Many people feel overwhelmed at tax time. If your clients do their own taxes and are confused or don’t know where to start, here’s a quick primer to help them file their personal tax return. Hand it out at your next meeting, or fire it off in an email — it’s a great way to remind your clients you’re here to support their financial well-being.
Tax Time Crib Notes
- The deadline for filing a tax return is just around the corner: June 1 for personal and June 15 for the self-employed.
- Submit your return on time. If you owe taxes, you’ll pay a late-filing penalty of 5% of the tax owing plus 1% for each month you’re overdue, up to 12 months. You’ll also pay interest on the amount owing, plus on the late-filing penalty, starting May 1. Interest is compounded annually. If you miss more than one year, you’ll pay even more.
- T4 and T5 slips are supposed to be mailed by February 28. Collect all your slips before you start and keep everything in one place. (This will also prepare you in case the Canada Revenue Agency asks you to provide any slips or receipts.) Follow up with financial institutions and other issuers if you believe something is missing.
- If you’re married or living common-law, consult with each other before you file. If you’re working, for example, make sure that the one with the higher income claims certain credits — and make sure you don’t both claim the same thing. If you’re retired and there’s a large difference in income, you could jointly elect to split pension income.
- Check last year’s Notice of Assessment for important information such as RRSP contribution limits and repayments to the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) or Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).
- Gather charitable receipts. You’ll receive a federal tax credit of 15% on the first $200 of donations, and 29% of the remainder. (There’s also a smaller provincial credit.) Consider pooling receipts with a spouse (letting the higher income-earner claim), or carry forward up to five years, if that gets you a higher tax credit. If you’re a first-time donor you may be able to get an additional 25% on the first $1,000 of donations.
- Collect all medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or common-law partner and minor children. You’ll get a tax credit for amounts over 3% of your net income or $2,397, whichever is less. You can make the claim for any 12-month period that ends in the 2019 tax year. (If you’re also claiming for a dependent, you need to use the same 12-month period.) Check which expenses you can claim before you submit.
- Claim RRSP contributions. Deposits made in January or February of this year can be claimed now or carried forward to next year. Check last year’s Notice of Assessment to confirm how much you can claim without penalty.
- Be sure to claim all that you are eligible for if you are a full-time student or graduate of a recognized post-secondary institution, if you paid union dues or certain professional membership fee, if you bought a home last year if you care for an elderly parent or a family member with a disability.
- Check your return, tax-filing software or the CRA website for complete lists of what is claimable and what is not.
- If using tax filing software, be sure to check overall fields before filing, including auto-filled fields, to ensure all information is correct and up to date.
If you have any questions or your tax situation is more complex than most, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Awealth, we have a team of tax experts to help with complex situations.