With the personal income tax filing deadline rapidly approaching and the finish line in sight, there is really only one thing that has to be accomplished before reaching the finish line, but we are going to give you 7 last minute tips to help you be successful at tax time even if it means filing at the very last minute.
As someone who has walked tax returns into the CRA office at 11:50pm on April 30th, there were some key motivating factors which came into play which made tax filing year-after-year, a success.
1. File on Time
It doesn’t matter if you are getting a tax refund, or if you have a balance owing to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you have to file you income tax returns on time. You have until 11:59 p.m. on April 30th to file your tax return and to remit any balance owing to the CRA. Self-employed Canadians have a little bit longer to file their income tax returns – June 17th, 2019 – however, if you have a balance owing, it must be paid by April 30th or it would be deemed late by the CRA and interest would be charged on to the balance.
Failing to file your income taxes on time can have a significant negative impact on future filings because if you are repeatedly late in filing your income tax returns, the penalties that the CRA levies against you double, and can continue to double year-after-year.
Clearly, the correct thing to do is to file your income tax return on time, even if it’s not 100% complete.
2. File a Tax Return (even if not required)
Although you are not required to file an income tax return if you do not owe taxes to the CRA, it is still in your best interest to do so. If you do not have enough income to claim, you may be entitled to a tax refund.
There are a few government programs from which you can benefit by filing, including the Canada Child Tax Benefit, GST/HST credit and Guaranteed Income Supplement. File on or before the April 30th deadline to receive your refund sooner. When you use NETFILE you can get your refund in as few as eight business days.
It’s a good idea for students to file a tax return as well. If your child is attending college or university, they can claim the tuition amounts first on their own return and the unused amount can be transferred to you, a grandparent, a spouse or a common-law partner. Another option is to carry forward the remaining current year’s unused federal tuition fees (that you did not transfer) to claim it in a future year, and your unused tuition, education, and textbook amounts from years prior to 2017, that you cannot use (and do not transfer) for the current year.
3. Get (and stay) Organized
According to a recent survey, the most daunting parts of the tax preparation process for more than a third of Canadians. Keeping track of your receipts year-round can make a huge difference at tax time. There are lots of great apps that can help. If you’re self-employed, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a mobile app that makes it easy to stay in control of your business finances and help you prepare for tax time while on the go with effortless expense, mileage and invoice tracking all in one place.
With the Canada Revenue Agency’s Auto-fill my return, individuals can access common income slips ( T4s, T3s and T5s), government benefit slips, RRSP receipts, and unused tuition credits, then automagically import the data right into TurboTax. All the relevant info will be populated into your tax return, saving you time and effort.
4) Claim Spouse Tax Credit (if you have a spouse)
If your spouse has little to no income, you could be in for big tax savings. Even though your spouse may not be able to take advantage of non-refundable tax credits, this doesn’t mean you can’t. There are a slew of tax credits that can be transferred to the higher income spouse, including the age amount, Canada caregiver amount for infirm children under 18 years of age, pension income amount, disability amount and the tuition amount. Make sure your spouse files her or her tax return and completes Schedule 2 to transfer the amounts to you, otherwise you won’t be able to take advantage.
5) Charitable Donations
Did your spouse and you give to a worthy cause last year? Make every dollar count by claiming charitable donations on your tax return. If your spouse and you donated over $200 to registered charities, it’s a good idea for only one spouse to claim the tax credit. You’ll received a tax credit worth 15 percent on your first $200 donated, but the credit nearly doubles to 29 percent for amounts above $200. If that’s not enough incentive to give, here’s another good reason: you may be eligible for the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit. Those who haven’t claimed a charitable donation since 2008 can claim this credit worth an extra 25 percent on the first $1,000 donated. It is important to note that only cash donations made after March 20, 2013 qualify for the FDSC.
6) Be aware of the top most commonly missed deductions
TurboTax automatically searches through more than 400 credits and deductions to identify the ones that apply to you, so you get your maximum refund. Some of the deductions most commonly missed by individuals who don’t have such support are:
- Medical expenses
- Union and professional dues
- Child care expenses
- Moving expenses
- Student loan interest
- Employment expenses reported on a T2200 (Declaration of Conditions of Employment).
7) Get help if you need it
TurboTax SmartLook is a new feature that virtually brings tax and product experts directly to you through one-way video technology. This online, on-demand service can connect you to live, personalized advice from tax and product experts, which means that when it comes to your taxes, “do it yourself” no longer means doing it alone.
If you need more help, TurboTax Live may be for you. With TurboTax Live Assist & Review, a tax expert is available throughout your tax preparation to answer questions, then when you are done they will full review your return to make sure it is correct and you’re claiming all the credits and deductions that apply to you.
With TurboTax Live Full Service, we can fully prepare and file your tax for you! Just upload your slips and receipts to your secure online account, we’ll prepare your return, review it with you then file it with the CRA – all without you having to leave the comfort of your home!