Tax time is happening now, and as most of us will agree, it can be… somewhat taxing on us.
I mean, spring is just BUSY. With so much going on at home with our expanding families, at work, and with the meltdown exposing the muddy, dog-poopy mess of our backyards and dilapidated gardens that are in need of our love and attention, it can be tough to commit any time at all to filing your 2016 taxes. And then all the sudden it’s the end of April, and you’re panicking because you realize that you have no idea even HOW to file taxes for your new family.
It’s no wonder with the variety of changes in government policy over the last couple of years, and the onslaught of articles online that we’ve discovered are often misleading or outdated that you are left wondering what’s what. We’ve just gone through this ourselves and got the lowdown from a not-so-secret source (to be revealed), so we thought we’d pass it along. Sharing is caring, right?
Here’s the shortlist of claims that families in Canada are eligible to make:
Let’s start with your marital status – If you are:
1. Married or common-law with children under 18 years old; or,
2. You are a single parent with children under 18 years old, you are eligible for:
- Canada child tax benefit (CCTB): This is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children. The amount you’ll receive is based on your family income, the province you live in, the number of children you have and your child’s eligibility.
- Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit: This credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps families with low or modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay.
- Provincial and territorial benefits and credits: These benefits and credits will vary depending on which province you call home. Check out the list!
If you’re curious about how much the return might be for your family, you can use the CRA’s handy estimate tool available on their website, called the Child and Family Benefits Calculator to get a ballpark estimate.
Not a parent yet but about to become one?
If you are expecting a baby (congrats by the way!), there is good news for you. It’s actually really easy for you to update your family records to become eligible to receive family benefits. Here’s how it works: if you are the parent of a newborn, you can use the Automated Benefits Application on the birth registration form when you register your baby with your province. This allows you to apply for the Canada child benefit, the GST/HST credit, and related provincial or territorial programs for your child all at the same time.
Are there any other benefits for families?
There are all types of families. They come in different shapes and sizes, with varying lifestyles and scenarios in their day-to-day. Depending on your family situation, there are some other benefits your family may be eligible for, including:
Children’s Fitness Tax Credit: This credit is calculated as 15% of any physical activity or sport team registration fee, up to a maximum of $1,000 for each child under 16 years of age. An additional $500 can be claimed if you are raising a child under 18 with disabilities, so long as their membership cost at least $100. This is the last year you can take advantage of this, so definitely do so if it applies.
Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB): This is a refundable tax credit that provides tax relief for eligible working low-income individuals and families (who are already in the workforce).
Child Disability Benefit: If you are caring for a child under the age of 18 who is eligible for the disability tax credit, you could be eligible to receive this tax-free benefit.
Here’s the Secret to Our Stress-Free Tax Return This Year
Still feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, we get it. Baby Brain, Sleep Deprivation Mode, Mommy Brain, Momnesia – call it what you will, but the struggle is real. That’s why this year we turned to H&R Block to help file our taxes. We loved that they have both online and in-person options (because sometimes it is literally impossible to get out of the house on your own). This year, we were really unsure about filing taxes as parents for the first time, so we decided it was best to go in and speak to someone. Our very awesome H&R Associate patiently listened to EVERY lingering question we had about this topic and walked us through all the benefits our new family was eligible for. They helped our family maximize our return this year – which has come in handy with the new baby (and new expenses!). Let them take care of the work for you, so you can spend your time with your family or in your garden!
Congratulations to Kristina Vargo of Warman, Saskatchewan for winning the $1000.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.