Canadians need to know the current methods to minimize their tax liability. The country has an intricate taxation system. With the rising cost of living and inflation, knowing about Canada’s tax-saving strategies is more important than ever.
This article provides an overview of strategies available to Canadian citizens to reduce taxes and improve their overall financial well-being. These strategies include taking advantage of tax credits, deductions, and other tax-saving opportunities.
What is Income Tax?
Before WWI, there was no tax system in Canada. However, this changed and the basis for the current taxation system was created. At first, people resisted implementing taxes. But income tax in Canada is now a normal part of the country’s economic landscape.
Canadians accept tax payments as a necessary expense for the privilege of being able to live in a prosperous nation. The taxes may not be popular, but the rewards of a civilized society are worth the cost.
The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) collects taxes from citizens of Canada. The collected taxes are then used by the federal and provincial governments to pay for various services. These services include military and police forces, schools, roads and hospitals.
A significant portion of annual taxes is also directed to those in need. These include low-income persons and the elderly through programs like child benefits, social assistance, and old age security. It is clear why Canada needs income tax and benefit returns.
How are Taxes Collected in Canada?
In Canada, individuals must provide an annual earnings record to the CRA via a personal income tax filing or tax return. This document must list all income earned, including capital gains, and any potential tax credits/deductions that may be applicable.
Canada’s taxation process relies on the trustworthiness of the public. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) assumes citizens will accurately report their total earnings, knowing it will be aware of certain amounts. Even if someone does not make money, filing a return is still necessary, as it may provide them with financial benefits.
Canada paid out $37.3 billion in refunds for 2021 with an average return of $2,093.00.
Top Tax-Saving Strategies in Canada
As a Canadian, you can use many tactics to save on taxes. These include contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Or by claiming home office expenses or childcare costs. These options provide a great chance to reduce your taxes and increase your savings.
Use a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
Maximizing your RRSP contributions in Canada is a great way to save on taxes. Taking full advantage of this strategy will benefit you regardless of your employment status.
Contributing to your RRSP can provide tax relief and increase your retirement savings. This is because your contributions are tax-deductible, meaning they will reduce the taxes you owe for the year. Furthermore, any investments in your RRSP will grow tax-free until you withdraw them in retirement. Your retirement income tax rate will lower, leading to a lower tax bill.
Use Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)
A TFSA is an excellent way to increase your savings potential by paying taxes on investment earnings. Unlike an RRSP, you can’t claim deductions for contributions made to a TFSA. But you can drastically reduce the income tax you must pay.
Contributions to a TFSA usually come from after-tax income. You won’t have to pay taxes on any earnings you make from your TFSA investments. It is essential to make sure you have enough space in your TFSA. Otherwise, you may be subject to a monthly 1% tax on the extra amount.
Deduct Home Office Expenses
The government has made it easier to reduce your income tax by claiming expenses related to working from home. Through the temporary flat rate method, individuals can receive a deduction of up to $500. This equals $2 for each day worked from home.
To be eligible, these requirements must be fulfilled.
- You had a reason to work from home.
- You worked from home for over 50% of the time for at least four consecutive weeks.
- You haven’t claimed any other employment expenses.
- You haven’t received reimbursement from your employer for your home office expenses.
If you don’t meet the criteria for the simplified method, you can still use the more detailed option. To do this, your employer should provide you with either Form T2200 or Form T2200S which you must complete. These expenses include rent, utility bills, internet charges, materials, long-distance phone calls, and other costs.
Hire One of Your Family Members
As a self-employed person, getting help from a family member benefits your taxes. This way, you can claim the payroll expense on your business income and keep everything inside the family. This is a solid method to reduce your taxes while supporting your family.
File Your Taxes Electronically
You can submit your taxes using CRA-approved certified tax software or NETFILE. You can receive your tax refund in as little as two weeks using these electronic methods.
There are several free and paid options available, such as TurboTax. This software helps you save money by finding tax credits and deductions you may be eligible for.
Receive Tax Credits for Donations
You may be able to reduce your taxes if you have not used charitable donation credits in the last five years. Furthermore, if you give to a qualified donee, you may be eligible for certain tax credits.
Tax deductions on qualified contributions are non-refundable. This means you can use the deduction to reduce the taxes you owe. But you will not receive a refund if you do not owe any taxes.
Contribute to Your Spouse/Partner RRSP
You can contribute to your spouse/partner’s RRSP until they turn 71. However, this will reduce the amount you can deduct from your own RRSP for the year.
This method of retirement planning allows couples to divide their RRSP withdrawals. This strategy reduces the taxes they need to pay, depending on their income level and tax bracket.
Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Benefits
Take advantage of all the benefits given to you by your employer. For instance, some employers provide a matching contribution to your RRSP. This will boost your yearly contributions and reduce your taxes. Ensure that the amount you contribute to your RRSP does not exceed the room available if you also make personal contributions.
Aside from putting money into a pension plan, there are other ways to increase your earnings, such as receiving additional benefits.
- Reimbursement for health-related expenses.
- Relocation costs.
- Work-from-home benefits.
- Educational or professional development expenses.
Use the Child Care Tax Credit
If you paid for child care services while working, studying, or researching, you can reduce your taxes by deducting childcare expenses. This applies to children and those with disabilities or impairments under 16. The amount you can claim for eligible child care expenses can reach up to $11,000, depending on your situation.
- Eligible childcare expenses include the following:
- Daycare center and educational institution care services.
- Day camps and day sports schools with the primary goal of caring for children.
- Boarding schools.
- Camps with lodging.
Deduct Moving Expenses
You may have moved residences for employment, self-employment, or to participate in full-time study. If so, you can claim tax credits by subtracting allowable moving expenses. To calculate these expenses, you should use Moving Expenses Deduction Form T1-M.
Full-time students can use these deductions to reduce their taxable income. Eligible types of educational activities include the following:
- Research grants.
The eligible relocation costs of moving for work include the following:
- Transporting and storing household items.
- Travel between locations.
- Funding temporary living expenses.
- Cancelling your old housing lease.
- Changing your home address and permits.
- Utility setup and disconnections.
- Maintaining your old home.
- Selling/buying a new home.
To qualify, you must have relocated your residence at least 40 kilometres closer to your new job or educational institution.
File Your Taxes Before the Deadline
There are no financial benefits to filing your taxes before the deadline. But doing so will enable you to avoid paying any associated fees or penalties.
By filing your taxes on time, you can benefit from a faster processing time. You will receive a quicker Notice of Assessment, depending on whether you submit your return electronically or by mail.
Hire a Tax Expert
Filing taxes should not be an issue if you have a straightforward financial situation. However, if your income is complicated, it is wise to find an accountant or tax expert to help you. Consider the cost of the tax preparer’s services against the taxes you may save.
Tax professionals can assist you in finding potential tax deductions you may be unaware of. You may also be able to deduct a tax professional’s cost if you have a business or own property.
Other Tax-Saving Strategies in Canada
There are other ways to reduce your taxes in Canada. Here are a few examples:
- Deduct spousal support payments under a court order from your taxes.
- Claim the oil/gas exploration and development expenses tax credit if you’ve invested in energy companies active in these fields.
- Claim investment management fees for non-registered or tax-sheltered accounts.
- Claim eligible employment expenses such as union fees and professional dues.
- Use the Canada Training Credit (CTC) to claim eligible tuition and educational fees.
- Explore provincial and territorial tax benefits to claim additional tax credits and deductions.
- Coordinate with your spouse to transfer tax credits/deductions related to caregiver, education, or other allowable deductions to whoever benefits most.
- Claim medical expense tax credits for eligible medical expenses paid by you or your spouse/common-law partner within a year.
Taxes are unavoidable for Canadians. But there are methods available to reduce the amount owed. Investing in RRSPs and TFSAs, or deducting home office expenses, can help you save on taxes in Canada.
Canadians must know financial strategies to reduce taxes, build their savings, and strengthen their financial situation. This knowledge will also help you make smarter financial decisions in the future.