August 2014 it was raising the fee for renouncing citizenship by a whopping 400% — to US$2,350 from US$450 — on Sept. 12, 2014, and the consulate in Tijuana was the closest one that could take him before the deadline. Even with the travel costs, he says he saved $1,800.


China’s mystery donor identified

A man who made anonymous contributions to local and national causes in China for 27 years has been exposed as retired accountant Zhang Jiqing. Previously known only by his alias “Yan Huang,” the donor was something of a celebrity in east China’s Jiangsu province. Media efforts to identify the mystery man over the years were unsuccessful. But when Zhang suffered a recent stroke and collapsed while at the bank, emergency workers found he held invoices for money transfers with the signature Yan Huang.


They earned it

Canada’s 100 highest-paid CEOs made an average $9.2 million — or 195 times the country’s average worker — in 2013, according to a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Onex CEO Gerald Schwartz topped the list with a total compensation of $87.9 million, or 1,856 times the national average income of $47,358.


Canadians less money savvy than they think

The majority of Canucks claim to be financially literate, yet many are making simple money mistakes. According to a survey by the Credit Counselling Society, 64% of Canadians who frequently carry credit card balances think of themselves as highly financially literate, while 70% of 25- to 34-year-olds who claim to follow a budget or spending plan indicate they are stressed by moderate to significant amounts of nonmortgage debt.