Reducing your personal tax burden is plausible if you are diligent and aware of the laws, says Brian Cohen, a partner with the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP who practises in the areas of wealth management, personal taxation, succession planning and trusts.

Individuals can save on taxes through buying into funds with built-in floors (to protect yourself from losing too much if the markets crash) in addition to putting funds into tax-free savings accounts as of January 2, 2009.

And for the self-employed, Cohen adds, there are steps to take through income splitting to decrease taxes. 'If you’re working for yourself, there’s no reason you can’t have an executive assistant — you could easily pay your spouse for answering phones, setting meetings and that sort of thing,' says Cohen. 'What you pay your spouse would then be their income not yours, you can write it off and they could pay taxes on it at a substantially lower rate.'

But, Cohen warns, 'you can’t go overboard on it by paying your spouse $50,000 for picking up the phone once a month. You have to pay the market rates.'