By Larry Gonzalez,2014-06-29 09:16
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Statistics Canada advises that there are approximately 3.5 million families who own a home with a

    mortgage. The total mortgage debt that is currently being serviced by these families is about 500

    billion dollars. The banks and other lenders are collecting a reasonable market-driven interest rate

    from the homeowners. Unlike Americans, Canadians are unable to claim their mortgage interest as a

    tax deduction.

That 500 billion dollars has been borrowed and spent by Canadians to purchase their homes. The

    money has been used. But there is a very large opportunity hidden in plain sight. It is that same 500

    billion dollars. Because of Canadian tax rules regarding the deductibility of interest, that money can be

    used a second time. 500 billion of non-deductible house mortgages can and should be converted into

    500 billion in tax deductible investment loans. We have found the elephant. It is your house mortgage.

The investment industry, working with both the willing assistance of the lending industry and the

    financial planning industry, should embark now on a mission to teach the population about the benefits

    of converting their mortgage loans (bad debt) to investment loans (good debt). If this mortgage debt

    were to be converted as suggested, the process would release 500 billion dollars into the economy to

    purchase investments for the homeowners. This rather simple act of debt conversion makes the

    interest expense tax deductible for the homeowner. The process costs next to nothing to implement

    and all the players benefit, especially those families converting their debt from the bad kind to the good


More important than the tax refunds is the fact that the homeowners will begin gathering assets now as

    opposed to after they have spent many years trying to pay off the mortgage. Holding constant a debt

    already taken (the mortgage) in order to accumulate investments early in life, has a demonstrably

    superior financial outcome compared to the process most Canadians currently follow pay off the

    mortgage, then begin an investment program.

What are the benefits that accrue to the homeowner, the banker, the tax department and Canada?

A. Benefits for the Homeowner:

    1. Debt will not increase. Instead, it will remain constant until conversion has been completed.

    This is a debt conversion strategy, not a leveraging strategy.

    2. The rate of interest will be low (prime or better) since the house is the security for the

    investment credit line.

    3. Any reduction of the first mortgage is borrowed back and used to purchase investments -

    starting immediately.

    4. The interest expense on the investment credit line will generate a tax deduction. The tax

    deduction will produce a tax refund cheque.

    5. The tax refund cheque each year will be used to pay the mortgage down even faster. The

    amount paid down against the mortgage will be immediately re-borrowed and invested.

    6. The tax refunds will get larger each year as conversion progresses.


    7. The investment portfolio will compound its value over the years ahead.

    8. The investments will be free and clear because the house is the security for the investment

    loan, not the investments themselves.

    9. Since the investment portfolio is free and clear, there can be no margin call.

    10. The process is reversible. Since the investments are free and clear they will be available in

    times of trouble to protect the home, the homeowner and the lender.

    11. The homeowner will make the choice to invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investment

    real estate, his own business, or someone else’s business. The interest expense will be tax


    12. The investor will automatically be enjoying the benefits that accrue to those who invest

    regularly and often, starting now.

    13. The length of time to complete the conversion is easy to calculate and will vary from family

    to family, but the strategy always reduces the income tax bill. Assuming this “found”

    money is wisely utilized to make incremental payments against the mortgage, it can also be

    said that the strategy always reduces the length of the mortgage as well.

    14. The projected investment returns are subject to the usual market risks. Risks are reduced by

    the long time horizons related to mortgages. Responsible professionals will encourage

    homeowners to practice asset diversification, to purchase quality investments, to invest

    regularly and often, to seek professional assistance and to suppress greed.

    B. Benefits for the Lender:

    1. The constant and expensive struggle to find replacement mortgage business to offset daily

    mortgage principal reductions will end. This is because it will be to the financial advantage

    of the mortgagor to maintain his debt at a constant level while he converts it from bad debt

    to good debt. If bad debt is reduced, good debt of the same amount replaces it immediately.

    The bank’s asset does not erode.

    2. The lending risk has already been accepted by the bank in making the original non-

    deductible loan to the mortgagor. No new risk is taken by the bank in accommodating the

    request of the borrower to allow him to convert his existing non-deductible debt to the

    deductible variety. The same house is the security for both loans.

    3. The mortgagor gets financially stronger as each month goes by because he is building a free

    and clear diversified investment portfolio without increasing his debt. There is no

    leveraging because debt does not increase.

    4. The mortgagor gets financially stronger as each year goes by because a free new

    incremental income is generated as a by-product of the strategy: tax refund cheques.

    Unlike most family income, this free new income from the tax department is also not

    taxable income. It is tax-free income that will be targeted by wise homeowners to roll

    through the first mortgage so that the “re-borrow and invest” activity can be repeated year

    after year.


    5. This new family income improves the debt-service ratio of the customer. A stronger

    customer is a better customer. As the debt-service ratio improves, the risk of non-

    performing loans in the mortgage and secured lending sectors is reduced.

    6. Mortgage default ratios will drop. The mortgagor is not going to let his house be taken for

    lack of cash to make a mortgage payment should he lose his job, for example. The

    investment portfolio is free and clear and the process is reversible if required.

    7. Lenders who offer credit line first mortgages in conjunction with the Readvanceable

    Mortgage will be providing the benefits that accrue when using the excellent “Australian”

    mortgage product so successfully marketed by Manulife.

    8. Lenders offering Readvanceable Mortgages as well as investment products will be in an

    excellent position to enjoy the collateral business available by providing the investments

    that are required to make this strategy perform.

    C. Benefits for the Tax Department:

    1. The government has recognized the importance of providing tax deductions to businesses

    and to wealthy people willing to borrow to invest in the economy because their investment

    leads to the creation of new businesses and new jobs. The proposed debt conversion

    strategy will extend the reach of the government’s policies to include millions of average

    Canadians. It is a way to extend tax benefits to those who need them most. But there is a

    quid pro quo the tax benefits will only accrue if the not-wealthy Canadian is willing to

    invest. With this strategy he will now be able to.

2. The quid pro quo is also the difference between the free deductible mortgage programs

    proposed by Joe Clark and Ernie Eves to buy votes. Their programs were freebies with few

    benefits to Canada. The strategy suggested here is a value exchange the homeowner

    benefits, and in return Canada gains a financially stronger citizen, now and in retirement.

    3. Any disruption in government taxation cash flow will be modest because the process for

    most Canadians will take a few years. As the speed of conversion accelerates, the effects of

    new investment and new jobs will be generating new tax revenues, which will offset the tax

    refunds paid out to those utilizing the proposed strategy.

    D. Benefits for Canada:

    1. The free and clear investment pool this strategy generates will produce financially stronger

    families and will result in fewer bankruptcies and less need for welfare.

    2. Families will be better able to take care of their own financial needs in retirement. The free

    and clear investment portfolio will generate retirement income for Canadians in their senior

    years, thus reducing the need for government support.

3. Over half of Canada’s corporate pension plans are in trouble. Families everywhere will be

    grateful for this opportunity to build their own personal retirement plan. If you want it done

    right, do it yourself.

    4. The Reverse Mortgage has been gaining attention in recent years as lenders attempt to find

    ways to supply cash to needy seniors who are house rich and cash poor. The Reverse


    Mortgage is a symptom of what happens if the population fixates on mortgage pay down

    rather than asset gathering during their working years.

    The proposed solution solves the above problem with elegance, ease and efficiency.

    Instead of taking the senior’s home as security for a cash flow loan during his or her

    retirement, why not provide the education and the tools to enable him or her to make their

    equity work to their advantage at the front end of life, just like wealthy people do?

    Treat the problem, not the symptom.

    E. Is there a Downside?

    1. We all know there is no free lunch, so who is paying for these proposed advantages?

    This proposal is largely composed of rearranging the way people deal with their mortgage

    and their investments. There is one change that has a cost to it. Those homeowners who

    have been dutifully reducing their mortgage each month are making that money available

    for the next homebuyer to have a mortgage for his new house. This will change because of

    the laws of supply and demand. Because the strategy requires that newly created equity be

    immediately re-borrowed for investments, there will be less money available to provide

    mortgages to those coming behind. The price of money might therefore be expected to

    increase for all borrowers, not just homeowners.

    In a similar fashion, if people are buying more investments it can be expected that the

    increased demand will lead to an increase in the cost of those investments and a reduction

    in their yield.

    2. The proposition put forward requires that the homeowner learn to understand the important

    difference between the non-deductible debt of their house mortgage and the deductible debt

    of an investment loan. With this understanding, most will appreciate the advantage of

    suspending their desire to get to zero debt in order to allow their investment portfolio to

    accumulate during the conversion process. For some, it will be impossible to live with debt

    of any kind, good or bad.

    3. When the conversion is completed, the homeowner may wish to resume their course to zero

    debt by starting to make payments on the new deductible investment loan.

    It can be shown mathematically that they will be financially better off to leave the debt in

    place, paying interest only, once the interest has been made deductible. If this is done, they

    will receive ongoing tax refund cheques for the rest of their life. Moreover, their cash flow

    can be used to continue to increase their investments rather than being used to pay off a

    loan they have worked so hard to convert to the deductible variety. Ultimately, that

    decision is theirs to make. Some people are so debt adverse they will do whatever it takes

    to get to zero debt even if it means fewer assets and lower income.

    F. This Strategy is Already Available

A Canadian with a $200,000 mortgage should take steps immediately to convert that mortgage

    to a $200,000 investment credit line as quickly as possible, starting now. He may need the help

    of a financial planner to organize the plan, arrange the re-advanceable mortgage and supply the


investment portfolio. The help of these professionals is desirable as there are usually additional

    steps that may be available that will optimize results for the homeowner.

    The good news is that this strategy is already available. It is called The Smith Manoeuvre and it has been quietly in use for 20 years in B.C. It is the subject of a book entitled The Smith Manoeuvre which is a Canadian Best Seller having sold over 10,000 copies. There are many financial planners across Canada offering to assist homeowners with its implementation. Most

    banks and credit unions now offer Readvanceable Mortgages, although many are not yet up to

    speed on how these Readvanceable Mortgages are utilized with The Smith Manoeuvre. For this reason, it is recommended that homeowners seek out a financial planner who is already

    implementing The Smith Manoeuvre. A list is available online at

    The book can be ordered on line, along with a companion CD called The Smithman Calculator. The CD illustrates specific improvements that can be expected by any homeowner when

    mortgage particulars and investment assumptions are input. The Smithman Calculator will determine how many years will be lopped off of the first mortgage, as well as how much will

    be received free from the taxman in tax-refund cheques. Most importantly, The Smithman Calculator allows the user to determine the size of the investment portfolio at any point in the


Order online at or phone toll free to order at 1-800-792-0825.

Also available for download from the same website is a PowerPoint presentation with text that

    explains The Smith Manoeuvre in detail. This presentation is suitable to use as a tool to

    describe The Smith Manoeuvre to others.

    Five hundred billion dollars in non-deductible mortgages needs to be converted to five hundred billion dollars of deductible investment loans. The strategy will not work unless the

    new borrowings are used for investment the money cannot be used for consumption, so there

    will be no leakage in this program. It will be a pleasure for those in the industry to facilitate

    The Smith Manoeuvre, as they will be dealing with willing and motivated homeowners who are

    anxious to get started immediately on putting this exciting strategy to work.

The financial professionals in the finance, planning and investment industry should not simply

    participate in this financial revolution they should lead it.

Fraser Smith

    Victoria, B.C.

    March 2005


    Fraser Smith is a retired financial strategist in Saanichton, B.C. on Vancouver Island. He is the

    author of "The Smith Manoeuvre" and the developer of financial software "The Smithman

    Calculator". For more information visit Contact 250-652-0825.


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