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Wondering how to get more money back on taxes in Canada? Read on to learn all about the essential tax deductions and tax credits in Canada, as well as how to take advantage of all the tax benefits in Canada.

Although April 30 is usually the deadline for filing taxes in Canada, I’m always eager to get my tax return prepared within the first 60 days of the year. It allows me to figure out where I stand with the “tax man,” while still giving me ample time to make smart tax planning moves to maximize my tax refund (and minimize what I owe the government).

Most tax planning is fairly straightforward. You’re already taking advantage of the best tax shelters if you own your home and contribute to an RRSP, TFSA, and RESP. But the big question on everyone’s mind is: how to get more money back on taxes in Canada?

To get the most out of your tax return, it’s important to understand that there are two main ways to reduce your taxes owing: (1) tax deductions and (2) tax credits. Unfortunately, many Canadians aren’t aware of all the tax deductions in Canada, or what can you claim on your taxes, leading them to lose out. This article explains everything you need to know about tax deductions and tax credits in Canada, as well as how to take advantage of the tax benefits in Canada.

Step 1: Maximize Your Tax Deductions

A tax deduction reduces your taxable income. The value of a deduction depends on your marginal tax rate. We have a progressive tax system in Canada with different tax brackets for different levels of income. Your marginal rate is the rate of tax incurred on each additional dollar of income.

The chart below shows the federal tax rates for 2020 and will help illustrate the point below:

Taxable IncomeFederal Tax Rate
$0 to $48,535 15%
$48,536 to $97,06920.5%
$97,070 to $150,47326%
$150,474 to $214,36829%
$214,369 and up33%

Let’s say you have a taxable income of more than $214,369. That means your marginal federal rate is 33% and a $1,000 tax deduction would save you $330 in federal tax.

On the other hand, if you earn less than $48,535, then you are taxed at the federal rate of just 15% and a tax deduction of $1,000 would only save you $150 in federal tax.

Here are the best ways to reduce your taxable income with tax deductions:

1. RRSP as Immediate Tax Relief 

Any Canadian who has earned income should file a tax return and start building RRSP contribution room. You can contribute 18% of your earned income from the previous year (up to yearly maximum limits), and the contribution room carries forward indefinitely. Canadians put money into RRSPs to primarily save for retirement, but the contribution also provides immediate tax relief – reducing taxable income by the amount of your contribution.

You’re allowed to contribute to your RRSP in the first 60 days of the calendar year and apply the deduction to your prior year’s tax return. That gives smart tax planners a window to maximize their tax deductions by making an RRSP contribution during this period. A good rule is to contribute to your RRSP when your income is high – say more than $50,000 per year – otherwise, it might make sense to prioritize the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA).

For instance, I use TurboTax during the first 60 days of the year to enter all of my prior year’s tax information and determine how much I owe (if anything). If a big tax bill is on the horizon, I’ll use an RRSP calculator to determine how much I’ll need to contribute to an RRSP to reduce my taxes owing to zero.

Opening an account and making a contribution is just the first step to building a retirement nest egg in your RRSP. You’ll want to invest that money in an appropriate mix of stocks and bonds to build wealth for the future. A great option is to open an RRSP investing account with a robo-advisor to save on management fees and let the robo advisor do the work of monitoring and rebalancing your portfolio – at a much lower fee than what traditional financial advisors and mutual funds charge. Our top choice is Wealthsimple, but if you want to compare robo advisors in Canada head-to-head, read our Complete Guide to the Best Robo Advisors in Canada.

Now is a great time to sign up because Wealthsimple is offering Young and Thrifty readers an exclusive deal: get a $75 cash bonus when you open and fund a new Wealthsimple Invest account with $1000 within 45 days.

Get $75 when you open a Wealthsimple Invest account!

Pro tip: Do you know approximately how much you’ll contribute to your RRSP this year? Skip the refund at tax time and keep more of your money in your pocket by filling out a T1213 – Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source. This will reduce the tax deductions on your paycheque.

2. Deduct Child Care Expenses

Childcare has quickly become one of the largest household expenses for young families. Thankfully, the CRA allows you to claim these expenses as a tax deduction on your tax return.

In most cases, childcare expenses must be claimed by the parent with the lower net income.

Basic limit for childcare expenses

  • Eligible children born in 2012 or later = $8,000
  • Number of eligible children born in 2002 to 2011 = $5,000

Pro tip: In addition to the usual fees from daycares or in-home providers, most overnight camps and summer day camps are also eligible for the childcare deduction.

3. Deduct Moving Expenses

You can deduct reasonable moving expenses if you’ve relocated for a new job or to attend a post-secondary program at a university, a college, or another educational institution. The home will need to be at least 40 kilometres closer to your new place of employment or school. Moving expenses may include:

  • Vehicle expenses, accommodations, and meals for your family
  • Any fees incurred for changing your address on documents
  • The cost of utility hookups and disconnections
  • Title transfer costs for your new home

An Ottawa man recently tested CRA’s limits by moving his belongings in a canoe – and he won.

Other Eligible Tax Deductions:

  • Union or professional dues
  • Support payments
  • Employment expenses (w/ T2200)
  • Carrying charges or interest expense to earn business or investment income

Pro tip: You can also deduct the costs of maintaining a vacant former residence.

Step 2: Maximize Your Tax Credits

Tax credits are different than tax deductions and come in two flavours: refundable and non-refundable.

  • A non-refundable tax credit is applied directly against your tax payable. That means if you have tax owing of $500 and get a tax credit of $100, you now only owe $400. If you don’t owe any tax, non-refundable credits are of no benefit.
  • A refundable tax credit, such as the GST/HST credit, means you will receive the credit even if you have no tax owing.

Here are the best ways to take advantage of tax credits:

  • Basic Personal Amount: Every Canadian resident is entitled to claim the basic personal amount on his or her tax return. For 2019, the basic personal amount is $12,069. What this means is that instead of paying taxes on your entire income, you’ll just be taxed on the remaining income once the basic personal amount has been applied. In other words, think of it as your first $12,069 worth of income being considered tax-free or tax-exempt.

  • Spousal Amount: If you support your spouse or common-law partner, and their net income is less than $12,069, you can claim all or a portion of the spousal amount ($12,069). The amount is reduced by any net income earned by the spouse. The spousal amount can only be claimed by one person for the spouse or common-law partner.

  • Age Amount: The Age Amount tax credit is available to individuals aged 65 or older (at the end of the taxation year). The federal age amount for 2019 is $7,494. This amount is reduced by 15% of income exceeding a threshold amount of $37,790 and is eliminated when income exceeds $87,750. The tax credit is calculated using the lowest tax rate (15% federally), so the maximum federal tax credit is $1,124 for 2019. The age amount can be transferred to the spouse if the individual claiming this credit cannot utilize the entire amount before reducing taxes to zero.

Other Eligible Tax Credits:

  • Volunteer firefighter or Search & Rescue details
  • Adoption expenses
  • Interest paid on student loans
  • Tuition and education amounts
  • (T2202, TL11A), and exam fees
  • Medical expenses (including details of insurance reimbursements)
  • Donations or political contributions

Step 3: Amend Prior Tax Returns

Did you know you can amend tax returns up to 10 years back to trigger a refund from a prior year? Perhaps you’ve missed tax credits or deductions from prior years – it’s easy to do, and I’m sure most of us have made simple mistakes on our tax return.

The good news is that you can easily adjust your tax return by completing a form called T1-ADJ (T1 Adjustment Request). Note that you may be able to make changes online with the “Change my return” service available in CRA’s My Account. Make sure you’re amending a prior return and not filing a second tax return for that year.

Here are a few other commonly missed tax deductions and credits that can put more money back into your wallet:

  • Brokerage fees. Fees paid for stocks that were bought or sold in your non-registered account in the past 10 years can be deducted on your tax return. Better yet, open an account with Questrade and don’t pay any fees for ETF purchases.
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  • Capital losses. If you sold shares in a stock or ETF for less than the price you paid, you should record the capital loss for that year even if there are no capital gains in the same year to offset it. That’s because a capital loss can be carried forward to future years and eventually be used to offset any capital gains in the future.

  • Caregiver amount. This is credit is available for individuals who had their mother or father move in with them and needed to care for them. Note that there is a maximum income requirement for the mother or father in order for you to be eligible to claim this credit.

  • Disability amount – If you have a child born with a severe disability you can get a credit for the disability amount. You must get your doctor to fill out a certificate confirming the diagnosis.

  • Tuition credits. If you have a child attending post-secondary you can transfer up to $5,000 per year of his or her tuition credits to yourself. This is useful because the student likely won’t have an income high enough to use all of the credits.

  • Charitable donations. Any charitable donations should be combined between spouses in order to maximize this credit (the percentage of credit is higher for any donation over $200). For donations made after March 20, 2013 until the end of 2017, eligible first-time donors may get an additional federal tax credit of 25% on the first $1,000 they donate (the first-time donor’s super credit). 2017 was the final year that you may be eligible to claim this credit.

Step 4: Use Online Tax Software

These days, you can DIY your own tax return and save a bundle on tax filing fees. Online tax software, like TurboTax (our top choice), make it easy: you can instantly import tax information from the Canada Revenue Agency with Auto-Fill My Return. The software includes a complete list of tax deductions to make it easy for customers to find the deductions that apply to them.

Once your information is entered, a review section offers suggestions on credits and deductions that may apply to your situation, as well as ones that definitely apply. The software then guides you back through your tax return and helps apply the recommendation(s).

The bottom line? TurboTax offers a cheap and easy way to file your taxes and get the most out of your tax return. Whether you’ve got a straightforward tax return or a complicated one involving business income and expenses, TurboTax has a software suited to your needs at an affordable price. In particular, TurboTax Self-Employed is the only software in Canada that is designed specifically for people with self-employed income and provides expert guidance specific to these individuals. If you’ve got questions, TurboTax Free customers can upgrade to a paid option that includes full guidance, interview-based profiling, and other features.

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Final Thoughts

For most of us, the best way for us to get more out of our tax return is to contribute to an RRSP. You have until March 2nd, 2020 to make RRSP contributions that can be used for the 2019 tax year. However, there are reasons why not everyone should contribute to an RRSP and should look at a TFSA instead.

Other than that, look into eligible tax deductions, such as childcare and moving expenses, and tax credits, such as the basic amount, spousal amount, and age amount, to find legitimate ways to reduce your taxes owing. Don’t forget to comb through your records for eligible expenses that you may have missed claiming on previous years’ tax returns. You can go back up to 10 years and file an amendment with CRA.

Lastly file your taxes using reputable online tax preparation software, like TurboTax. With TurboTax, it’s not only incredibly affordable but the software also automatically catches any deductions and loopholes to maximize your tax refund. And that’s something worth spending money on!

Article comments

137 comments
Chris says:

I am curious as to the benefits of having extra taxes deducted from my paycheque each pay. Will this benefit me or would the extra $50 be better off going into rrsp contributions?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Chris, you wouldn’t want extra taxes deducted from your paycheque unless for some reason your employer is not deducting enough tax and leaves you owing a big bill at tax time. So, first, let’s start with the assumption that your employer is taking the appropriate taxes from your cheque. Then, let’s assume you know for sure you’ll be contributing $600/month to your RRSP.

You could fill out the T1213 form – Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source – and tell the CRA that you’ll be contributing $5k to your RRSP this year, which will reduce your net income by $5k. They’ll in turn tell your employer to deduct taxes based on a net income that’s $5k less than your salary, leaving more money in your pocket each month, but no big refund at tax time (that’s a good thing).

Jodi says:

Can I claim my gas on my taxes? I have to drive 63 Km one way for work. Simple solution would be to move to the town I work in but I just can’t afford the rent in the town it’s crazy so I drive back and forth everyday and I spend a lot of money on gas.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Jodi, you’d either need to be self-employed or if, for example, you are a commissioned salesperson who’s required to use your car and spend your own money on expenses. Long commutes, unfortunately, are not tax deductible.

Ann says:

Wow great content! I rarely subscribe to blogs but this article is so helpful that I did.

Hope I can still as a question. Re Charity/ donations. I don’t understand the concept. How can it benefit your taxes when you are also shelling out some money.

Does it lower your your bracket? How will you know what amount you need to contribute for it to benefit your taxes?

Thank you!

Robb Engen says:

Hi Ann, thanks for the kind words. It’s important to remember that charitable donations give you a tax credit, not a tax deduction. And, you’re right, you are still donating your money to charity so if you give $200 to the United Way, you’ll get a federal tax credit of 15% ($30), plus a provincial tax credit depending on where you live.

Donating to charity should be about supporting a cause you are passionate about, first, with the added benefit of a tax deduction second.

Joseph says:

I m working overseas and my income go to USA account, I have expenses overseas due to my working (consultant), Can I deduct all my expenses related with my job (I have contract with one company overseas but as lump sum) I payed taxes overseas, it works as deductions ? Thxs

Robb Engen says:

Hi Joseph, that sounds like a complicated situation and you could benefit from some professional tax advice from an accountant who specializes in this sort of thing. You’re not going to get the best advice for your own personal and unique circumstances in the comment section of a blog post.

Dave says:

I am a personal trainer, I’m using my basement as a gym where I train people. What are the things I can claim during income taxes.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Dave, according to CRA you can deduct expenses for the business use of a workspace in your home, as long as you meet one of the following conditions:

– it is your principal place of business
– you use the space only to earn your business income, and you use it on a regular and ongoing basis to meet your clients, customers, or patients

As for what to deduct, you can claim part of your maintenance costs such as heating, home insurance, electricity, and cleaning materials. You can also claim part of your property taxes, mortgage interest, and capital cost allowance (CCA).

To calculate the part you can deduct, use a reasonable basis, such as the area of the workspace divided by the total area of your home.

Adam Sidd says:

Hi, Can I claim moving expenses incurred in 2014? I moved within Canada due to employment.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Adam, here is my understanding from CRA:

If your net moving expenses that you paid in the year of the move are more than the net eligible income earned at the new work location in that same year, you can carry forward and deduct the unused part of those expenses from your employment or self-employment income earned at the new work location in the following years.

Best to call CRA for clarification.

Sundga says:

Hi,

Is filing TD1 necessary to fill when you join a new job? What are the advantages and disadvantages

Robb Engen says:

Hi Sundga, you should fill one out (or should be asked to do so by your employer) otherwise they’ll assume you’ll just claim the basic personal amount. But, if you have dependents or want to claim the spousal amount then you should complete the form.

You do not have to complete a new TD1 every year unless there is a change to their federal, provincial or territorial personal tax credit amounts.

Ash says:

Hi, I would like to know if the amount of tax owed from the previous year has been paid off in full (not in instalments), can this amount be claimed for the following year’s tax refund?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Ash, if you don’t have any tax owing from the previous year then that shouldn’t affect a future year’s tax refund.

Feng Jie Li says:

Excellent!

Gary SHAW says:

Hi sir or madem !
Can I claim any receipt with a gst# for my 2019 income tax ?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Gary,

As a GST/HST registrant, you recover the GST/HST paid or payable on purchases and expenses related to your commercial activities by claiming input tax credits (ITCs).

You may be eligible to claim ITCs only to the extent that your purchases and expenses are for consumption, use, or supply in your commercial activities.

To claim an ITC, the expenses or purchases must be reasonable in quality, nature, and cost in relation to the nature of your business.

Gary Shaw says:

Can you claim post office receipts for 2019 income tax ?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Gary, again if it was related to business activities then yes you may include them as a business expense.

Juanita Lombard says:

A student moves from the university back home in April and returns to the university in Sept. Can both ways be deducted or just the one in Sept

Robb Engen says:

Hi Juanita, you’d only be able to make the claim one time.

If you’re a full-time student, and you move to be at least 40 kilometers closer to school, you can claim a tax deduction for your moving expenses.

Tao says:

If I moved to a different city for university and I am renting an apartment in that city, can I claim my monthly rent? My wife and kids still live in the city I moved from and we own the house.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Tao, I don’t believe so. The rules are fairly clear around moving expenses but they would not apply to rent, as far as I know.

Mike says:

My son had 2 T4’s this year. Adding them together he owes $3 in taxes. No big deal. BUT, when I entered them, and separately he get $2000 back with one, and $1000 back with another, but together he now owes??? Why is that?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Mike, hard to say without knowing all the tax details for your son. But it’s possible that the two T4s combined put him over the basic personal amount ($12,069). Individually, he may have had taxes deducted from those paycheques and therefore would have received a refund, but together the combined income put him over the basic personal amount where he’d have to start paying 15% tax on every dollar earned above $12,069.

Christine Stever says:

If I paid 17,000 in taxes last year, what percentage of taxes or how much should I get back at tax time?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Christine, I’m afraid that’s impossible to say without more information (total income, province of residence).

Use this tax calculator to enter your income and then find your province to see how much tax you *should* have paid on that amount. https://www.eytaxcalculators.com/en/2019-personal-tax-calculator.html

The difference would be your refund or amount owing.

denise says:

my daughter made 12000 last year and is a full time student,,she paid 3300 in tuition fees,,when I did her taxes she got back less when I put in her t2202 tax slip for the tuition,,I don,t understand why the amount went down when she paid for her schooling with money she made from her part time job

Robb Engen says:

Hi denise, I can’t say for sure without knowing more about her tax situation.

If the tuition amount is greater than the tax owed, the non-refundable credit can only be used to reduce or eliminate the student’s federal/provincial tax bill but won’t generate a refund. If you aren’t able to use the full amount of the credit, any unused credits can be carried forward to a future tax year, or transferred to a spouse/common-law partner or parent/grandparent.

The credit is calculated by adding together all eligible tuition fees, then multiplying the amount by the lowest federal tax rate percentage for the current tax. For instance, at a rate of 15 percent, a student paying tuition fees of $2,000 would be eligible for a tax credit of $300.

Don says:

Caregiver Amount – not just for taking care of parents

Line 58400 – Caregiver amount
If, at any time in 2019, you (alone or with another person) kept a dwelling where you and one or more of your dependants lived, you may be able to claim up to $11,212 for each dependant.

Each dependant must have been one of the following:

your (or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s) child or grandchild
your (or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s) brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent, or grandparent who was a resident in Canada

Robb Engen says:

Hi Don, great point – this is not just for parents, and more and more people are taking care of their own elderly parents and relatives.

Carmen says:

Caregiver Amount – It used to be that you could claim a caregiver amount for a parent 65 or older regardless of their state of health. However, this is no longer the case. You can only claim them if they are dependent on you by reason of a mental or physical infirmity.

Cheryl Jones says:

I have receipts for contributions. And for my mobility scooter and for my CPAP. Last year, I was told I couldn’t claim them because I didn’t pay any tax. Did they not come under Medical?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Cheryl, the medical expense tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that is applied to reduce the taxes of an individual. As a non-refundable credit, it can reduce your taxes to zero. But if you don’t have any taxes owing then the credit has nothing to offset.

Unfortunately, you can only deduct medical expenses for the tax year in which they were paid.

Bob Brotherston says:

Hi Robb, medical expenses can be claimed for any 12 month period ending in the tax year. As long as they weren’t claimed in the prior year. If you have taxes owing next year you still might be able to use those larger medical expenses to your benefit.

chloe says:

I am a reception, can I claim personal grooming on my taxes, eg. nails, hair ?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Chloe, unfortunately no – you cannot claim personal grooming expenses on your taxes.

Esperanza says:

I loved this article this is some superb content I have shared this with my followers.
Keep up the great work.

Melanie says:

I found this so helpful!

I have a question about the cell phone claim. I am a supply teacher, so I rely on my cellphone in order to receive calls for jobs the following day or day of. How can I claim my bills? Is there a form I need to fill out prior to doing my taxes? Or do I collect my cellphone bills during the months of the school year?

Mary Pead says:

Can I claim for unfinished laundry room work. Laundry room was very cold because it is next to the cold room and doing laundry was awful for my arthritis and other problems.

vicky minich says:

I use taxtron for Macs. Wish there were more options for Macs that don’t cost an arm or a leg. I usually wait 5 years to claim all my charitable donations but you need to be super organized and have all your receipts. I was asked to produce them one year and my only disappointment was that I couldn’t claim my USA donations to various animal sanctuaries and such because I didn’t have USA income. Really stupid if you ask me considering I used my hard earned dollars to donate. I have used Ufile in the past and had real difficulties with Quebec returns for my family. I live in Alberta. My Ufile return and the Quebec government never agreed. So I stopped using Ufile and switched to Turbo Tax. I am still waiting on the Quebec government’s version of the return for my family member. Federally we were fine but there is always a discrepancy at the provincial level. They are looking to marry the 2 systems in Quebec so everyone just files one return like the rest of Canada but that will be debated at the government level for a very long time. If they change ever comes it won’t be for at least another few more years.

Elise says:

Please consider removing studio tax from your list. The software failed to send a portion of my return with the Netfile (it showed when printed but the CRA did not receive it) and resulted in a significant tax debt not discovered for some months.

Rob Smyth says:

In error, I did a pre-payment for my 2018 taxes. Do you know how I can get CRA to return these funds

Alex says:

I have 3 jobs and received a huge tax bill for 2017. Does it make sense to fill out a T1213 form anyway?- my employers are obviously not taking enough taxes. What strategies should I use moving forward? Thanks for your help!

Kyle says:

No, in that situation it won’t help Alex. My guess is that you have to re-enter in your tax information with each company so that they reflect the total income that you’re making at all your jobs – as opposed to just at their job. The problem is that they currently aren’t charging you at your top marginal tax rate. This should correct that.

V-2-tha-ZeeZee says:

I’ll throw my hat in for simpletax[dot]ca. They’re run out of Vancouver and have a pay-as-much-as-you-want feature. The interface is clean, they ask relevant questions to identify which forms you need to fill, they allow you to netfile directly with CRA and they have an optimization feature so that you get the maximum refund. I’ve used them for 3 years and have managed to a few of my co-workers and friends to switch over to them. Since I have a direct deposit set up with CRA, I usually get the refund a week after I have filed it.

Myra says:

Hello,

I submitted our tax return for 2017; however, I only got $48 tax refund, I earn about $46,000 annually and put $25 every paycheque for my federal witholding tax, I am a bit confused if I did the right thing of putting $25 every paycheque for the hopes of getting a big refund. Please enlighten me.

Thanks

Judy says:

Hello,

I recently got married and am wondering if its better my husband and I do taxes jointly or separately? He makes almost 60 grand a year and I am almost at 40. We have no kids, no investments other than tfsa’s. No pensions through work or anything. Very basic tax returns. We dont have many medical bills at all to make any difference on the tax return. I have heard its better to do taxes together but dont understand why. If we do them separate we still have to write down what the other makes so how is it better- if it is even better. I have also heard do it together because then you are only paying the one fee… i know nothing about taxes however. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks so much in advance.

Kyle says:

Doesn’t really matter at all Judy. I’d just use Turbo Tax (see our recent article on it) and let them tell you which is best once you enter in all of your info.

Maria says:

Hello,
I do my own taxes with U-File. This is the first year that am using my RRSP contributions as a deduction. I noticed that my Provincial refund ($400+) is a LOT more than the Federal ($11). For those who have used RRSPs as a deduction before, is this normal? Last year I got $49 back from Provincial and $36 from Federal. I am used to the amount beings relatively close. I am trying to figure out why RRSP deductions make a much bigger provincial difference than Federal. I googled info, but haven’t found anything. Thank you.

Kyle says:

Depends on so many other variables Maria. What tax brackets are you in, deductions, credits, etc.

Kobe Agyei says:

Hey,

you guys should check out simple tax. It’s free and really simple to use!

Zozo_Manioc says:

Great tips, but I am pretty sure the public transit tax credit was scrapped in the Federal Budget this year, was it not?

Kyle says:

Correct ZoZo – have to update.

shawn says:

I used intuit.ca this year. Its free!!! I guess they get a kickback from govt for each return filed this way. I did my taxes, printed out a copy for my own records then net filed, all free. Quick and easy, very intuitive software. I even did a couple family members taxes for free too.

Kyle says:

Good for you Shawn!

APF Blogger says:

I have come around full circle. I started out having my taxes done by an accountant along with my parents. Eventually I decided to take a stab at doing them myself as a learning experience (once I got cut off from the freebie). This year, for the first year in about a decade, I got an accountant to do our taxes. Our situation is getting complex enough that I was starting to worry I was missing thing. It is a trial, to see if the investment in the accountant will uncover some refunds that I would miss otherwise. We shall see. If not, I can always go back to doing our taxes ourselves, and we won’t be that much poorer for it. And if the accountant does rustle up some more money, than I can always take that learning and apply myself going forward either way.

Sam says:

Hi!
My husband works with a carpenter as a carpenters assistant and gets paid in cash. Does he just self report these amounts himself?
and also his boss calls him every morning to confirm work or to pick him up so does that count as using cellphone for work?

Kyle says:

He is supposed to report this income by law Sam. Now if you ask me what the average tradesperson does on the other hand… lets just say if his boss is paying cash and isn’t filing his wage as part of his business returns, then it’s between you and your god how much you want to report.

Jamie says:

Great Post! I’m happy to report I use almost all the tax credits you mention and file by myself. I even convinced my BF to do his own last year and he was amazed he was forking over $250 to H&R Block for something so easy. I use Genutax for my taxes and find it’s super easy. It’s fee is by donation (so could be free) and it’s CRA-approved and linked to Netfile.

Adam says:

You should add Simple Tax at the top of the software list.

Pay-what-you-want model. Fully cra approved, etc. Hard to beat it for ease of use too.

Steven says:

You indicated that you can ask the charity to change the date on a tax receipt to allow you to file favourably, but that is actually illegal for the charity. Receipts must be issued for the year in which the donation was received, however you, the donor, can choose to carry it forward into another tax year where it may be more advantageous.

Charities are regularly audited by the CRA and are expected to be able to prove when the donations were received. It is fairly common for the CRA to select a few random receipts and ask the charity to prove source and date, right down to the bank deposit. As someone who has worked for charities and non-profits for nearly 20 years, I have experienced a few audits and assembled the requisite paperwork.

A charity may be fined if found negligent, and if the act is deliberate may have their registration revoked (in extreme cases).

Otherwise, thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us.

Corrine says:

Hi there! I did a total of $1200.00 in Alberta oil patch tickets (first aid H2S Alive, Ground disturbance etc etc….). I need these tickets not just to do the job but, to apply for the jobs you need to have them as well. Is there any way I can use them on my 2016 Tax Return? Any help would be great!!

Kyle says:

Were those courses essential to your job Corrine?

SK says:

For the tuition credit you mention that it is for recent grads but you should mention that it is for both students and recent grads. You could also mention that if their educational institution doesn’t mail out T2202As they should look in their online account.

Kyle says:

All good points SK – I’ll leave this here for folks to take note of!

Sherill Deon says:

My friend has already filed his taxes thru H&R Block but they missed his office space at home , can he do something to correct this .When I went thru his returns over the last couple of yrs. and they missed it in previous yrs. as well …Help !!! He is good at his job but not so good with his paper work .

Kyle says:

Yes, you can file an adjustment Sherill. Here’s a good place to start: http://blog.turbotax.ca/change-filed-tax-return/

cj says:

Hello,

I travel every 2 weeks via air canada for my job, my company does not reimburse my flights, meals or accomodations or taxi costs. How and where do I claim this?

thanks!

Kyle says:

You should definitely be able to claim this CJ. Are you a private contractor or employee?

Ana says:

Hello
I have a question, I did everything you listed to save receipt and etc for 2015 but I can’t claim anything because my income is under 11’000…
Im at H&R block and I feel like I’m being ripped off. I have so many things I’ve purchased such as cars and items for school, metro passes and all thinking I could get a higher tax return but instead imma get about $200 because that’s the only job that shows taxes. …. I don’t get it. Please help me and let me know that limit/amount required to be able to claim everything. I also had few independent contractor jobs and wanted to claim gas etc but can’t. ..
Help thank you so much.

Kyle says:

Hi Ana,

The reason you won’t be getting a large tax return is simply because you didn’t pay much taxes this year. The refund is the difference between the taxes you had taken off of your cheque and what the government says that you owe. Consequently, if your income had been over 11K you would have paid more taxes. The upside is that you be able to bank some of those tax credits going forward if you earn more next year.

Rach says:

Hi Young
I realized that in order to claim for Arts credit for the child, the child should be not older than 16. In 2015, my child was 17 and I have incurred expenses on her music lesson. How can I claim this expense in my tax return for year 2015. Thanks

Kyle says:

If your using a tax prep program (it makes it so easy – you really should) it should prompt you Rach.

Els says:

I feel like I could do my own taxes now!!

2 questions before that though..
– I travel (flight, gas, hotel) every 2 weeks for my job – how do I claim this?
– I recently called my payroll provider to have them mail me all of my pay stubs but they sent me a general summary instead which is similar to the pay stubs. On my stubs, it shows my deductions (EI & CPP as employee deductions) but then on the general summary my payroll sent me, it shows the EI & CPP being taken off twice, as an employee deduction AND employer deduction. Is this correct? The company I work for has been known to be a bit sleezy. It was around $2600 taken off within 10 months, on top of regular deductions. Does that make sense? Is this a normal thing?
I just don’t understand why I am paying CPP & EI twice, especially since that shouldn’t be going to my employer.

Thank you!!!

Kyle says:

Hello Els. Glad to hear that you feel like you’re on the right track. Does your employer play or reimburse you at all for your flight, gas and hotel? Because if they do then you can’t claim it.

Without seeing your tax information I can’t be certain, but I would guess your company is on the up and up. Employers do have to contribute to CPP and EI, and it is usually shown on a general summary. For example, it is shown on my pay stub as a teacher.

Henry H says:

Thanks for the great post as always. I actually compared my returns by using different softwares in the last scruple of years. With a wife and a kid, I found turbotax got the most return for me by using its optimizer and questionnaire to make sure I don’t miss any tax saving opportunities.

Kyle says:

It’s really pretty user-friendly right Henry? With a family to support keeping as much of your cash from the tax man as possible becomes even more important!

Rhona says:

Can I claim safety boots i had to buy with my own money as an employee expense on line 229? My employer isn’t going to reimburse me. Do they have to fill out a T2200 form for me to claim the safety boots or can I just fill out a T777?

Kyle says:

I’m pretty certain you can claim the safety boots Rhona, but I’d call the CRA just to be sure.

Anne says:

I just did my taxes at H&R block with only 2 T4 forms and nothing else what so ever cost me 122 dollars and I only get 135 dollars back I was so shocked when she told me this. Also I see that u can claim your student loan interest?? How does that work?? my taxes hasn’t been filed yet told them I’ll pay them when I get payed.

Anonymous Accountant says:

I encourage people with straightforward matters to prepare their own returns..that is someone who has a T4 and maybe a T5 for interest. As soon as you go beyond this, you may be missing out on some planning opportunities and this is why you need to seek out professional advice or do a lot of research on your own. For example, if you have tuition you might be inclined to report it on your tax return even if you have no taxes payable. However, if you have a parent who is paying taxes then you’ve just missed an opportunity to transfer your tuition to the parent who could have used the tuition to reduce his or her tax bill. Each situation is unique. In some cases it’s good to do the transfer in some cases you might just want to claim it on the students return and have it carry forward to a year where it can be used, the key being it must be claimed in the year incurred, and there must be a tuition receipt. I could write a whole essay on the in’s and out’s of claiming tuition…..but it’s all on CRA’s website, so I encourage people to check out the website and if you’re confused afterwards then seek out professional advice.

paul says:

Can you claim cpr/first aid courses on your income tax return… The cost of the course as an expense?? Technically its educational… I need it for work and I need it for my chosen career path I’m pursuing. And also can u write off fire/police testing cost on taxes in order to secure employment?

Kyle says:

Now that is a good question Paul… This is the most relevant passage I could find on the topic, “In order to deduct the cost of courses, they must be eligible for post-secondary credit towards a diploma or degree, or they must improve occupational skills and be offered by an institution approved by the department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC). You must have paid at least $100 for the course, and you cannot claim anything for which you were reimbursed, unless the reimbursement is included in your taxable income.” Depending on who offered the course I would say there is a good chance, but I’m certainly no tax professional.

Mari says:

I am able to claim my CPR and recertifications as it was a nursing school (degree program) requirement and also an ongoing requirement of my professional designation for employment as an RN.

Conversely, I found out that I was not able to claim the same CPR courses for my teen son as part of his lifeguard training because it does not lead to a post secondary level degree or diploma.

This is a great list… The transit pass credit is great, but people should do the math between buying tokens in bulk and buying a monthly pass. Even after the tax credit, buying tokens may be cheaper if you do not take transit twice per day, 5+ days per week.

Mr. says:

There are numerous ambiguous statements, and half truths in this article. Do not use it to file your return. Taxes are an exact science, one that this article covers “approximately.” For example You cannot write off your cell phone bill unless it is a condition of your employment conditions, and you have a specific form filled out, and signed by your employer. It’s not as cut and paste as this article would have you believe.

Tyler says:

I completed 3 degrees in school and filed with H&R block several years as a student because it was $20.00 AND I got a cupon for a free pizza! The last year that I did it, however, they screwed them up pretty bad and in the middle of the summer I got a letter saying that I owed $1000. This was money that, as a student, I certainly didn’t have!

After that incident, I started using Turbotax and doing it myself so that I would understand what was going on. As a student turbotax was free, and for the last two years since I have been working it has been $15.00 or so. The best feature is that it keeps all your information from the previous year and fills it in automatically. As a student this was really helpful once I needed the tax credits this year, and it was all automatically carried forward. I have fairly simple taxes (one T4 and a couple RRSP and student loans forms), and it took me 30 minutes to complete both the federal and proincial (quebec) submissions – and I was watching TV while I did it! There was a promotion through my bank, so the $20.00 typical fee was reduced to $15.00 for me this year. The best part is that Turbotax asked if I wanted to ‘fastrack’ my return – and it literally took 2 days for my provincial, I filed it last Thursday and got it this Tuesday in my account, and the federal took 5 business days. I’m really happy with this program.

I would, however, do some research to understand what benefits you for your particular tax situation. The tip to benefit from RRSPs will be key for me next year now that I don’t have tuition credits anymore, it was helpful to know the cuttoff amount for that – I may be just below $36 000, so I will pay attention. Thank you!

chris says:

Hello everyone this is very interesting stuff! I had my wisdom teeth taken out and it cost me $1500 and I have prescription meds aswell I get every month. I’m 24 and I think I made around 11,000 last year can I claim all my dental and prescription? Where would be the best place to do my taxes?

Kyle says:

Hi Chris. I believe you would be able to claim that yes. In addition you should be able to claim travel and several other things. Check out the CRA website for more information. Why not do your taxes yourself? There’s plenty of info here on the site to aid you. If you don’t have a small business I bet it will be a lot easier than you think with a program like Turbo Tax.

Josephine says:

I am taking care of my mom who has alzheimers and due to this I’m not able to work. She receives old age security and canada pension and thats what we live on. I cannot claim her as a dependant as technically I am dependant on her income for us to survive…nor can I claim head of household, correct? Are there any refundable tax credits I can use.

Kyle says:

Likely not Josephine. You’re probably not paying any taxes if you’re not working right? So no tax deductions and no refundable tax credits that I know of. There might some medical-related stuff your mom can claim if she pays any tax.

Josephine says:

Doesn’t seem fair..Quebec has refundable tax credits for caretakers who keep their family “out of the system” and nursing homes…I’m saving the Province money (as she couldn’t afford private care she needs at a nursing home).

Kyle says:

Your logic seems to make sense Josephine. It may well be worth checking with a tax specialist in this case.

DLync says:

Hey there,

i have learned A LOT so far in the 30min i have been on this site. I was discussing the benefits of RRSP’s with a good friend of mine today and peaked my interest. I need to claim taxes for my personal business. The first couple years were pretty low income, however this year I’m up over 75k. I will be investing into an rrsp and tfsa, but still need to deal with the rest of what I owe. As a sole proprietor, do I need a t2200? Do I NEED a t5018 form if I subcontract? If so do I need anything special for my regular customers or just the receipt of payments… If I was paid cash that basically doesn’t exist? And for precious years with little record keeping is it ok to mentally calculate my numbers if my overall income, non-cash work, will be less than 20k? I know I have lots to learn before I file for 4 yrs worth this spring but I’m on the learning train and saved up a solid chunk of money this year for it. I look forward to any comments and will be browsing this website quite frequently.

Regards

Dave

Kyle says:

Hey Dave,

Glad you’ve found some good stuff here. Make sure and check out our free ebook before you investing within your RRSP.

As far as the specific tax questions I feel that I’m a little out of my depth and even though I could make an educated guess or point you towards some relevant stuff on the CRA site, I think you’d be better off getting a quote from a reasonable accountant on this matter.

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again!

Young says:

@Dlync- You had me at the first sentence. Love it!!!! As for the T5018 and you being a sole proprietor, I think that consulting an accountant would be the best bet.

Danielle says:

Re: Cell Phone deduction.

You actually cannot deduct any employment expenses without having your employer fill out the T2200 (Declaration of Conditions of Employment).

Here is a link to the form, which specifically states this in the first line: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t2200/t2200-12e.pdf

If your return was ever reviewed or audited and you don’t have the form from your employer they will throw out all of your “employment” expenses.

More info regarding employment expenses can be found here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/t4044/t4044-e.html

Very few employees are able to deduct expenses – very common misconception.

on-call says:

Hi,

I work on-call as a substitute teacher and I would like to try claiming cell expenses. The school districts call me in for work on my cell phone as I don’t have a land line. Can you please provide a more detailed explanation of how to claim your cell phone expenses and what evidence you need to include i.e phone bills, monthly plans??? It would be very helpful!

Thanks!

Teacher Man says:

This is a fairly detailed question on-call. I’d say you should probably contact an actual accountant about this. I’ve been a sub before actually and I’ve never heard of deducting your cell plan, but I can see how there is an argument for it. The paper trail you’d want is the actual phone bill, but again, I’d recommend a professional opinion on that one.

Sarah says:

Great article! Thank you! In response to an earlier comment: Being reassessed isn’t that bad, they went back through all my taxes from 2o09 forward and credited me 400 dollars. Scary thought, I hired a professional accountant to do all my taxes, he miss calculated half my rent away.

Kelly says:

Hi! I loved reading your article but you made it sound sooo easy!

My parents always did them for me but I want to take it on my own this year and

get the maximum amount, which I deserve 🙁 ( Everytime I get my paycheque, I notice a $50 minus for tax! Its ridiculous!)

help!? -kelly

Teacher Man says:

Sure Kelly, if you don’t mind, you can keep yourself anonymous and tell us what your situation is, and maybe we can help you out a little bit.

Jason says:

Hey Young,

Thanks for the tips! Great article. I’m doing my tax report myself with a software and i’m trying to find the form where I can deduct cell phone bills. My wife and I work for airlines and are on the road all the time. I was wondering if you know which form page it is. Would you only deduct air time fees? And what percentage? When you say 50%, is it a general rule of thumb?

Thanks

Jason

young says:

@Jason- Do the airlines call you and are you on call? You have to use your cell phone for work related purposes. I believe that it is form T777 http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t777/

JDP says:

I am a causal (on-call) employee at a hospital. Does my employer need to fill out the T777 in order for me to claim my cell phone bill?

Young says:

@JDP- No, you shouldn’t have to. As long as you include the proportion of minutes used (that they call you) to your total minutes used and claim only that amount it should be fine.

JDP says:

So, what section do I claim this? Sorry, I’m new at this!! Thank you for your help, by the way!

Young says:

@JDP- Now don’t quote me! but I think it’s the T2202? I haven’t started my taxes yet so can’t remember off the top of my head.

Rahim says:

Hey Young!

Great post, I share your same concerns with H&R block in that every year I go to them it seems the reps experience level is different. Although I still plan on going to them for my taxes sometime this week. Do you advise it? Seeing I’m a full-time university student, I worked part time made a little less then $20,000 in 2011. I have all my transit cards and my tax receipts for all my donations and my slips for my investments.

How important is this tuition credit? Can i use it right now if I wish? And what are some questions I should ask the rep and things I should look out for when doing my taxes at h&r block. If I feel like their quote isn’t good enough can i walk out and say I’ll do my taxes else where?

Feel free to email me!

young says:

@Rahim- Thanks for the great question. PERSONALLLLY if I were a full time student and had simple taxes, I would probably DIY. Have you tried the H&R block or the Turbo tax programs?
You can use the tuition credit right now if you wish, but if I were you, I would save it up until you make big money to deduct your taxes with. Right now, you’re probably not paying much in taxes, so there’s not much point to use up your precious tuition credit. I believe you can carry it forward for up to 5 years.
I don’t think there’s probably any room for negotiation with H&R Block in person taxes…you could try finding a “mom and pop” type of accountant who will probably be cheaper.

Michael says:

Question is about cell phone deducting.

I am a tour bus driver. Spend most of time away from home and the other veteran drivers claim all their cell phone expenses on their taxes. How is this done? I am doing my taxes and am at the employment expenses form and under the ‘other’ category and it has three spaces to enter digits in:
1. Gst taxable
2. HST Taxable
3. Zero Rated and Exempt

What the heck am I supposed to write in those boxes if I am trying to claim the 1416.00 from January – December 2011? It was only used for work and the old retired drivers say they can claim it all.

young says:

@Michael- I just took out your email address in your comment, I don’t think you’d want to be showing everyone your email address 🙂

Well, Michael it depends on whether HST was charged on your cell phone bills. If you were charged HST from Jan to Dec then you put it in the HST taxable category. Do you use your cell phone for work 100% of the time? If you don’t, I would caution against putting the full $1416.

Anie says:

I’m wanting to file my own taxes this year.
My husband and I both make around 37000$ each and we are contributing to both RRSP’s and TFSA. I also have some dental bills (can I claim those? They are around 450$)

I would like to file my taxes on my own and send them by Canada Post. Is there a link you can provide me to print and fill in all the appropriate forms I may need?

Last year I filed with H&R block and he said I owe 80.00$ to the government..and on top of that I had to pay the rep 80.00$!!!

Are there any tips you can provide me with so I could possibly get a refund this year???

Thanks in advance!

young says:

@Anie- I will be posting a Tax filing software giveaway very soon! So stay tuned! If I’m not mistaken, the medical bills have to be a certain amount, and I think $450 is too low. Have a look at the CRA website, it’s a great resource for what you can and cannot claim. The forms can be picked up at the tax centre (or the libraries have them too). You can file it by hand and mail it in. Or you can do it online.

Celen says:

This would be a great article and basically important to us. I really appreciate this. Its one of a kind and informative article. More power to your site! nice job! 🙂

young says:

@Celen- Thank you!

Secondary sales tracking says:

I work from home and want to file tax returns. I had read some where else that i can have deductions for the my phone bills because i am using phone for my work purpose.
– Samantha Greg

young says:

@Samantha- Yes, that is true. You can usually deduct the cost of the % of your cell phone bill you use for business.

Nichole says:

Hi Samantha,

ask your employer for a T2200 form so you have official backing on working from home. They should supply it to you by the end of February, so if you haven’t received it yet you need to get in contact with them.

Kyle says:

Thanks Nichole!

Mary says:

thanks for this. i am a new resident of quebec and find the taxes quite complicated. with daycare deductions, rental income, and property claims, i really needed to go to an account for both myself and my husband. we didn’t go to an account and now are being reassessed for a previous return. the quebec government wants $3500 back! so, we are desperate and willing to pay $700 for the assistance.

young says:

@Mary- Thanks for reading Mary. Oh dear, sounds like you’ve got a handful with the Canadian revenue agency! That’s my worse fear, reassessment and audits. Good luck, I hope you are able to keep your $3500.

taylor international says:

hey there Mary seen your post and wanted to know if you got your tax fixed if not email me and we will see what we can do for you. cheers 😉

Joabs State says:

I totally agree with you in that H&R block is not up my alley in this stage of the game. When I was a student, it was probably the most practical decision to make in retrospect, but as time goes by it becomes increasingly obvious that serious tax planning is a very important part of our lives as it can save us thousands of dollars.

I took advantage of the renovation tax credit and completed all bathroom renovations (and expenses incurred) by January 31, 2010. This means that I will qualify for the credit. [And from what I can gather, it doesn’t seem like the Cdn Gov’t will be reinstating the credit for the 2010 tax year.]

young says:

@Joabs State- No, that tax credit was a Godsend! Except that I didn’t take advantage of it 🙁 I’m excited for you and your hefty tax return!

MayJay says:

Just wanted to put in a correction for you, you can’t carry your tuition credits forward if you have taxable income. If you file without using them the return will automatically be corrected to utilize the credits. As long as you have taxes payable though, the amount you will get back is the same regardless of how much money you make as it is a non-refundable tax credit which currently is a 15% credit for your return. The only way the amount would change would be if the tax rates are changed again (2008 we went from 15.5% to 15% for non-refundable tax credits for instance)

young says:

Hi MayJay,
Thanks for the clarification and spotting the error! I always tend to get my tax credit and deductions mixed up— (dangerous I know). Yes, the tuition tax credit is a straight amount and isn’t affected by your income.

lulu says:

maybe you should go in and correct that – i almost made this mistake before i read the comments section!

young says:

@Lulu= Thanks! Done!

The Rat says:

Hmmm..that H&R block fee when I was a student is hard to remember. It was such a basic tax filing (maybe some RRSP purchases and tuition considerations, and a summer job) but I know it didn’t come to anything like 300 dollars.

I totally agree with the accountant comment you made. Just like any professional, you will meet some that just don’t meet your standards while there are others that you just know are great to work with. If you ever decide to deal with one and are able to find one you like working with – stay with that person.
.-= The Rat

The Rat says:

This is a great thread and you can tell that a solid effort went into getting some crucial details out there for the readers.

I totally agree with you in that H&R block is not up my alley in this stage of the game. When I was a student, it was probably the most practical decision to make in retrospect, but as time goes by it becomes increasingly obvious that serious tax planning is a very important part of our lives as it can save us thousands of dollars.

I took advantage of the renovation tax credit and completed all bathroom renovations (and expenses incurred) by January 31, 2010. This means that I will qualify for the credit. [And from what I can gather, it doesn’t seem like the Cdn Gov’t will be reinstating the credit for the 2010 tax year.]

Personally, I use a professional accountant for my taxes and have done so over the past years. My reason for this is not to just simply hand over a pile of paperwork and say, “here you go, deal with it”. It’s because I have gotten some very good advice from my accountant over the past years for tax planning and business purposes. A good accountant knows tax law very well, and depending on the extent to which a particular individual is involved in personal investing, business in general, etc., it may become increasingly important to have one over time.

I keep all of my T5s, T4, travel receipts, medical expenses, business expenses, etc. all separate and each ‘component’ (for lack of a better word) has its own folder.

Aside from my non-registered investments, TFSAs and RRSPs are important for consideration for taxes and deserve attention. The great thing with RRSPs is that you can contribute more than 18% of your prior year’s gross income if you have contribution room built up. As you mention, if you are able to contribute enough, you can pump the return you get into a TFSA! That’s provided you don’t owe too much due to salary, non-registered investment income, or other avenues, etc.
Nice post.

Cheers,
The Rat
.-= The Rat

young says:

@The Rat, LOL thanks for acknowledging the blood-sweat I poured into that post. It’s over 1500 characters for goodness sakes! =P
How much did you pay for H&R Block when you were a student? You probably had very simple returns then.
Good for you for taking advantage of the renovation tax credit! It’s a great idea. I don’t have a home to get a credit from! lol! =) (but hopefully soon, hopefully soon).
Yes, some accountants are very good and they know the tax laws like the back of their hand, some aren’t as hot (I guess it’s all in their experience, right?)
Thanks again for stopping by!