As 2018 draws to a close it is a good time to take a quick check of your finances and see if any steps should be taken before the end of the year. If you have any questions, please contact me directly.
Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) – 2018 is the last year for children who turned 17 to get the government grant so if you have grant room available consider contributing up to $5,000 to receive the $1,000 grant.
Child tax disability credit. If your income or Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) assets don’t disqualify your child from receiving provincial income support, you may be able to set up a RDSP to qualify for the Canada Disability Savings Bond which has a lifetime maximum of $20,000 per child. Contributions to an RDSP will also qualify for the Canada Disability Savings Grant which has a lifetime maximum of $70,000. These grants are based on family income and can be very attractive.
Child care expenses paid by December 31, 2018 with a receipt are tax deductible (as well as camp and boarding school fees). For children up to 7 the maximum is $8,000 and 8 and over is $5,000 or 2/3 of your income.
By March 1, 2019 consider topping up your RRSP contribution to take advantage of the tax savings (from 20% to 50% depending on your income level).
If you are turning 71 this year, it is the last year of contributing to your RRSP. You will need to convert your RRSP to a RRIF to start receiving annual withdrawals the following year. If your income is low for 2018 you may want to withdrawal from your RRIF.
NON REGISTERED INVESTMENTS
Non registered accounts with a capital loss may be used to offset a capital gain that you have for 2018.
Because of the rate that different investments are taxed, it is often a good idea to put capital gains and dividend paying investments in non registered accounts and investments that pay interest in your registered accounts.
On January 1, 2019 the annual increase for a TFSA is $6,000 bringing the lifetime contribution limit to $63,500. It is important not to over contribute as the penalty is 1%/month so can add up. If you need help calculating your room let me know. If you want to do a withdrawal from your TFSA soon, then you can do this month and you’ll get the room back in 2019, rather than waiting until 2020.
Home accessibility renovations
Since 2016, Canadians aged 65 and over and those with disabilities can claim a non-refundable tax credit on certain renovation expenses that make their home more accessible and functional. Think of things like a wheelchair ramp or grab bar in the shower.
The tax credit is equal to 15 per cent of expenses up to $10,000 per year, but in order to claim those costs on your 2018 return, you’ll have to pay by Dec. 31.
Filing is always a good idea, especially for teens
If you turn 19 before April 1, 2020, make sure you file a 2018 income tax return so you can get the GST credit. You’ll get at least one GST Credit cheque for the payment dates following your birthday. For example, if you turn 19 in March 2019, you’ll receive the last quarterly payment for the July 2018 to June 2019 benefit period, which is paid in April 2019.
Get some credit for being kind
Made a charitable contribution this year? If you haven’t claimed the charitable donations tax credit after 2007, any cash donations you make after March 20, 2013 (including donations you made in 2018) are eligible for the first-time donor super credit. This means you can access an additional 25% credit on your first $1,000 of donations. Cha-ching!
Being charitable can last for years
Old charitable donation receipts that you forgot to claim over the years should not be thrown away. Charitable donation receipts are good for five years after the year in which the donation was made.
Home Sweet Sold
If you sold your home this year, make sure to designate it as your principal residence when you file your tax return. Forgetting this step could mean the principal residence exemption gets denied, and the capital gain from the sale would be taxed as income
Pay the interest on your student loans
You can claim the interest paid by Dec. 31 on government student loans on your 2018 tax return. While only the student can claim this credit, a relative, such as a parent, can pay on her or his behalf.
Avoid extra fees by filing on time
Make sure you file your tax return on time, especially if you have a balance due. Even if you know you won’t be able to pay your tax bill right away, filing on time means you’ll at least avoid the late filing penalty (a.k.a. having to pay even more tomorrow than you today). Putting off filing adds up fast, and is currently calculated as 5% of your balance due, plus 1% per month for a maximum of 12 months.
Hope all of you have a safe and happy holiday and best wishes for 2019!