Got kids? Get cash back at tax time

A number of new tax laws have been put in place for tax year 2015. Although no new credits for children have been announced, some existing credits have been updated or given a facelift. Here’s what new tax-wise for families this year.

Children’s Fitness Credit – lines 458 and 459

Although it’s been around for a while, the Children’s Fitness Credit has a new look this year. In the past, this credit has been non-refundable which means that it could only lower your tax payable. This year, it has transformed into a refundable credit. This is great news for lower income households and taxpayers who have a good number of other credits. In prior years, fees paid for a child’s activities may have gone to waste tax-wise. Here’s an example of the change:

Patty graduated from university a few years ago and still has thousands in unused tuition and education credits she can claim. Patty’s daughter, Mia, has been taking swimming lessons for two years at an annual cost of $600. Because Patty’s tuition credits zeroed out her taxes owing last year, the $600 in swimming fees added nothing to her 2014 tax return’s bottom line. Her 2015 return will be different.

If Patty’s tuition and other credits are enough to zero out her taxes owing again this year, that $600 in fees will not be lost this year. A full 15% ($90) of her fees will be refunded to her. It’s not only low income or credit-rich households who will benefit but these taxpayers will see the biggest difference.

The eligibility requirements for the Children’s Fitness Credit haven’t changed. The maximum claim remains at $1000 per child. Each child must be 15 years of age or younger as of January 1, 2015. The prescribed fitness program must be ongoing, supervised, suitable for children, and involve a significant amount of physical activity. For children with disabilities, the rules are slightly different. The child must be under 18 as of January 1, 2015 and an additional $500 can be claimed.

Childcare Expenses – line 214

The caps on childcare expenses have risen by $1000 for tax year 2015. No other criteria changed, only the dollar value. The limits are now:

Children born in 2009 or later: $8000

Children born 1999 – 2008: $5000

Children with disabilities:  $11000

As in prior years, the lower earning spouse must claim childcare expenses in most cases and the childcare must have been necessary for you to work, go to school or run your business. And don’t forget about those summer camps. Day camps, overnight camps, and sports schools are all considered eligible childcare expenses.

Auto-fill my return

Although not limited to families, the new feature Auto-fill my return will make the process of doing your family’s taxes easier. Instead of manually entering all of your information, you can simply import the info directly to the proper spots in your return. Auto-filled data includes T slips (such as T4’s for employment and T5’s for interest amounts), RRSP limits and contributions, and carry forward amounts for tuition and losses. The feature requires access to your CRA My Account.

Whether your family is big or small, TurboTax has you covered. Using TurboTax Standard, we’ll automatically ensure all these credits – and up to 400 credits in all – are applied to your taxes if you qualify so get all the money you deserve. Or, if you use our new TurboTax Free, use the line numbers listed next to each of the credits above to claim your credits.