How to Find the Right Tax Preparer

As the tax deadline looms on the horizon, I felt folks might need a few helpful hints on how to choose the right tax preparer for you, or maybe more accurately, which tax preparers not to choose (especially if you are in a rush, the wrong decision here could end up being quite costly for you).

Laughing Accountant

An Accountant with a Sense of Humor?
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If your prospective tax preparer has any of the following problems or character flaws, don’t choose them to prepare your taxes:

  • If they say that they are not very good with numbers, but that doesn’t matter much with taxes, run away from them very quickly
  • Should they mention in passing that it was nice of you to drop by, as they just got out of prison for fraud, you might not want to choose them to prepare your taxes, unless they are a relative. In that case invoke the, “I don’t do business with family”, clause.
  • If they ask you, “Now when is the tax filing deadline this year?”, you might want to rethink hiring them, for your tax preparation needs.
  • If the firm is called H&P Block that might be a dead giveaway they are trying to snare unsuspecting clients, assuming they are getting H&R Block.
  • If their motto is, “Only 1/2 our clients get audit’ed, and we were out of town when that happened“, that shouldn’t give you a lot of confidence in their skills.
  • A laughing accountant always worries me too, but that might just be my own experience going to school with future accountants.
  • If Canadian Tire started offering Tax Preparation services while I waited for my oil change, while convenient, I would avoid that service as well.
  • If they offer you an “Instant Cashback“, doesn’t that make you wonder how much more of a tax rebate they may have found for you? If you need your tax rebate that fast, you may have bigger problems than you think (financially).

Just a few helpful hints on who to avoid as your tax preparer for this year.

{ 0 comments }

Budget 2015 What’s In It For Me ?

When I say, what is in it for me (the Federal Budget for 2015), I mean ME, the BCM, since you should really read it yourself and figure out what is good (and bad) for you.

What are the things that I (the Big Cajun Man) dislike about this budget? I am not fond of the “sleight of hand” accounting that is going on to claim the “balanced budget”, I am not that worried about it being balanced, and having odd pay outs on programs (and cutting programs without necessarily mentioning it), smacks of “Nortel-ian” accounting practices.

Budget Cuts

Budget Cuts

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’d also like to have all taxes abolished, if you were asking, but given that is not likely to happen in my lifetime, I guess I should get on to the things that I do like about this budget:

  • The TFSA limit is officially doubled to $10,000, I like that, even though I am middle class, and can’t use all this savings room just yet. I am concerned that the Liberals are already threatening to roll this back to $5000, never a good idea to take things away from folks in programs.
  • The “Family tax credit” for families like mine, where I can income share with my spouse is now officially in the budget (although I already have it for the last fiscal year). Wonder whether the Liberals or NDP will try to cut that as well, again, never good form taking money out of folks pockets. The UCCB is nice as well.
  • I am kind of baffled/curious about this statement:

    Making the Canada Student Loans Program work for families by reducing the expected parental contribution under the needs assessment process.

    What does this mean? I don’t know but it sure sounds nice.

  • Reducing EI premiums is nice, as it is a tax, no matter how you define it.
  • Another useful idea, that I think I like is:

    Extending Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits from six weeks to six months to better support Canadians caring for gravely ill family members.

  • Seniors now have a less aggressive withdrawal schedule from their RRIFs as well, seeing as I will be thinking about that soon, I like it.
  • Another useful credit for folks with disabled family members, or seniors who need to add things to their house to make it a bit safer for them

    Introducing a new Home Accessibility Tax Credit for seniors and persons with disabilities to help with the costs of ensuring their homes remain safe, secure and accessible.

  • Another interesting and somewhat non-commital statement is:

    Launching a National Strategy to support improved financial literacy.

    but I suspect that means they won’t be giving me a subsidy for this site :-)

  • Some good ideas for veterans, but still not enough, for someone who you asked to go into harm’s way.
  • Another point near and dear to my heart, but again, the wording is a bit odd:

    $2.0 million in 2015–16 to support stakeholder consultations on a Canadian Autism Partnership.

    I am not sure whom they will be consulting with.

There are a bunch of other measures, that you should read about, to see how it affects you. You could read the Tweets about it, if you want a really short version of the important stuff.

{ 2 comments }

Thanks for the $2000 CRA

I have been slowly getting my Tax Returns together (I do them for most of my direct family), and while doing that I wondered if I was going to receive the announced $2000 tax rebate announced last fall, so I went looking to see whether that was the case.

I am talking about Line 423 of your return:

Under proposed changes, for the 2014 and subsequent tax years, you or your spouse or common law partner may be able to claim a non refundable tax credit of up to $2,000, if your child ordinarily lived with you or your spouse or common-law partner throughout the year.

Luckily, we have young Master C8j, and Mrs. C8j works “full part-time” so she does not earn too much, so we end up not eligible for this credit. Given Mrs. C8j stayed home for most of the time when my daughters were growing up, it would have been nice to have this credit back then, but I suppose I can’t complain about it. Naturally Turbotax Canada 2014 had the credit already calculated.

My only query ends up being, why is this being capped at $2000? I keep reading how it only helps the Rich Middle Class in Canada (I’d like to say “WTF?” to that one), or that somehow it discriminates against women working (yes I did read that, I ain’t making it up), anybody care to comment about how it is such a diabolical Harper Government ploy to take over our minds?

Is this enough to buy my vote? No, since (as usual) the program is half-baked (much like the TFSA and other ideas), and I am not a one issue voter.

{ 11 comments }

Tax Tips for Parents with Kids with Disabilities

Our friends at Turbotax (who gave me those Free Copies of Turbotax) had one of their associates tax expert and personal finance consultant Robin Taub send me a few Tax Tips for families with disabled family members .

Answers

Some Answers for Parents with loved ones with disabilities.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here are a few of her tips:

Some important points to remember, remember to take advantage of all the tax credits that you can, it is your money to have. Remember to check out my RDSP page where this and many other helpful posts like this are archived.

{ 0 comments }

Tax Time! TurboTax Giveaway

Yes, it’s that time of the year, where the Tax man is beefing up their Helpline, RRSP vendors are out for your last buck, and financial bloggers like me give you useful tax tips, in Canada, it is Tax Time!

This is the season when folks like Mark over at the Blunt Bean Counter earn their money, and I start getting odd e-mails about whether you can claim your dog as a dependent (the simple answer is NO! you cannot).

Tax Time

Tax Time

How better to celebrate this festive season than a Turbotax (on-line) giveaway. What is Turbotax on-line? Here is a helpful blurb about the software:

With TurboTax Online or ImpôtRapide en ligne, you prep your taxes and pay at the end, when you’re happy with the result and ready to NETFILE. 

As this is Canada, I like to stick with the concept that contest winners need to answer a skill testing question, or have to do something (I don’t give stuff away for free, just ask my kids).

This year we have a simple question that, you must answer in the comments of this article, by February  6th to be considered for this free software (I am giving 3 codes away).

Question: The stupidest thing I ever left off my tax return was _____________
(fill in the blank)

The winner will be chosen (at random) from the entries that qualify (i.e. you can’t just put in, “GIVE ME THE  SOFTWARE” and be considered).

NB: You must supply a valid e-mail address or your entry will not qualify.

{ 39 comments }