How to Get More Money Back from your Tax Return

It’s that time of year again! TAX TIME!  If you didn’t get a chance to implement any of my 16 Tax Tips for Year End, don’t fret, my friend, there’s still time to get more money back from your tax return! 

I started filing my own taxes last year. Before that, I hired an accountant to do my taxes (my taxes were really simple) and paid about $125 for his services. He gave me a few good tips which I carried on to use for the next year, when I learned to do it myself.  I decided to do my own taxes because:

1) I didn’t want to pay someone else $125 when I could do it myself

2) I didn’t have my own business so I couldn’t deduct my accountant expenses

3) No one cares about your money more than you do.

4) I wanted the challenge and to actually understand the system.

How To Get More Money From Your Tax Return

They can charge exorbitant fees if your tax return is complicated and often the people doing your tax returns are not accountants.  I’m sure there are good and decent people that work at H&R Block, but my guess is that they work primarily with high net worth clients.  The folks that deal with the average walk in customer likely took a basic course and simply ask the questions that get shown to them on their screen (much the same method that tax preparation programs use to allow you to simply do your own taxes).

I still harbor a special place of disgust in my heart for H&R Block due to a post-secondary student promotion they ran with great success back when I was attending school.  They would advertise something like “FREE Piazza” and “Walk in and get your cheque TODAY for $0”.  What the price really was however was 10% of your tax return.  Since students often have relatively low incomes and lots of tax credits, they tend to generate fairly large tax returns.  I know several of my friends and I walked in, answered basic questions for 20 minutes (as read to us by someone who clearly had just started in the tax world and wasn’t really proficient in the English language), and were charged $200-$300 (10% of our return, which we didn’t really understand at all).  We did get our tax return money a few weeks early though – and for a bunch of broke students who really wanted to celebrate the end of classes and exams – that was the main consideration.  The more perspective I gain on life and the financial world, the more distasteful and unethical this experience becomes in hindsight.

Doing Your Own Canadian Tax Return

Doing taxes by yourself is actually kind of fun (yes, I know I sound lame… but maybe I was an accountant in my past life) but I would only say it is “fun” if you use a tax preparation software program and you have a fairly mainstream return to prepare (i.e. you work for one or two places that provide you with a basic T4 every year).  Calculating everything by hand with a calculator and a pencil and eraser would likely drive anyone batty.

If you have your own business, do a lot of freelance work, have a lot of investments outside of an RRSP and TFSA (you’re way ahead of the game if this is the case) or have rental property, it can be helpful to hire an accountant because there is simply a lot more to take into consideration.  That’s a challenge I’m just not ready for you yet – but if you are, then all the power to you!

Alright my friends, so here are some ways to Get More Money Back from Your Tax Return:

  • One key thing to remember is that you really need to KNOW what you can deduct IN ADVANCE, or else you won’t be aware to collect them for your deduction!! (i.e. receipts, transit passes, etc.)  So you kind of have to embody the accountant mindset throughout the year in order to reap the full rewards.

  • Contribute to your RRSP before March 1: The RRSP deadline is usually around March 1.  You can find how much you’re allowed to contribute on your Notice of Assessment (you know, that form the government sent with your tax refund cheque last year?) When you contribute to your RRSP, you’ll be able to receive a tax refund, that you can later then contribute to your TFSA or to pay down your mortgage! (Hey, two birds with one stone– not bad, I say!)

  • It is important to remember though that sometimes a TFSA is a better place for you be saving than your RRSP.  Check out our comparison here for more information.  Having said that, if you have enough dough to contribute to both a TFSA and your RRSP, you can contribute to your RRSP BUT hold off on using it as a tax deduction until future, more income-generating years (use Schedule 7 for this).

  • Keep your Transit Passes: You can get a tax credit of 15%.  If you’re a student, keep your monthly pass because you can deduct the cost you pay for it on your taxes.  If you have a monthly transit pass you can claim those as well. (Don’t lose them or throw them away! They’re worth something even after the transit pass expires).  The transit passes have to provide detailed information (e.g duration of use, transit authority, amount paid) and are good for a Federal Tax Credit.

  • Tuition Credit: If you’re a student or recent grad (congratulations!) you can claim your tuition credits.  Several provinces also have tuition-related tax benefits.

Note: If you’re one of the few that need to file an American tax return, check out this article that compares the most popular tax software in the U.S.

How To Get More Money From Your Tax Return checklist
  • Claim your Student Loan Interest: Yes, having student loans looming does have a minor silver lining- that is, you can claim the interest that you are charged on your student loan.

  • Claim Medical Expenses: Keep your receipts for any prescriptions and medical or dental expenses that weren’t covered by your Health Benefits Plan.  If you plan to get laser eye surgery (which can be upwards of $3,000) for example, you should make sure you keep other expenses you incurred within any 12-month period (it doesn’t have to match the tax year– e.g. it can be from April 2008 to April 2009 instead of January 2009 to December 2009) as long as you hit the magic number: 3% of your net income OR about $2,200 for tax year 2016 (whichever is less).  If you live common law or are married, you can add up your expenses for both of you and claim it against the person with the smaller income (3% of a lower number is easier to become eligible for).  Your pharmacist can usually give you a statement of all your prescription drug costs if you contact them.

  • Utilize Dividend Tax Credits: THIS is why Canadian corporations that pay dividends are best kept in a non-registered account.  The taxes on dividends are much lower and almost favourable if you are in the lower income tax bracket.

  • Claim your cell phone and internet bills: The tip my accountant gave me was that you can deduct a reasonable amount of your phone bill (e.g. 50)% if your employer regularly uses it to call you to obtain work (this works for example, if you are a ‘casual’ employee and they usually call you to see if you can come in to work).  The percentage used should be traced back to your airtime.  A similar rule of thumb exists for your internet use.

  • Donate to charity: Charitable donations are tax deductible (as long as the charities are registered).  This is why it makes sense to donate your old broken down car.  You easily get rid of a trash heap that you’d have a difficult time selling, the charity gets something they can sell for parts/scrap, and then you also get money back on your tax return because you “donated” the equivalent value of the car.

  • Support your preferred politician: Governments love giving tax breaks to people who give their party money.  Who would have thought?  There is a bevy of tax credits available for folks that donate to political parties.  If you have any questions on the matter just call your preferred party, I guarantee they’ll have someone available to discuss the details!

  • Working from Home: If you work from home more than 50% of the time, there are a large number of deductions that you can account for.  You can deduct your internet expenses and stationary bought provided that you use these to obtain income.  If you rent, you can deduct the portion of rent and any other maintenance costs you would pay for your office space.  Per the CRA’s workspace in the home expenses site:

You can deduct the part of your costs that relates to your work space, such as the cost of electricity, heating, maintenance, property taxes, and home insurance. However, you cannot deduct mortgage interest or capital cost allowance.

  • Don’t give an interest-free loan to the government: Yeah, you heard me… that lovely tax refund you get in the summer? It’s basically YOUR money that the government was keeping warm for you.  If you fill out a T1213 form and hand it over to your employer, they can deduct less of your income on your paycheque.  This allows you to keep your money in your hands form day one instead of waiting on a big tax refund.

There’s a variety of tax return software available.  Some are free.  You could even use the tax return software to do all your calculations, and then input the numbers into your paper tax return (the tax return booklet).

Here are a few that are popular, FREE, and NETFILE-certified if you want to send it through NETFILE:

Popular Choice – Turbo Tax:

You can start the return for free but you may need to pay a bit to actually file it (depending on your specific situation).  One of the most popular tax preparation software options available in Canada and USA. Young and Thrifty recommended product that we have been using ourselves for years and never faltered.

Turbo Tax is owned by Intuit, the biggest supplier of accounting tools and platforms, which has a market cap of more than $30bn (USD).

Studio Tax: Not the fanciest of websites, but it’s great for basic tax returns.  It’s completely free (if you file less than 20 tax returns)! Free download of tax software and you don’t need a license key or registration key to get it.  They even have student versions.  You don’t have to pay $40 for Ufile or Quicktax.  Studio Tax is highly recommended.

CANTAX: This was the program I used last year. It’s super comprehensive and it’s designed for tax professionals.  It’s NOT free, but it’s good.  It was free for me because my dad the accountant let me use it. =)

UFile: You can file for free with UFile if you earn less than $20,000 per year OR if you are a student (Oooh the perks of being a student).  If you do not fall into that category, you can try it for free and only pay when you have to print or submit it online through NETFILE.  It’s $15.95 for this.

Have you ever filed your taxes by yourself? What do you think of it? Any suggestions or tips with any of the free tax preparation software mentioned above?

83 Comments

  1. The Rat on February 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    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



  2. young on February 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    @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!



  3. The Rat on February 19, 2010 at 8:03 am

    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



  4. MayJay on February 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    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)



  5. young on February 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    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.



  6. Joabs State on February 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

    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.]



  7. young on February 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    @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!



  8. Mary on March 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    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.



  9. young on March 6, 2011 at 12:33 am

    @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.



  10. Secondary sales tracking on June 9, 2011 at 2:59 am

    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



  11. young on June 10, 2011 at 12:31 am

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



  12. Celen on January 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    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! 🙂



  13. young on January 22, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    @Celen- Thank you!



  14. Anie on January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    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!



  15. young on January 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    @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.



  16. Michael on January 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    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.



  17. young on January 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    @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.



  18. Rahim on February 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

    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!



  19. young on March 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    @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.



  20. lulu on March 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

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



  21. young on March 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    @Lulu= Thanks! Done!



  22. Jason on April 11, 2012 at 8:12 am

    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



  23. young on April 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    @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 www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t777/



  24. Kelly on January 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    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



  25. Teacher Man on January 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    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.



  26. JDP on February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    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?



  27. Young on February 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    @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.



  28. JDP on February 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm

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



  29. Young on February 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    @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.



  30. Sarah on March 16, 2013 at 2:07 am

    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.



  31. on-call on March 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    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!



  32. Teacher Man on March 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

    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.



  33. Danielle on April 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    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: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg…00-12e.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: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub…044-e.html

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



  34. […] How to Get More Money Back from your Tax Return […]



  35. DLync on December 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    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



  36. Kyle on December 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    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!



  37. Young on December 25, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    @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.



  38. Josephine on January 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    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.



  39. Kyle on January 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    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.



  40. Josephine on January 30, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    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).



  41. Kyle on February 1, 2014 at 9:53 am

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



  42. chris on February 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    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?



  43. Kyle on February 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    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.



  44. Tyler on March 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    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!



  45. Mr. on May 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    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.



  46. Peter @ SeekingWealth.ca on June 12, 2014 at 5:47 am

    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.



  47. paul on October 1, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    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?



  48. Kyle on October 2, 2014 at 10:15 am

    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.



  49. Mari on October 24, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    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.



  50. Anonymous Accountant on November 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    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.



  51. Anne on March 4, 2015 at 11:02 am

    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.



  52. Rhona on April 4, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    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?



  53. Kyle on April 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

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



  54. Henry H on September 23, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    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.



  55. Kyle on September 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    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!



  56. taylor international on November 17, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    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 😉



  57. Els on January 30, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    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!!!



  58. Kyle on January 31, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    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.



  59. Nichole on March 9, 2016 at 11:10 am

    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.



  60. Kyle on March 10, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Thanks Nichole!



  61. Rach on April 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    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



  62. Kyle on April 6, 2016 at 3:47 pm

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



  63. Ana on April 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    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.



  64. Kyle on April 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    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.



  65. cj on April 23, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    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!



  66. Kyle on April 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

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



  67. Sherill Deon on August 15, 2016 at 10:03 am

    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 .



  68. Kyle on August 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Yes, you can file an adjustment Sherill. Here’s a good place to start: blog.turbotax.ca/chang…ax-return/



  69. SK on January 17, 2017 at 11:23 am

    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.



  70. Kyle on January 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm

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



  71. Corrine on February 19, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    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!!



  72. Kyle on February 19, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Were those courses essential to your job Corrine?



  73. Steven on March 5, 2017 at 7:07 am

    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.



  74. Adam on March 14, 2017 at 7:47 am

    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.



  75. Jamie on March 19, 2017 at 10:49 am

    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.



  76. Sam on March 20, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    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?



  77. Kyle on March 21, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    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.



  78. APF Blogger on April 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    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.



  79. shawn on May 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    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.



  80. Kyle on May 24, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Good for you Shawn!



  81. Zozo_Manioc on October 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm

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



  82. Kyle on November 1, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Correct ZoZo – have to update.



  83. Kobe Agyei on December 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Hey,

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



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