More tax reminders

I have struck through the no longer valid tips, just so you can see what used to be tax deductible.

Transit Pass Credit

Remember if you take the bus (or your kids do), you can use the Public Transit Tax Credit. Remember if your kids use a bus pass the following as well:

Yes, you can claim the tax credit for public transit passes on behalf of your spouse, common law partner, and your children under the age of 19, to the extent that these amounts have not already been claimed.

So the expense is transferable as well, useful to know that one.

Education

Having a child in University means I can claim her tuition on my taxes, which is not a bad thing. Since this is the first year for me with this, it is important to get all the forms done right, so please read over the web page and such and make sure the student involved fills in all the forms to allow for the transfer of these credits to you. I am still muddling through this one and will keep you posted on my progress.

The maximum tuition, education, and textbook amount transferred from a child (or fromeach child), is $5,000 minus the amounts that he or she uses, even if there is still an unclaimed part. Tuition, education, and textbook amounts that the student carried forward from a previous year cannot be transferred.

So $5000 max per child is another important point to remember. This is where the High Price of University comes back to help you a little.

Charitable Donations

Now is the time to rummage through your papers to find ALL the receipts that you so carefully stored away when they arrived (yes I am being sarcastic, about myself, I may one day take a picture of my home “work space” to show you just how cluttered and disorganized it is). Each one of these receipts is money back in your pocket, so make sure you find them all. 

I have a cross-reference method, since I use Quicken, I check in Quicken for my Charitable expenses and then go and hunt down the receipt (or send the charity a note asking for a duplicate).

Also make sure this is a valid charity, you can go on the CRA site to see which charities have had their Charity designations revoked.

Manual or Computer?

This is an interesting question I ask folks and sometimes get an interesting answer. I have been using various computer software to do my taxes ever since it was possible (I have a Math degree, not an Arithmetic degree), but I do know that Michael James on Money enjoys doing his taxes manually using forms and pencil.

Does anybody else use pencil and paper still? Do you use a service to make up  your taxes, and if so why? My taxes this year are going to be confusing, but still not complicated enough that I would pay to have someone else do it, but that may change in the future.


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Census Numbers are Interesting

Having a Math Degree I like numbers and when the Census figures came out from Stats Canada yesterday I reveled in the glorious minutia of the data that that was published.

Some of the interesting tidbits published were:

  • There are more than 200 different ethnic origins that we identify ourselves as. That is one hell of a lot of places and cultures to be associated with.
  • We are commuting a full 0.6 KM more than we did ten years ago to get to work. What is more interesting is that in Ottawa we are well above the country wide median for commuting. I think it’s all the people from Toronto who move to Kemptville that then claim their commute is still shorter than when they lived in Toronto that skew this data.
  • More of us are using public transit, which is good. I’d take the bus in Ottawa, but I want to get into work before lunch time (no direct routes from south to west).

Read through this data it’s always interesting to read and learn about.

Case Study:Why Arithmetic is Important

On the weekend I saw yet another example why math and arithmetic is important in our busy world.

We were at a fast food restaurant in Burlington, and a new trainee was working the cash. The service was very slow and the food was cold, but that is not the point of the story. When we finally got to the point where I was to pay for my food, I was told the total was $12.52 , I pulled out a $20 Bill, and a two-nie and found 2 quarters and two pennies and handed it to the young lady. She correctly pressed the right buttons and the register dutifully told her I was due $10.00 change.

This is when the problem arose. The register opened and she deposited my money into the drawer and then looked perplexed. After what felt like 2 minutes (most likely only 20 seconds), she calls over her supervisor (an older woman), and she pronounced, “I can’t give him change!”.

The supervisor looked at the tray and said, “Yes, you can!?!”.

The trainee pronounced, “… but there are no $10 bills…”. The supervisor rolled her eyes and pulled two $5 bills out handed them to me, looked at the trainee with a look of, “I am glad you are not my kid” and walked away.

Arithmetic is an important aspect to every education.

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Taxes Done

As an update, I submitted my taxes on the 15th and I got my refund on March 20th, so that is quite the speedy response. I did e-file, which I think speeds up the process, but I thought because I had waited a little later I might not get that quick a response, but in fact, I got the expected refund as did my wife and my daughter, so the taxes for last year are now closed.

The major helper for my larger than average refund were the following tax deductions and credits:

  1. Mass transit bus pass refund
  2. Donations to my Church
  3. Active Child tax credit  (no longer applicable)

Since those are really my only non-standard tax deductions and credits (oh and my safety deposit box for investing). I should actually adjust my tax deduction schedule so that I don’t get such a large refund (and instead get the money back during the year), but every year things change so I like to carry a certain amount of “cushion” in case I have unexpected income (like my wife working part time or a sudden win-fall from my financial blogging 🙂 ).

As a point of information I used Quicktax platinum again this year, mostly out of laziness and they had a package where I got a new copy of Quicken a Quicktax Platinum for about $100, which fit my purposes. I am not endorsing or slagging Quicktax, it worked fine for me, but I would guess other programs might have worked fine as well. I have a very “vanilla” tax return these days (don’t think I really needed the Platinum either).

End of Quarter

Yes this week is that last week of this financial quarter, so I will need to put together an updated financial statement for my wife. It is always interesting and useful to do this for me, just to see where I have made progress and areas where I need to keep working hard.

Time to also look at starting a new financial plan, given my Lenten plan didn’t quite work as hoped, but that is why pencils have erasers, mistakes happen. Start a new plan and see if this is the one that maybe gets you back on track.

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Rant: Where is my T4?

I really have a bone to pick with my employer. I realize that they don’t legally have to get me my T4 (receipt of employment income) before February “the last” (i.e. the last day of February), but it would be nice to have it before then, so I might be able to top up my RRSPs or whatever if I felt like it (I don’t, but that is not the point). I realize my employer is very busy, and I am grateful of their timely payments of my pay cheque, but I really would like to have a T4 some time real soon (like yesterday)!

This happens every year, where I have all of my receipts by the middle of February but I cannot file my return (or my wife’s return) until I get my T4. I can usually estimate on the basis of my final pay cheque, but inevitably, I miss some benefit that kills the HUGE tax refund I am expecting. Let’s hope it shows up in my mail box some time soon?

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