Beyond payroll: Tax season tips

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This is the second of two articles discussing some benefits available to employees or employers when filing their tax returns, some of which are not so obvious.
Goods and Services Tax Credit (GST) – This is a tax-free quarterly payment -  available to families or individuals with modest incomes. In the case of families the joint income is taken into consideration, and only one spouse can receive the payments. The credit has to be applied for each year when filing your tax return. You can apply for retroactive payments in the event you forgot to file for the payment in the previous year.
First-Time Donor’s Super Credit – For anyone (includes a spouse in a family relationship) who has not made a charitable donation since 2007, the Federal Charitable donation tax credit increases by 25 percentage points.  The donation must be made of money after March 20, 2013 and can be claimed only once by the taxpayer or spouse for the tax years 2013 to 2017. The credit is for 40% of donations of $200 or less, and 54% for the portion of donations over $200 but less than $1,000.
Caregiver amount and Family Caregiver Tax Credit – There is an amount you may claim if you or you and another person maintained a residence where you and the person you cared for lived (not a spouse or common-law partner), you may be able to claim up to $4,490 based on specific rules. In addition, the family Caregiver tax credit may also be claimed for those families who care for infirm relatives.
Adoption Expense Tax Credit – changes were made in the 2013 budget enhancing the credit, enabling parents to claim additional costs not previously allowed, such as fees for provincially required home studies and mandatory adoption courses.
Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit – This is a non-refundable tax credit equal to 10% of the eligible salaries and waged paid to eligible apprentices up to a maximum of $2,000 per apprentice. An eligible apprentice is someone who is working in a prescribed trade for the first two years of the apprenticeship.
Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit – You can claim an amount of $3,000 if you have performed at least  200 hours of service a year as a volunteer firefighter. The hours recognized include not only time spent responding to calls for firefighting or emergency calls as a firefighter, but also time attending meetings held by the fire department and participating in training related to fire suppression.
Tradespersons’ Deduction for tools –  A tradesperson and an apprentice mechanic may be able to deduct up to $500 for eligible tools purchased to earn employment income, and the costs include GST/HST paid.
Long-Haul Truck Drivers Meal expenses –  Typically, meals expenses incurred when travelling on business are only deductible up to 50% of the costs incurred, but for long-haul truck drivers the deductible portion is 80%
  • Bill Smyth CPA, FCGA, FCPA
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