To help with tax season, we’ve received some expert advice from the CRA on how to maximize your returns if you are part of the sandwich generation.
With mom (a.k.a. grandma) all set to move in, the family dynamic is getting a little more complicated. Squeezed between the demands of raising young children and caring for aging parents, the sandwich generation makes personal and financial sacrifices for their families. That’s why the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers a variety of tax credits to caregivers to help with the additional expenses.
If your parent (or other eligible dependant) lived with you at any time in 2015, you may be eligible to claim the caregiver amount of up to $4,608. You may also be able to claim the family caregiver amount (FCA) of an additional $2,093. To qualify for the FCA, your parent or other eligible dependant must be dependent on you because of an impairment in physical or mental functions. The CRA may ask for a signed statement from a medical practitioner showing when the impairment began and how long it is expected to last. However, you do not need a signed statement if the dependant is also eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC). If you and another person support the same dependant, you can choose to split the claim for that dependant. To find out more, go to www.cra.gc.ca/familycaregiver.
The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. To be eligible, a person must have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions. Non-refundable tax credits reduce your federal tax. If the total of your non-refundable tax credits is more than your federal tax, you will not get a refund for the difference. You can apply for the DTC by filling out Part A of Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, having Part B of the form certified by a medical practitioner, and submitting it to the CRA for approval. It may be possible to transfer unused parts of this disability amount to another supporting person. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/disability. Starting this year, Canadians claiming the DTC will be able to file online regardless of whether or not their Form T2201 has been submitted to the CRA for that tax year.
Maybe you needed help managing everything from coordinating playdates and field trips to administering medications and arranging doctor’s visits. If you hired an attendant caregiver, you may be able to claim amounts paid for care inhome or in outside establishments, including retirement and nursing homes. For more information on how to claim these and other eligible medical expenses, go to www.cra.gc.ca/medical.
Similarly, you may be able to claim expenses related to child care if you paid for someone to look after your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s child so you could earn income, carry on a business, go to school, or conduct research. This may also include payments you made to a day nursery school, daycare centre, boarding school, sports school, day camp, or other camp where lodging is involved. To be eligible, the child must have been under 16 years of age at some time in 2015. However, the age limit doesn’t apply if the child has a physical or mental impairment. For more information, see Form T778, Child Care Expenses Deduction for 2015.
There are also a number of other benefits you might be eligible for which help with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. For the 2015 tax year, your family may also be eligible for the family tax cut, a non-refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 for families with a child under the age of 18.
Whether your child dreams of a career on hockey skates or becoming a professional musician, the whole family is there to cheer them on, with grandma as head cheerleader. But paying for lessons to make those dreams a reality can be costly. Save your receipts to claim the children’s fitness tax credit or the children’s arts tax credit or both. For the fitness tax credit, you can claim up to $1,000 of the fees you paid per child. And for the arts tax credit, you can claim up to $500 of the fees you paid per child. Starting this year, the children’s fitness tax credit is refundable, meaning potential savings of up to $150 per child.
Make sure you keep all supporting documents for your claims in case we ask to see them later. Generally, you must keep all required records and supporting documents for at least six years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.
Remember, most Canadian income tax and benefit returns for 2015 are due on April 30, 2016. However, since this date is a Saturday, the CRA will consider your return as filed on time and your payment to be made on time if it receives your submission or it is postmarked by midnight on May 2, 2016. Self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners have until June 15, 2016, to file their income tax and benefit returns, but any balance owing is still due no later than May 2, 2016.
With so many options available to guide you during this tax season, there’s no excuse for delaying. To get started on your taxes, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.
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