year end (8)

Year Tax Notes from Cantax

Tax consequences of employer holiday gifts and bonuses (December 2021)
December 6, 2021

During the month of December, it’s customary for employers to provide something “extra” for their employees, by way of a holiday gift, a year-end bonus, or an employer-sponsored social event. Once again this year, as in 2020, there is unlikely to be an annual office holiday party; however, employees may still be able to look forward to something additional in the way of compensation during the last month of the year. In fact, given the current labour shortage and the difficulties employers are having attracting and retaining employees, there may be an added incentive for employers to show their appreciation to current employees by means of a holiday gift or bonus.

What such employers certainly don’t want to do is to create a tax liability for their employees. Unfortunately, it’s also the case that a failure to properly structure such gifts or other extras can result in unintended and unwelcome tax consequences to those employees.

Trying to formulate and administer the tax rules around holiday gifts is something of a no-win situation for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). On an individual or even a company level, the amounts involved are usually small, or even nominal, and the range of situations which must be addressed by the related tax rules are virtually limitless. As a result, the cost of drafting and administering those rules can outweigh the revenue generated by the enforcement of such rules, to say nothing of the potential ill will generated by imposing tax consequences on holiday gifts or parties. Notwithstanding, the potential exists for employers to provide what would otherwise be taxable remuneration in the guise of holiday gifts, and it’s the responsibility of the tax authorities to ensure that such situations don’t slip through the tax net.

There is, as a result, a detailed set of rules which outline the tax consequences of gifts and awards provided by the employer. The starting point for the rules is that any gift (cash or non-cash) received by an employee from his or her employer at any time of the year is considered to constitute a taxable benefit, to be included in the employee’s income for that year. On its website, the CRA indicates that the following types of gifts/bonuses/reimbursements will result in a taxable benefit to the employee:

cash or near-cash gifts and awards such as Christmas or holiday bonuses or near-cash gifts and awards such as gift certificates;
points that can be redeemed for air travel or other rewards; or an internal points system where an employee earns points and can redeem them for items from a catalogue;
reimbursements from an employer to an employee for a gift or an award that the employee selected, paid for, and then provided a receipt to the employer for reimbursement; and
hospitality rewards such as employer-provided team building lunches and rewards in the nature of a thank you for doing a good job.
While the above listing may seem comprehensive, the CRA does make an administrative concession in this area, allowing non-cash gifts (within a specified dollar limit) to be received tax-free by employees, as long as such gifts are given on religious holidays such as Christmas or Hanukkah, or on the occasion of a significant life event, like a birthday, marriage, or the birth of a child.

In sum, the CRA’s administrative policy is simply that non-cash gifts to an arm’s length employee, regardless of the number of such gifts, will not be taxable if the total fair market value of all such gifts (including goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax) to that employee is $500 or less annually. The total value over $500 annually will be a taxable benefit to the employee, and must be included on the employee’s T4 for the year, and on which income tax must be paid.

It’s important to remember the “non-cash” criterion imposed by the CRA, as the $500 per year administrative concession does not apply to what the CRA terms “cash or near-cash” gifts and all such gifts are considered to be a taxable benefit and included in income for tax purposes, regardless of amount. For this purpose, the CRA considers anything which could be easily converted to cash as a “near-cash” gift. Even a gift or award which cannot be converted to cash will be considered to be a near-cash gift if, in the CRA’s words, it “functions in the same way as cash”. So, a gift card or gift certificate which can be used by the employee to purchase his or her choice of merchandise or services would be considered a near-cash gift, and taxable as such. It’s not hard to see that drawing a firm line between cash and non-cash gifts can be difficult. The CRA provides the following information and examples to help clarify that difference.

Example of a near-cash gift or award
You give your employee a $100 gift card of gift certificate to a department store. The employee can use this to purchase whatever merchandise or service the store offers. We consider the gift card or gift certificate to be an additional remuneration that is a taxable benefit for the employee because it functions in the same way as cash.

Example of non-cash gifts or awards
You give your employee a voucher (which may be a ticket or certificate) that entitles the employee to receive an item for a set value at a store. For example, you may give your employees a voucher for a turkey valued up to $30 as a Christmas gift, and for convenience, you arrange for your employees to go to a particular grocery store and exchange the voucher for a turkey. The employees can only use the voucher to receive a turkey valued up to $30 (no substitutes).

It may seem nearly impossible to plan for employee holiday gifts and other benefits without running afoul of one or more of the detailed rules and administrative policies surrounding the taxation of such gifts and benefits. However, designing a tax-effective plan is possible, if the following rules are kept in mind.

Any cash or near-cash gifts should be avoided, as they will, no matter what the amount, create a taxable benefit to the employee. Although gift certificates or pre-paid credit cards are a popular choice, they aren’t a tax-effective one, as they will invariably be considered by the CRA to create a taxable benefit to the employee.

Where non-cash holiday gifts are provided to employees, gifts with a value of up to $500 can be received free of tax. The employer must be mindful of the fact that the $500 limit is a per-year and not a per-occasion limit. Where the employee receives non-cash gifts with a total value of more than $500 in any one taxation year, the portion over $500 is a taxable benefit to the employee.

While the rules around employer gifts aren’t complex, they are detailed, and it’s necessary to consider carefully the kinds of gifts which are given and to be mindful of the annual $500 per employee limit on non-cash gifts. At the end of the day, a gift which results in unintended and unwanted tax consequences is unlikely to engender much holiday spirit or goodwill on the part of the employee who receives it.

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.

 

The tax year is ending - some planning steps to take before December 31 (December 2021)
December 6, 2021

For individual Canadian taxpayers, the tax year ends at the same time as the calendar year. What that means for individual Canadians is that any steps taken to reduce their tax payable for 2021 must be completed by December 31, 2021. (For individual taxpayers, the only significant exception to that rule is registered retirement savings plan contributions; with some exceptions, such contributions can be made any time up to and including March 1, 2022, and claimed on the return for 2021.)

While the remaining time frame in which tax planning strategies for 2021 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 steps which would have been taken in any event. What follows is a listing of some of the steps which should be considered by most Canadian taxpayers as the year end approaches.

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, 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 31. 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. For the minority of taxpayers who have taxable income (for 2021) over $216,511, 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 2021 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 2021 and January 2022, the total credit claimable is only $60 ($200 × 15% + $200 × 15%), and the 2022 donation can’t be claimed until the 2022 return is filed in April 2023. 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 2021 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 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020 tax years can be carried forward and added to the total donations made in 2021, and the aggregate then claimed on the 2021 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.

Claiming home office expenses
As pandemic restrictions have eased and lockdowns ended, some employees have begun to return to the office on at least a part-time basis. However, there’s no question that millions of employees have spent at least a part of the 2021 tax year working from home. There are a lot of benefits to a work from home arrangement, and one of them is the ability to claim a tax deduction on the 2021 tax return for household costs that would have been incurred in any event.

In order to claim a deduction for costs related to a work from home space, employees must meet at least one of the following conditions:

the home work space is where the individual mainly (more than 50% of the time) does their work; or
the individual uses the workspace only to earn his or her employment income—he or she must also use it on a regular and continuous basis for meeting clients, customers, or other people in the course of his or her employment duties.
To establish that the required circumstances exist, and that the employee is not receiving an allowance or a reimbursement for home office expenses from the employer, it’s necessary to have a particular form completed and signed by that employer. That form, the T2200, can be found on the CRA website at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/forms/t2200.html.

Once the requisite criteria are met, and certified by the employer on the T2200, a broad range of costs become deductible by the employee. Specifically, a salaried employee can claim and deduct the part of specified costs that relate to his or her work space, such as the cost of electricity, heating, home maintenance, and home internet access (but not internet connection) fees.

Where an individual who qualifies under either of the criteria outlined above is a commission employee, an even broader range of costs become deductible. In addition to costs for electricity, heating, home maintenance, and home internet access fees, a commission employee can also deduct a proportionate share of costs incurred for property taxes and home insurance.

There is no specific formula provided for determining the proportion of eligible costs which can be deducted for qualifying home office expenses. The employee can determine that percentage based on the square footage of the workspace as a percentage of the overall square footage of the home, or he or she can make that calculation based on the number of rooms in the house or apartment relative to the number of rooms used for work-related purposes. Whichever method is chosen, the most important consideration is that the approach taken (and the expenses claimed) be reasonable. In all cases, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can ask the taxpayer to provide documentation and support for claims made.

In order to determine the amount of any deduction for eligible home office expenses which can be claimed on the return for 2021, it’s necessary to gather together bills and receipts for the various expense categories (utilities bills, property tax notices, etc.). It’s a tedious and sometimes time-consuming task, but necessary both in order to determine the amount of any available deduction and to have the required documentation for that deduction available should the CRA ask to see it. The T2200 signed by the employer does not have to be filed with the return but should also be kept as part of that documentation.

It should be noted that, for the 2020 tax year, the CRA permitted employees working from home to claim a home office deduction without the need to obtain a T2200 from the employer, or to calculate and document specific expenses as outlined above. However, when that administrative concession was announced, the CRA indicated that it was to be made available for the 2020 taxation year only. There has been no indication to date that such concession will be provided for 2021; consequently, employees should assume that, in order to claim a deduction for home office expenses for 2021, it will be necessary to follow the detailed steps outlined above.

Reviewing tax instalments for 2021
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 Wednesday December 15, 2021. By that time, almost everyone will have a reasonably good idea of what his or her income and deductions will be for 2021 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 1, 2022. While the tax return forms to be used for the 2021 year haven’t yet been released by the CRA, it’s possible to arrive at an estimate by using the 2020 form. Increases in tax credit amounts and tax brackets from 2020 to 2021 will mean that using the 2020 form will likely result in a slight overestimate of tax liability for 2021.

Once one’s tax bill for 2021 has been calculated, that figure should be compared to the total of tax instalments already made during 2021 (that figure can be obtained by checking one’s online tax account on the CRA website, or 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 additional 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.

 

Canada Revenue Agency announces individual tax brackets and credit amounts for 2022

November 22, 2021

 

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has released the indexing factor which will apply for purposes of determining individual income tax brackets and non-refundable tax credits for 2022.

That indexing factor, which is based on increases to the Consumer Price Index, has be set at 2.4% for 2022. The comparable figure for 2021 was 1%.

 A full listing of individual income tax brackets and non-refundable credit amounts for 2022 can be found on the CRA website at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/frequently-asked-questions-individuals/adjustment-personal-income-tax-benefit-amounts.html.

 

 

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Year End Payroll 2020

 

Year end reporting is way more complicated this yr, this is a helpful article, and some links to CRA site built in ~ TLR

http://www.canadian-accountant.com/content/partner-posts/understanding-wage-subsidies-at-year-end

 

Rachel Fisch of Wagepoint on TWS & CEWS compliance in time for 2020 year-end

 Author: Rachel Fisch
Rachel Fisch
Rachel Fisch is a strategic advisor at Wagepoint. Join Rachel  and Juliet Aurora, co-founder of AIS Solutions & Kninja Knetwork, on December 16, 2020, for a webinar on reporting wage subsidies for 2020 year-end.

Year-end reporting is complicated in a normal year — in 2020, it’s “rocket surgery.” 

This year saw the federal government introduce two different wage subsidies to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic: the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers (TWS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Both subsidies are considered income for the small businesses who took advantage of them and, as such, they each have specific reporting requirements. 

If you and your small business clients are feeling overwhelmed, you’re certainly not alone. This overview will walk you through the ABCs of the wage subsidies, and if you’re still confused about closing your clients’ books, you can join our December 16th webinar to go over it all in detail. I will be hosting this webinar with Juliet Aurora, co-founder of AIS Solutions & Kninja Knetwork. 

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Year End 2019

PEAK Disclosure - Click to reflect

Searched for wages and up came the 2018 year end

https://improvingfutures.ning.com/blog/year-end-2018-from-the-new-york-times

so wages is a good gauge to link in here, lets get a start on the year end, teh months seem to fly by

 

Wages in your industry, here is some data 

https://www.fastcompany.com/90437341/how-does-your-salary-compare-to-the-rest-of-the-industry-this-chart-shows-you

 

Some Trump Trudeau meet early Dec 2019

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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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