Get Unstressed – Organization tips to get you ready to file your taxes

I hear it all the time – people STRESS about their taxes and getting their taxes done.  Here are some tips to get you ready for your 2017 tax returns and reduce your tax preparer fees, as well as reduce your stress levels, knowing you’re prepared:

1 – Gather all your tax slips in one folder (T4’s, T5’s, T3’s, other T-slips, RRSP contributions, donation receipts, medical receipts.  Your T-slips should all be available to you by February 28th, except for T3’s and T5013’s which can take a few weeks longer (but by March 31st).

2 – Group like slips together

3 – If you have a lot of investments, keep a list of your accounts and account numbers, and check your T5 and T3 slips against your accounts to see what’s missing

4 – Group medical receipts by patient

5 – Group donations to the same organization together

6 – Gather details of any investment dispositions, including real estate, into a spreadsheet.  Include details of the historical cost and other transactions affecting your cost base.

7 – If you are a sole-proprietor or have rental income, use accounting software to capture income and expenses details for each of your business and rental properties (separate books and records for each business or property).  Hire a qualified bookkeeper to do your bookkeeping for you (freeing your time to spend on higher-level business matters). At the very least, use a spreadsheet to track your financial transactions.

8 – Don’t delay – start the process early.  The sooner you get your information to your tax preparer, the less stressful it will be for both of you.  Tax preparers would much rather get your returns done in March than scramble to meet the deadlines in the last final week.   If you’re getting a refund, wouldn’t you much rather receive that sooner than later?  And if you owe, wouldn’t you like to have peace of mind knowing how much you owe and that you still have time to make that tax payment (due April 30th), rather than waiting until the last minute.

9 – A caveat to #8 – it’s more efficient (and less costly) to get your complete tax information package to your tax preparer at the same time.  Sending bits and pieces in dribs and drabs will only add processing and review time to the process, which could result in additional billings by your tax preparer.  Having said that, don’t hold up if you’re just waiting for a couple of slips or receipts.  Just note what you are missing with as much detail as you can (for example, if you’re missing an RRSP contribution slip, note the amount you contributed and date of contribution).

You must have adequate and reliable records to support your tax filings.  Here are some helpful links on keeping records.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/keeping-records.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/ic78-10r5/books-records-retention-destruction.html

Need help?  Send me an email (Linda@visionspire.ca), and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. With over 20years of assisting business owners with the business and tax strategies, her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety people experience around money and taxes, by empowering them with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets that will put them in the driver’s seat of their business success and financial wellness, so they can have more harmony, joy and abundance in their life. [/author_info] [/author]

What’s new in tax for your 2017 personal tax returns

It’s that time of year again – personal tax season!   Now, there are a few things you should be aware of that may affect your 2017 tax returns…here’s a quick summary (this update is for general information purposes.  Please speak to your tax advisors for specifics regarding your personal situation):

RRSP Contributions – The deadline to make RRSP contributions that can be deducted on your 2017 tax return is March 1 this year.  Many people ask whether they should contribute to their RRSP or Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), and I always respond by recommending they consult with their financial advisors.  Generally, however, it is advantageous to contribute to your RRSP if you are in a high income tax bracket and expect your retirement income (when you withdraw from your RRSP) to be in a lower tax bracket.  For 2017, you can contribute 18% of your 2016 earned income to your RRSP, up to a maximum of $26,010 for 2017 (plus any unused contribution room from previous years).  The TFSA contribution room is $5500 for 2017 (plus any unused contribution room you may have from previous years – up to a cumulative total of $52,000 at the end of 2017).  TFSA contributions are not deductible, and the income earned in the TFSA is not taxable.

Child Fitness and Arts Amounts – 2016 was the last year to claim the child fitness and arts credits.  No need to keep your children’s fitness and arts program receipts for income tax purposes.

Credit for Education and Books – 2016 was also the last year to claim the education amount tax credit.  If a student has unused education credits from 2016, they can still be used in 2017 and later years.  The tuition credit amount continues to exist, which has been enhanced for certain occupational and apprenticeship programs.  A proper T2202A will be required to claim the tuition credits (students should be able to get a copy through their student account).  Check the CRA website to see which programs qualify for the enhanced credit amount.

Professionals with unbilled Work-in-Progress (WIP) – Certain professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, generally carry WIP (income that has been earned for services provided, but not yet billed at year-end) on their balance sheet.  If you had WIP at the end of the year, you could generally take a reserve to defer the income inclusion to the following year when it is billed.  Effective March 22, 2017, such professionals will need to include their year-end WIP in income.  There are transition provisions available.  Please seek guidance from your tax professionals to ensure the transition year is being reported properly on your return.

Caregiver Tax Credit Amounts – As our population ages, more and more adults are caring for their elderly parents.  If this is you, you may be entitled to claim certain additional tax credit amounts on your tax return.   Effective for 2017, the caregiver tax credit, infirm dependent tax credit and family caregiver tax credit are being replaced by a NEW Canada caregiver tax credit.  This credit is equal to 15% (Federal) of caregiver expenses incurred, up to $6,883 of expenses, and up to $9,033 of caregiver expenses incurred for your dependent spouse or child who is infirm.   This credit is reduced dollar-for-dollar when the family member’s income exceeds $16,163.

Other noteworthy items:

For those who are self-employed – Remember that you pay double the CPP premiums – 9.9% of net business income, to a maximum of $5,128 for 2017.  You will also get a CPP credit amount for half of that (the employee portion).

The combined top marginal tax rate in Ontario is 53.53% (on income over $202,800).  The highest top marginal tax rate in Canada is in Nova Scotia at 54%, while residents of Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan see the lowest top marginal rates (47-48%).

Where are those high-income earners (over $200k)?  Here are some 2015 stats from Statistics Canada:

In 2015, there were 390,000 people in Canada who earned over $200k in income (or 1.45% of all income groups), over 100,000 more people than in 2011.  The median income for all of Canada was about $34k in 2015.

More than half of the over $200k income-earners can be found in Ontario (157,450 people or 1.55% of Ontario income-earners).

Interestingly, almost 900,000 people (8.7%) earned over $100k in Ontario in 2015 (2.2million or 8.27% across Canada).

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://54.82.103.175/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/IMG_0012-resize-square.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Linda Spencer is a CPA, CA, Canadian Tax Specialist and Money Mindfulness Coach. With over 20years of assisting business owners with the business and tax strategies, her mission is to eliminate stress and anxiety people experience around money and taxes, by empowering them with the tools, knowledge, strategies and mindsets that will put them in the driver’s seat of their business success and financial wellness, so they can have more harmony, joy and abundance in their life. [/author_info] [/author]