B.C. tax tips: new and lesser-known tax credits that can save you money

When it comes to tax credits, every little bit counts. File / Global News

British Columbians have the dubious distinction of being the first Canadians to have to pay provincial income tax.

British Columbia introduced an early version of income tax back in 1876 with Prince Edward Island following suit a few years later.  The federal government didn’t introduce an income tax until the First World War.

Since those days, B.C.’s personal income tax has grown into an elaborate, ever-changing set of rules that can leave the average person confused when tax season arrives.

British Columbians have to file provincial taxes at the same time as their federal taxes and B.C. offers a few unique provincial income tax credits that can sometimes slip under the radar of the average taxpayer.

The tax breaks may not add up to huge amounts of money, but, as CPA Bilal Kathrada, says “every little bit counts.”

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READ MORE: What you need to know before filing your federal Canadian taxes 

What is the deadline for filing my taxes?

April 30 — if you have a balance owing. The regular filing deadline is April 30, but since that falls on a Sunday this year, the CRA will consider your taxes filed on time as long as they are received or postmarked on or before May 1.

June 15 — If you or your spouse or common-law partner ran a business in 2016. But you still have to pay your taxes by April 30 if you owe money to the government.

What are the tax brackets for B.C.?

Here are personal B.C. personal income tax rates for the 2016 tax year.

– 5.06 per cent tax on the first $38,210 of taxable income
– 7.7 per cent on income above $38,210 up to $76,421
– 10.5 per cent on income between $76,421.01 to $87,741
– 12.29 per cent on the amount of taxable income between $87,741.01 to $106,543
– Income over $106,543 will be taxed at a rate of 14.7 per cent

What are some new B.C. tax credits to claim this year?

Tax credits can change from year to year, given the province’s economy and political climate.

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Here are are some new credits for the 2016 tax year.

Home renovation tax credit for seniors and persons with disabilities Since 2012, seniors have been offered a credit for home renovations that help with mobility and access. The credit has now been extended to people with disabilities.

Back to school tax credit: parents of school-aged children (aged 4 to 16) can receive a $250 credit to help cover the cost of school supplies.

B.C. Education Coaching: Teachers and teaching assistants who carry at least 10 unpaid hours of extracurricular coaching activity can receive a $500 credit.

– Farmers’ Food Donation: Designed to encourage farmers to donate agricultural products to registered charities, eligible businesses can receive a credit of 25 per cent of the eligible amount of their gift.

On Feb. 11, the B.C. government announced a proposed tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search-and-rescue crew members. If approved, the credit would be applicable for the 2017 tax year.

What are some overlooked B.C. tax credits?

Kathrada, a partner at Clearline CPA, told Global News that there aren’t too many secrets when it comes to tax credits, but some tax breaks are underused. Chief among them is the federal disability tax credit, which many eligible people think they do not qualify for.

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“People hear the word disability and think they can’t get it,” he said. “We actually find a lot more people can claim that credit and it’s a significant amount. For instance, if you’re a Type 1 diabetic you may be eligible for the disability tax credit.”

As for B.C.-specific credits, Kathrada says the training tax credit for apprentices is often overlooked. It offers refundable income tax credits for apprentices enrolled in an eligible program.

A full list of B.C. tax credits can be found here.

– With files from Jesse Ferreras