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If You're 65 or Over, There's a Tax Credit With Your Name on it

04/24/2014 11:59 EDT | Updated 06/24/2014 05:59 EDT

According to Intuit's Canadian Tax Index, since early March the number of seniors filing their taxes with TurboTax Online has increased a remarkable sevenfold. This is striking growth clearly indicates that a significant number of aging Canadians feel empowered and confident to not only file their taxes themselves, but online with tax software.

As the boomer generation ages, I expect to see this number grow considerably. In fact, Intuit is already partnering with leading organizations like the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) to inspire aging Canadians to take control of their taxes with tax software. As part of this program, we've been sharing a number of tax-filing best practices with its members to ensure they're maximizing their tax refund.

Here are some of the top income tax tips we're sharing with seniors this season:

  • The Age Amount: While this may sound ominous, it's the most relevant deduction to Canadians that are 65 or older. If you made less than $80,256 in 2013, you can claim this deduction on your return, and if you can't take advantage of the full amount, this non-refundable credit can be transferred to your spouse.
  • Pension Income Amount: If you are retired and earning your income through eligible pension, superannuation or annuity payments, you may be able to claim up to $2,000 of the reported amount. Remember that there are several types of eligible pension income once you turn 65. Not sure if you qualify? You can visit the Canada Revenue Agency website for more information.
  • Split Your Pension: Did you know you can split your pension with your spouse or common-law partner? Splitting your pension if one partner has a higher income can reduce the amount of income tax owed, and it's easy to figure out using tax software like TurboTax.
  • Medical and Disability: Add medical expenses to your tax return and claim three per cent of your net income or $2,052. Just make sure you hold on to your receipts. Those with disabilities are also eligible for the disability tax deduction. If this applies to you, make sure that you check out the CRA website for information on eligibility and to complete the Disability Tax Credit Certificate.
  • Credits for Care: If you provide care to a spouse or common-law partner who is mentally or physically impaired, you are eligible to claim $2,040 for the Family Caregiver Amount. Attendant care in your home or at a retirement home can also be claimed.
  • Home Improvement: As you get older, that two-story home might not be as practical as it used to be. Ontario residents who are 65 or older are eligible for the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit. You can claim up to $10,000 of renovation expenses spent to improve your quality of life. Expenses include walk-in bathtubs, wheelchair ramps and even motion-sensor lighting.

Finally, I'll offer one last piece of advice for the snowbirds out there, who I'm particularly jealous of after this winter: Don't forget you may be subject to taxes in the United States. If you reside in the U.S. for 183 days or more in one year, or for an average of 120 days over three consecutive years, U.S. tax laws will apply to you.

While, tax season can sometimes seem daunting, don't be afraid to take your tax return into your own hands, like the 6 per cent who already have. I can't express how thrilled I am knowing that many aging Canadians feel this empowered and equipped to file online. It's awesome.

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