Did you relocate at any point over the last couple of years? Did you talk about this with your tax-preparer when you filed your tax return? Did you know that if you improve accessibility in your home for anyone living there who's over 65 you can get a tax credit for that? We've found that many Canadians really aren't familiar with many of the tax issues surrounding moving, renting, or home-ownership. So even if you don't own a home or pay rent now... unless you plan to couch surf with friends and family forever, there's a pretty good chance you'll need this information at some point!

  1. Moving Expenses: Did you move more than 40km, and get a new job? You may qualify to claim moving expenses as a tax deduction (including real estate fees, movers, land transfer tax, and legal fees!). There are even some moving expenses that can be claimed even without receipts... you can claim certain travel expenses by using a mileage rate or simplified meal claim based on the number of days of travel. If you moved within the last few years and didn't make any claims on your tax return, perhaps you'll want to discuss the possibility of filing an adjustment to your previously filed tax return with your tax professional. These claims can be worth a lot of money, and they're often missed.

  1. First Time Home Buyers tax credit: This tax credit hasn't been around for too many years, so not everyone is familiar with it. If you just purchased your very first home, you may qualify for a credit worth $750.00! This must be the first home you (or your spouse) has owned within the last 5 years. Some people like to point out that this is a $5,000.00 credit... which is true... but we've found that gets people a little bit too excited. We think it's important to point out that in terms of REAL money, you actually get back 15% of the $5,000.00 credit that you're claiming... so the real money impact of claiming this credit is a $750.00 improvement to your tax return in the year you bought your first home. Just don't forget to claim it!

  1. Home Accessibility Tax Credit: Anyone over 65 years old who makes repairs or renovations to their homes can claim a new federal tax credit if those renovations/repairs were to make the home more accessible. Ramps, increased lighting, more accessible bathroom fixtures, etc. So keep those receipts to claim on your tax return if you are over 65 years old, or if you share your home with anyone over 65 years old.

  1. Ontario Senior Homeowner Property Tax Grant: Ahh yes. The smoothly named OSHPTG... even the abbreviation is hard to say! But even if you can't say it 5 times fast (or even once), you'll want to know about this credit if you’re 64 years of age or older and pay property tax in Ontario. Your family income must be less than $60k per year, and only one spouse can apply for this credit per family. The application is made on your tax return each year, and the credit is worth up to $500.00 per year. After you indicate the amount of property tax you pay, and apply for the OSHPTG by correctly completing your tax return, the Ontario government will pay your entitlement within a few weeks after you filed your tax return. In other words, it doesn't increase your refund – it gets you a separate cheque paid out later by the Province.

  1. Home Buyers Plan participant?: If you participated in the Home Buyer's Plan, that means you withdrew money from your RRSP for the purchase of your first home, and you didn't have to pay income tax on the RRSP withdrawal as you normally would. Many people don't fully understand their obligations, or how exactly it works now that they've purchased the home. The basic idea is that you borrowed money from your own RRSP and you've agreed with the government that you'll pay back your RRSP 1/15th at a time over 15 years. You don't have to start repaying right away. Those who created the rules realized that people who just bought a house might want a year of grace period before adding even more expenses like repaying their RRSP. So you get a year off after you buy your home, and then you repay your own RRSP over the next 15 years.

  1. Property Tax or Rent: In Ontario and Manitoba, you may qualify to claim your rent or property tax paid on your primary residence.

  1. Capital Property: Do you own any other property, in addition to your new house? Perhaps you moved out of your old house, and instead of selling, it's now an income property? You are only allowed a capital gains exemption on the sale of your primary residence... and by definition you can only have one primary residence at a time. So if you now have two properties for the first time, give us a call and we can chat about how capital gains/losses work, and what you can do to prepare & reduce the capital gains taxes you will owe later. Similarly, we can help with claiming your rental income and expenses on your tax return each year.

  1. Address & information change with CRA! Don't forget to change your address with the Canada Revenue Agency. You don't have to wait for your next tax return to change your information – in fact it's much better to make changes with the Canada Revenue Agency as they happen. Have your Social Insurance Number handy, and if possible last year's tax return. Then just call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 (press the * key to speak to a human when the voice-messages start), and you can change your address with the tax department, GST credits, and Child Tax Benefit departments all with one phone call. Even if you're having your mail forwarded, it's a good idea to ensure they have your correct address on file because mail forwarding will run out eventually. In a related note, if your marital status has changed recently, don't wait for tax time... call CRA and update them right away. You can owe a lot of money by failing to keeping CRA up to date, especially on marital status. If you have any trouble getting through to them on the phone, just drop in to see us at Liberty Tax Service and we'll help get things sorted out.

– Wayne Blackmere, Liberty Tax Franchisee