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2018 Annual Tax Season Letter

Brock Shores Financial

Formerly Timothy Ross & Associates

 

4502 Airport Road – Tincap

Elizabethtown, ON

K6T 1A2

“Serving clients since 1988”

 

www.BrockShoresFinancial.ca

Voice: 613-345-0016

Fax: 613-345-5231

advisor@timothyross.com

 

 Another year is upon us, “the sap is running” and we are beginning our tax season once again. Our biggest announcement this year is that we have happily made a name change. We hope you like the fresh look of Brock Shores Financial. I feel it better suits our path going forward and positions us into the next 30 years as we develop our growth and succession plans. We have expanded our team, hiring on additional staff to help keep the office balanced and efficient to meet our growing client’s needs. This is now my 30th year in business and it is still my pleasure to serve you and your family as a tax consultant and advisor. Our new staff members include Cody King, Katina King, Neil Norman, and Lisa Quenneville. Heather Kiley remains our Administrative Assistant and Megan Hough is our Client Support Service Coordinator. Peter Young continues to provide out of office accounting support. Bob Harper, has come on board as our Business Development Consultant, helping promote our year round business support services. Many may know Bob for his efforts in bringing great awareness to the area and abroad about the origins of our Canadian Maple Leaf Flag and our local connection to the historic events and loving hands that lead to our countries flag creation.

 

Brock Shores Financial is set upon a good foundation that has been built on the Family Office concept where you can get a variety of services and advice, a one stop place for the majority of your financial services and advice. We will continue to provide what we call Omega Stewardship ® which helps us help you reach your families major goals in life.

 

Things are always changing, just yesterday the Canadian Government announced a number of updates in the budget which we will be monitoring going forward as some of them may impact you and or the people you work for. There was also a number of changes last year and some of these changes will effect various credits which we will adjust this year while doing your taxes.

 

Some of the routine news for the tax season year is as follows:

 

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

TAX SEASON OFFICE HOURS

We have now expand our front desk office hours for the next few months. Monday through Friday we open at 9:30 am and close at 8pm. This will be our goal during the weeks ahead. That being said, we take appointments beyond our “office hours” all the time throughout the year. Working Saturdays is an option as well especially during tax season if you cannot possibly make it in during the week or evenings.

 

If you do not require an appointment, please feel free to drop off your tax papers at the office. Staff are setup to receive and gather the necessary information. They will have you sign some papers and send some home for signing if required so we can get your returns prepared, reviewed and filed in a timely manner.

 

We also have had more people emailing their documentation to us from across Canada 24/7. This has been a very effective way to extend our reach and provide service across the country or simply down the street. This is not always convenient for everyone, however if you would like to, simply email a pdf of your slips or a clear photo from your smart phone. Please send them to advisor@timothyross.com and we will be able to start your returns that way.

 

CRA CONTACT

We will continue to select the e-filing option that CRA will contact us directly first vs you for any pre-assessment and post assessment requests for information. That has worked fairly well this past year. There has been occasions CRA didn’t cooperate with this policy and we had surprise reassessments, nevertheless we will work through those for you.

 

As noted last year, in the past we had CRA contact clients first after your returns had been processed (post assessments), this gave one a chance to respond on your own and avoid any additional professional charges. We found however over the last few years that people were typically bringing this to our attention anyway and sometimes completely not dealing with the matter. Then one would get reassessed, with a debt owed to CRA because no information was sent, or the wrong information was sent, missing information, etc. This causes too much stress for everyone, additional work and often requiring more expertise to sort out. So we are going to take on the responsibility of receiving these notices first and then responding to CRA on your behalf. This will involve gathering any documentation that is required from you or our records, making sure it is correct, make any necessary adjustments if it is determined it is in your best interest, submitting in a proper format to CRA.

 

We are now able to electronically submit documentation which gives us another level of assurance that they got it, eliminating a lot of questions regarding did they get? How long will it take? Or “they” lost it.   You will always maintain the option to do it yourself, however there is often thousands of dollars on the line and we feel it best to invest in some professional service and protect your tax file for the year in question and by responding in a good manner, this often helps reduce future requests, so it protects you from future audits, not always, however from our experience, it often does. Often it can take longer to respond to even what I consider the simplest of tasks than it does for us to do someone’s tax return.

 

With 30 years’ experience, I use the words “simplest of task” from that perspective. To help you and our office, I have trained my team to help in this process. Everyone has different charge out rates and various experiences, so depending on the request from CRA and what they require, we will have the appropriate person work on your file and review with me to make sure that your tax file is protected.

 

“Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.” ~ Charles Kettering

 

CLARIFYING OUR “Dang It” POLICY

Every once in a while, we will make an error. No one wants to admit it, however I will. Frankly we are humans, and despite all our experience, and all the steps we take to make sure we input the correct information, it can happen. A number gets transposed, or put in the wrong spot, or gets missed… just being human. Last year it happened a few times, and worked out to be 0.25% of our work load. Property taxes vs rent happened on a couple this year, so if you’re getting too big of a trillium benefit let us know right away and will double check, it’s a very tiny box on our forms.

 

When any error happens CRA will probably pick up on the error and adjust it right away. Sometimes it takes longer, and they ask us or you to clarify, or they will send out a reassessment if they are sure they have the correct information. When this happens, we will do the necessary professional work to correct the problem at no cost to you, sometimes it is what it is. Always let us check whenever you get something from the government. Taxes are a big web and one thing leads to another, and CRA doesn’t usually connect the dots, especially if it is in your favor. We will look at the big picture and pursue it out of principle for you, because we take a lot of pride in what we do.

 

If we made the error, I will give you a credit on your tax returns for any interest you are charged related to the error we made, up to the time it is discovered and corrected. You are responsible for any tax owing, as you would have been if there had been no error in the first place. When the error comes from missing information that we did not receive, you are responsible for interest and taxes payable. Depending on the work required, we often waive the professional fee to clarify the matter, however, there are times when it takes a lot of work and it falls under our CRA contact procedure policies, and while we appreciate your business, unfortunately our staff do not work for free.

 

We feel there is value in knowing when you have had contact from CRA, as it triggers future questions for us next time we file your return (i.e., where is that tax slip from the bank?) You do not want to be missing stuff, because after just a few things missing with CRA, they can classify you as a delinquent filer, not reporting all your income, and when you miss something next time they penalize you in the future for forgetfulness. They call it the “repeated failure to report income penalty” and the numbers can get crazy. The government has implemented some changes for income under $500, but above that it is crazy expensive, (just google it you will see what I mean, various calculations), and it takes about 3 years to get off that list, so we will do everything that we can to keep you off the list in the first place, it’s not good for you or us. You may never see it, but rest assured that we take a lot of care and due diligence, so this never or rarely happens. However, if it does, I just want you to know in advance what we will do so you’re not left hanging and wondering. Our staff have clear direction to answer any questions that come up and implement a timely solution. That being said, we encourage you to check over your return, I think it is important that you understand your finances and how things generally work, and CRA makes it quite clear that in the end you are responsible for your taxes, so, if there is something missing, you have the responsibility to bring that to our attention, and we will adjust it. We will do our best to have it correct the first time, but if we made a human error, we welcome the opportunity to get it right. Jim Rohn said, “Accuracy builds credibility” and we are just keeping it real because we are here to serve you and your family and we look forwarding to having a long term relationship that is beneficial to us all. Our greatest compliment is when you refer others to us, it says a lot and is frankly how I prefer to do business.

 

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”    ….. Thanks for continuing to work with us, your business and friendship over the years is sincerely appreciated.

 

We Like to Be TAX SMART

Things are always changing, yet our goal remains as always, to get you the highest refund possible and minimize your tax burden. Working with us has many other benefits as we are a full-service firm with many options available to service your needs.

 

We encourage you to be Tax Smart; Some new things to be aware of this year

 

  1. The sale of a residence must be reported on your taxes , since 2016
  2. The Seniors Pension Split is still available and we do not charge extra for that service
  3. We do not charge extra for e-filing, it’s now law that we e-file your return, and saves us time and postage, so we are not going to charge extra for that like some places do.
  4. Our basic fees are up on average 20% over last year, we have held off increases for several years now, unfortunately inflation continues to impact all of our cost of operations and we had to make an increase this year to reflect these realities.
  5. If you owe money, we can now setup a preauthorized payment for you with CRA, since 2016
  6. If you have a business or employment expenses there is great tax benefits, providing you keep track of things properly. One area that we continue to see deficiencies is in logging mileage. Please make this a habit, it is so very important to do this and protect your deductions. If you’re not doing this currently start today. I got an APP on my phone called MileIQ it works pretty good and is worth the deductible investment. There is others as well or the standard write it in a little book works as well, the important thing is to do it so you have the proof, document, and document.
  7. Fitness and Art credits are no longer a deduction
  8. Transportation credits ended June 30th last year, however if your 65 or over there is a seniors public transit tax credit in Ontario.
  9. Tuition credits and transfers from the kids are calculated a little different this year
  10. There is a number of other items that may impact you, please let us know of any questions you may have regarding your situation.
  11. Bonus …If we are not already friends on face book, be sure and send me a friend request, I post a lot, and there are many articles there that can save you money, create wealth, and encourage a more reflective life, but more than that, I just like connecting and even if it is just to wish you a happy birthday, that is worth it all. Many connect with me by private message as well, it’s a good way to communicate. We also have a couple pages setup, one for Timothy Ross & Associates which has a purely business related focus and a new one for Brock Shores Financial. Be sure to like it, and if you want adventure, do check out “Be The Adventure”.

 

 

PAYMENTS & FILES

Payments can made by cheque, cash or e-transfer. Our fees are based on the complexity of your tax return(s) as well as you’re your monetary situation. If you have a file you have dropped off or previous paper work that we have been holding, please be sure to pick it up once your taxes are done. Unfortunately, we do not have the space to hold everyone’s files for consecutive years.

 

Wrap Up

We value you, and we look forward to serving you once again this year. We hope you appreciate our name change and welcome our new staff as we build our service. We aim to bring value to your life, family or business. Please see the attached document introducing you to some NEW hydration that may improve your everyday living! Be sure and journey down to O’Mally Kourt & Fudgery at 55 King Street West Brockville , grab yourself a cold one and #BeTheAdventure

 

A little story about #ImprovingFutures , when we were working on the name change, I had a spot on the business card and it was calling me for some text, so I gave it some serious thought and I asked “What do we ultimately do for people ? After some reflecting we decided that Improving Futures is really what we do at the end of the day, then Megan said, “Put a hash tag on it”, and that is what we did.

 

PS: We are working on a new website, we have a lot of articles there already, we encourage you to simply check it out. The site is being setup as a member driven community site, so we encourage you to become a member while you’re there. www.ImprovingFutures.ca will take you there. It’s value will grow with time and as a member you will certainly hear about stuff first.

Looking forward to hearing from you; Call, Visit, and/or Email 24/7

  

Thank you

Timothy Ross

advisor@timothyross.com

Brock Shores Financial – Formerly Timothy Ross & Associates

www.BrockShoresFinancial.ca #ImprovingFutures

"Where Client Goals Become Our Goals" ®

"Helping Families Achieve ... Life's Major Goals" ®

 

OMEGA STEWARDSHIP ®

* One Stop Process Driven Approach for Retirement & Income Planning

* Personalized Tax Management Solutions for Individuals & Business Owners

* Confidential Wealth Management Solutions

 

Family Office providing Insurance Products in Association with Financial Horizons Group

Family Office providing Mutual Funds in Association with Professional Investments (Kingston) Inc."

Family Office providing Tax and Consulting Services

 

“Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind the stronger the trees” - John Willard Marriott

 

“We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.” ~ Earl Nightingale

 

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

“Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein

 

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

~ Rob Siltanen

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

"The beauty of being in business is that your business engages all aspects of your mind, I think that is why you become successful, business challenges you to be more than you are, and that is where the miracle takes place." ~ Timothy Ross, May 2004

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EFILE Startup Feb 26 2018

EFILE system is currently closed for personal tax returns and will re-open on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) for the electronic filing of our clients 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 initial personal income tax and benefit returns and 2015, 2016 and 2017 amended T1 returns.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/efile-electronic-filers/efile-news-program-updates.html

 

EFILE Helpdesk Support

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-businesses/efile-electronic-filers/efile-helpdesk-support-t1-returns.html

Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre-Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 5C1
Local calls: 705-670-6499
Long distance calls: 1-800-361-6283
Fax: 705-670-6500 or 1-855-338-5495

Eastern Time

7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

The following services will still be available after January 19, 2018:

  • Corporation Internet Filing for Corporation Income Tax (T2) returns. 
  • Electronic filing of Form T1013.

Note:  You must use the current-year version of the tax software to electronically submit the 2016 form through the T1013 transmission web service until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2018. When the T1013 web service re-opens at 8:30 a.m. Monday, February 12, 2018 it will only accept the 2017 version of this form.

 

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The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs

www.thefinancialfairytales.com/blog/about/

A great blog on finances from the UK. 

I found this resource when I was searching for the story about taxes and how taxes relates to the care and feeding of the golden goose and how that goose does perhaps eat too much. Jim Rohn spoke about it back 1993 when I first met him.  The text is below and a link to the article that inspired the search of the memory bank. ~ TLR

Jim Rohn on Taxation – The Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs

One of the original Financial Fairy Tales – The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs tells the tale of a farmer with a steady and reliable stream of passive income. Sadly he gets greedy and ends up killing the source in the search for instant gratification.

In this article, one of my mentors Jim Rohn uses the Golden Goose story to discuss taxation. Here’s what he had to say:-

I realize that the topic of  taxes may seem like a strange place to begin the discussion of creating wealth.  And yet throughout our lives, whether young or old, we must learn the necessity  of paying taxes. And as soon as they have any money at all, our children, too, must  learn that when they spend money they immediately become consumers. And all consumers  of goods and services, no matter how young, must pay taxes. Why?

Because we have all agreed  to live as a society, and for that society to function properly, there are some  things we cannot do for ourselves alone. For example, we cannot each build a piece  of the street. The machinery would be too expensive, and it would take too long  to learn how to use it. So we have a government. And a government is made up of  people who do things for us that we cannot or do not want to do ourselves. Because  the streets, the sidewalks, the police, and the fire department must all be paid  for, we’ve agreed to add some money each time we buy something and give it to the  government.

We then move on to federal  taxes. Here is a good way to explain federal taxes. I call it “The Care and Feeding  of the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs.” It’s so important to feed the goose-not  to abuse the goose or tear off its wings-but to feed and care for it.

What’s that you say? The goose  eats too much? That’s probably true. But then, don’t we all eat too much? If so,  let not one appetite accuse another. If you step on the scales and you’re ten pounds  too heavy, you’ve got to say, “Yes, the government and I are each about ten pounds  too heavy. Looks like we both eat too much.” No question about it. Every appetite  must be disciplined-yours, mine, and the government’s. Hey, we could all go on a  diet!

My mentor, Mr. Shoaff, urged  me early on to become a happy taxpayer. Now, I must admit it took a while, but I  finally did become a happy taxpayer. Part of this transformation occurred when I  began to understand the function of taxes and that it is right for everyone to pay  his or her fair share.

I finally decided I didn’t  mind picking up my share of the tab for defense. It’s so necessary for our safety  as a country to keep the bullies away. Some people say, “Why bother with all that  expensive equipment? They won’t come over here.” Obviously, those people haven’t  been reading their history books.

Others say, “We’re not about  to pick up the tab for defense.” Well then, I suggest they go to a place which doesn’t  offer defense as part of the package. If one is going to enjoy the benefits, one  should pay a share.

Now, let me add this: Don’t  pay more than you should. By all means take advantage of the incentives. They were  given to you as a reward for channeling your money into areas the government thinks  helps the economy.

All I’m saying is that when  everything has been computed, all legitimate deductions have been taken, and you  reach that last line on your income tax form, whatever the amount, pay it. And pay  with happiness, knowing that you’re feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs-the  golden eggs of freedom, safety, justice, and free enterprise. Some goose! Some eggs.

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/blogs/ten-year-end-facts-canadians-need-to-know

And while here, check out the think tanks other thoughts, I am sure there is some gold nuggets in there !

Bonus ... Goose or Eggs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjF2SvzlOm0&list=PLhhVyaUmOQupT95UiO_74c0-wATcRxceV&index=15

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Sleepless Govenor

https://www.wealthprofessional.ca/market-talk/these-are-the-biggest-fears-for-the-canadian-economy-235530.aspx Things that keep the govenor awake at night One thing he said was that young people just starting need jobs and without those jobs they can get stuck right from the Get go. I had an idea, stewardship thought moment. The government should make a job for every young person for their first job, give them the experience of having a job, limit it to at least a year, and have a lot of young people with a good first job, launch them into the world with a good foundation, bring the age down for the permanent positions to make room for our young people and redeploy these people into industry and other services. Stabilize, Train, Encourage, Launch A little utopia idea , I think it could have merit and would increase the value for society as a whole - TLR
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Rewire The Brain

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/how-complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity/article31893948/ A great article on the effects of negative thinking and talking. Interesting the bridges that are laid down for the bad or the good. Reminds me of some Jim Rohn says. Look for them in the comment sections going forward. A merry heart is the ticket to a good life. Have a blessed day! Tim
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Year-end planning for RRSPs and TFSAs

Year-end planning for RRSPs and TFSAs (December 2017)

"Wolters Kluwer's insider tips for year end planning, worth reviewing the little details that might apply to you" ~ TLR

For most Canadians, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) don’t become top of mind until near the end of February, as the annual contribution deadline approaches. When it comes to tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), most Canadians are aware that there is no contribution deadline for such plans, so that contributions can be made at any time. Consequently, neither RRSPs nor TFSAs tend to be a priority when it comes to year-end tax planning.

Notwithstanding those facts, there are considerations which apply to both RRSPs and TFSAs in relation to the approach of the end of calendar year. Failing to take those considerations into account can mean the permanent loss of contribution room, a loss of flexibility when it comes to making withdrawals, or having to pay more tax than required when funds are withdrawn. Some of those considerations are outlined below.

When you need to make your RRSP contribution on or before December 31st

While most RRSP contributions, in order to be deducted on the return for 2017, can be made anytime up to and including March 1, 2018, there is one important exception to that rule.

Every Canadian who has an RRSP must collapse that plan by the end of the year in which he or she turns 71 years of age – usually by converting the RRSP into a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) or by purchasing an annuity. An individual who turns 71 during the year is still entitled to make a final RRSP contribution for that year, assuming that he or she has sufficient contribution room. However, in such cases, the 60-day window for contributions after December 31st is not available. Any RRSP contribution to be made by a person who turns 71 during the year must be made by December 31st of that year.

Make spousal RRSP contributions before December 31

Under Canadian tax rules, a taxpayer can make a contribution to a registered retirement savings plans (RRSP) in his or her spouse’s name and claim the deduction for the contribution on his or her own return. When the funds are withdrawn by the spouse, the amounts are taxed as the spouse’s income, at a (presumably) lower tax rate. However, the benefit of having withdrawals taxed in the hands of the spouse is available only where the withdrawal takes place no sooner than the end of the second calendar year following the year in which the contribution is made. Therefore, where a contribution to a spousal RRSP is made in December of 2017, the contributor can claim a deduction for that contribution on his or her return for 2017. The spouse can then withdraw that amount as early as January 1, 2020 and have it taxed in his or her own hands. If the contribution isn’t made until January or February of 2018, the contributor can still claim a deduction for it on the 2017 tax return, but the amount won’t be eligible to be taxed in the spouse’s hands on withdrawal until January 1, 2021. It’s an especially important consideration for couples who are approaching retirement who may plan on withdrawing funds in the relatively new future. Even where that’s not the situation, making the contribution before the end of the calendar year will ensure maximum flexibility should an unanticipated withdrawal become necessary.

Accelerate any planned TFSA withdrawals into 2017

Each Canadian aged 18 and over can make an annual contribution to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) – the maximum contribution for 2017 is $5,500. As well, where an amount previously contributed to a TFSA is withdrawn from the plan, that withdrawn amount can be re-contributed, but not until the year following the year of withdrawal.

Consequently, it makes sense, where a TFSA withdrawal is planned within the next few months, perhaps to pay for a winter vacation or to make an RRSP contribution, to make that withdrawal before the end of the calendar year. A taxpayer who withdraws funds from his or her TFSA before December 31st, 2017 will have the amount withdrawn added to his or her TFSA contribution limit for 2018, which means it can be re-contributed as early as January 1, 2018. If the same taxpayer waits until January of 2018 to make the withdrawal, he or she won’t be eligible to replace the funds withdrawn until 2019.


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.
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Dec Steps for Tax Planning

Year-end tax planning – some steps to take before December 31st (December 2017)

"Some great advice from my CCH partners" ~ TLR 

As the 2017 calendar year winds down, the window of opportunity to take steps to reduce one’s tax bill for the 2017 tax year is closing. As a general rule, tax planning or tax saving strategies must be undertaken and completed by December 31st, in order to make a difference to one’s tax liability for 2017. (For individual taxpayers, the only significant exception to that rule is registered retirement savings plan contributions. Such contributions can be made any time up to and including March 1, 2018, and claimed on the return for 2017.)

While the remaining time frame in which tax planning strategies for 2017 can be implemented is only a few weeks, the good news is that the most readily available of those strategies don’t involve a lot of planning or complicated financial structures – in many cases, it’s just a question of considering the timing of expenditures which would have been made in any case. Below is a list of the most common such opportunities available to individual Canadians.

Charitable donations

The federal government and all of the provincial and territorial governments provide a tax credit for donations made to registered charities during the year. In all cases, in order to claim a credit for a donation in a particular tax year, that donation must be made by the end of that calendar year – there are no exceptions.

There is, however, another reason to ensure donations are made by December 31st. The credit provided by each of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments is a two-level credit, in which the percentage credit claimable increases with the amount of donation made. For federal tax purposes, the first $200 in donations is eligible for a non-refundable tax credit equal to 15% of the donation. The credit for donations made during the year which exceed the $200 threshold is, however, calculated as 29% of the excess. Where the taxpayer making the donation has taxable income (for 2017) over $202,800, charitable donations above the $200 threshold can receive a federal tax credit of 33%.

As a result of the two-level credit structure, the best tax result is obtained when donations made during a single calendar year are maximized. For instance, a qualifying charitable donation of $400 made in December 2017 will receive a federal credit of $88  ($200 × 15% + $200 × 29%). If the same amount is donated, but the donation is split equally between December 2017 and January 2018, the total credit claimable is only $60 ($200 × 15% + $200 × 15%), and the 2018 donation can’t be claimed until the 2018 return is filed in April 2019. And, of course, the larger the donation in any one calendar year, the greater the proportion of that donation which will receive credit at the 29% level rather than the 15% level.

It’s also possible to carry forward, for up to 5 years, donations which were made in a particular tax year. So, if donations made in 2017 don’t reach the $200 level, it’s usually worth holding off on claiming the donation and carrying forward to the next year in which total donations, including carryforwards, are over that threshold. Of course, this also means that donations made but not claimed in any of the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 tax years can be carried forward and added to the total donations made in 2017, and the aggregate then claimed on the 2017 tax return.

When claiming charitable donations, it’s possible to combine donations made by oneself and one’s spouse and claim them on a single return. Generally, and especially in provinces and territories which impose a high-income surtax – currently, Ontario and Prince Edward Island – it makes sense for the higher income spouse to make the claim for the total of charitable donations made by both spouses. Doing so will reduce the tax payable by that spouse and thereby minimize (or avoid) liability for the provincial high-income surtax.

This year, there is an additional last-chance incentive for Canadians who have not been in the habit of making charitable donations to make a cash donation to a registered charity. In the 2013 Budget, the federal government introduced a temporary charitable donations super-credit. That super-credit (which can be claimed only once) allows individuals who have not claimed a charitable donations tax credit in any tax year since 2007 to claim a super-credit on up to $1,000 in cash donations made during the year. The super-credit works by providing an additional 25% credit for cash donations. Consequently, when the super-credit is combined with the regular charitable donations tax credit, the total credit claimable is equal to 40% (15% + 25%) of donations under $200 and 54% (29% + 25%) of donations over the $200 threshold. This year (2017) is the last year for which the super-credit can be claimed, and only in respect of qualifying donations made before the end of the year.

Timing of medical expenses

There are an increasing number of medical expenses which are not covered by provincial health care plans, and an increasing number of Canadians who do not have private coverage for such costs through their employer. In those situations, Canadians have to pay for such unavoidable expenditures – including dental care, prescription drugs, ambulance trips, and many other para-medical services, like physiotherapy, on an  out-of-pocket basis. Fortunately, where such costs must be paid for partially or entirely by the taxpayer, the medical expense tax credit is available to help offset those costs. Unfortunately, the computation of such expenses and, in particular, the timing of making a claim for the credit, can be confusing. In addition, the determination of which expenses qualify for the credit and which expenses do not isn’t necessarily intuitive, nor is the determination of when it’s necessary to obtain prior authorization from a medical professional in order to ensure that the contemplated expenditure will qualify for the credit.

The basic rule is that qualifying medical expenses (a lengthy list of which can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/medical/#mdcl_xpns) over 3% of the taxpayer’s net income, or $2,268, whichever is less, can be claimed for purposes of the medical expense tax credit on the taxpayer’s return for 2017.

Put in more practical terms, the rule for 2017 is that any taxpayer whose net income is less than $75,500 will be entitled to claim medical expenses that are greater than 3% of his or her net income for the year. Those having income over $75,500 will be limited to claiming qualifying expenses which exceed the $2,268 threshold.

The other aspect of the medical expense tax credit which can cause some confusion is that it’s possible to claim medical expenses which were incurred prior to the current tax year, but weren’t claimed on the return for the year that the expenditure was made. The actual rule is that the taxpayer can claim qualifying medical expenses incurred during any 12-month period which ends in the current tax year, meaning that each taxpayer must determine which 12-month period ending in 2017 will produce the greatest amount eligible for the credit. That determination will obviously depend on when medical expenses were incurred so there is, unfortunately, no universal rule of thumb which can be used.

Medical expenses incurred by family members – the taxpayer, his or her spouse, dependent children who were born in 2000 or later, and certain other dependent relatives – can be added together and claimed by one member of the family. In most cases, it’s best, in order to maximize the amount claimable, to make that claim on the tax return of the lower income spouse, where that spouse has tax payable for the year.

As December 31st approaches, it’s a good idea to add up the medical expenses which have been incurred during 2017, as well as those paid during 2016 and not claimed on the 2016 return. Once those totals are known, it will be easier to determine whether to make a claim for 2017 or to wait and claim 2017 expenses on the return for 2018. And, if the decision is to make a claim for 2017, knowing what medical expenses were paid and when, will enable the taxpayer to determine the optimal 12-month waiting period for the claim.

Finally, it’s a good idea to look into the timing of medical expenses which will have to be paid early in 2018. Where those are significant expenses (for instance, a particularly costly medication which must be taken on an ongoing basis) it may make sense, where possible, to accelerate the payment of those expenses to December 2017, where that means they can be included in 2017 totals and claimed on the 2017 return.  

Reviewing tax instalments for 2017

Millions of Canadian taxpayers (particularly the self-employed and retired Canadians) pay income taxes by quarterly instalments, with the amount of those instalments representing an estimate of the taxpayer’s total liability for the year.

The final quarterly instalment for this year will be due on Friday December 15, 2017. By that time, almost everyone will have a reasonably good idea of what his or her income and deductions will be for 2017 and so will be in a position to estimate what the final tax bill for the year will be, taking into account any tax planning strategies already put in place, as well as any RRSP contributions which will be made before March 2, 2018. While the tax return forms to be used for the 2017 year haven’t yet been released by the CRA, it’s possible to arrive at an estimate by using the 2016 form. Increases in tax credit amounts and tax brackets from 2016 to 2017 will mean that using the 2016 form will likely result in a slight over-estimate of tax liability for 2017.

Once one’s tax bill for 2017 has been calculated, that figure should be compared to the total of tax instalments already made during 2017 (that figure can be obtained by calling the CRA’s Individual Income Tax Enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281). Depending on the result, it may then be possible to reduce the amount of the tax instalment to be paid on December 15 – and thereby free up some funds for the inevitable holiday spending!


The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.
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