Need tax help?

If you worked in 2011, you will be required to file an income tax return to make sure that you pay the accurate amount of income tax owed. Filing your taxes is an opportunity to get back any overpayments you may have made, as well as a chance to claim personal tax benefits. Taxes must be filed by April 30th at the absolute latest.  If you file late and end up owing money, you will be charged interest on the amount you owe.

What you need to file your taxes

Before you begin, you’ll want to have all of your information to hand. You’ll need to have your Social Insurance Number or SIN card. Be sure to collect all of your tax information slips, including T4s and any other documents that show income from your bank, employer or business. If you have collected any other income, make sure you have information showing that as well. If you are able to claim deductions, you’ll need to have receipts to show how much you spent. In order to make an RRSP contribution, you’ll also need to have your RRSP contribution limit on hand as well. Finally, depending on how you plan on filing for your taxes, you’ll need either your NETFILE access code or your TELEFILE access code.

Tax preparation checklist

  • SIN number
  • Tax information slips, including T4s and other income statements
  • Self-employment income statement
  • Receipts for tax deduction purposes
  • RRSP contribution limit
  • NETFILE or TELEFILE access codes

There’s an app for that!

According to Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail, there’s now an app designed for filing your taxes on the go. Designed by tax software giant, TurboTax, SnapTax allows users to file their taxes by taking a photograph of their T4 slip. It should be noted, though, that SnapTax only works for very basic tax returns. You can try the app for free, but you’ll have to pay $24.99 to use it.

(Stay turned for Rubina’s blog on Thursday when she reviews mobile apps that make filing your taxes easy.)

Take advantage of tax credits

If you choose to do your taxes on your own, don’t forget to file for any applicable 2011 personal tax credits. Listed below are all of the ones available to you. If you’re uncertain, hire an accountant to go over your final paperwork with you. Many accountants will modify their rates to meet your needs. They can be less expensive if you do most of the work yourself and then have them to go over the final details. Here are the 2011 personal tax credits available to qualifying Canadians:

Property tax credit: This refundable property tax credit helps those who have a low to moderate income and who rent or own a residence in Ontario. The credit is based on cost of occupancy – property taxes or 20% of rent paid. 

Child fitness tax credit: The Canadian government offers a non-refundable tax credit for up to $500 spent on fitness and physical activities for children who are under the age of 16 at the beginning of the tax year. Enter this information in Line 365 of your return.

GST/HST tax credit: Paid quarterly, the GST tax credit helps families and individuals who have low to modest income. The purpose of the credit is to help offset some of the costs that they have to pay.

Working income tax credit: To help provide relief for those who have low income, the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) can be claimed on Line 453 of your tax return. 

Childcare tax credit: Childcare costs can be claimed as a deduction from your income. Your childcare expenses can include any money spent on daycare or nursery school, afterschool programs, day camps and day sport schools, as well as overnight sport schools and camps, and private school or boarding school tuition. Enter your childcare tax credit amount on Line 214 of your personal tax return. 

Medical expenses tax credit: The medical expense tax credit applies to individuals who have spent extensive amounts of money of medical expenses for either themselves or their dependents. You must qualify for this tax credit before you apply for it. Be sure to check out Revenue Canada’s qualifications beforehand. Enter your medical expenses tax credit amount on Line 330 of your personal tax return.

Family tax benefit programs: The purpose of the family tax credit and benefit programs is to provide additional income for low-income families. The programs available include:

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
  • Child Disability Benefit (CDB)
  • National Child Benefit (NCB)
  • Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)

Education tax credit/Tuition tax credit: According to CRA, “The maximum tuition, education, and textbook amount transferred from a child (or from each child), is $5,000 minus the amounts that he or she uses, even if there is still an unclaimed part. Tuition, education, and textbook amounts that the student carried forward from a previous year cannot be transferred.” Enter your education/tuition tax credit amount on Line 324 of your personal tax return.

And for a bit more information and tips on filing your taxes, check out this great video: Expert Tips for Filing Your Personal Taxes.

Good luck filing your taxes this year!