With the rush of the holiday season and New Year’s celebrations now over, many Canadians are turning their attentions to their taxes. Following are some useful tips to help simplify your 2009 tax filing process and get the most out of future returns.
While the 2009 tax filing deadline is months away, January is often the best time of year for
Canadians to evaluate their overall tax strategies, especially as time will run out to realize a variety of tax-saving opportunities early this year.
Advice for homeowners and prospective homebuyers
In 2009, significant tax changes were introduced in the federal budget to benefit homeowners, prospective homeowners and even homeowners who renovated their home, cottage or condo. These include: changes made to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan; eligibility for the new non-refundable First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit; and the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC).
A $5,000 increase to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan means that first-time homebuyers can now withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs for a down payment – tax- and interest-free.
The First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit includes a $750 tax credit for first-time homebuyers to help with closing costs, such as legal fees, disbursements and land transfer taxes.
And if you’ve been thinking about doing some home renovations, keep in mind that the 15% HRTC of up to $1,350 only applies to eligible home renovation expenses undertaken before February 1st, 2010.
A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) continues to be one of the best tax shelters available to the average taxpayer.
Eligible RRSP contributions are deducted directly from income reported on your tax return.
This means that you save taxes at your marginal rate, which may be up to 50%, depending on your income level and province of residence. In addition to the initial tax savings when the contributions are deducted, all income earned inside the RRSP accumulates tax-free until the money is withdrawn.
Remember that you have 60 days after the calendar year to make a contribution that qualifies for a tax deduction for that year.
Registered Education Savings Plans (RRSPs) allow people to save for the post-secondary education of children or grandchildren on a tax sheltered basis while reducing taxable income. There are, of course, other advantages to RESPs. With an RESP contribution of $2,500 per child, the federal government will contribute $500 in the form of the Canada Education Savings Grant to the RESP. If a client has prior non-contributory years, the annual grant can be as much as $1,000 in respect of a $5,000 contribution.
Do You Have a TFSA?
With the introduction of Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) on January 1st, 2009, 26 million Canadians aged 18 and older received $5,000 in tax-free contribution room from the federal government. On January 1st, 2010, an additional $5,000 in tax-free contribution room was added to each account. Now is an excellent time to discuss your options for making the most of this new contribution room.
Remember that it’s important to review your overall tax-planning strategy with a professional to ensure you’re making the most of any opportunities available to you, especially as a result of new savings and investment vehicles, credits and policy changes that came into effect for the first time in 2009.
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