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N.B. PRESS WANTS ACCESS TO COURT DOPE

by Esther Crandall

 

SAINT JOHN — The reaction of New Brunswick justice minister Rodman Logan to a brief from journalists has raised hopes that court reporters may soon have access to information necessary for proper reporting of court cases.

The brief, presented to Logan Jan. 31, was supported by 22 N.B. journalists, including members of Media Club of Canada (MCC) whose N.B. branch acted as sponsor.

The brief pointed out six needs:

  • Informations and dispositions of cases, particularly needed by small weeklies;
  • Access to documents, once they have been tendered to the courts;
  • Access to exhibits, once they have been tendered to the courts;
  • Advance notice of decisions that are expected to be handed down;
  • Immediate access to decisions when they are handed down;
  • Police and RCMP co-operation.

The brief grew out of a "Media and the Law" seminar sponsored in April 1977 by MCC's New Brunswick branch in cooperation with the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

At that time, some journalists told lawyers they were often unable to get information on charges that had been dealt with in the courts; others said that during some trials they could not see exhibits or documents that had been submitted to the courts; still others said that journalists based outside of Fredericton had difficulty in getting copies of judgements while what was contained in the judgements was still news.

At present, the Registrar's office posts daily notices in Fredericton of judgements as they are handed down. But journalists based elsewhere in the province must rely on informal sources for information on these judgements.

Some of the problems outlined in the brief fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government rather than that of the province, Logan told a delegation of journalists. He said he didn't know some N.B. journalists were having trouble getting information ostensibly in the public domain.

He recommended they meet with other officials: the provincial police commissioner, chief provincial court judge, N.B. Supreme Court registrar, RCMP, and the province's chief trial judge.

This sent the delegation's six journalists scurrying in all directions to arrange the meetings. Logan also said that, in the meantime, he would talk with some of these same officials. All of which is expected to lead to more meetings between Logan and the journalists. — Esther Crandall.

Esther Crandall is a Saint John freelance journalist and MCC officer.

 

 

TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE APRIL LESS TAXING

by Paul Park.

 

OTTAWA — April is the month that probably does more for national unity than any other. Because it is on April 30 — Income Tax Day — that Canadians everywhere turn to the capital to scream, "Dammit, what am I? Made of money?"

It is possible to render unto Caesar a little less than he would like, but new rules have limited some options available in earlier years.

Take incorporation, for example. In the past you could form a company, pay yourself a smaller salary and pay out the balance as dividends. But after the budget last November, that advantage has been restricted. If more than two-thirds of your income is from one source, incorporation is out of the question. This loophole was closed to prevent certain professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, from paying less tax than wage-earners.

But if less than two-thirds of your salary comes from one employer (a condition which describes most freelancers for example), you could easily continue to use this set-up.

Before you do anything rash, consult a tax lawyer and keep in mind that an income of $20,000 is considered the minimum needed for incorporation.

If you haven't formed a corporation or if you formed one after the budget, the new rules will take effect next year. Already established corporations have been given one year's grace.

But even if it isn't worth your while to form a company, there are other ways to save on taxes. Revenue Canada's Form T2032 will help determine what is and isn't acceptable.

And don't forget legitimate deductions. For instance:

Private library: The price of new books related to research, plus 20 per cent depreciation on already-owned material has to be considered. And don't overlook subscriptions, or even newsstand purchases, of newspapers and magazines.

Travel: Travel expenses necessary for work, maintenance of your car and two annual convention trips may all be claimed at tax time.

Rent: Office rent and a portion of your home rent, if you lease rather than own, can be claimed. And remember to deduct incidentals, such as phone, hydro, office expenses, film, etc.

Equipment: Depreciation can be claimed for essential tools of the trade like typewriters, cameras, tape recorders. If you need it for your work, deduct it.

Foreign sales: If taxes are deducted for a paycheque from outside Canada, a foreign tax credit is allowed.

If this is your first time filing as a freelancer, set a non-calendar business year. (See Content No. 84, April 1978, p. 10) By using a non-calendar year, you can defer taxes for months at a time. But remember: Once you choose your fiscal year, you're stuck with it until kingdom come.

See about an interest-free loan from your employer. Revenue Canada determines financial benefit from a prescribed rate of interest.

Let's say your boss loans you $10,000. Using the eight per cent benefit calculation, Revenue would decide that the loan was worth $800. But the credit for such a loan is $500. Therefore you'd end up paying taxes on $300.

Remember to file your tax return by April 30 and don't throw away receipts. The feds have up to four years to audit you.

Armed with a good tax guide and a knowledge of the system, you could find this year's taxes don't sting as much as they could have.

 

Paul Park, Content's contributing editor for Ottawa, is an unincorporated freelancer who does his most creative writing on his tax return.

 

Published in Content April 1979

 


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