February 10, 2016 10:29 am
Updated: March 9, 2016 12:20 am

10 Canadian tax myths

Financial expert Preet Banerjee explores some useful investing tips just in time for RRSP season.

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There’s no question that understanding the Income Tax Act is difficult. There are so many rules and regulations that it’s not surprising there are a lot of myths floating around out there – especially with the filing deadline on the horizon.

But fear not. Cleo Hamel, a former tax analyst with H&R Block Canada and current spokesperson for American Expat Taxes, points out some of the biggest tax myths and how you can avoid making a costly mistake.

Myth #1: Maternity leave income is not taxable

“You are required to report your EI benefits as income. In most cases, Service Canada withholds less than the lowest tax rate so you may have tax obligations at the end of the year.”

Myth #2: RRSP contributions don’t have to be reported if the deduction isn’t used

“Even if you are not claiming a deduction for the contributions you made in the year, you are still required to record the fact that you made them.”

Myth #3: Tips are not considered income

“Servers and others working in the hospitality industry are required to record and report their tips on their tax return. For servers, tips may be as much as 200 to 400 per cent of their income.”

WATCH: You give enough of your money to the tax man, so how can you keep more of it? Anne Drewa has some advice.

Myth #4: Students get refunds on their tuition

“In order to receive a tax refund, you need to have overpaid your income tax during the year. If a student does not have taxable income, they cannot use their tuition and education credits on their return. They have the option to transfer up to $5,000 to a parent, grandparent or spouse or they can carry forward credits to use in future year.”

Myth #5: Mothers are required to claim the children first

“The lower income spouse is required to claim childcare expenses whether it is the mother or father. Either parent can claim the child tax credit.”

READ MORE: How to get your spending back under control

Myth #6: If you earned less than $10,000 you don’t have to file a tax return

“Even if you did not earn more than the personal amount ($11,038 for 2013), filing a tax return may trigger benefits like the quarterly GST/HST payment. And if you had tax withheld, you should receive a refund.”

Myth #7: Business mileage can be billed at a flat rate

“Self-employed Canadians are required to keep a logbook to calculate the auto expenses for their business.”

READ MORE: How to make the most of your mortgage payment

Myth #8: Child support is a tax deduction

“Unless your agreement is dated before May 1, 1997, child support payments are reported on your tax return but they are not a deduction or included in income.”

Myth #9: If you work abroad, you don’t need to file

“The Canadian tax system is based on residency. If you are emigrating, you should indicate your date of exit on your last tax return. If you are working outside of the country but have substantial residential ties to Canada still, you will be required to file a Canadian tax return.”

READ MORE: The 7 deadly sins of financial planning

Myth #10: Mortgage interest is a tax deduction

“Only self-employed Canadians who work from home are allowed to claim a percentage of their mortgage insurance as a business expense. The tax benefit of owning a home comes when you sell. Every Canadian receives a capital gains exemption on the sales of their principal residence.”

Want to learn more? Click here for more of Slice’s financial tips.

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