Five Tax-saving Tips for Retirees

Retirement may give you the chance to sleep late and live leisurely, but you don’t want a large tax bill spoiling your fun. To maximize your benefits and lower your tax obligations, check out these five tax-saving tips for retired residents of Canada.

1. Split Your Pension

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires seniors earning over a certain threshold to pay a 15 percent Old Age Security recovery tax on income over the threshold. For the 2018 income year,  the earnings threshold is $$75,910, but this figure changes annually. If you are being assessed the recovery tax and your spouse earns less than the threshold amount, split some of your pension income with him.

For example, if you earn $80,000 per year and your partner earns $60,000, transfer $10,000 worth of your annuity, RRSP or RRIF payments to your partner. That transfer brings both of your incomes to $70,000, keeping your family income the same while helping you to avoid the OAS recovery tax.

2. Share Your Pension

If you and your spouse or common-law partner do not receive equal Canada Pension Payments (CPP), consider sharing your CPPs. When you apply to share pensions, the CRA bases the amount shared on how long you were with your partner during your working years. Sharing pensions can increase the income of one partner while decreasing the income of the other partner and offers similar tax benefits as splitting your pension.

3. Claim the Age Amount Credit

Canadian tax filers over a certain age may claim the age amount tax credit. Filers had to be 65 years of age by the end of the tax year to qualify for this credit. For 2018, if someone over 65 earned less than $36,976 per year, their credit would be $7,333. The credit amount decreases as income increases, and seniors earning over $85,863 do not qualify.

4. Transfer Unused Age Amount Credits

The age amount credit reduces taxes you owe, but as a nonrefundable credit, you don’t get the benefit if you have no taxes to reduce. However, unused age amount credits can be transferred to your partner. For example, if you qualify for a $6,000 age amount credit, but you only owe $4,000 in taxes, you can transfer the unused nonrefundable credit to your partner to lower his tax burden.

5. Claim Medical Expenses

Medical expenses that exceed the lesser amount of 3 percent of your net income, or $2,302 (the maximum for 2018), can be claimed on your tax return. Keep your receipts for every medical-related purchase, as you can claim a range of expenses. For example, individuals with certain chronic illnesses can claim up to half of the cost of a new air conditioner, while people who suffer from celiac disease may claim the difference between the cost of gluten-free food and regular food.

If you are disabled, you may be able to claim the disability tax credit to reduce the amount of tax you owe. If you take care of a disabled or ill partner, you may qualify for the family caregiver amount.