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Seniors, keep money in your pocket by filing your taxes

Posted in Newcomers

Published on March 27, 2015 with No Comments

 

While there’s no seniors’ discount on your taxes, the Government of Canada has many other ways for you to reduce your tax bill. Several tax benefits and credits have been specifically designed to keep more money in the pockets of seniors.

Even if you haven’t earned any income in the past year, you should still file a tax return to make sure you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled. The most popular benefit is the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit, which is a tax-free payment that you receive every three months to help offset all or part of the GST or HST that you pay on various products and services.

Beginning with your 2014 income tax and benefit return, you no longer have to apply for the GST/HST credit. When you file your return, the CRA will determine your eligibility and send you a notice if you are entitled. You may also be able to claim a number of non-refundable credits that will help lower your tax bill, including the age amount, pension income amount, and the disability amount. You can also claim medical expenses, like hearing aids, pacemakers, hospital services, and nursing home costs.

New for 2014—if you are eligible for the disability tax credit you may be able to claim the salary amount associated with the design of a personalized therapy plan, as a medical expense. Also, new this year, you can claim the costs for service animals used to manage severe diabetes. To find out more information, including a list of other medical expenses that are eligible, go to www.cra.gc.ca/medical. 

Do you, or your spouse or common-law partner, receive pension income? If so, you and your spouse or common-law partner may be able to split this income between you for tax purposes and reduce the total amount of taxesyou owe. More than 1 million people took advantage of pension income-splitting in 2012. To find out if your pension income is eligible, go to www.cra.gc.ca/seniors.

And if you’re a senior and still working, you can choose to continue contributing a portion of your income to a registered retirement savings plan—and you can keep contributing until December 31 the year you turn 71. 

If you use public transit, you may be able to save by claiming the cost of your transit passes. Keep your transit passes for local buses, streetcars, subways, commuter trains or buses, and local ferries. For more information, including verifying that your transit pass is eligible, visit www.cra.gc.ca/transitpass.

Depending on your situation, you may have noticed that some of your pension payments do not have enough tax withheld at source for the year. If that’s true in your case, you might be required to make instalment payments to the CRA – or you might want to consider making arrangements to have more tax deducted at source, so you can avoid a large bill at the end of the tax year. 

More taxpayers are choosing to go paperless after discovering how convenient, easy, and secure filing online really is. And if you’re entitled to a refund, you can enjoy your money in as little as eight business days, if you combine online filing with direct deposit. For a list of software and web service choices, including some that are free for everyone, go to www.netfile.gc.ca/software.

While you are visiting the CRA’s website, be sure to sign up for My Account, which allows you to follow the progress of your refund, change your address, check your benefit and credit payments and your registered retirement savings plan limit, set up direct deposit, and so much more! To find out more, go to www.cra.gc.ca/electronicservices.

Using My Account, you can even choose to receive your notice of assessment and notice of reassessment online. When you register for online mail, the CRA will no longer print and mail your notices to you. Instead, you will receive an email notification that there is mail for you to view on the My Account secure online service at www.cra.gc.ca/myaccount.

If you need help filing your return, have a modest income, and a simple tax situation, contact the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which runs volunteer tax clinics across the country. To find a volunteer tax preparation clinic, go to www.cra.gc.ca/volunteer.

The CRA prides itself on making its services accessible to all Canadians, no matter what their needs. The CRA offers publications, forms, and personal information documents in alternate formats like braille, large print, etext, or even MP3 audio. Call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for more information. Individuals with a hearing or speech impairment can use teletypewriter services by calling 1-800-665-0354.

Remember, the deadline to file your personal income tax return is April 30th—but why wait until the last minute when you can start enjoying your refund now?

To get started on your taxes, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

 

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