This time of year can be taxing: Tips for getting the most out of your return

This time of year can be taxing: Tips for getting the most out of your return

Tax season is here and CRA says there are a few things you should know before you get your documents together.

CRA spokesperson Dawn Kennedy says her top tip is one she repeats every year: take advantage of every possible credit and deduction you can.

"Track the income you have. Track the deductions that you can take. Take those credits, take those deductions and just make sure you are not missing anything," she told CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier in an interview Wednesday.

Medical expenses are often overlooked, such as a new medical tax credit offered this year, she said.

"It's to help with the care and maintenance and cost of service animals, specifically for people with severe mental impairment," Kennedy said.

Some expenses overlooked

Another common expense which can be claimed but often slips by taxpayers is moving expenses.

"Moving expenses would be a common one if you moved closer to work or school, that's one that is fairly common that people may not know about," said Kennedy.

Child-care expenses can also be claimed.

"If you have to put your child in daycare to allow you to go to school or work that's another one," Kennedy said.

There are deductions for investments you can claim.

"Such as RRSP's you may not be aware you can take as well," she said.

Help available 

Kennedy pointed out some services CRA makes available to help with tax stress.

"We do have an app, a CRA app that lets you view and pay your account balances online," said Kennedy.

"We do have email notifications that we can send you and that helps protect you as well and lets you know what is going on with your account, so you can avoid some of those scam calls that do come in."

The CRA telephone service has also changed to make it easier to reach the agency, she said. 

She recommends taxpayers keep supporting documents for six years as proof of credits claimed.

"But you can go back 10 years to ask us to fix your tax return. So, not just the credits that are out this year, but any in the last ten years."

Deadline approaching

April 30 is the deadline for Canadians to file their tax return.

"That is so we can calculate your benefits and credits on time so if you are entitled to anything such as the GST or the Canada Child Benefit that we have time to calculate that for you so you don't miss those payments starting in July.

Some people may need help with their taxes but may not be able to afford a tax professional. Kennedy suggested people or families with modest income use CRA's Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, a collaboration among community partners, volunteers and the CRA.

Modest income is defined by CRA on its free tax clinic website — for example a family of three with income $47,500 or less would be eligible. 

"They can come in have their documents with them, get their tax returns done for free," said Kennedy.

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