7 Ways to Get a Bigger Tax Return

April 23, 2020

While we all have to pay taxes, there are various deductions and tax credits available to help you maximize your tax refund. We compiled a list of 7 useful tips to help you get a bigger refund, boost your disposable income, and start saving more money for the things that matter most.

Filing your income tax return is a chore that most of us don’t want to think about, but it doesn’t have to be that way! It can be an excellent opportunity to save or get reimbursed for cash you didn’t know you were entitled to.

The deadline to file your 2019 tax return is April 30th, 2020. If you’re reading this blog post before that date, you still have time to research what benefits apply to you. If it’s too late, you can still file your return and benefit from these deductions, but if you owe money, you’ll incur additional penalty charges.

COVID-19 Tax Update

The April 30th deadline has been extended to September 30th, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made and returns are filed by September 30th, 2020.

If you’re working from home, you may be able to claim a portion of your home expenses back in next year’s tax return. See form T-2200 Declaration of Condition of Employment.

The Canadian government is constantly updating the tax system. It can be hard to keep up! Most people wait until the last minute to learn what credits and deductions impact them.

Word to the wise: Don’t wait until tax time to educate yourself.

Knowing what you’re entitled early on in the tax year will make it easier to remember what receipts and documentation you need to keep to claim expenses later.

We’ve compiled a list of deductions, credits, and other helpful tips to help minimize taxes owed and maximize your refund.

1. Family tax benefits

The Child Child Benefit (CCB) was designed to help Canadian families with their child care expenses. From July 2019 to June 2020, the amount a parent can claim per child aged six and under is $553.25 per month. For children aged 6 to 17 years old, parents are eligible to claim $466.83 per month. This amount will vary depending on your family net income. Visit this great CRA resource for more information about family and child care deductions.

If you're supporting a spouse, common-law partner or a dependant with a physical or mental impairment, the Canada caregiver credit (CCC) may be available to you. The amount you can claim depends on your relationship to the person you are caring for, your circumstances, the dependant’s net income, and whether other credits are being claimed for the dependant.

Read more: How Canadian Parents Can Maximize Their Tax Return In 2020

2. Moving expense deductions

If you moved for a new job or full-time academic course recently, you might be eligible to deduct your moving expenses from your tax claim! Your move has to be at least 40 kilometres closer to your new job or school to qualify for this deduction. If you meet this requirement, you’ll need the receipts from your move!

Eligible moving expenses include transportation and storage costs, travel expenses, temporary living expenses, and costs related to selling your old home and buying a new one.

3. Disability Tax Credit

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is designed to relieve unavoidable expenses for Canadians with disabilities. To be approved for the credit, a medical practitioner must fill out and certify your condition. The government recently added nurse practitioners to the list of professionals who can verify eligibility for this tax break.

Most recently, the maximum federal disability amount was $8,235, with a maximum supplement of $4,804 for persons under the age of 18. If someone in your family is eligible for the DTC, they might also qualify for other programs like the registered disability savings plan, working income tax benefit, and child disability benefit.

4. Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) incentives

The Canadian government wants you to save for things like retirement and they incentivize it.

Canadians who contribute to an RRSP can claim a tax deduction on the annual amount of money that is deposited in an RRSP account. Maximizing your RRSP contribution can help lower your tax bill because it reduces your taxable income. This nugget of wisdom is especially beneficial if you’re in a higher tax bracket. The larger your income is, the larger your marginal tax rate will be.

Furthermore, you may already be aware of the Tax-Free Savings Account program, but did you know that the annual contribution amount for 2020 has been increased to $6,000, up from $5,500 in 2018?

To help you better understand the potential of your savings, Wealthsimple designed a free RRSP and TFSA calculator.

5. Medical expenses

If you were billed with medical expenses in 2019, you might be able to claim more than you think on your Canadian income tax return. The Canada Revenue Agency provides a list of medical expenses that may be tax-deductible. This list conveniently highlights what medical expenses require a prescription from your doctor.

Some refundable tax credit expenses that you may not know about include air and water filters/purifiers, laser eye surgery, orthopedic shoes and inserts, and even vitamin B12 supplements.

6. Avoid late tax-filing penalties

You’d be amazed at how many people incur additional charges because they submit their tax return late. The late penalty is 5% of your balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each month your return is late (to a maximum of 12 months).

You don’t have to pay the full balance of what you owe on or before April 30th. You can avoid the late-filing penalty by simply submitting your tax return on time.

Visit this CRA resource for more information on late-filing penalties.

7. Take advantage of student loan interest tax deductions

The Canada Revenue Agency lets you claim interest paid on student loans in your tax returns.

However, there are a few restrictions.

You can only claim interest payments on loans received under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Student Loans Act, and equivalent provincial or territorial programs.

You cannot claim interest on personal loans, lines of credit, or student loans from foreign banks. A home equity line of credit also does not qualify.

Your student loan interest claim is a non-refundable tax credit. It can only be used to lower your tax bill and cannot be used to receive a tax refund. Since you can carry forward student loan interest for up to five years, it might be wise to save your claim for a year when you owe a lot of tax.

Are you interested in learning more about taxes?

Understanding how tax works may seem daunting and tedious, but as you can see, there are a lot of helpful resources that make it easy for you. Fresh Start Finance also has a list of 17 tax deductions you can use to maximize your next tax return.

The Canada Revenue Agency also has a quick online course to help you learn about Canada’s tax system and how to file a simple tax return.

If you notice an error on your notice of assessment, you can file an objection to get it corrected. This quick guide will show you how.

SimpleTaxTurboTax, UFile, and GenuTax offer free tax filing software that makes filing your tax return a breeze. You can import the documents you need, and most of the forms auto-populate to save you a truckload of time and effort.

If you're thinking about buying a car, why not put your tax refund towards a down payment!

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