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When it comes to filing your taxes in Canada, there are lots of steps, documents, and information to remember. You need to declare all income you received for the year, save money to cover a potential tax bill, and keep track of all eligible expenses and deductions to maximize your refund. Then, there’s also keeping up with the Canada Revenue Agency’s changing tax rules in Canada. Luckily, there are many ways to increase your tax refund, like tax credits and deductions.
An income tax refund is when the CRA collects too much income tax from you throughout the year and then refunds the overpayment. Refunds typically occur if your employer collected too much tax from your paycheques each month. Or, if any tax credits or deductions reduce the amount you owe and therefore increase your refund.
There are two types of tax credits that you can get in Canada:
These tax credits are applied directly to the amount of taxes you owe. These credits are only beneficial to people who owe money. For example, if you owe $300 in taxes and receive a non-refundable tax credit of $100, you now only owe $200.
These will give you a credit regardless of whether or not you owe taxes this year. One example of a refundable tax credit is the GST/HST credit.
A tax deduction reduces your total taxable income. This means that for every tax deduction you’re eligible to claim your income that can be taxed decreases. Common tax deductions in Canada are RRSP contributions, CPP contributions, child care expenses, employment insurance premiums, etc.
There is no real “maximum” tax refund that you can get in Canada. Your refund depends on your income, deductions, and how much you’ve paid in taxes.
If you’re an employee, your employer will collect the tax you owe the government from your paycheque. This makes things easier at tax time since employed individuals will receive a T4 with all the information they need.
Accountants and other tax professionals can calculate your tax refund for you. However, you can calculate it yourself with an online tax calculator, or by doing the math yourself. Remember, if your tax situation is complicated, it may take you a bit longer to calculate your refund.
A basic formula:
Taxable Income = Total Income – Total Deductions
Total Taxes Owed = Taxable Income X Tax rate bracket you fall under
Total Taxes Paid – Total Taxes Owed= Tax Refund*
Note* This amount will vary based on other deductions and credits you may qualify for.
There are many ways to increase the amount of money you receive on your yearly tax refund.
Registered Retirement Savings Plans, or RRSPs, are a great way to maximize your tax refund. Used primarily to save for retirement, RRSPs also provide tax relief since you’re able to deduct your contributions from your taxable income. The limit for yearly RRSP contributions is 18% of your earned income. If you have a low income, however, a Tax-Free Savings Account might be a better fit for you than an RRSP.
The Canada Workers Benefit is a refundable tax credit for Canadians with low income. The CWB has two components – a basic amount, and a disability supplement.
To be eligible, you must be 19 years of age or older. If younger than 19, you must live with your spouse, common-law partner or child, be a resident of Canada, and earn a working income.
The maximum credit amount is $1,381 for single individuals with a net income below $24,573, and $2,379 for families with a net income below $37,173.
If you have children, you can claim the following expenses for each child under 18 years old, to a maximum of $2,273:
If you work at home, you can claim expenses for your home office, such as internet bills, stationery, computers, and more. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA changed the rules for deducting home office expenses. If you worked at home more than 50% of the time throughout 2020, for a minimum of four weeks, you can claim 2$ per day or $400 per year.
You can deduct moving expenses if you meet the following criteria:
Eligible, deductible moving expenses include vehicle expenses, accommodation, costs for utility hookups and disconnection, and title transfer costs.
There are many province-specific tax credits available, depending on the province in which you reside. For example, Ontario offers tax deductions for adoption expenses and apprenticeship training, as well as credits for property tax and energy costs, depending on your income.
If you’ve lost money on investments in the stock market, make sure you record your capital loss. If you experience capital gains in a future year, your record of capital loss can offset the gains.
Canadians living with a disability can claim the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) to help reduce any income tax they may owe the government. This tax credit is meant to support those living with a disability or anyone who cares for them. Canadians with eligible disabilities can claim up to $8,576 per year.
If you’re a senior (over the age of 65), you can claim up to $7,637 per year. If you receive a pension, you can claim $2,000. For senior couples, pension income-splitting allows you to minimize the amount owed by you and your partner at tax time.
Tax time can be stressful for many Canadians. With so many records and information to keep track of, it can be intimidating. However, by following the steps above and being more aware of eligible expenses, you can look forward to a generous tax refund each year.
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