Tax season can seem a little daunting. All those little boxes, all those receipts, all those childcare expenses to include...did you get everything? Unfortunately, it’s one of those things in life that simply has to be done, and hopefully, you get a little back from the government for your efforts! This might also be a good time to remind you that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam is still very much active in Canada. Canadians lost over 5 million to this scam in 2017. Just be aware that the CRA does not make phone calls demanding payment of taxes and threaten you with arrest. The latest twist on this scam is victims are directed to make these fraudulent payments with Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by any government and are not accepted by government agencies, at least in Canada. If this happen to you, you know it’s a scam.
Here are some easy tips to help make sure your tax time is a smooth ride.
- Firstly, don’t procrastinate. Get it done. Filing late comes with financial penalties and who needs that. The deadline is April 30th, just so you know. You can start filing online as early as February 26, 2018.
- Use an online Tax preparation app. These have come a long way over the years in simplifying the process for consumers. Many, such as TurboTax and SimpleTax, offer suggestions along the way so you don’t miss anything in terms of deductions. They work very well for those with simple submissions, such as having only one or two T4 slips to deal with.
- Do you have kids? Did you keep track of everything you spent on them, particularly educational, sporting or health care expenses? You might be able to get some of that back. Same goes for any expenses you may have incurred as a result of your job.
- Did you move last year? Believe it or not, you can claim some of your moving expenses so I hope you kept all the receipts and used a BBB Accredited mover...just sayin.
- Do you work in a union? Yep, you can claim union dues as well. And don’t forget about RRSP contributions! Oh, while we are on the topic RRSPs...RESPs (Registered Educational Savings Plan) don’t count as a deduction. Why? The government is already offering to give you money towards your child’s education at a later date based on RESP amounts so you can’t expect to save money based on them and then get even more money when they go to university.
- Should you use a tax prep specialist such as H and R Block? This really is up to you. Keep in mind, employees at H and R Block are not necessarily chartered accountants and may not offer that level of expertise. There is, of course, a fee they take. You might run the risk of having to owe the government money AND have their fee tacked on, ouch. Simply ask yourself if this is what you should do. If your return is fairly complex and you have a lot of questions, it might be worth it. If so, do it soon as they will be busy this time of year.
- Did you create a folder or place in your home where you can collect receipts and other tax related forms? No? Now is a good time to prep for next year!