You Can Call the CRA for Tax Questions

During trying times this is a little harder, especially during tax time or during the Pandemic of 2020, but the CRA will try to answer your tax questions if you get through. CRA Tax questions can be quite simple, but at times they can be complicated as well.

It just might take a while, but be patient.

Lots of folks are calling the CRA right now for many reasons, and I still have a few questions I’d like to clarify before I file my family taxes. It is important to be sure you are taking the correct deductions and credits, before you file, so it is not a sign of weakness or feeble mindedness if you call the CRA (don’t be proud).

My patient comment comes from the fact that I called 4 times and got a busy signal (which is really bad form in the Help Line business, but we’ll forgive them that), I got through on my 5th call and then only had to wait 8 minutes until  I actually spoke to someone (I was expecting a much longer wait).

Have One Question

I have found that if you call the CRA or other help lines, you really should have 1 well thought out question. If you have many questions, maybe you should call a few times? I don’t know, but as soon as I ask more than 1 question I find the system seems to bog down or break, so I keep it to a single carefully worded question.

My question was about the fact that my daughter is attending an out of province University (we are in Ontario she is going to school in Nova Scotia), and the tax form  (and the Turbotax help page) says that the tuition may or may not be dealt with in a different way, so you should call the CRA help line, hence why I called.

Out of Province Tuition

My question was not too hard, and because the University she attends is an accredited institution,(but the answer is not written down anywhere, you need to call to make sure the school is OK with the CRA) so she can claim her tuition, and thus transfer a portion of it to me.

The young lady I spoke to was very helpful, and gave me the web page that she looked at and such, and she asked me if I had any more questions, and I answered NO. This does not mean I don’t have other questions, I am only going to ask one question this time, but I may call back.

All in all an OK experience this time, however, I am not sure how my future experiences will go.

Anybody else have any experiences with the CRA helpline?

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Medical Expenses and Taxes

Remember that if you have enough Medical Expenses it might be worth mentioning them on your Federal Tax returns.

Last year was a bigger year for medical expenses for me because of the following:

  • One of my daughters ruptured her ACL, and there was a fair amount of expenses there, including a brace and physio therapy.
  • I needed physio therapy for my knee, due to me getting old
  • My other daughter also had physio
  • Some visits to Psychologist for testing for my kids
  • Occupational Therapy for another kid

Now a great deal of this was covered under my health plan, but only up to 80% of the expense, and there was a limit to how much was paid for the year.

All of this adds up to over $7000 in expenses, but I must also then put in how much compensation I received from my Health insurance as well. It may add up to nothing, but it is something to think about.

How  was I able to know this? I checked on my Quicken, of course (sorry for the blatant plug, but it is actually the case in this instance). I put it all into my TurboTax (or you could use UFile as well) and it was easy enough to put it all in too (another blatant plug, but stay tuned there will be a giveaway coming too).

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Merry New Year, Please Open Your Wallet

Back to CPP and EI Folks

For anyone who earns anything more than $47,200 annually they have been enjoying a vacation from their Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums for the past little while, however, given it is a new year (2011), the government is now back collecting these from you.

It is a yearly right of passage to have these premiums raked out of your income, until a prescribed date, when you are on vacation from the fees for the rest of the year.

Wait, you looked at your Quicken and saw how much you made last year? Sorry, the amount you will be paying for each is going up, so you will be making a little less this year:

  • CPP maximum contribution for an employee was $2163.15 ($4326.30 if you are self-employed), however, in 2011 are $2,217.60 and $4,435.20 (self employed). Not a big jump but still a 2.5% increase on the total amount paid.
  • EI maximum payment for folks outside of Quebec was $747.36 for 2010 however in 2011 you will be paying and estimated $780.36 (max) outside of Quebec, a 4% increase in total amount paid.

Nice to think that the government will be pulling a little more out of your wallet this year, or have their big hands in your pockets.

Tax Rate Updates Might Help (a little)

Another better thing with the new year comes a change in Personal Income Tax brackets as  outlined in this fact sheet from the CRA. Each bracket is due to slide up 1.4%, so your tax bill may be a little lower in the new year, but check to make sure.

  • 22% Bracket now tops out at $41,544 up from $40,790
  • 26% Bracket is set at $83,088 up from $81,941
  • 29% Bracket now starts at $128,800 up from $127,021

Deductions increase as well with:

  • Your basic personal amount now goes up to $10,527 from $10,382, so again a little less tax there.
  • Your Spouse is worth a $10,527 deduction up from $10,382 last year

There are many other number changes that you should go and check out. If your income hasn’t changed in the past year, you may pay a little less tax (but a little more on CPP and EI), so it may end up a wash, you’ll have to check your first pay cheque to figure that one out yourself.

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Random Thoughts: Long Weekend Ahead

Here Comes a Long Weekend

Here in Ontario it is The Long Weekend with No Name coming up, so we are all celebrating in our own private ways. Only in Ontario could you have such a Milk Toast response to a holiday weekend, we may be boring, but it is only overshadowed by our complete dullness.

This week was a lot of fun for me, because I didn’t really have to work very hard on the blog, I hosted the Best of Money Carnival #61, wrote about how the CPI Back to 1.0%, and then ranted about things, which always makes me happy (the cathartic part of writing your own blog cannot be discounted). I was sad that no one told me whether my Good Wine was actually any good, my parents think it should have been good.

What was new this week, in the land of Finance for Home and Personal use? Some stuff to really make you scratch your head and wonder what is going on:

You get the feeling someone told bloggers that Top N lists are popular with readers?!? I can give you 3 reasons why that doesn’t work, but that can wait for my own post (I am such a snarky bugger when I want to be).

Weekly Reminders

Remember that I also micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well. twitter feed where I retweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)).

Also remember my RSS feed is available too, for those who enjoy reading without looking at my archaic page lay out, and I have added an RSS Comment Feed as well.

Finally remember that this site is iPhone Friendly (and iPod Touch Friendly), enjoy it on the go, in a readable format for the device.

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Random Thoughts: $50 Billion is a lot of money

During a week where the federal government disclosed just how enormous the federal budget deficit will be, there were other topics written about by the Financial Blogging world, but this topic alone is a pretty hot topic.

What could that kind of “money printing” cause in the economy? Jon Chevreau points out in the U.S. it could mean Hyperinflation on the Zimbabwean scale (at least in Dr. Doom’s estimation at least).

Random Thoughts: Pensions?

Have a great weekend folks, hopefully the rain will stop, but maybe my grass needs it?

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