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With winter's worst (hopefully) behind us, tax season is here, and there are many changes that families will want to be aware of.
Tax time is never fun, but it's even worse when you miss out on credits or deductions you may have qualified for. Complicating matters this year are several taxation changes due to a Liberal overhaul of several Harper-era measures.
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.
Thai Chicken Noodle BowlPhotography by Jeff Coulson Image by: Thai Chicken Noodle Bowl</br>Photography by Jeff Coulson
Bold and beautiful browspiration (we’re coining it) from the stars.
After years of plucking them to obscurity, all-natural brows are back and they’re kind of a big deal. If eyes are the windows to your soul, then eyebrows are the framework to your face–structured, well-suited brows have the power to alter your entire look and make you look younger. Ranging from dark and bushy, to immaculately groomed we selected our favourite celebrity eyebrows that have us sprinting to our brow technician with some fresh brow inspiration.
It's impossible to separate Cara Delevigne from her bold brows; one could even argue that her most famous feature has played a role in building her extensive modelling career.
This is giving us serious Frida Kahlo vibes. Tweezers are so unnecessary when unplucked brows manage to look so chic.
Kerr proves here that full and soft brows are all you need against barely there makeup to look polished.
Not a hair out of place. The sharp line of Zendaya's perfectly groomed, thick brows might be too fierce for us to handle.
Watson's arches fall under the natural column; they're the perfect combination of put-together, without looking too primped.
We are drooling over Victoria's Secret Angel, Taylor Hill's unruly brows. Her stray hairs make us feel less guilty about missing our last waxing appointment.
It would be blasphemous not to pay homage to the first bold celebrity arches to reach public infamy.
The Queen of Dragon's eyes are captivating but we can't tear our gaze away from her impeccably brushed-out brows.
Look no further than the Kardashian-Jenners tribe for expertly tinted, plucked and shaped Instagram brows that we can only describe as "on fleek".
How luscious are super model Doutzen Kroes's thick, filled in brows? The contrast is so captivating.
It must be actress Camilla Belle's Brazilian heritage that gives her such a bold look–whatever it is, we're envying how full those arch are.
Considering Beyoncé is the Queen of, well, everything, it would make sense for her to be the reigning queen of brows, as well.
One of our favourite Canadian actress', Shay Mitchell, nails it with her brows–not too thin, not too thick–just right.
The epitome of cool; we're obsessed with the contrast of Kravitz's darker brows against her white-blonde braids.
One of the reasons Mendes' arches look so expressive is that she hasn't filled in every hair, but left a few spots sparse to make it look more natural.
Hello; super model Jourdan Dunn's brows have nearly a perfect V-shaped arch. Genetic lottery much?
The girls of Modern Family know the secret to a killer look: deep-set brows that accentuate their bronzy glow and voluminous hair.
You ask any celebrity brow artist and they will tout Connelly's brows as the holy grail. The dark-haired beauty face-framing brows are always on point.
The secret to Emma looking so fresh-faced and radiant is undoubtedly her modern, full brows.
Once your eyebrows, have their own Twitter account, you know you've truly mastered the brow game.
Miss USA pageant winner, model and actress, Olivia Culpo's signature is perfectly groomed and poised style, which extends right up to her structured brows.
Portman has had a strong brow game since she was a child actor, but what she does differently than most is that she opts for a straighter across brow. It’s not just about thickness and colour, which is of course on point, but it’s the length. To get a similar look rather than focusing on creating arches use your pencil to extend the brows towards the outer corners on each side.