By Fin MacDonald
Fin Tax Service
Improvements to Service?
The 2018 tax season for 2017 tax returns kicks off on Monday February 26, with the opening of the Efile service for individual tax filers. The same day printed versions of the Tax Guide and Tax Form booklets will be available at postal outlets. As one of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) “Service Improvements” (sic), this will be the last year that the Guide and Forms will be locally available. In 2019 taxpayers will either have to print these from the CRA website or order them by phone.
Another change, affecting tardy taxpayers, is that this year tax preparers will no longer be able to Efile 2013 tax returns. Before 2014, Efile only accepted current year tax returns. The CRA stated that they would be keeping open the system to allow upto ten years of returns by adding one year each year. This has now apparently changed; whether the annual increase will resume next year is unknown. (Maybe 4 years is 10 years in disguise!).
Effective March 1 to April 30, the CRA telephone service will go to expanded hours: Monday – Friday 9 AM – 9PM; Saturdays 9 AM – 5 PM. No phone service on holidays.
“File my Return”
File my Return is a return to telephone filing of tax returns. Eligible taxpayers – those with fixed income or simple returns that have not changed – will receive an Invitation Letter in mid-February. The service will operate from February 26 to April 30, 2018. Potential problems include filing before the CRA has all of your Information Slips. This may cause incomplete returns and subsequent re-assessments.
Pay In Person www.payinperson.ca
To provide another option to make payments on filing, installment payments, and balances owing, the CRA has teamed up with Canada Post and Loadhub Express. By going online you can generate a QR Code.
You take this to a Canada Post outlet where you then pay, using cash or a debit card. There is a service fee for this, based on the amount of your payment. Upto $1,000 the fee is $3.95; $1,000-2,500 the fee is $5.95; at $3,000 the fee is $11.90 and so on. At a payment of $20,000 the fee is $53.65. Unless you are dealing with Pay Day Loan companies, these fees are not very attractive.
Tax Changes for the 2017 Tax Return
There has been the usual inflation adjustment to personal tax credits; Federal Basic Personal Amount is now $11,635, Age Amount is upto $7,225, Spousal Amount is $11,635, Disability Amount is $8,113. The Pension Income Amount remains at $2,000.
Tax Credits Eliminated
The Children’s Arts Amount, Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, and Education and Textbook Amounts have all been eliminated for 2017. Tuition fees paid to post-secondary institutions will still be deductible. The Public Transit Amount is eliminated effective July 1, 2017. Bus Passes, U Passes and Yearly Bus Passes for Seniors and Persons With Disabilities can be claimed for the first six months of 2017.
Changes in Caregiver Amount, Disability Tax Credit and Medical Expenses will be discussed in the March Issue of the Beacon. The confusion over the changes to the taxation of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC) continues. No changes for the 2017 tax year are in effect. When the Federal Budget comes out there may be some clarity. With the Provincial Budget due soon, will James Bay MLA and Finance Minister Carole James deliver the promised cash relief for renters? Will there be steps towards $10/day Child Care?
As always, dear readers, I look at tax season through my lens of Helping You to Keep More of YOUR Money. I will be the speaker at the James Bay New Horizons’ Friday Forum on March 2 at 1030 AM.