Tax Season Tips from H&R Block Truro

 

Visit www.hrblock.ca for help with specific questions or concerns! H&R Block Truro is happy to provide you with these tips to help take the stress out of tax season 2017:

 

Tax Checklist

Click on the image below to enlarge.
   

 

   

General

  • Make sure you file your tax return on time if you have a balance due, even if you cannot pay them right away. By doing so, you will at least avoid the late filing penalty. This is currently calculated as five percent of your balance due, plus one percent per month for a maximum of 12 months.
 
  • If you turn 19 before April 1, 2017, make sure you file a 2015 income tax return and apply for the GST/HST credit. You will then receive at least one GST/HST Credit cheque for the payment dates following your birthday. For example, if you turn 19 in March 2017, you will receive the last quarterly payment for the July 2016 to June 2017 benefit period, which is paid in April 2017.
 
  • If you have not claimed the charitable donations tax credit after 2007, any cash donations you make after March 20, 2013 (including donations made in 2015) will be eligible for the first-time donor super credit. This will provide you with an additional 25% credit on your first $1,000 of donations.
 
  • Old charitable donation receipts that you forgot to claim in previous years should not be thrown away. Charitable donation receipts are good for five years after the year in which the donation was made.
 
  • If you use public transit you may claim the cost of your monthly passes. You may also claim weekly passes if they are purchased over a period of four consecutive weeks and the cost of an electronic payment card if it is used to make at least 32 one-way trips during an uninterrupted period not exceeding 31 days.
   

Employees

  • If you have employment income, make sure you claim the Canada Employment Amount. For 2015, it provides a 15% non-refundable tax credit on your first $1,146 of employment income.
 
  • Employees are not normally allowed to claim supplies unless they are directly used up in the course of their employment. However, employees who are tradespersons may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of tools over $1,146. There is a maximum claim of $500.
 
  • Wage loss replacement benefits are completely tax-free if you paid all the premiums to the plan. They are taxable if your employer paid all the premiums. If both you and your employer contributed to the premiums, you can reduce the taxable portion of the benefits by the premiums you paid.
   

Families

  • Inform the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if there any changes in your family circumstances which could affect your GST/HST credit. Examples include a change in marital status or a change in the number of children in your care. The change will be reflected in your next quarterly GST/HST payment.
 
  • If you deposit your Child Tax Benefit and/or Universal Child Care Benefit payments into a separate bank account specifically for your child, any interest it earns is considered your child's income rather than your own. Your child can earn up to $11,138 in the 2014 taxation year without being subject to federal tax.
 
  • You may claim the $2,255 child amount for each of your children under the age of 18 years at the end the year. Unlike other dependency amounts, it is not reduced by your child's income. 2014 will be the last year parents can claim this amount.
 
  • You may claim a non-refundable tax credit for expenses relating to the adoption of a child. For 2014, the maximum amount of expenses on which the credit is based is $15,000. The rules were modified in 2013 to include provincially required adoption courses and home study programs as eligible expenses.
 
  • The Children's Fitness Credit allows you to claim the cost of registering your children under the age of 16 in eligible sports or recreation programs. The maximum cost on which the credit is based is $1,000. There are enhanced rules for disabled children under the age of 18.
 
  • If you enroll your child for mandarin lessons (or any other foreign language lessons), you can claim the Children's Arts Amount for the first $500 of registration costs for a maximum credit of $75.
   

Seniors

  • Seniors who turn 65 after June 2013 can postpone receiving Old Age Security benefits for up to five years and receive higher annual benefits when they do start collecting. This would probably be beneficial to seniors whose net income in 2014 is more than $71,592 since they will not be subject to the OAS clawback.
 
  • Tax credits are now available to seniors in Ontario and B.C. to help them with the cost of home renovations designed to help them be more mobile or functional within their homes.
 
  • If you have to travel more than 40 kilometers in order to get medical treatment which is not available locally, you can claim the cost of transportation as a medical expense. If you have to travel more than 80 kilometers you can also claim other travel expenses, such as meals and accommodation.
   

Disabled or Infirm Dependents

  • If you are disabled and need to pay for certain types of disability supports (such as optical scanners or sign-language interpretation services) in order to work or go to school, you may be able to claim a deduction for your expenses.
 
  • If you provide in-home care to a parent or grandparent age 65 or older, or to any dependent relative who is 18 or over and infirm, you may be able to claim the caregiver amount. For 2014, the maximum amount is $6,588 if the dependent is infirm. Otherwise it is $4,530. The amount is reduced by the dependent's net income in excess of $15,472
 
  • Taxpayers who claim personal amounts for dependents are entitled to an additional $2,058 if the dependent is mentally or physically impaired. For example, a taxpayer who has an impaired husband with no income may claim a $13,196 spousal amount instead of $11,138.