Financial news and advice — April 2016

The 62 wealthiest people in the world now own as much as the rest of the global population. Plus, Canada is ranked as one of easiest countries in the world in which to file taxes.


62 people own the same as half the world

The total wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population — about 3.5 billion people — is now equivalent to the collective riches of the top 62 billionaires: US$1.76 trillion. Those are the findings of international charity Oxfam, which used the data in Forbes’ 2015 billionaires list (Microsoft founder Bill Gates was ranked wealthiest with more than US$79 billion) for its calculations. The US$1.76 trillion figure represents a 44% increase in wealth for the richest 62 since 2010 and a drop of 38% for the 3.5 billion poorest. “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world’s population owns no more than a few dozen super-rich people who could fit onto one bus,” says Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director.

Hermès Birkin bag 


Lego, Birkin or gold?

While toys and handbags aren’t your typical long-term investments, perhaps they should be. Over the past 15 years, the average value of a pristine-condition Lego set has appreciated 12% annually, according to the Telegraph, while the resale value of designer Hermès Birkin bags rose an average 14.2% a year (accounting for inflation) since they were introduced in 1981, Quartz reported. Compare that to gold’s annual return of 9.6% since 2000, or -1.5% over the past 35 years.


Half anticipate a hike

Fifty-one percent of Canadians expect interest rates to go up this year, an Ipsos poll conducted for BDO finds. Even so, many acknowledge that an increase in rates, and thus in their debt payments, would pose a problem for them. Nearly three in 10 (29%) say they would struggle to make ends meet if their payments went up by as little as $100 a month, while 62% say an additional $300 monthly would prove difficult.


Our tax system is tops

Canada is the easiest G7 country to pay taxes in, while the US is the most difficult, according to PwC’s annual ranking. The 2016 report, which measures all mandatory taxes and contributions that a medium-size company must pay in a given year, found that Canada had the lowest number of total payments (eight vs. 11 in the US); the least time required to comply (131 hours vs. 175 hours in the US); and the lowest total tax rate (21.1% of commercial profits vs. 43.9% in the US) of all the G7 nations.


Red tape runaround

Revenu Québec is one of 10 finalists for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s Paperweight Award, which points a finger at government agencies or departments that have too much red tape. The provincial tax collector was cited for having construction companies and employment agencies obtain its certification to show clients they’ve paid their taxes — then insisting those clients return with the very same certification it issued, so it could verify the paperwork was legitimate.