The end of 2017 is fast approaching, and while we look to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the New Year, there's one niggling thing that will always bring us back to the past: taxes. So, before you belt out your best rendition of Auld Lang Syne, here are some tips from H&R Block to make sure you aren't visited by ghosts of tax seasons past.
Hello calendar, my old friend
Agendas are so in right now — it has never been more fashionable to carry around one that reflects your interests and personality — all while helping you stay organized. With a new agenda in tow, add in all relevant tax-related dates now so they don't sneak up on you. For example, February 26: this is the day the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will open. It's the latest opening in Canadian history, and means Canadians will have a shorter window to file taxes. April 30, 2018 and June 15, 2018 are also key dates: they're the deadlines for filing 2017 personal tax returns, the latter if you're self-employed.
Organization is in style
Slips, receipts and documents, oh my! You've already been collecting bills, tuition receipts, transit passes, charitable contribution receipts and health expenses this year, but where do you keep them? It literally pays (in the form of a tax refund!) to be organized, so make sure to keep all receipts in an easy-to-find space, with tabs to separate by category, and make your filing that much easier. If you're not a fan of keeping physical copies, or just don't have the room, there are electronic storage methods out there too.
Brush up on tax law changes
No tax season is ever the same. There are always new tax law changes to be aware of that could impact your return. Last year, the government announced the elimination of the Public Transit Amount for example, so no need to hang onto your public transit receipts anymore. The Children's Fitness and Arts Tax Credit were also eliminated for the upcoming tax season.
'Tis the season for many business owners to celebrate what was hopefully a successful year and reward their employees for a job well done. While many bosses across Canada are busy making a list and checking it twice to prepare for holiday bonuses, it's important for both the employer and employee to know which year-end gifts and celebrations come with tax implications.
Many Canadians don't realize that gifts from an employer over a certain value — whether it's a gift card, a vacation or a cash bonus — could be a taxable benefit. Employers are eligible to give up to $500 of non-cash gifts in a year before it becomes taxable. If more than $500 is given, the difference will be added to their employment income on their T4 slips. And what about those infamous holiday work parties? As long as the entire staff is invited and the event does not exceed $100/person —not including the cost of any extras such as taxi fare home or overnight accommodations — then you're in the clear.
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To ensure you claim all the tax credits you qualify for, find out how things like your medical condition or living circumstances can affect your tax situation. For example, you can claim benefits for taking care of a loved one who is suffering from an illness or has a disability. Also, did you experience a major life event such as buying a home, getting married or having a child? These are all things that you can discuss with an H&R Block representative to determine if you are eligible for additional benefits, and head in to 2018 with a better idea of what your tax situation might be.
While filing taxes might give you a lot to think about, following these tips is a great way to end the year with your mind at ease and be ready to dive right in to tax season come the New Year.
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