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April is tax time, a time that brings stress and anxiety to many Canadians. There is a lot to do when filing taxes in Canada. 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.
Types of Tax Credits in Canada
There are two types of tax credits that you can get in Canada:
Non-Refundable Tax Credits
These tax credits are applied directly to your tax payable. These credits are only beneficial to people who owe taxes. For example, if you owe $300 in taxes and receive a non-refundable tax credit of $100, you now only owe $200.
Refundable Tax Credits
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.
Maximum Tax Refund You Can Get in Canada
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 just need to file a T4 by April 30.
How Do You Calculate Your Tax Refund
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.
Here are the formulas:
Tax Payable = Total Income – Total deductions
Tax Owed = Tax Payable X average tax rate
Total Tax Payable = Total Tax Owed – (15% of the Sum of all credits)
Total tax payable – Tax paid – Tax Refund
How Do You Maximize Your Tax Refund?
There are many ways to increase the amount of money you receive on your yearly tax refund.
1. Contribute to Your RRSP
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.
2. Apply to The Canada Workers Benefit
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 or 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.
3. Deduct Childcare Expenses
if you have children, you can claim the following expenses for each child under 18 years old, to a maximum of $2,273:
- Child care services from caregivers
- Daycare services
- Child care services from educational institutions
- Day camps and Day sports schools
- Boarding schools, overnight camps
4. Deduct Home Office Expenses
If you work at home, you can claim expenses for your home office, such as internet bills, stationery, computers, and more. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA changed the rules for deducting home office expenses. If you worked at home more than 50% of the time throughout 2020, for a minimum of four weeks, you can claim 2$ per day, or $400 per year.
5. Deduct Moving Expenses
You can deduct moving expenses if you meet the following criteria:
- You moved to work, run a business, or attend university, college or another educational institution
- You moved at least 40 KM closer to your new job or school
Eligible, deductible moving expenses include vehicle expenses, accommodation, costs for utility hookups and disconnection, and title transfer costs.
6. Apply For Province-Specific Tax Credits
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.
7. Use Capital Loss
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.
8. Claim The Disability Tax Credit
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.
9. Claim Credits For Seniors
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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