In Canada, our system is unique to the individual, and tax obligations are based on each person's allowable deductions and credits. Knowing what to include is often difficult for filers because, across Canada, confusion about taxes persists. Knowing how influential taxes were in the election, let's make sure we understand what is out there and available.
Last week, Canadian government plans for keeping better track of people coming and going from the U.S. were revealed. The driving purpose for the increased scrutiny will save the government millions of dollars in social benefits on those who shouldn't receive them because they are out of the country.
As expected, the court challenge to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) by two Canadians failed to stop the flow of information between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) happening in the last half of September. Lawyers for the Canadians argued that the agreement was an unlawful use of the tax treaty and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedom and was unconstitutional but a Federal Court judge disagreed.
Under the FATCA rules, financial institutions are obligated to provide the IRS with information about accounts and holdings of U.S. citizens. Basically, the IRS is trying to make sure you are not hiding money overseas though Canada is hardly a tax haven. But there is more to this overreaching legislation that just tracking down deadbeat U.S. citizens.
The CRA conducts random reviews over the summer months to make sure that people are claiming their credits correctly. These requests from the CRA are not audits -- they are simply requests for supporting paperwork. However, some taxpayers will receive a Notice of Reassessment usually with an amount owing.
While the extension is good news for anybody who might have left their tax filing to the last minute, it demonstrates that mistakes can happen fairly easily. If the almighty taxman can miss updating a date on a memo then it's completely fathomable that we might make a few errors when it comes to our taxes. But tax mistakes can be costly.
If you don't owe, you may not feel any pressure to file but getting your tax return completed on time makes good financial sense. If you miss your tax filing deadline, you are immediately hit with a five per cent penalty on whatever you owe. It may be easy to put it off and file later, but you should remember that a tax refund is your money.
Everyone has their own style when it comes to filing their tax returns. You can file yourself, or use a tax pro, but make sure you file by the deadline. No matter how you choose to do your return, you want to make sure you are claiming all of the credits and deductions available so you don't pay any more tax than needed.
A report released today by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre calls for sweeping reform of Canadian charitable law in line with other jurisdictions such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and England. Current rules around "political activity" are confusing and create an "intolerable state of uncertainty," the report says.