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What's New by Month

April 2017

Life in the Tax Lane - May 2017 video

Topics:  Auto allowances; auto expenses; information of Square users provided to CRA; the sharing economy; renouncing US citizenship; Panama Papers - bank accounts in Canada being closed; a gifted home still may qualify for Home Buyers' Tax Credit; Retiring partner payments - pensionable earnings.

Ontario 2017 Budget - April 27, 2017

New caregiver and public transit tax credits; Reduced electricity rates; OHIP+ - Drug coverage for age 24 and under starting Jan 1, 2018; Revisions to Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP); Increased tobacco taxes; Revisions to Employer Health Tax (EHT); and more.

Nova Scotia 2017 Budget - April 27, 2017

The NS 2017 Budget announced enhancements for 2018 to the Basic Personal, Spousal, Eligible Dependant and Age amounts.  The threshold for the small business deduction is increased to $500,000 effective January 1, 2017. Equipment used in the mining and quarrying sector is exempt from motive fuel tax effective April 1, 2017.

Yukon 2017 Budget - April 27, 2017

Yukon is reducing its general and small business corporate tax rates effective July 1, 2017.  Tobacco taxes will be increased July 1, 2017.

First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit and Disability Home Purchase Tax Credit

A non-refundable tax credit based on an amount of $5,000 is available for first-time home buyers.  The credit may also be available in respect of a home acquired by an individual who is eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC), or by an individual for the benefit of a DTC-eligible relative. If you missed claiming this credit in the year of purchase, you can file an adjustment to your tax return.

Attendant Care Expenses

Attendant care costs can be claimed for persons who are eligible for the disability amount, and in some situations for persons who do not qualify for the disability amount.  The Canada Revenue Agency guide has been corrected regarding the limit on Ontario attendant care expenses, which only applies if the taxpayer claimed the disability amount.

Eligible Medical Expenses - Travel Medical Insurance and More

Don't miss claiming medical expenses.  Private travel medical insurance may qualify if nothing but eligible medical expenses are covered by the plan.  Home renovations may qualify if they enable a disabled person to be more mobile within the dwelling.  If the renovations also qualify for the Home Accessibility or a Home Renovation Tax Credit, both tax credits (or all three) can be claimed for the same expense.

Income Tax Refunds

When will you get your refund?  Will CRA pay interest on your refund?  How to check the status of your tax return.

Changing Your Tax Return

Discovered a missed tax slip?  Missed expenses?  It's  not difficult to change your tax return.

Don't Pay Unnecessary EI Premiums or CPP Contributions

Not all earnings are insurable or pensionable. How to get a refund - employer or employee.

Manitoba 2017 Budget - April 11, 2017

Manitoba is phasing out the Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate and Advance, but will change legislation in order to continue the Children's Arts and Cultural Activity Credit, Fitness Credit, and Education Credit, all of which are dependent on the Federal credits which are eliminated or being eliminated.  Some other tax credits are being extended.

Prince Edward Island 2017 Budget - April 7, 2017

The PEI 2017 Budget announced that the Basic Personal Amount and the Spouse/Equivalent to Spouse Amounts would be increased by 2% for 2017, and that the Education Amount would be preserved for 2017.

Newfoundland and Labrador 2017 Budget - April 6, 2017

There are no new taxes or fees in the NL 2017 Budget.  Gas taxes will be reduced. Income Supplement and Seniors' Benefit will be maintained.

Buying Canadian Real Estate From a Non-Resident of Canada

When you're buying real estate, or are the agent for the purchaser of real estate, get verification that will stand up in Court that the vendor is a resident in Canada.  Otherwise, you may be assessed tax of 25% of the purchase price by Canada Revenue Agency if it turns out that the vendor is a non-resident.  A recent BC Supreme Court case is an example of this.

Foreign Tax Credit and S. 20(12) Deduction

Sometimes foreign tax withheld from foreign non-business income is not completely recovered by the federal and provincial foreign tax credits.  In this case the taxpayer can claim a s. 20(12) deduction, which doesn't seem to be calculated automatically by most income tax software.  We've now added an example of the calculation of the foreign tax credits and the s. 20(12) deduction, showing how the calculation must be repeated a few times to optimize the tax reduction.

March 2017

Free Tax Preparation Service - Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

This free tax service is available for those with modest incomes - $30,000 for an individual, $40,000 for a couple (add $2,500 for each dependant), and $35,000 for an individual with a dependant (add $2,500 for each additional dependant), as long as the tax situation is relatively simple.

Life in the Tax Lane - April 2017 Video

Topics this month: Federal budget, of course, and coming government review of tax strategies by private corporations; Underground economy and how to protect yourself; CRA's new fingerprinting policy and how it could create travel problems for accused (not necessarily convicted) tax evaders.

Quebec 2017 Budget - March 28, 2017

Low- and middle-income taxpayers will get refunds for their 2016 health contributions, which is eliminated for net incomes up to $134,095.  The tax rate to be applied to personal tax credit amounts will be reduced to 16% from 20% for 2017, but the net effect will be no change, except for an increase in the basic personal amount tax credit. The Renovert tax credit is extended to March 31, 2018.  Business acquiring manufacturing or processing equipment and computer equipment before April 1, 2019 will be eligible for an additional capital cost allowance of 35%.

Capital or Expense

Everyone in business is faced at some point with the decision as to whether an expense is capital or current in nature - in other words, whether the cost should be capitalized or expensed.  There are general guidelines that can be followed to determine the answer.  This article also deals with expense and capital items which are used both for business and personal use.

Provincial Political Contribution Tax Credit Rates and Maximums

Small political contributions are encouraged by the high tax credit rate on the first part of the contribution.

Property Rental Deductible Expenses

If you rent out one or more rooms in your home, or if you own a rental property, there are many expenses that can be deducted in calculating your net rental income.

Why File a Tax Return if no Tax is Payable?

Even if you have no income, it may be to your advantage to file a tax return to qualify for certain benefits or tax credits, and to create RRSP or TFSA contribution room.

Worthless Shares or Debt

Do you have a worthless investment?  Can't sell it because it has been delisted?  There may be a way to claim the capital loss.

First-time Donor's Super Tax Credit (FDSC)

If you made a charitable donation for the first time in 2016, take advantage of the federal First-time Donor's Super Tax Credit, which provides a 40% tax credit for donations of $200 or less, and a 54% credit for donations over $200 and up to $1,000.  This is a temporary tax credit, and 2017 will be the last taxation year it is available.

Optimizing the Donation Tax Credit

It is usually best for the highest income spouse to claim the tax credit for all donations of both spouses.  However, sometimes not all donations are utilized, and can then either be carried forward or split between spouses.  Our tax calculators will help with this.

Principal Residence Exemption Problem Corrected by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

We initially reported that if you had sold your principal residence in 2016 and purchased another one in the same year, if you ticked #1 on Schedule 3 of your tax return you would not be able to use 2016 as a year of principal residence for the new property when you eventually sell it.  CRA has corrected this problem, indicating that if you tick #1 you will still be able to use 2016 as a principal residence year for the new property, without completing Form T2091(IND).

Saskatchewan 2017 Budget - March 22, 2017

The SK 2017 Budget announced a PST increase; personal and corporate income tax rate reductions; elimination of tuition and education tax credits and employee tools tax credit; making PST taxable some previously exempt items including children's clothing, restaurant meals and snack foods; enhanced low-income tax credit; increased tobacco taxes, liquor mark-ups and corporation capital tax; and more.

2017 Federal Budget - March 22, 2017

Some of the personal tax measures in the budget include elimination of the public transit tax credit and the home relocation loans deduction, replacing 3 different caregiver tax credits with a new Canada Caregiver Credit, and implementing for RESPs and RDSPs the anti-avoidance rules that are already in place for other registered accounts, including swap transactions, prohibited investments, and non-qualified investments. Billed-basis accounting for designated professionals is being eliminated.  Alcohol and tobacco taxes increase effective March 23, 2017.  Check the article for all tax measures.

New Canada Caregiver Credit

The new Canada Caregiver Credit proposed by the Federal 2017 Budget would replace the existing Caregiver Tax Credit, Infirm Dependant Tax Credit, and Family Caregiver Tax Credit, for 2017 and later years.

Ride-Sharing Services and Taxis

The Federal 2017 Budget proposes to amend the definition of a taxi business to include ride-sharing services, so that these services will be required to register for and collect GST/HST regardless of their annual income level.

Swap Transactions - RESPs and RDSPs

The Federal 2017 Budget proposes to extend the "swap transaction" rules to Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) and Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) effective for transactions occurring after Budget Day, March 22, 2017.  For this purpose, investment income generated after March 22nd on previously acquired investments will be considered to be a "transaction occurring" after March 22, 2017.  There are exceptions.

Volunteer Firefighter and Search and Rescue Tax Credits

There are separate federal tax credits for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers. Several provinces and one territory also have a tax credit for volunteer firefighters and/or search and rescue volunteers.

RRSP Contributions Jan 1 to Mar 1 2017 - Record on 2016 Tax Return

It is necessary to include all RRSP contributions made in the first 60 days of the current year on Schedule 7 of the tax return for the past tax year.  If you didn't do this for your contributions made at the beginning of 2016, you will have to file an adjustment to your 2015 tax return.  Make sure you do this for your 2017 contributions up to March 1st, even if you're not deducting them for 2016!

Tax Treatment of Income From Investments in Exchange- Traded Funds (ETFs)

Whether you own foreign or Canadian ETFs, you should know the tax consequences of the income from them, and how to calculate your adjusted cost base (ACB).  With Canadian ETFs, you need to know about reinvested distributions and how they increase your ACB and thus reduce your capital gain on sale.

Alberta 2017 Budget - March 16, 2017

Alberta's 2017 budget announced changes to the provincial political contribution tax credit, although the amount will remain unchanged.  Very few tax changes were announced.

Interest Expense re Investments

Interest expense incurred to earn investment income can be deducted as carrying charges on your tax return.  This could include mortgage, loan, or line of credit interest, margin interest, or interest on your CSB payroll savings plan.

Withdrawals For Home Buyer's Plan (HBP) or Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)

Withdrawals from your RRSP from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2016 will be on a 2016 T4RSP, and must be reported on Schedule 7 of your 2016 tax return, even though they don't affect your income.

Repayments to Home Buyer's Plan (HBP) or Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)

If you made repayments to your RRSP for the HBP or LLP from Jan 1/16 to Mar 1/17, make sure you report them properly on your tax return in order to not lose RRSP contribution/deduction room.

2017 Corporate Income Tax Rates

We've published the table of 2017 corporate income tax rates.  So far, 2017 provincial budgets have brought corporate tax rate changes for BC and New Brunswick.  Most provincial budgets have not yet been tabled, so further changes could be coming.  Some rates changed effective January 1, 2017 based on last year's budgets.

Tax Implications of Owning a Second Home or Cottage

Unless it is used to generate income, a cottage or second home is normally considered personal-use property.  It's important to track the adjusted cost base (ACB) of your principal residence and your cottage, as the principal residence exemption could apply to either one.  Even if you don't own a second property, the ACB of your home needs to be tracked, because its status as a principal residence could change in the future.

Non-Residents Receiving Income From Canada

Non-residents of Canada receiving income from Canada, such as OAS, CPP, or other income, may be able to reduce the withholding tax on that income by filing a NR5 application, and may recover the withholding tax by filing an elective tax return.  Depending on their country of residence, recipients of OAS must file a T1136 OAS Return of Income annually in order to continue to receive their OAS payments.

February 2017

Life in the Tax Lane - March 2017 Video

Topics this month: Principal residence exemption, fraud refund scam, mutual fund taxation, investment management fees, Eservices at CRA.  If you own a principal residence you'll definitely want to view this video!

Non-Refundable Tax Credits 2017 - re Education/Textbook Credits

We've revised the 2017 tables of non-refundable tax credits to reflect what the education and textbook tax credits will be for 2017 if the amounts on the 2017 TD1 forms are all correct.  These credits are cancelled federally for 2017, and most provinces/territories will have to change their legislation to keep them.  BC is extending the education tax credit for 2017, and NWT is retaining the education tax credit (no end date was specified).

Your Tax Return - Deductions From Income, Tax Credits

Deductions from income save tax at your marginal tax rate, while most non-refundable tax credits are at the lowest personal income tax rate, with some exceptions.  See our information on many of the deductions and refundable and non-refundable tax credits.

Nunavut 2017 Budget - February 22, 2017

The Nunavut 2017 Budget documents did not mention any tax changes.  However, there is no Bill available yet to reflect any changes resulting from the Budget, and it is possible they may enact changes in order to keep the education tax credit.

Northwest Territories 2017 Budget - February 1, 2017

Bill 17 for the NT 2017 Budget includes elimination of the Overseas Employment Tax Credit (OETC), and retention of the Education Tax Credit.  Tobacco taxes were increased.

Should I Borrow to Contribute to an RRSP?

Do you have a buildup of RRSP contribution room because you've been unable to make regular contributions to your RRSP, or just because you're a procrastinator?  If you're considering borrowing to contribute to an RRSP, read our article first, then check out the Borrow for RRSPs Calculator.

Maximize Your RRSPs or TFSAs, and Start as Young as Possible!

Our table shows what a huge difference it makes to start contributing early to RRSPs or TFSAs.  March 1, 2017 is the deadline for contributing to an RRSP for the 2016 tax year.

Rule of 72 Calculator

The Rule of 72 is very simple - divide 72 by your rate of return to find out how many years it would take to double your investment.  At a 9% rate of return, it would take 8 years.  Our calculator lets you input a rate to determine the number of years to double your investment, or you can input the number of years to determine the approximate rate required to double your investment.

Final RRSP Excess Contribution to RRSP at age 71

If you have earned income in 2017, this generates RRSP contribution room for 2018. If you are turning 71 in 2017, you can only use this room to contribute to the RRSP of a younger spouse or by making an excess contribution to your own RRSP in 2017, because your RRSP must be converted to a RRIF by the end of the year. The excess contribution should be done in December to minimize the penalty. We're putting this out there now so you can plan ahead.

Income Splitting

There are several ways of splitting income, either with a spouse or child.  Two methods of splitting income with a spouse, pension splitting and transfer of Canadian dividends to a spouse, are done only on the tax return.

Foreign Property Reporting

Do you own foreign property with a cost exceeding $100,000 Canadian at any time 2016?  If so, you (Canadian resident individual, corporation, certain trusts or partnerships) will have to file the T1135 foreign income verification report.  The penalties for not filing are onerous. Types of foreign property include securities, real estate, life insurance policies, and more.  Learn what is included and how to complete the T1135.  If your foreign real estate had additions/renovations done that were capital in nature, did this increase the adjusted cost base to over $100,000 Canadian?

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption / Deduction

The maximum lifetime capital gains exemption (LCGE) for the sale of qualified small business corporation shares is $835,714 for 2017.  For qualified farming or fishing property the maximum is $1 million.  Planning ahead is absolutely necessary if you're hoping to claim this exemption in the future!

Transferring Shares to an RRSP

You can transfer shares from a non-registered account to your RRSP in order to make your contribution.  If you transfer shares on which there is a loss, the loss will not be deductible.  If you transfer shares on which there is a gain, you will have a taxable capital gain.

BC 2018 Budget - February 21, 2017

The budget announced major changes to MSP, a reduction in the small business corporate income tax rate, extension to the education tax credit for 2017, reduction of the PST rate on electricity, and many other changes.

BC 2018 MSP Rates

Effective January 1, 2018, the premium rates for those with adjusted family net income of $120,000 and less will be reduced by 50%, and the threshold for elimination of premiums is increased from $24,000 to $26,000.  However, it will be necessary to apply for the reduction, for those who have not already applied for premium assistance.

For Which Province Do I File A Tax Return?

Usually, a person files a tax return for the province in which they are residing on December 31 of the tax year, even if they worked in another province.

Detailed Canadian Income Tax and RRSP Savings Calculator Revisions

The Canadian Tax Calculator now includes the Family Caregiver Amount for infirm dependent minor children and spouses, the Infirm Dependant Amount for age 18+, and the Caregiver Amount for either parents/grandparents living with you, or dependent infirm adult relatives living with you.

Barter and Bitcoin Transactions

Barter and Bitcoin transactions can result in taxable income, and in PST and GST/HST payable.

Reporting the Sale of a Principal Residence

Starting with the 2016 taxation year, the sale of a principal residence must be reported on the tax return, even if it is 100% eligible for the principal residence.  When there is more than one owner, each will report their share of the sale.

BC Provincial Debt

The table of BC Provincial Debt has been updated to March 31, 2016.  It includes debt-to-GDP ratios and debt per person from 1997 to 2016.

New Brunswick 2017 Budget February 7, 2017

The New Brunswick small business corporate income tax rate will be reduced from 3.5% to 3.0% effective April 1, 2017.  There were no personal income tax changes announced.

NetFile of Tax Returns

NetFile will be open for transmissions on February 20, 2017 until January 19, 2018 for filing of 2013 to 2016 personal income tax returns.  EFile is also available starting February 20, 2017.

Multiple Lump-Sum Withdrawals From RRSP or RRIF

You may try to keep your withholding tax rate lower by taking a series of lump sum withdrawals from your RRSP or RRIF, instead of withdrawing one larger amount.  However, you may not be successful in keeping the withholding tax rate lower.

Investment Return Calculator

The investment return calculator will provide you the % return and the annualized % return on an investment account, a portfolio, or a single investment.  It will now retain data for you on your computer so you don't have to re-enter everything the next time you use it.

January 2017

Deductible Employment Expenses

Expenses that are paid to earn employment income are sometimes deductible, including any GST/HST that was paid on them.  This can only be done if your employer requires you to pay the expenses, and either you didn't receive reimbursement for the expenses, or the amount you did receive is included in your income.  Form T2200 must be completed by your employer in order to claim employment expenses.

2017 Sales Tax Rates

The 2017 sales tax rates have not changed from 2016.  That may change, however, when budgets are tabled.

Canada's Debt by Political Party

From March 31 to November 30, 2016, Canada's interest-bearing debt increased by $31.95 billion, almost as much as it increased in the 10 years ending March 31, 2016.  Unfortunately, it appears that Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is taking us into a spiral of debt, as was done by Pierre Trudeau in the 1970's and 1980's.  We are now paying $2 billion per month in interest, at historically low interest rates!

What Types of Income are not Taxable?

Some types of income are not taxable, and some must be included in the tax return even if they are not taxable.

RRSP Home Buyer's Plan

The Home Buyer's Plan (HBP) allows you to borrow funds from your RRSP to buy or build a qualifying home.

Life in the Tax Lane - February 2017 Video

Topics this month: Trump tax proposals may affect Canadians; Director liability; Cell phones - employment expense? taxable benefit?; GST/HST compliance letters; New CRA online services for tax preparers.

US Estate Tax May be Payable by Canadians

Some Canadians may have to file a US estate tax return and possibly pay US estate tax, depending on US assets owned at the time of death, including real estate, stocks, etc.

US Federal Estate Tax Calculator

The US Federal Estate Tax Calculator has been updated for 2017.

Locked-in Funds Maximum Withdrawals for 2017

The table of factors for 2017 maximum withdrawals from federally-regulated plans is available on the website of the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).

Caregiver Amount

If you have a parent or grandparent over the age of 65 living with you, even if they are not your dependent you could be eligible for the caregiver amount, depending on their net income. This can also be claimed for dependent relatives over the age of 17 who are living with you, if they are dependent on you due to mental or physical impairment. Each province and territory also has a caregiver tax credit.

Moving Expenses

If you moved at least 40km to be closer to a new job, to run a business, or to attend a post-secondary educational institute full time, then you may deduct moving expenses, up to the amount you earn at the new location, or up to the amount of taxable award or scholarship income received in the year.

Historical Returns on Investments - Stocks, Bonds, T-Bills

It was an exceptional year for the S&P/TSX, and a good year for the S&P 500.  However, the S&P 500 return in Canadian dollars was less than in US dollars because the Canadian dollar increased in value against the US dollar.  See the historical returns for 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 years, and how much $1,000 invested at the beginning of the period in various investment types are worth at the end of the period.  Over the past 10 years one would be losing money after inflation by investing in Canadian 3-month T-bills or Canadian government 1-3 year bonds.

Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) Minimum Withdrawals

There is no withdrawal necessary in the year a RRIF is set up, but there are minimum amounts that must be withdrawn annually starting in the year after setup.

RRIF Minimum Withdrawal Prescribed Factors

The prescribed factor for your 2017 withdrawal from a RRIF will depend on your age at the beginning of 2017.  This is your age, or the age of a younger spouse, on December 31st, 2016.

RRSP/RRIF Withdrawal Calculator

Use our RRSP/RRIF calculator to project your earnings and withdrawals from your RRIF for the next 40 years.

Tax Treatment of Income from Mutual Funds

It's important to track the adjusted cost base (ACB) for each of your Canadian mutual funds, so you don't pay too much tax when you sell.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) Reinvested Distributions

Reinvested distributions are not paid in cash, are taxable, but also increase your adjusted cost base so that your capital gain is less when you sell.  These distributions may not be identified on your T3 - how to find the information you need!

BC Home Owner Grant Threshold Increased

The BC home owner grant threshold is being increased from $1.2 million to $1.6 million for 2017 property tax payments.  The grant amount is $570 ($845 for seniors) for residents of the CRD, GVRD and FVRD, and $770 ($1,045 for seniors) for residents of other areas.  A low income grant supplement can reduce property taxes further for seniors, people with disabilities, and surviving spouses of veterans who received war veterans allowance, if adjusted net income is $32,000 or less.

RRSP vs Mortgage Calculator

The RRSP vs Mortgage (or other loan) calculator, which now uses 2017 tax rates, helps you to decide whether to increase your monthly loan payment, or contribute the extra monthly amount to an RRSP.  When in doubt, pay down your debt!

Filing Your Return - Income, Deductions, Tax Credits

See our articles on filing your tax return and how this can be done, as well as articles about different types of taxable income, deductions and tax credits, and many other topics.

2016 Tax Return

The 2016 tax return forms are available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.  Software packages for filing 2016 tax returns are also available, although they may have further updates to come.  If you are using a professional tax preparer, make sure you provide them with all the necessary information as early as possible.

TFSA vs RRSP Calculator

This calculator, which now includes 2017 tax rates and TFSA/RRSP limits, may be able to help you decide which type of account is better for you.

Borrowing to Invest in Stocks

Before borrowing, you should read our article.  Novice investors should not borrow to invest.  Borrowing to invest can convert regular income into tax-efficient dividend income and capital gains.

Borrow to Invest Calculator

The Borrow to Invest Calculator has been updated to use 2017 income tax rates.

Tax Return Due Date

Most 2016 personal income tax returns have a due date of May 1, 2017, because April 30th falls on a Sunday.  Self-employed individuals have until June 15th to file their personal tax returns, but any amounts owing must still be paid by May 1st

Reporting Foreign Income and Expenses on the Tax Return

All income and expenses must be reported on your tax return in Canadian dollars, converted either at the transaction date exchange rate, or the average exchange rate for the year.  The average US exchange rate for 2016 is 1.32480640.

Transfer Shares to Your Registered Account, but not at a Loss!

If you want to make an in-kind contribution of shares to your RRSP, TFSA or another registered account, make sure they are not shares on which you have a loss, because the loss will not be deductible.  Also be careful if you are going to sell them and then repurchase them in your registered account - read our article!

  See also Prior Years:

What's New 2016

What's New 2015

What's New 2014

What's New 2013

What's New 2012

What's New 2011

What's New 2010

What's New 2009

What's New 2008

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Revised: April 27, 2017



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