How do I do my Taxes?
Filing taxes is a pain in the neck and can be very overwhelming. There is help though!
Who must file taxes?
You should be filing taxes if you are working part or full time, or attending post-secondary. Even if you think you aren't earning much or that you owe taxes, filing allows you to access government grants and money, as well as building up tax credits that you can use down the road and possibly save hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long term.
What time do I have to file taxes?
Taxes must be filed by April 30th of each year, or you will pay interest on any amount owing to the government. You usually begin to get the documents you need for your taxes (like T4s) in late January, Feb, so anytime after then is a good time to make an appointment with a tax specialist or begin doing it yourself. Remember that tax companies like H&R Block get very busy in March-April, so book an appointment early!
What you might need to complete your taxes:
T4's for employment income (mailed to you by employer around January-February)
Banking info, SIN card, Personal info like address, etc.
Prior year's tax return (if you did it) and notice of assessment
T4A or T2202 for Tuition paid (if you attend post-secondary
RRSP contributions (if you make them your bank will send this to you)
Receipts for charity
Receipts for medical expenses
Student Loan interest
There are several ways to complete your taxes:
1) Pay a tax specialist or accountant
North Bay: H&R Block, North Bay Tax Services, Grant's Tax Preparation, Northern Tax & Financial Services, Tax Shack
Parry Sound: H & R Block,
Muskoka: H& R Block, Trillium Tax Services,
There are many companies and private accountants who will be happy to complete and file your taxes, with a minimum effort on your part. You usually have to book an appointment, though walk-ins are sometimes available early in tax season, and some tax services even allow you to submit documents virtually. You will have to supply the documents that they need and answer some questions. They make sure the filing is done correctly, and they will also help you out, in most cases, if you are audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Prices vary for this service, the more complex a filing, the more you pay. Some larger Tax companies like H&R Block are easily accessed in malls, and offer special student incentives and pricing.
2) Completing your Taxes using online software
Free online tax software: H&R Block Online Tax Software,Turbo Tax
Subscription Based: Ufile
Online tax programs offer fairly user-friendly platforms in which to complete you taxes online. Though help is available through forums on their websites, it can be difficult to reach a real person and get assistance over the phone. These programs are usually less expensive than getting an accountant or tax company to file your taxes. Even free programs will have a fee for e-filing (submitting your taxes electronically).
3) Free Tax Clinics
Find a Tax Free Clinic in your area
Free tax clinics are staffed by volunteers who will help you complete your tax return free of charge. Free clinics usually are set up around Tax Season March-April, and operate on a walk-in basis, while some do set up appointments. These free clinics are usually available to Canadians with a modest income (under $35,000 for a single person), new Canadians, students and seniors.
Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent Fund (OCBE)
The Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent (OCBE) Fund came into effect November 14th 2008 as funding to Children’s Aid Societies for children and youth in care which will be equivalent to the Ontario Child Benefit.
The money is used as follows:
The Activities Fund component of OCBE, will be used for children and youth in care between the ages of 0 and 17 to have greater access to recreational, educational, cultural, and social activities while in care.
When a youth turns 15 years old, money is deposited into a Savings Fund which can only be accessed when the youth turns 18 years of age. These funds are to assist with the transition from care to independent living and can be used to pay last month’s rent, to purchase furniture, or for tuition in post-secondary school. To gain access to the Savings Fund, each youth must first complete Financial Literacy Training.
Both funds are to assist youth with higher educational achievement, higher resiliency, social skills, relationship development and a smoother transition into adulthood.
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a dedicated savings plan to help save for a child's education after high school.
How is an RESP started?
They can be opened through a bank by an adult or organization like CAS, on the child's behalf, or by a youth themselves. Since 2008, Children's Aid Societies have been contributing money every month into an RESP for every child in care. To inquire if you have a RESP, contact your current Childcare/Youth Worker or your former Children's Aid Society for information.
What is the benefit of an RESP?
Besides saving money for your education, a benefit of an RESP is that any money contributed is matched up to 20% by the government. This means that for every $100 you put in, the government could put in $20 for you. Other benefits are that the money will gain tax-free interest overtime.
How much can I put in my RESP?
There is no yearly limit on how much you can put in, but there is a limits on how much the government will match. There is a lifetime limit of $50,000 per child.
How long can an RESP stay open?
An RESP can stay open for 35 years, which leaves you lots of time to use them.
What happens to the money if I don't go to college, university or other post-secondary?
If a child does not go into post secondary, they can still withdraw some of the money. You can get back all the money that was paid in (contributions) tax-free. The amounts that the government put in (grants), you will have to pay back. The interest that the money earned you can keep but pay a 20% tax on it.
How do I use my RESP money?
When you are registered in a post-secondary course. There are certain rules for how much you can take out. You have to request RESP money from the bank that it is registered with, and it may take a few business days to get it, so don't expect to get it the day that you request it!
There is also a limit of $5000 that you can access during the first 13 weeks that you are enrolled in your course, after that there is no limit to how much you can take out.
You can use your RESP money for post-secondary expenses like tuition, books & supplies, meal plan, athletic or course fees, or housing/residence.