Special to the Financial Independence Hub
It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the saying ‘a little preparation goes a long way’. And that is especially true when it comes to filing your taxes – I can attest to that after years of counselling clients and ensuring they get what’s theirs each tax season.
Below are five ways to help you ease the burden with some simple end-of-year preparation tax tips that will help you maximize your returns and get ready for the upcoming tax season.
1.) Keep a calendar with key dates
Because timing is everything, keep a calendar with key tax filing dates. The deadline for filing your 2016 personal tax return is May 1, 2017 and June 15, 2017 for the self-employed. You can begin preparing your return once your T4s and other slips arrive. Also, try to keep up with important dates that can increase your chances of receiving a larger refund. For example, by scheduling health-related treatments before the end of the year you can maximize your medical expense deduction.
2.) Ask questions
To make sure you claim all the tax credits you qualify for, find out how major life events you may have had over the year can affect your tax situation. Getting medical attention and taking care of a loved one who is suffering from an illness or has a disability are some examples of events that you can claim benefits for. Also, did you have a child, contribute to charity, or even have a loss in the stock market? These are all questions you can ask an H&R Block representative to determine if you are eligible for additional benefits.
3.) Stay organized
It is never too early to begin preparing for tax season so make sure you stay organized as you gather all your slips and receipts. Try to sort and label your income slips separately like T4 slips, T4E slips for employment insurance benefits and stock transaction slips. Then, bring together supporting documents like bills, tuition and education receipts, transit pass receipts, childcare expenses, charitable contribution receipts and other major expenses. Remember not all of them arrive by mail so don’t forget to check your emails as well as online service accounts and print any online documents.
4.) Decide on your filing method
When it comes to filing, there are numerous tax preparation firms across the country that can offer support, with more than 1,200 H&R Block offices alone. Increasingly, online DIY tax filing has become popular among Canadians. H&R Block Personal Tax Software allows you to import data from another tax file while providing tips, resources, and help on how to complete your tax refund. As we’re increasingly a mobile-centric world, H&R Block’s tax software is mobile-optimized.
Weigh the retail and online DIY options against your time, requirements, and investment to find out which works best for you.
5.) Know who should file
If you are a newcomer to Canada, know that all Canadian residents are required to file their taxes regardless of their citizenship. So if you have arrived here under a refugee status, you are also required to file your taxes. Also, if you are a Canadian resident with little or no income, not filing a tax return means you will be missing out on some benefits that you may be entitled to, like the quarterly GST/HST credit or the Canada Child Tax Benefit. So get filing!
Caroline Battista is a senior tax analyst at H&R Block. She joined H&R Block as a tax professional in January 2008, after leaving behind a career in the film industry. Promoted to Senior Tax Analyst in 2014, Caroline continues to support the field as a tax instructor and acts as H&R Block’s national spokesperson. She provides commentary on tax law changes and regulatory developments as well as translating tax into simple language.