Three Common Tax Mistakes
A recent article in Global News cited three common tax mistakes that you’re most likely to make according to Canada Revenue Agency.
See the full article here, or read below for our helpful summary:
- “Other” Deductions Section of your Return
Many of our clients have questions regarding this section, as it seems a bit of a “free for all” of items that you could potentially deduct. However, this section is very specific and also quite limited. This area on your tax return- Line 232- “Other” Eligible deductions, are listed here on the CRA website.
Some of these include:
- Income amounts repaid ex. EI benefits repaid to Service Canada, scholarships/bursaries, Old Age Security benefits paid directly to Service Canada, etc).
- Legal Fees Related to accounting/assistance for reviewing your assessment with CRA, payment of fees to collect a retiring allowance or pension benefit, or you incurred fees to make child support payments non-taxable.
- Other Deductible Amounts Depletion allowances, and specific unused RRSP contributions, transfer of RRSP payments and refund of RRSP premiums.
- Mistakes on Education Related Tax Breaks
- Tuition tax credit Students over the age of 16 enrolled in post-secondary level courses can usually claim their tuition costs, and pass on the credit to an eligible relative who have more taxes to offset (ex. parents and grandparents). However, it is still the student who needs to claim the tax credit on her or his return.
- Education/Textbook Credits This is more confusing to claim on your 2017 tax return because the education and textbook amounts were discontinued at the federal level as of Jan. 1, 2017, but continue to exist at the provincial and territorial level in many cases.
- Address Change
This may seem like common sense, but it is your responsibility to let CRA know of any address changes. If they are not able to get a response from you (after sending you mail requesting more information/documents), they have the power to deny or modify claims. This could ultimately result in a higher tax bill.
If you have questions about your return, it is usually wise to have a certified accountant help you with any questions or concerns you might have. Filing your return yourself, and making significant mistakes, can cause CRA to flag your return (which could result in penalties).
A Chartered Professional Accountant also has the knowledge and experience to complete your return in the most efficient manner, making the most of your return and limiting unnecessary payments. Remember, it doesn't have to cost you a lot to make the most of a professional accountant. Cahill CPA offers reasonably priced fees for basic returns, and can discuss the breakdown of costs up-front with you so you are comfortable with what you will be paying. You will feel confident that your return is done correctly, efficiently, and quickly.
2017 Income Tax Return Information
Tax time is just around the corner, and Cahill CPA has compiled some information regarding important dates and preparing your tax return.
How to get your documents to us:
Cahill Chartered Professional Accountants is located in North Vancouver, and you are welcome to drop off your documents at our central Lonsdale location.
Suite 103 - 145 West 15th Street,
North Vancouver, BC
We also have a secure and convenient online service to scan and download your documents. Please contact our administrator Vaneet at to obtain a secure upload link.
Checklists and Important Information
To determine what documents are needed for your tax return, we have created checklists to help simplify this process. Click on the link below for checklists for employment expenses, personal taxes, rental income & expenses, and self-employment income and expenses.
Cahill Chartered Professional Accountants has begun work already on tax returns, and early filing with CRA was at the end of February. Some deadlines and important dates to remember:
- Your 2017 tax return must be filed by April 30, 2018.
- The self-employment deadline is June 15, 2018 - taxes and/or GST owing must be paid by April 30, 2018.
- In order to file before CRA deadlines, it is important that you have your tax information to our office prior to April 15, 2018.
If you don’t already have a professional, certified accountant in Vancouver, come visit our website at www.cahillcpa.com to learn more about us, or schedule an appointment to meet with us in person.
Cahill CPA was recently a Bronze finalist for the Readers Choice Awards for favourite accountant in North Vancouver and West Vancouver, and our partner Jordan Cahill was nominated for the Young Entrepreneur award in 2015 by the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and the Business Excellence Awards Committee. We are a family-run accounting firm, proudly living, working, and taking part in the North Vancouver community.
Choosing an Accountant
Choosing an Accountant that’s Right for You
Schedule a Meeting
If you do anything before choosing an accountant, meet with them first. Phone the office, and set up a meeting to get to know your potential accountant and ask any questions you might have. Make sure you feel comfortable with them, and that you see yourself being able to trust and work with them.
If you are planning to come in to the office to meet with your accountant often, then a location that is close to your home or work might be important to you. However, if you prefer to do business remotely, a firm that offers secure online services may also be a great choice!
Choose a Certified Accountant
Certified Accountants are held to a high business standard, and are highly qualified professionals who have completed a degree and gained professional workplace experience. Formerly known as a CGA, CA or CMA, Professional Accountants in Canada now all fall under the designation CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant). Look for an accounting firm that includes CPA’s within their staff.
Depending on exactly what type of accounting or business services you are looking for, different firms or accountants might be better suited to your needs. Ask if they have experience with your type of business (ex. Real estate, construction company, small home business, etc).
Check Reviews & Ratings
Do your research. Read google reviews, check out their website, and search any social media platforms they may have. See what others might be saying about them, and get a feel for what type of company they are.
Accounting fees can vary, as can the experience you have. The cost of your tax return or accounting service can depend on what type of services the firm can provide, the accountant’s qualifications, quality of work you’ll be receiving, detail of communication, etc. If you are looking for lowest cost possible, you may not get the quality of service you are looking for. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss an estimated quote when meeting with a potential accountant, to see if it’s something you are comfortable with based on your needs.
CPA Firm Directory & Frequently Asked Questions
Our firm was recently added to the Canada CPA Firm Directory. You can access the information here:
CPA Firm Listing- Cahill Professional Accountants
With this listing you can find more information about some of the Vancouver industry sectors we handle, the services we offer, and the variety of languages spoken by our staff. Along with these services, below are some questions we have been asked lately about what we do here at Cahill Pro!
Frequently asked questions:
Q:I have a new, small business. Do you assist very small businesses just starting out?
A: Yes! We can provide bookkeeping services, as well as provide advice about what small business owners can claim at tax time.
Q: I oversee a non-profit charity organization in North Vancouver, and we are looking for some information for this upcoming tax deadline. Do you assist charities?
A: Yes! We have clients that are involved with not-for-profit and charitable organizations, and would be happy to assist you.
Q: I recently had a close relative pass away, and I am now in charge of their estate. Do you provide help with estates & trusts?
A: Yes! We can certainly provide advice and assistance with the dealing of estates, trusts and tax planning.
Convenient & Professional Services
Empty Homes Tax- January 2017
Beginning in January 2017, an annual "Empty Homes Tax" will be applied annually to homes that are deemed to be empty in the city of Vancouver. Many people will not have to worry about this tax, as it will not apply to those owners who reside in their homes full-time or who have long-term renters. To see if this tax applies to you, the City of Vancouver has created a simple questionnaire:
There are many exemptions to this tax, however in some cases, owners must submit evidence to the city in order for them to be exempt. For example, if you are currently undergoing large renovations and are not living in your home, your property has been subject to rental restrictions recently, or ownership of the property has recently changed, you will need to provide specific evidence to the city promptly.
Other cases that are eligible for exemption, granted the correct information is provided, include:
- Your home is being used for a minimum of six months of the year for work purposes within the City of Vancouver, but you claim your principal residence elsewhere.
- You or your tenant is receiving long-term, in-patient medical or supportive care.
- The owner is deceased and a grant of probate or administration is pending.
- Your property is under a court order prohibiting occupancy.
- The property's use is limited to vehicle parking, or the shape, size, or other aspect of the property precludes the ability to construct a residential building.
The City of Vancouver website provides this list, along with all the necessary information to submit evidence for exemption, on their website.
If you are concerned about how this will affect you and your current property, our team at Cahill Professional Accountants will be happy to answer any questions you might have.