When it comes to taxes, there’s no one size fits all. That’s why there are over 400 tax deductions and credits available from the CRA to Canadian taxpayers. Whatever your tax situation is, there’s a credit or deduction out there for you.

Key Takeaways
  1. Tax deductions are used to reduce your income before any credits are applied.
  2. Non-refundable tax credits lower your tax payable, and cannot by themselves get you a refund.
  3. Refundable credits can result in a tax refund, even if you have no tax payable.

Deductions and credits, what’s the difference?

While tax deductions and tax credits both help improve your tax outcome, they are actually different and not interchangeable.

Tax deductions are amounts you subtract from your total income, making your taxable income lower. This means you’d be charged taxes on a smaller amount of income. An example would be self-employed business expenses

Tax credits are amounts that reduce the tax you pay on your taxable income. Some are refundable and some aren’t. 

  • Non-refundable tax credits: You can use these to reduce your tax payable to zero, but you can’t claim a refund based on these amounts. An example of a non-refundable credit is the charitable tax credit.
  • Refundable tax credits: When the total of these amounts is more than the amount of tax due, or if there is no tax due because the deductions have reduced it to zero, these credits help you get a refund. An example of a refundable tax credit is the (GST/HST) credit.

There are over 400 deductions and credits that the CRA outlines. We’ve rounded up the most popular 20 to help you make the most out of your taxes and get the best refund.

1. GST/HST Credit 

The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax Credit (GST/HST Credit) is a refundable tax credit available to families with children. It is intended to help low to modest income Canadians offset the tax they pay on consumer goods and services. 

The Canada Revenue Agency pays out the GST/HST credit quarterly. In most cases, all you have to do to receive the GST/HST credit each year is file your taxes on time, even if you have no income to report.

2. Ontario Trillium Benefit 

Ontarians may be eligible for the Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB). OTB is a refundable tax credit to assist low-income families in paying for energy costs, sales tax, and property tax. It combines three tax credits into one single payment:

  • The Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC)
  • The Ontario Sales Tax Credit
  • And the Northern Ontario Energy Credit

Your eligibility is based on your family’s net income from the previous tax year. 

3. Charitable Tax Credit

When you donate to charity, you can receive tax benefits for your donations. The charitable donation tax credit is available to anyone who makes a donation to a qualifying donee (i.e. a registered charity).

4. Self-Employment Expenses 

Whether you are fully self-employed, or have a full-time job and earn self-employed income on the side, the CRA allows you to deduct a range of business expenses on your tax return.

Depending upon your type of self-employment, your expenses could be a few bucks or thousands of dollars. Regardless of the amount of the expense, it’s important to claim all of your business-related expenses on your tax return. In addition to lowering your tax payable, you’re also putting together the most accurate picture of your business’s overall health. The most common expenses for self-employed taxpayers include:

  • Advertising
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Bank fees
  • Office supplies
  • Inventory
  • Business-use-of-home expenses
  • Cell phone

If you want to estimate the business expenses you can deduct, use our handy free self-employment expenses calculator and we’ll do the math to show you your approximate tax savings.

5. Work from Home Expenses 

A very popular credit that was introduced by the CRA since 2020 after the surge in remote work with the pandemic is the work from home tax credit

CRA allows all employees who worked from home to claim up to $500 in employment expenses as a flat rate for tax year 2021, up from $400 last year.

You may be able to claim more than the flat rate account if you have the new T2200-s “Declaration of Conditions of Employment for Working at Home Due to COVID-19” signed by your employer. This form outlines exactly what expenses you can claim, and any reimbursements you’ve received. 

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6. Canada Workers Benefit

Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit available for low-income individuals in the workforce. You may qualify for additional payments like the disability supplement. To be eligible, you have to earn no less than $3,000. However, the maximum income level is different in each province. 

The amount you receive with CWB depends on two factors: where you live, and if you are single with no eligible dependants, or have a family.

7. Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Deduction

Deducting your RRSP contributions reduces your net income, which means you’re taxed on a smaller amount of money. 

To get the most tax savings, you don’t need to deduct all your contributions in the same year. Instead, you can deduct just the amount you need to reduce your tax liability or get the maximum refund. You can then carry forward any undeducted contributions to deduct in later years when you might be making more money.

8. Home Buyers’ Amount

The Home Buyers’ Amount (HBA) is a non-refundable tax credit. If you or your spouse or common-law partner purchased a qualifying home in Canada in the previous year, you can claim a tax credit of up to $5,000, which will reduce the amount of federal tax you have to pay.

The catch is that you have to be a first-time home buyer, which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) defines as a person who has not lived in another home owned by you or your partner in the year of acquisition or in any of the four preceding years.

9. GST/HST Residential Rental Property Rebate

If you’re a landlord who purchased new residential rental property, you may be eligible for the Residential Rental Property Rebate. This rebate may allow you to claim some GST and/or the federal percentage of HST on a purchase of a new or substantially renovated housing complex in a residential building. 

To qualify, the first people to occupy the new residential rental property must be tenants; the first occupants cannot include the landlord.

10. Moving Expenses 

Did you know that if you relocated more than 40 km for work, you may be eligible to claim your moving expenses? You can claim eligible moving expenses if: 

  • You moved and established a new home to work or run a business at a new location; or 
  • You moved to be a student in full-time attendance in a post-secondary program at a university, college, or other education institution. 

Eligible expenses include travel costs, fees for replacing your driver’s license, and utility hook-ups.

11. Climate Action Incentive

If you live in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or Alberta, you can claim the Climate Action Incentive (CAI). The CAI helps offset the fuel charge that these 4 provinces add directly to the cost of your gas (whether it’s heating bills or at the gas station).

You’re only allowed one credit per household and the amount you receive is based on the size of your family.

If you live in BC, you can claim the BC Climate Action Tax Credit which is issued with your GST/HST Tax Credit and helps low-income individuals and families to offset the carbon taxes they pay.

12. Home Accessibility Tax Credit 

Renovations that make homes safer or more accessible for seniors or the disabled may qualify for the Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC). If you are a senior or hold a valid disability tax certificate or are supporting a qualifying individual, you can claim up to $10,000 in expenses.

13. Medical Expenses

Medical expenses can add up quickly in the run of a year. Everything from routine dental visits to prescriptions to doctors’ fees could earn you a credit at tax time.

To get the most out of your claim, it’s usually best to have one spouse claim all the medical expenses for the immediate family (you, your spouse, and kids under 18) and any dependents you support.

Some overlooked medical expenses include: 

  • Private medical insurance premiums
  • Tutoring for children with disabilities 
  • Home renovations that improve mobility or access 
  • Travel expenses to seek medical treatment (over 40 km one-way)
  • Prescription contact lens or glasses 
  • Dentures and dental implants 

14. Canada Child Benefit

Raising a family can be very expensive. With a significant portion of your take-home income being spent on child care, programs or medical expenses, every dollar counts. The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The CCB might include the child disability benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs.

Tip: With CRA My Account, you can review dates and payment amounts for benefits programs You can easily view the status of your benefit payments, tax refund, and submit documents to the CRA.

15. Child Disability Benefit

The Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.

To get the child disability benefit:

Please note: If you are already getting the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for your child who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), you do not need to apply for the CDB, because you will get it automatically.

16. Child Care Expenses 

You can claim tax-deductible child care expenses paid to day nursery schools and daycare centers, caregivers such as nannies and babysitters, overnight boarding schools and camps that provide lodging, day camps and day sports schools.

There are limitations on who can claim the expenses. For example, in a two-parent household, only the spouse or common-law partner with the lower net income can claim child care expenses. So make sure to review the requirements before filing your taxes.

17. Canada Caregiver Credit 

Do you support a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependent with a physical or mental impairment? If so, the Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC), a non-refundable tax credit, may be available to you.

The amount you can claim depends on your relationship to the person for whom you are claiming the CCC, your circumstances, the person’s net income, and whether other credits are being claimed for that person. The amounts also change every year.

18. Disability Tax Credit

Designed to offset the extra living costs related to having a disability, the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable credit used to reduce your taxes owed. In order to qualify for the DTC, you must have a serious and prolonged physical or mental impairment. Depending on the situation, you may be able to claim this credit for yourself, or on behalf of your dependent, spouse or common-law partner.

19. Tuition Tax Credit

As the cost of post-secondary education in Canada continues to climb, every dollar saved becomes increasingly important. That’s why students should take advantage of the tuition tax credit.

“Most tuition fees for Canadian colleges and universities in excess of $100 are eligible for the tuition tax credit,” says London, Ontario accountant Chris Follett. “However, these must be paid by you or someone from your immediate family. If your employer pays or reimburses you without including that amount in your pay, you can’t claim the credit. The same applies if it’s your parent’s employer.” 

20. Student Loan Interest

Interest paid on a student loan is an often-overlooked credit. To help students and graduates offset some of the financial burden of repaying student loans, the CRA offers a deduction for qualifying student loan interest payments.

You can carry forward any unclaimed student loan interest to any of the next five years, so be sure to keep those documents in order.

More help with taxes, more confidence to file.