Are You Getting the Most Bang for Your Personal Tax Return?

Filing your tax return isn’t simply about entering numbers on a form. Our philosophy at Priority Business Solutions is that in order to file a correct tax return on behalf of someone, we need to know that person beyond the T4, T5, and RRSP slips. While this information is great to have (and rather important), the real details for informing your return comes from your personal facts, such as family changes, living arrangements, schooling, and so on. It may seem as though filing a tax return is impersonal, boiling down to 1’s and 0’s, but it can surprisingly get quite personal.

In fact, I recently had a conversation with a tax client of ours where he revealed that his daughter started university last fall and, I quote, “the tuition sure was expensive!”

Knowing that his daughter – a dependant – had started university, we could now claim a portion of the tuition amount on my client’s return so long as:

  • His daughter has no income taxes to pay herself because her income was too low, and
  • The whole amount of the tuition is claimed on only one of the parent’s personal tax returns.

Your receipts only tell half the story…

Receipts only show the numbers. They don’t reveal the story behind the numbers. This is where a high level of trust between yourself and your accountant becomes crucial. Without it, you may not share all the information that could be included on your return that may actually end up saving you money. This leads to you filing a “wrong” return because it doesn’t have all your information. After all, the simple question of whether or not you had a change in marital status alone drives so many questions on your personal tax return that could be saving you thousands of dollars.

Other items that we often see people missing key information on their returns include:

  • Change in number of dependants (humans only…sorry!)
    • Revenue Canada adjusts their Child Tax Benefit Payments every June. If information about the change in your dependant status isn’t added correctly, then you may not receive the full amount to which you’re entitled.
  • Start or finish of post-secondary, either for yourself or a dependant
    • Remember the conversation with my client above? While his daughter’s tuition was expensive, we’re able to claim a portion of it on his return.

To help build this trust, sit down for a thirty-minute conversation (give or take, of course) with your accountant. Keep it focused on everything that’s happened over the past year as all this information could contribute to personal tax consequences. Additional items to discuss in addition to marital status, dependants, and education include:

  • Change in jobs,
  • Opening or closing of companies,
  • Change in health, and
  • Other items as they pertain to you, your dependants, and your business.

What your tax return informs

It’s safe to say that Revenue Canada uses your tax return to see what you owe the government and/or what they owe you. However, it’s also used extensively for informing various government-funded program payments.

Such income-tested programs include:

All of the information needed to ensure you’re properly filling out your return can’t be garnered from just a piece of paper. And, it’s this information that helps determine your eligibility for a number of tax savings and government programs, making your filing as effective as possible. The only way to ensure you’ve done what you can to inform Revenue Canada that you’re eligible is from having a conversation with your accountant.

Before you simply send your receipts and T-slips to your accountant this year, consider sitting down and having a conversation. If you’re ready to sit down and bring the personal back into your personal tax return, contact Priority Business Solutions for a conversation.

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