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February 2017

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.

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: February 27, 2017



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