What is the Earliest I Can File My Taxes?

woman sitting at desk filing taxes

In Canada, every person must file income tax and benefit returns each year. The due date for having your taxes filed is April 30th – but if you’re self-employed you have until June 15th.

So that means if you are filing your 2021 taxes, they will be due April 30th, 2022, and June 15th, 2022, respectively.

However, just because you have until the end of April to file your taxes doesn’t mean you have to wait until the last minute!

The earliest date that the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) will start accepting electronically filed tax returns is usually around February 22nd.

But keep in mind that some tax slips are not due until March so you may not have all of the information you need by the end of February. 

When Can I Expect My Tax Refund?

Getting your tax return can be quicker than you think. The CRA cannot guarantee a timeline but they do have stated goals for getting you your money as long as you file before or at the deadline.

Typically, if you file your tax return online, the CRA’s goal is to send your return within two weeks. If you file by paper return, the goal is eight weeks. 

However, if the CRA decides to take a closer look at your tax return and reported income, or initiates a tax audit, it can take longer. And, if you’re filing from outside of the country, there is a 16-week wait time.

How to File Your Tax Return

When it comes to filing your tax return, you have a few options:

  • NetFile. NetFile allows you to use a software package so you can fill out your own tax return and file it electronically. 
  • Autofill. If you use certified tax software, you can use Autofill to automatically fill in parts of our tax return based on information slips that have been filed with the CRA.
  • Print and Mail. You can also use software to print and mail your return if certain restrictions prevent you from using NetFile.
  • Professional Tax Preparation. An accounting firm can also prepare and file your taxes and ensure that your forms are filled out properly and that your receive your income quickly.

Although it is recommended that you use tax software to file your return (this ensures accuracy and a quick refund), you can also file manually. This involves acquiring a package of tax forms, filling them out, including all information slips, and mailing them to the CRA.

How to Receive Your Payment

You can receive your payment via direct deposit as long as you set up your account as such. This puts your refund straight into your bank account as soon as possible.

Plus, if you receive payments such as GST refunds or CCB (Canada Child Benefit), these payments go directly into your account as well.

If nothing shows up in your bank account after the two-week time frame, you can always check the status of your return through CRA’s My Account website. To do so, you will need your social insurance number, date of birth, and the amount of total income entered on line 150 of your tax return from the previous year.

What Do I Do if I Owe Money to the CRA?

young woman with shocked expression looking at piece of paper

Knowing tax deadlines is important not only in filing as early as possible but also to avoid interest and penalties on amounts owing. Even if you are not getting a refund, it’s helpful in knowing how much you owe as soon as possible.

Penalties and Interest

If for some reason you don’t think you can pay your taxes by the date they are due because of circumstances beyond your control, the CRA may waive penalties and interest. These types of circumstances include serious illness, accident, death of a family member, financial hardship, and natural/human-made disaster.

It may also be possible to set up a payment plan with the CRA where you pay the owing balance in installments. However, if you miss the set installment payment due date, you may need to pay installment interest.

Otherwise, if you file late and don’t pay the amount owing in time, you could face a late-filing penalty of 5% of the balance owing plus 1% of the balance owing each month your payment is late.

How to Make a Payment

When you owe money on your taxes, you have to make your payments to the CRA. This can be done using a number of methods:

  • Online Banking: You can make a payment directly through your financial institution although the specific steps involved can vary from bank to bank. 
  • Financial Institution: If you don’t use online banking and want to make the payment in person, you can do so at your bank. However, you will need a remittance form and must contact the CRA directly to receive one (they cannot be printed from the CRA website).
  • CRA’s My Payment: The CRA website has an online payment service called My Payment. There is no fee to use this service and you don’t need to be registered for any of the CRA’s other online services. You do, however, need a debit card (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) to set up the payment.
  • Credit Card: You can make payments with a credit card but these have to be done through a third-party provider (PaySimply and Plastiq) and cannot be made directly to the CRA. There is a fee to use this service.
  • Pre-Authorized Debit: You can authorize the CRA to debit your account for the amount of taxes owed on dates you specified – this method of payment is best suited if you are paying your owing balance in installments.
  • Cash/Debit: It is possible to pay for your taxes in cash or by using a debit card by visiting a Canada Post outlet. You will need a self-generated QR (quick response) code found on the CRA website.

Keep in mind that some forms of payment take time to process and may arrive at the CRA after the due date. This is why it’s a good idea to file your taxes early so you can make a payment on the owing balance as soon as possible.

Filing Your Taxes Early

As long as you have received all of the necessary paperwork to file your taxes correctly, there’s no need to wait until the deadline!

Filing early means that you will receive your refund quickly or have more time to sort out paying back taxes you owe.

Want to speed up the process? Our accountants at Liu & Associates can file your taxes to ensure accuracy and a fast return.

Contact us today for more information!

 

Common Tax Terms Explained

Do you ever find that when tax lingo starts flying around at tax time, most of it goes right over your head? 

Filing and paying taxes involves more than reporting your income to the government. There are a lot of nuances to consider when it comes to preparing your taxes properly as well as ensuring you are taking advantage of eligible credits and deductions.

In order to manage your finances in a more tax-friendly way, it’s helpful to know what many of these terms mean. Here is a list, from A to Z, of some common tax terms explained:

After-Tax Income

This is the income leftover after you subtract all of your federal and provincial taxes and employment deductions such as CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) and EI (Employment Insurance).

Audit

A tax audit occurs when the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) examines your tax return to verify that your income and deductions are accurate. 

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment received by eligible families with children under the age of 18. It helps to offset the costs of raising children and may also include the child disability credit if applicable.

Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan Benefits (CPP/QPP)

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Québed Pension Plan (QPP) replaces part of your income after you retire. This is a taxable benefit and the amount you receive depends on your average earnings while you worked.

Dependent

A dependent is an individual who relies on your income. You can claim the dependent tax credit for spouses (if their net income is less than $13,808), children under the age of 18 (unless they are older and have a mental or physical infirmity), and parents/grandparents (if they are dependent on you and live in your home).

Employment Insurance Benefits (EI)

Employment Insurance Benefits (EI) is available to individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own. It is also used to cover maternity/parental leave, sick leave and, recently, CERB payments. These benefits are taxable in the year in which thhey are received.

GST/HST Credit

The GST/HST credit is paid out to individuals depending on how much money they earn. Those with lower incomes may receive this payment quarterly (four times per year) to offset the GST/HST they pay. This credit is tax-free.

Information Slips

Information slips are forms used by employers, trusts, and businesses to inform taxpayers and the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) of how much income was earned and how much tax was deducted.

Investment Income

The CRA takes into consideration interest earned on investments along with annual earnings. This includes foreign interest, dividend income, foreign income, and foreign non-business income.

Land Transfer Tax (LTT)

Land Transfer Tax (LTT) is a one-time tax you pay when you purchase a home in all provinces and territories except for Alberta and Saskatchewan. In these provinces, there is only a small transfer fee. The tax amount varies by province but is usually calculated based on a percentage of the property value.

NetFile

NetFile is an electronic tax-filing service that allows you to do your personal taxes using NetFile-certified tax software and send your return directly to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). 

woman sitting at desk looking at paper and using calculator

Non-Refundable Tax Credits

Non-refundable tax credits are used to reduce the amount of federal tax you pay. However, these credits do not contribute to your tax refund if you are eligible for you. In Canada, you can claim the non-refundable tax credit for their personal amount.

Non-Taxable Earnings

There are some incomes, such as the GST/HST credit or CCB (Canada Child Benefit) that are not considered taxable. These are known as non-taxable earnings.

Refundable Tax Credits

Refundable tax credits reduce the total amount of tax you pay and can contribute to your tax refund. Examples of this would be the GST/HST credit and the Working Income Tax credit.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a savings plan for retirement in which the amount you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. However, any amounts you withdraw from your RRSP are added to your taxable income.

Self-Employment Income

When you earn an income from a business that you operate or from freelancing contracts, whether you are a sole proprietor or work with a partner, this is considered self-employment income.

Tax Brackets

There are four income tax brackets you may fall into depending on your income. This determines your rate of tax. Up until a certain amount is taxed at 15% and anything beyond that amount is taxed at a higher rate.

Tax Credits and Deductions

Any amount that reduces the amount of tax you have to pay is considered to be a tax credit. They can be refundable or non-refundable.

A deduction, on the other hand, can lower your taxable income as well as the tax rate used to calculate your tax. 

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

A tax-free savings account (TFSA) is an account that allows Canadians over the age of 18 to save money and earn tax-free interest. You are also not charged taxes on the amounts you withdrawal. However, you can’t use contributions to a TFSA to lower your taxable income.

Taxable Income

Your taxable income is your total income and determines how much income tax you need to pay. This includes wages, capital gains, and other earnings for the tax year, minus deductions and losses. 

Tuition Deductions and Education Credits

The Tuition Tax Credit allows students 17 years and older enrolled in a higher education institution to use their school tuition fees to reduce their taxable income. They can also transfer up to $5000 worth of credits to a spouse/common-law partner or parent/grandparent.

The Student Loan Interest deduction applies to government student loans and allows you to deduct the interest on those loans from your taxes. 

Have More Questions?

If ever you come across a tax term you don’t understand, or struggle to comprehend your finances and tax returns, don’t hesitate to contact our expert accountants at Liu & Associates!

We are ready and dedicated to helping you file your personal, corporate, and estate taxes as well as help you understand the entire process.

Let’s chat! 

What Are Tuition Tax Credits, And How You Can Claim Them?

Two students sit on grass outside of a red brick university building

In 2017, the Canadian government eliminated the federal educational and textbook tax credits. However, they did not eliminate the tuition tax credit, allowing students the opportunity to apply tuition costs toward owing taxes. While it may not seem like a huge tax break, it can relieve a significant financial burden on students who balance post-secondary studies with working and making an income.

If you are a student attending, or planning to attend, a post-secondary educational institution, you are going to want to make sure you take full advantage of this tax credit.

What is the Tuition Tax Credit?

The tuition tax credit is an education tax break offered to Canadians by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It allows students 17 years of age and older who are enrolled in post-secondary education to use their tuition to reduce their taxable income.

The tuition amount, up to $5,000, can also be transferred to a spouse, common law partner, parent or grandparent.

In order to be eligible for the tuition tax credit, students must attend a post-secondary level course at an accredited institution in Canada – although individuals may qualify at school abroad as well.

Student Loan Interest Deduction

In addition to the tuition tax credit, students may also be able to deduct interest from government issued student loans from their taxes. This only applies to government loans – interest from personal loans or lines of credit are not eligible.

Other School-related Deductions

Although Canada has done away with claiming textbooks and other school-related costs as tax deductions, students can take advantage of tax breaks related to moving costs.

The moving expenses deduction applies to individuals who move more than 40 kms away from home to attend an accredited educational institute on a full-time basis. This deduction may cover the costs of moving, airfare and the connection and transfer of utilities.

However, there are restrictions. A student can only apply relocation costs against the tax they are required to pay on scholarships, bursaries, fellowships, prizes and research grants.

How to Claim Tuition Tax Credits

The tuition tax credit is a non-refundable credit, meaning that if the tuition amount is greater than the tax owed, you won’t get a refund from the claimed amount. It works by decreasing or eliminating any amounts owed to the government. Unused tuition amounts can be carried forward to the next year or transferred to a spouse, common law partner, parent or grandparent.

For example, if you claim $4,500 worth of tuition but your owing tax bill is only $1,000, you can transfer the remaining $3,500 to an eligible family member or carry it forward to a future tax year. You will not receive that $3,500 as a refund, as this is a non-refundable tax credit.

Calculating the Tax Tuition Credit

The tuition tax credit is calculated by combining all eligible tuition fees then multiplying the total by the lowest federal tax rate percentage for the current tax. The federal tax rate percentage depends on your income bracket, which depends on which province you live in and how much income you declare.

Claiming the Tax Tuition Credit

Post-secondary institutions issue form T2202A (Tuition and Enrolment Certificate) to students, certifying that you have taken the eligible courses of necessary duration in order to qualify for the tax credit.

The form indicates in Box A the total eligible tuition fees paid as well as the months you were enrolled in school either part-time (Box B) or full-time (Box C).

Take Full Advantage of Tax Relief

If you are eligible for tax breaks because you are a student, be sure to take full advantage of these opportunities. Our accountants at Liu & Associates can answer any questions you have related to your tuition costs and tax claims. Contact us today for more information

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How Do I File Taxes For Someone Who Has Passed Away?

They say that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. However, when dealing with both at the same time, figuring out what to do can create a sense of uncertainty.

Finding closure is an important part of the grieving process and, when a loved one passing away, this often includes tying up loose ends and settling their estate.

A part of settling a deceased individual’s estate is ensuring that their taxes are properly filed one last time. 

If you are responsible for filing taxes for someone who has passed away, it’s important to ensure that the process is completed properly. Here is a quick guide to filing what is called the Final Return:

Types of Deceased Returns

After someone passes away, there are three types of deceased returns that may need to be filed. A Final Return has to be filed after death but it is also possible to have to file other returns known as Optional Returns and Trust Returns.

The final return is an income tax return that is filed for an individual in the year of their death. One final tax return must be submitted on their behalf to cover any income received in that year.

If the death occurred between January and October, the final return is due by April 30th. However, if the individual died between November and the end of December, it is due six months after the date of death.

Optional returns are for claiming income that you would otherwise report on the final return as a means of reducing or eliminating taxes for the deceased. You can claim certain amounts more than once, split them between returns, or claim them against certain types of income.

Lastly, a trust return refers to the tax form package for a trust and is due 90 days from the end of the trust’s tax year. A trust is an entity or individual that holds the right to properties or assets in lieu of the beneficiary that is entitled to them

In this article, we’re going to focus on how to file a final return for someone who has passed away.

Who is the Legal Representative Responsible for Filing a Final Return?

Most people pass away with a will that names the executor, the inheritors, and the beneficiaries. The executor is the individual who has the authority to collect necessary information in order to distribute the deceased’s assets according to the will.

If someone dies without a will, also known as “intestate”, the process takes longer since someone has to apply to the courts to be appointed as administrator. This is usually a surviving spouse or one of the surviving children.

In either case, the executor or administrator is responsible for filing the final return.

Why Does a Final Return Have to be Filed?

When someone passes away, they must pay tax on their regular income but may also need to pay tax on what they owned. A final return is how the legal representative (the executor or administrator) finds out if the deceased owes any income tax.

Income tax is like any other debt and has to be paid by the estate first before the inheritors or beneficiaries receive anything

Once the legal representative files the taxes, they receive an NOA (Notice of Assessment) which includes the date the CRA checked the tax return, details of what is owed, or the amount to be refunded.

After the NOA is received, the legal representative can get a clearance certificate and start distributing property from the estate.

What Information Do I Need for the Deceased’s Tax Return?

hands over a desk holding a receipt and using a calculator

If you are the administrator or executor of the deceased’s will, you will need to collect some information before filing the final return.

You will need to know the deceased’s income from all sources starting from January 1st of the year they passed up to and including their date of death. You may have to look at previous returns as well as contact employers, banks, trust companies, and pension plan managers.

Before you file the taxes, gather any information slips and documentation that you need to indicate or estimate income and deductions.

As far as getting information from the CRA or Revenu Québec, you will need to provide a copy of the death certificate, the deceased’s social insurance number, and a copy of the document proving that you are the executor or administrator.

How to Complete a Final Return

In order to complete a final return for an individual who has passed away, you must first determine the due date for the return in order to avoid penalties and interest for filing late.

When filling out the tax forms, complete the identification area on behalf of the deceased and calculate the total income you need to report. You’ll also want to determine any eligible deductions and non-refundable tax credits before figuring out the total taxable income.

From there, you’ll figure out the refund or balance owing. 

Keep in mind that final returns cannot be submitted online through NETFILE. You will have to mail in the return or have them filed by an accountant.

Need Help Filing the Final Return?

As an executor or administrator, you want to make sure that your loved one’s final return is filled out and filed properly to avoid penalties and ensure the estate is settled as quickly as possible.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough without worrying about the estate – but it doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal!

When you hire an accounting firm such as Liu & Associates, we can help you avoid fines, fees, and penalties from occurring as well as ensure all aspects of the final return are completed thoroughly and properly.

Why not let our experienced accountants handle the financial matters of your loved one’s estate? Contact Liu & Associates today!

The Benefits of Hiring a Small Business Accountant (Instead of Doing It Yourself)

person with long taupe nails using a laptop while looking at paperwork with graphs and charts.

Have you reached a point with your small business where handling your finances is becoming difficult and stressful?

When you’re passionate about what you are doing, starting a business is easy. Running it, however, involves many moving parts.

And if you don’t have the experience or know-how, the challenge can quickly turn to frustration and even negatively affect your small business’s performance.

So what do you do? The short answer is to hire an accountant who can manage all the financial aspects of your small business.

There are many benefits to hiring an accountant and there are a variety of financial responsibilities they can manage on your behalf.

Keep reading to learn more about these benefits and what an accountant can do for your small business:

Should You Hire an Accountant or a Bookkeeper?

Before we get into the benefits of hiring an accountant for your small business, let’s look at the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper.

Simply put, an accountant can be a bookkeeper but a bookkeeper cannot be an accountant. 

Bookkeepers are able to generate data about the activities of your business through handling day-to-day financial tasks such as recording financial transactions and purchases, managing receipts and tracking sales and payments.

They can provide you with financial insights based on the data collected through bookkeeping.

Accountants, on the other hand, use high-level processes to take that data collected through bookkeeping and produce financial models and projections. They also prepare financial statements, analyze the cost of operations and prepare complex tax returns.

They can also take an advisory role by guiding you through important financial decisions.

You may feel that your small business doesn’t require that level of support in the early stages but, don’t forget, when you hire an accountant you are getting a bookkeeper as well! 

Hiring an accountant to focus on bookkeeping tasks is a great way to establish a relationship with someone who has a vested interest in your finances. Once your business starts to grow, you’ll have them by your side helping you through major decisions.

The Benefits of Hiring an Accountant

young woman sitting at laptop using calculator

Before you attempt to handle your small business’s finances all on your own, consider these six benefits to hiring an accountant:

Create a Business Plan

Whether your small business is already off the ground or you’re looking to get it started, an accountant can be beneficial during the early stages by helping you create an effective business plan.

Business plans are crucial when it comes to opening up access to essential finances in order to get your business started or to help your business grow.

An accountant can help you by ensuring all of the necessary financial details are included in the document.

Organize Your Finances

Once your business is up and running, you need to keep a very close eye on your accounts and make sure everything is in order. This is where having an accountant comes in handy.

Your accountant can help to maintain and organize your business accounts year-round, making it easier for you to understand the financial health of your business throughout the year.

An accountant will help you establish a system for organizing receipts and invoices as well as other important financial documentation your business handles. 

Record Your Revenues

When your small business provides goods and services to customers and clients, you’re only going to make money if they are invoiced. If you have difficulty keeping track of invoices and payments, an accountant can help you out.

An accountant will ensure that invoices are sent to customers on time and keep track of the payments that are made. They can also keep track of outstanding invoices and missing payments.

In order to make sure you are consistently earning revenue through your business, it’s helpful to have an accountant assist with the billing and invoicing.

Help You Save Money

Yes, hiring an accountant is an added expense but by having your finances properly organized, you’ll end up saving money!

The monthly reports drawn up by your accountant will help you get a clearer picture of where your money is going. This way, you can see where you are overspending and where you can cut back spending.

Having an accountant will help you better understand your overall spending patterns and habits, allowing you to better strategize your business’s finances.

Do Your Taxes

Filing business taxes is nothing like filing personal taxes – and you want to make sure they are done properly to avoid an audit.

You also want to make sure you are maximizing your return by claiming everything you are eligible to claim. For these reasons, it’s best to have an accountant handle your business taxes.

Plus, should you face a random audit, all your paperwork and receipts will be well-organized, making the process quick and painless.

Save You Time

Lastly, you should consider the fact that running a small business is a huge endeavor. There are enough hours in the day to manage every aspect of your business.

Instead of trying to figure out how to deal with your business’s finances on your own, and wasting time doing so, you can hire an accountant to take care of it for you.

They are educated, experienced and able to streamline the process of caring for your business’s financial health.

With an accountant on board, you can shift your focus and energy to growing a successful small business!

We’re Not Just Number Crunchers!

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of exactly how an accountant can benefit your small business and help you save not only money but time as well.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, our accountants are ready to help! Liu & Associates is a full-service accounting practice that offers financial services for your small business.

Let’s get in touch today!

Claiming Medical Expenses – What You Need to Know

black man with glasses and grey blazer in wheelchair speaking to a woman in a pink cardigan.

Did you know that you can claim medical expenses on your income tax?

In Canada, you can take advantage of the Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC). This is a non-refundable tax credit that allows you to claim eligible medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependents.

The process isn’t as straightforward as simply plugging in your numbers, however. First, you need to determine if your expenses are eligible and if you meet the cost threshold to claim them.

It can be confusing but, here at Liu & Associates, we want to help you understand the process. Keep reading to learn more about claiming medical expenses:

How Does the Medical Expenses Tax Credit Work?

The Medical Expenses Tax Credit is available as a non-refundable credit – meaning that you can’t get money back from it but it will apply to and lower any taxes owing.

You can claim your medical expenses as a tax credit during the year that you paid for them for yourself, your spouse or a dependent. These expenses include prescription medication, prescribed medical tests, etc.

You can view an entire list of eligible medical expenses on the Government of Canada’s website.

However, there is a threshold when it comes to claiming these expenses. The medical expenses must amount to 3% or more of your net income during the taxation period or higher. You can only claim amounts that exceed this percentage.

Alternatively, there is a predetermined base amount for each tax year so the amount you are looking for is the lesser of the two.

For example, this amount for the 2020 tax year was $2397. So if your net income was $40,000, you can deduct any expenses in excess of $1200. However, if your income was over $79,900, you only claim expenses over that $2397.

Keep in mind as well that medical expenses do not have to follow a calendar year, only a 12 month period. This means that as long as the end of the 12 months falls within the tax year you are filing for, you can choose which 12 month period to claim.

For instance, if you had more medical bills between August and February, you can make your 12 month period from August 1st to February 28th and claim all of the expenses in the year February falls into.

Claiming medical expenses in a way that benefits you financially can be tricky. It’s recommended that you speak with a professional accountant in order to maximize your return.

Commonly Overlooked Medical Expenses You Can Claim on Your Tax Return

Man uses calculator on desk with stethoscope

Apart from prescriptions and medication, there are many health-related costs you can claim under the Medical Expenses Tax Credit.

While Canada.ca does list every eligible expense, here are some common ones you may be overlooking:

Health Plans

The premiums you pay for medical and dental plans, along with any co-pay portions of your coverage, can be claimed on your taxes. 

Any premiums paid by payroll deductions will appear on your T4 under “other information” (box 85).

If you pay for private health care coverage, make sure you claim these amounts as well. Your provider should send you a letter stating how much you paid into the plan the previous year.

Gluten-Free Products

If you, your spouse or your dependent suffer from Celiac disease, you can claim the costs of gluten-free products – but only for that individual, not the entire family.

To calculate the eligible expense, take the product cost and minus the cost of a comparable product with gluten. This is the amount you can claim.

Travel Expenses

If you are required to travel more than 40km one way to receive medical services, you can claim your travel expenses.

However, in order to qualify, you must prove that equivalent services are not available closer to your home.

Moving Expenses or Renovations

If you suffer from a severe and prolonged impairment mobility-wise, you can claim up to $2000 to move to a more accessible home. 

Likewise, you can also claim construction and renovation costs to changes made to your current resident to better accommodate a mobility or functioning issue. However, the cost must be reasonable.

Private School/Tutoring

If you have a child with a physical or mental impairment that requires special schooling (such as staff, facilities or equipment), you may be eligible to claim tuition costs.

Also, you can claim tutoring services for those with learning disabilities or impaired mental function. 

In either case, you need to have a medical practitioner certify the need.

Foreign Medical Expenses

If you require medical services while traveling outside of Canada, either in a public or private hospital, you may be able to claim these expenses.

How to Claim Medical Expenses on Your Tax Return

The first thing you need to do when claiming medical expenses on your tax return is to determine if you have an eligible amount. Again, you can always speak to an expert accountant to help you figure this out.

Once that has been determined, it’s important to gather and keep track of all of your receipts. Although you are required to submit them, you need to make sure your totals are accurate.

Plus, should you experience an audit by the CRA, you need to provide proof of your claims.

On your tax return, look for the following lines to enter your amounts:

  • Line 33099 – Medical expenses for self, spouse or common-law partner, and your dependent children
  • Line 33199 – Allowable amount of medical expenses for other dependents

That’s it! Figuring out what to claim is the hard part – actually claiming it is straightforward.

If you have any questions about which medical expenses are eligible and how you should claim them on your taxes, do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team of accountants at Liu & Associates.

We can help guide you through the process and ensure that you get the most out of your tax return!

Let’s chat today.

What Happens If I Claim No Income On My Taxes?

overhead photo of hands working on a laptop with eye glasses on desk and pencil holder on desk. crumbled paper is nearby.

Whatever your situation in life, it may be possible that you do not work and earn an income. Perhaps you lost your job or chose to stay home and care for your children.

No matter your situation, you’re probably wondering whether or not you have to file your taxes at all. 

While federals laws do not require you to file a tax return if you have no income to claim, it’s important to determine if there are other situations that may require you to.

The last thing you want is to face an audit or pay the interest and fees for a late tax return.

Even if no situation applies to you where you are required to file a tax return with no income, there are many benefits to doing so anyway.

So, if you find yourself facing tax time with no income to claim, here are a few things you should consider before not filing:

Reasons to File Your Taxes With No Income

Even if you’ve earned no income for the year, there are certain situations where you definitely need to file your taxes:

  • You owe taxes.
  • The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) has requested that you file a tax return.
  • You received any CWB (Canada’s Worker Benefit) payments.
  • You sold any real estate or investment shares – whether or not you made a profit from them.
  • You had to repay any OAS (Old Age Security) or EI (Employment Insurance) benefits.
  • You used some of your RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plan).
  • You contributed to CPP (Canada Pension Plan).
  • You paid any EI premiums on self-employment earnings.
  • You are splitting a pension income.

If any of these situations apply to you, you are still responsible for filing a tax return.

The Benefits of Filing a Tax Return With No Income

Smiling woman sitting in front of laptop looking at piece of paper.

Even if the above situations do not apply to you, there are benefits to filing a tax return even if you have no income to claim.

Federal and provincial benefits are tied to your tax return and your reported income (even if it’s zero) will determine which ones you are eligible for.

So before you decide to forego filing due to no income, consider these benefits you could miss out on:

GST/HST Credit

If you are eligible to receive the Good and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax credit, you must file a tax return in order to receive these payments.

Canada Child Benefit

If you have children under the age of 18, you qualify for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) – with the amount you receive depending on your children’s ages and your income.

The CCB can also include the Child Disability Benefit and any provincial programs you may be eligible for.

Not filing a tax return excludes you from these payments.

School Credits

If you attended a school, you can claim eligible tuition fees on your tax return. 

While you won’t receive any money back from them (they are a non-refundable credit), they must be reported for the current tax year in order for you to carry them forward or transfer them.

Otherwise, if you don’t file a return and claim them, you cannot use them on future tax returns.

Daycare Subsidies

If you have a child that attends daycare, you could be eligible for a daycare subsidy depending on your income.

The only way to apply for this program is to have a tax return stating your earnings since your eligibility is determined by your reported household income.

This also extends to subsidized sports and extra-curricular activities for your child.

Student Loans

Oftentimes, parents need to submit their reported income in order for their children to secure a student loan.

Since student loans are another needs-based program dependent on your income, it’s important that you have a tax return to include in the application process.

Assisted Living/Nursing Homes

For seniors looking for assisted living or nursing home accommodations, or those with a disability, the payment amount depends on affordability which is determined from reported income.

Without a tax return to prove earnings, seniors and those with disabilities will miss out on reduced payments for living arrangements.

How to File a Tax Return With No Income

When it comes to filing your taxes with no income to claim, the process is pretty simple: File as normal and don’t input an income.

However, the thought of paying someone to file taxes when you earned no income may seem redundant and inspire you to skip out on filing them.

Before you do, consider these options for filing your tax return for free:

These programs allow you to input your information and send your tax return directly to the CRA through NetFile.

Why are they free? Many of these software and tax companies offer free access to filing your tax return as long as the return is simple and straightforward – as would be the case if you are claiming no income.

Otherwise, more complicated tax returns require a fee to use the software.

Alternatively, you can also file your taxes the old-fashioned way by picking up the necessary forms and mailing your claim directly to the CRA.

To File Or Not To File?

That is the question. The simplified answer is that, if you earned no income and do not need to file, you don’t have to file.

However, it’s important to take the above-mentioned benefits into consideration. If you are eligible for these programs, why not take advantage of them?

Otherwise, if you are not sure if you should file your taxes or not without an income, you can always speak to our professional and knowledgeable accountants at Liu & Associates.

We can help guide you to making the best decisions when it comes to your tax claims as well as your financial health.

Let’s get in touch today!

2021 Tax Guide: How to Claim Your Home Office and Utilities

black woman in yellow shirt sitting at desk with laptop doing tax paperwork

Last year was an interesting one when it came to employment norms. People accustomed to commuting to an office or workplace every day were offered the opportunity to work from home.

Likewise, many people also decided to start their own businesses at home.

If you fall into either of these categories, your situation drastically changes the way in which you will file your 2020 taxes.

Instead of plugging in your T4’s and calling it a day, you now have to consider your home office expenses and what you can claim as deductions on your taxes.

The process is fairly straightforward and includes only a simple calculation to determine eligible deductions amount.

However, knowing what expenses you can claim can be a bit trickier.

Before we explore how to claim your home office and utilities, here is some information on whether or not you are eligible:

Are You Eligible to Claim Home Office Expenses?

Self-employed individuals and employees who worked from home more than 50% (over a period of at least four weeks) due to the pandemic can claim home office expenses.

These expenses range from office supplies to internet services and rent/mortgage.

Not all work-from-home jobs are created equal. For instance, if you work for yourself you can claim more deductions than someone who is employed and working from home.

What you can claim as an employee may seem convoluted since the CRA has implemented new regulations to accommodate the increase in work-from-home individuals due to COVID-19.

If you need clarification about what you are eligible to claim as an employee or self-employed individual, feel free to contact our team of knowledgeable accountants for more information.

Claiming Home Office Expenses: Self-Employed

For those who are self-employed, you can claim your home office if your workspace is your main place of business or is used to regularly meet with clients, customers or patients.

By comparing the space of your home office to the space of your home to calculate a percentage, you can claim a portion of your household expenses.

For example, if your home office is 200 square feet and your home is 2500 square feet, you would divide the office by the home and get a percentage of 8%. That means you can claim 8% of your household expenses.

These expenses include:

  • Telephone
  • Utilities (heat, electricity, water, etc.)
  • Internet
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage interest

You can also deduct expenses related to your home office such as office supplies (pens, pencils, ink, etc.).

Be sure not to deduct equipment such as chairs, desks and computers – these are considered capital expenses.

Claiming Home Office Expenses: Employed

Computer programmer writing program code on computer in home office

When you are working at home as an employee, you can only claim your home office if you use your home office exclusively for work or you use the space to complete more than 50% of your work.

In order to qualify as an employee, your employer must require you to maintain a home office as part of your contract of employment.

Also, you cannot claim any expenses that have been reimbursed by your employer.

Lastly, your employer must fill out and sign form T2200 (Declaration of Conditions of Employment).

Once you determine that you do qualify to claim your home office as an employee, you can calculate your claim percentage:

Divide the square footage of your office space by the square footage of your home.

You can use this percentage to determine the portion of your home expenses and utilities that you can claim on your taxes.

These expenses include:

  • Telephone
  • Utilities (heat, electricity, water, etc.)
  • Internet
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance and repairs

Unlike self-employed individuals, employed workers cannot claim mortgage interest or insurances.

Instead of calculating your home office expenses, the CRA has introduced a new “temporary flat rate method” which allows you to claim $2 per day that you worked at home up to a maximum of $400.

These days only include days worked and not vacation, sick or absent days.

This method is preferred if you only worked from home temporarily.

Otherwise, if you feel you are eligible for more than $400 in deductions, you’ll want to use the percentage mentioned above to calculate your claims.

Common Mistakes When Claiming Home Office Expenses

You have to be very careful when claiming home office expenses so that you don’t trigger an audit by the CRA.

Don’t make the mistake of claiming full expenses related to your home. You need to calculate the percentage and only claim the appropriate portion.

Also, when claiming repairs and maintenance, these costs only apply to your home office. You cannot claim repairs made to other areas of your home.

Be vigilant when claiming your home office expenses. Rounding up the costs can prompt the CRA to take a closer look at your tax return.

You should also break down your home office into different categories. Inputting large numbers in one category could also cause the CRA to question your return.

The CRA’s new “temporary flat method” eliminates the need to track expenses but if you need to calculate the percentage of your space to maximize your return, it’s best to hang on to your receipts.

By following the above tips, you can safely claim your home office and utilities without worrying about facing an audit.

Let Us Help You With Your Tax Return!

To better protect yourself against a CRA audit, why not let the experts take care of your tax return?

Our team at Liu & Associates can ensure that your taxes are filed properly while including all eligible deductions to maximize your return.

There are definitely financial perks to working from home – and we want to help you explore them all!

Let’s chat today!

2021 Tax Guide: Keeping Track of your Receipts

person sitting on hardwood floor amongst tax paperwork

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly threw the way we work into a tailspin as more and more employees found themselves working from home.

Thankfully, many individuals were able to take advantage of this situation and continue working in a safe environment.

However, this massive shift will change the way in which 2020 taxes will be filed this year. Mainly, individuals are now eligible to claim home office expenses if they were able to work from home.

If you are one of these people, you are probably wondering what exactly you need to provide to the CRA to make this happen. 

Depending on the way in which you choose to file your work-from-home taxes, you may be required to hang on to receipts related to home office expenses and purchases.

Before you start digging around for crumpled up receipts, here’s some information on who is eligible for home office expense claims and what claims you are eligible for:

Am I Eligible to Claim Home Office Expenses?

If you worked from home because of the pandemic more than 50% of the time over a period of at least four consecutive weeks, you can claim home office expenses.

However, if you were reimbursed by your employer for any home office expenses, these cannot be claimed.

For example, if your employer paid for your computer, desk and chair, these purchases cannot be claimed on your taxes.

Any purchases out of your pocket, as well as the space in your home you use to work, can be claimed on your 2020 taxes.

In order to make these claims, there are two methods of filing you can choose from:

Two Simple Ways to File Your Taxes

woman fills out tax form using pen and calculator

Previous to the pandemic, those who worked from home had to calculate their expenses and home office space in order to claim deductions on their taxes.

Thankfully, the CRA has introduced a simplified method for those who had to work from home during 2020.

Keep reading to find out the methods available for home office claims to determine which best suits your situation:

Temporary Flat-Rate Method

For the 2020 tax year, the CRA has introduced a temporary flat-rate method to streamline the way in which you claim your work-from-home expenses.

The flat rate is $2 for each day you worked at home because of the pandemic (from March 2020 to December 2020) to a maximum of $400.

These days can be either full-time or part-time days and do not have to be consecutive – although vacation days, sick days and days off do not count in your calculations.

If you choose the temporary flat-rate method, you simply need to claim the amount and submit the T777S form (statement of employment expenses). 

You also do not have to keep receipts, calculate the workspace allotment in your home or have any forms signed by your employer. 

However, you cannot claim any other employment expenses. So, if you feel your expenses will amount to more than $400, you can go with the detailed method of filing your 2020 taxes.

Detailed Method

This is a more involved process but necessary if you feel you are entitled to more than $400 in work-from-home expense deductibles.

When you choose the detailed method, you have to fill out the T777S and have form T2200S signed by your employer. 

You will also need to keep all of your receipts as well as calculate the percentage of your home used for work. This means figuring out the square footage of your office space and dividing it by the square footage of your home.

When you figure out the percentage, you will use that number to determine how much of your rent, utilities, etc. you can claim.

As an employee, you are eligible to claim a portion of your hydro, rent, heat, internet and cell phone minutes. If you work on commission, you can claim a percentage of your home insurance and property taxes. As a self-employed individual, you can claim your mortgage interest, mortgage payments, internet, furniture and capital expenses.

Not sure what you can claim? Get in touch with one of our expert accountants to discuss what deductions you are eligible for and what information you will need to submit to the CRA.

How to Keep Track of Your Receipts

With the detailed method of claiming your home office expenses, you may be required to produce receipts for purchases and services that you have paid for – especially if you end up facing an audit.

Luckily, you are probably not going to be faced with piles of receipts that need to be organized as you would if you owned your own business.

However, instead of shoving these slips of paper in a random drawer, here are some ways that you can keep track of your receipts for your home office expenses:

  • Make notes on your receipts. To keep your receipts organized, make a note on them to indicate whether they are for supplies or if they need to be calculated by percentage.
  • Go paperless. There are many apps and programs out there that will help you input and organize your receipts electronically. You can also take a picture of your receipt on your phone and keep track of it that way.
  • Establish a holding station for your receipts. When you bring a receipt home, you’re probably going to toss it aside and deal with it later. Grab a jar or envelope as a holding station for your receipts until you get around to organizing them.

You can also create a Google Spreadsheet to track your expenses month to month. That way, when it’s time to file your taxes, you have all of the amounts available and can compare your receipts to what you spent.

Ready to File Your Taxes?

If you’re new to filing taxes as a work-from-home employee, the process can be a little confusing.

Let our team of accountants guide you through your 2020 taxes! We are ready and happy to help you get the most out of your tax return.

Let’s chat today!

2021 Tax Guide: First Year Working from Home? What to Know

man with beard and glasses wearing denim shirt sitting a grey couch doing his taxes on his laptop

2020 proved to be an interesting and evolving time as more and more employees worked from home.

When you are no longer working in your company’s workspace, the way in which your file your taxes changes drastically.

If you worked from home during 2020, you may be eligible to make work-related claims and take advantage of additional deductibles on your taxes.

To understand whether you are eligible to claim your home offices expenses, and what you can claim on your 2020 taxes, keep reading our tax guide to your first year working from home:

Who Can Claim Home Office Expenses?

Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of at least four consecutive weeks due to COVID-19 can claim home office expenses.

This applies to 2020 only.

Instead of tracking expenses and having your employer certify your requirement to work from home, the CRA has simplified this method by offering a temporary flat rate of $2 per day for each day at home – to a maximum of $400.

This eliminates the need for an employer to sign the T2200 or T2200S slips.

To calculate your workdays, you must use the days that you worked full-time or part-time, not vacation days, sick days or other days off.

But if your employer has reimbursed you for all your home office expenses, you cannot claim these on your taxes.

What Expenses Can Be Claimed?

If you are eligible to claim expenses for working from home, what you can claim depends on the type of income you earn.

The type of work is divided into three categories: Employment, Commission and Self-Employment.

This table will help you understand what you are eligible to claim:

Employment Commission Self-Employed
Heat
Electricity
Phone
Internet
Rent
Repairs/Maintenance
Mortgage Interest
Property Tax
Insurance
Capital Cost Allowance
Water, Security, Etc.

For more information on what is considered capital cost allowance, and what repairs and maintenance, are eligible for deductions, get in touch with our expert accountants today!

How to Calculate Your Home Office Portion of Expenses

man sits in home office while working on computer

Once you know what you are eligible to claim while working from home, you need to figure out what percentage of these costs relate to your home office – you cannot claim the entire amount.

This is done by considering the percentage of time you use your home office space for work as well as the proportion of your home used for the workspace.

The CRA determines this on a “reasonable basis”, meaning that they take the square footage of your home office and divide it by the total square footage of your home.

If you use a common space, such as a kitchen or dining area, you can claim your home office based on the number of hours your space is used for work.

Because many people worked both from home and at work, these situations may require you to prorate your expenses based on the number of months out of twelve in which you worked from home.

Other Deductible Expenses

When claiming your home office space on your 2020 taxes, don’t forget that you can also include other deductible expenses such as supplies that are necessary for doing your job.

These supplies can include pens, pencils, file folders and ink cartridges, for example.

Also, if you use your personal phone to make business calls, you can also claim long-distance charges and minutes used on your cell phone (if these incur additional charges on your bill).

However, this doesn’t mean you can simply buy supplies just to save money on your taxes!

There has to be an understanding between you and your employer that you were required to purchase these items in order to fulfill your employment duties.

Employer Allowances and Reimbursements

Any allowances received for your home office expenses from your employer are considered to be a taxable employee benefit and should be included in your income on your T4 or T4A slips.

However, direct reimbursements made by your employer do not need to be included in your income – except in the case where there is a potential for personal use of the expense. The portion related to personal use is then included in your income as a taxable benefit.

For example, if your employer gives you the money to purchase a computer for work, that amount is considered to be taxable income.

(Except in the case of computers, the CRA has implemented a new exception that allows you to claim a $500 reimbursement if the equipment was purchased during the pandemic for work).

Alternatively, if your employer has you purchase a computer and then reimburses you for it afterward, this is not considered taxable income.

In the case of personal use, if your employer gives you a cell phone, but you are allowed to use it personally after hours, you would have to consider the time the phone is used personally and claim that percentage on your taxes.

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Save on Your Taxes!

While we certainly don’t recommend you make claims on your 2020 taxes beyond what you are eligible for, there is definitely an opportunity to save on your taxes when you work from home.

To gain a more thorough understanding of the claims you can make on your taxes related to having a home office, we recommend speaking to a knowledgeable accountant.

Our team at Liu & Associates is more than happy to help you navigate your taxes after your first year of working from home.

Let’s talk today!