Canada Child Benefit
Reasons to file a tax return even if you don’t have to pay taxesApril 20, 2017
By Sheryl Smolkin
Because you were not employed in 2016 or you earned less than the basic personal deduction ($15,843 in Saskatchewan) you may not be worried about meeting the May 1st income tax deadline. But there are many good reasons to file a tax return even if you don’t have any income to report. For example:
- Get a refund: If you worked for some period of time and your employer deducted income taxes you actually didn’t have to pay it is the only way to get a refund.
- TFSA contribution room: It is the easiest way to establish contribution room for a Tax-Free Savings Account although contribution room is not affected by taxable income.
- Earned income for RRSP purposes. Even if you do not wish to contribute to an RRSP currently, “earned income” amounts can be carried forward indefinitely. For RRSP purposes, earned income includes net employment income, net rental income from real property, CPP/QPP disability benefits and taxable alimony received.
- Refundable tax credits: There are some federal and provincial refundable tax credits that may be payable to you even if you have no earnings and paid no tax. For example, see the federal Working Income Tax Benefit.
- GST/HST credit: Generally, Canadian residents age 19 or older are eligible to receive the federal GST/HST credit, which is paid quarterly to eligible recipients. Those under 19 may be eligible, if they have (or previously had) a spouse or common-law partner, or if they are a parent and they reside with their child.
- Canada child benefit payments: You or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving Canada child benefit payments, including related provincial or territorial benefit payments.
- Non-capital loss: You have incurred a non-capital loss (see line 236) in 2016 that you want to be able to apply in other years.
- Education credits: You want to carry forward or transfer the unused part of your tuition, education, and textbook amounts. See line 323.
- GIS: You receive the guaranteed income supplement or allowance benefits under the old age security program. You can usually renew your benefit by filing your return by April 30. However, if you choose not to file a return, you will have to complete a renewal form. This form is available from Service Canada,
- Provincial benefits: You want to be eligible, or continue to be eligible, for provincial benefit programs. See the Government Programs, Benefits and Services information for your province.
Also consider having your children file a tax return reporting income from various types of part-time work (paper route, baby-sitting, lawn mowing, etc.), even if they do not have to pay income tax, so they can create their own RRSP contribution room.
Changes you need to know about on your 2016 Income Tax ReturnApril 6, 2017
By Sheryl Smolkin
If your financial affairs are fairly straightforward and the only income you receive is from employment, you should have already received all of your tax slips and you may have already filed your income tax return, although it is not due until midnight on Monday, May 1st.
But tax slips for mutual funds, flow-through shares, limited partnerships and income trusts only had to be sent out by March 31st, so if you have multiple, more complex sources of income you are likely among the group of Canadians who are under the gun this month to finalize and file your returns.
Here are some of the things that have changed since last year that individuals and families should be aware of when they are assembling documentation and preparing their returns.
MyCRA: A mobile app from the Canada Revenue Agency now allows you to view your notice of assessment, tax return status, benefit and credit information, and RRSP and TFSA contribution room.
Auto-fill: If you use electronic software to do your taxes, the CRA will fill in many of the boxes for you. You sign into CRA MyAccount and agree to a download that will include information on your RRSP contributions, plus information from T4s, T4As and T5s. Users are advised to double-check the CRA’s data before they file.
INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
Canada child benefit (CCB): As of July 2016, the CCB has replaced the Canada child tax benefit (CCTB), the national child benefit supplement (NCBS), and the universal child care benefit (UCCB). For more information see Canada child benefit.
Child-care expenses: The amount parents can claim for child-care expenses has increased by $1,000 annually, per child, to $8,000 for a child under six and $5,000 for a child aged between seven and 16 years old. For more information see line 214.
Canada Apprentice Loan: Students in a designated Red Seal trade program can now claim interest on their government student loans. For more information see line 319.
Northern resident’s deductions: The basic and additional residency amounts used to calculate the northern residency deduction have both increased to $11 per day. See Form T2222, Northern Residents Deductions. For more information see line 255.
Children’s arts amount: The maximum eligible fees per child (excluding the supplement for children with disabilities), has been reduced to $250. Both will be eliminated for 2017 and later years. For more information see line 370.
Home accessibility expenses: You can claim a maximum of $10,000 for eligible expenses you incurred for work done or goods acquired for an eligible dwelling. This deduction typically applies to home renovations to improve accessibility for individuals eligible for the disability tax credit for the year or for qualifying seniors over 65. For more information see line 398.
Family tax cut: The Family Tax Cut allowed eligible couples with children under the age of 18 to notionally split the income of the spouse with higher earnings, transferring up to $50,000 of taxable income to the lower income spouse in a taxation year. The family tax cut has been eliminated for 2016 and later years.
Children’s fitness tax credit: The maximum eligible fees per child (excluding the supplement for children with disabilities) has been reduced to $500. Both will be eliminated for 2017 and later tax years. For more information see lines 458 and 459.
Eligible educator school supply tax credit: If you were an eligible educator, you can claim up to $1,000 for eligible teaching supplies expenses. For more information see lines 468 and 469.
INTEREST AND INVESTMENTS
Tax-free savings account (TFSA): The amount that you can contribute to your TFSA every year has been reduced to $5,500.
Labour-sponsored funds tax credit: The tax credit for the purchase of shares of provincially or territorially registered labour-sponsored venture capital corporations has been restored to 15% for 2016 and later tax years. The tax credit for the purchase of shares of federally registered labour-sponsored venture capital corporations has decreased to 5% and will be eliminated for 2017 and later tax years. For more information see lines 413, 414, 411, and 419.
Jul 25: Best from the BlogosphereJuly 25, 2016
By Sheryl Smolkin
There’s lots of good reading in the blogosphere this week if you get tired of skimming romance novels on the beach or binging on your favourite Netflix series after dark. We’ve just started on the series Sherlock and Spotlight and Trumbo are two great movies we saw from the comfort of our couch.
In other news, financial maven, television personality and blogger par excellence Gayle Vaz-Oxlade has retired at 57. While we will miss her valuable voice and sense of humour, it is encouraging to see has followed her own personal finance advice and can look forward to time for grandchildren and gardening.
Cheques started arriving in mailboxes across the country and Rob Carrick at the Globe and Mail says high-income families have reason not to like the new Canada Child Benefit, but it’s a win for most everyone else. Here’s how much the benefit will give you.
An interesting post on Canadian Budget binder explains How To Become Financially Secure So You Forget It’s Payday. While there is no magic formula, the checklist includes: start using a budget (no surprise); know where your money is going; understand your bills and how interest works; pay your bills on time and earn extra money if you can.
Cait Flanders sums up what she learned as a result of her two-year shopping ban in Two Years Without Shopping: What I Bought, Donated and Learned to Be True. She explains the rules for each year and details the few necessities she did buy. “For two years, I avoided all mindless and impulse spending decisions. But in a two-year period of time, I also learned you are bound to need some stuff – and that’s ok,” she says. “What I learned from tracking all my purchases this year is that there is a huge difference between talking yourself into thinking you need to buy something and actually needing to buy it.”
On the Financial Independence Hub, Kollin Lore says Millennials can learn from Boomers’ reinvention of retirement. Referring to Jonathan Chevreau’s new book Victory Lap, he says many millennials grew up during the recession and were set back earlier in their careers by student debt, so working past age 65 will be as much a necessity for them as for any other generation. Boomers can teach millennials how to stay motivated and take care of themselves in their senior years
And finally, on Retire Happy, Jim Yih asks: What are your family financial values? He and his wife are very open about money with their children but he suggests that because it’s easier to talk constructively about money from a unified front, a family financial value system might be useful. He shares a helpful series of questions that can help you create one under the headings: spending, debt, saving, income and money management.
Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.
Nov 2: Best from the blogosphereNovember 2, 2015
By Sheryl Smolkin
Canadians have spoken. Canada has a new Prime Minister and a new first family. While the moving trucks have not been booked yet, Justin, Sophie, Ella-Grace, Xavier and Hadrien will be the second generation of Trudeaus to live at 24 Sussex Drive.
Since the election, the financial press has gone into overdrive analyzing what the new government will mean for your bottom line and urging the new government to either act quickly or step back from key election promises.
Here are some of the post-election stories I found interesting:
The MoneySense staff posted What a Liberal majority means for you on election day shortly after a Liberal majority was announced. One of Trudeau’s well-publicized campaign promises was to cut the annual Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution limit from $10,000 back to $5,500. A recent MoneySense analysis found high-income individuals stand to lose an estimated $53,000 over 30 years, assuming 5% equity returns and a combined federal and provincial tax rate of 50% under the Liberal plan.
In the Globe and Mail, Rob Carrick considered some potential TFSA avenues the Liberals could take. He quoted Mark Goodfield, a partner at BDO Canada LLP, who believes the Liberals may announce before year’s end that the cumulative TFSA limit starting next year will be $42,000. That would factor in the $5,000 limit from 2009 through 2012, the $5,500 limit for 2013 and 2014 and $5,500 limits for 2015 and 2016. According to Carrick, Goodfield believes the government will make the current $10,000 limit for this year a moot point, by limiting people who contributed $10,000 this year to just $1,000 in 2016, which would effectively be $5,500 a year for 2015 and 2016.
How the election affects your savings by Adam Mayers at the Toronto Star reports on both the Liberal commitment to expand the Canada Pension Plan and the proposed TFSA rollback. He says, “We can be hopeful about CPP expansion, but don’t expect it for a while. In the meantime, the Ontario plan will go ahead, with the best outcome being that it’s folded into an improved CPP at a later date.” Mayers also believes TFSA rules are unlikely to change before the new year, so if you have the money to use the $10,000 limit, he says do it now.
The non-profit Working Canadians group headed by Catherine Swift (formerly chair of the Canadian Federation for Independent Business) says cutting the TFSA limit is unfair when our tax dollars pay for gold-plated public pensions, Jonathan Chevreau reports in the Financial Post. Chevreau points out affluent baby boomers and seniors have hundreds of thousands of dollars ready to convert to TFSAs and he agrees with Swift that leaving the TFSA limit where it currently stands at $10,000 is the least the feds can do to enable 80% of Canadians to put away some funds for their own proper retirement.
In addition to discussing the TFSA rollback, Your Finances and the Canadian Federal Election by Dan Wesley (Our Big Fat Wallet) explains how other campaign promises could impact families, homeowners and students. For example:
- The Universal Child Care Benefit will be replaced by the Canada Child Benefit. The biggest difference? The new benefit is tied to income and is tax-free.
- The Liberals have quietly announced they would eliminate textbook tax credits for students ($520/year). But it’s not all bad news for students. Students won’t have to start paying back their loans until they begin earning $25,000 per year (or more).
- One of the bigger changes announced is that it will be easier to access the Home Buyers Plan which allows a first time home buyer to borrow up to $25,000 (tax free) from his/her RRSP. Borrowers have 15 years to pay it back and it can be used more than once in a lifetime. Under the new rules, those going through life changes (such as divorce) will be able to access the home buyers plan to buy a second home.
Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.