The Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake
Photography by Maya Visnyei Image by: The Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake<br>Photography by Maya Visnyei
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.
Save some money this season with easily accessible, moisture-retaining products for when that cold wind bites—all under $20.
Winter’s icy grip has set in, and the crisp weather calls for a new extra nourishing beauty routine. It's a fact that rough and dry skin longs for moisture when blizzards roll in and jacked up thermostats wreak havoc. The skin-care struggle is real. We can share our best ways to curb dry winter skin and tell you how to boost moisture, but you'll also need the beauty products to help see you through to warmer weather.
We know surviving sub-zero temperatures is hard enough—your pocket shouldn’t have to take a hit as well. The good news is, it doesn't have to. All of these beauty products can be purchased at your local drugstore and for under $20, leaving you with more spending money for a peppermint mocha on your way home.
This cult-classic beauty aid has the power to withstand Arctic climates. Slather on the all-natural product—with pansy, chamomile and calendula extracts— anywhere you need it: think dry patches, cuticles and rough elbows. $19, well.ca.
It's a beauty myth that exfoliating your skin will leave you more dry and dehydrated. The fact is, it helps shed dead skin and leaves your face primed to absorb your moisturizing products. Try these pads soaked in glycolic acid. They're less abrasive than a mechanical exfoliant such as beads or scrubs. $15, well.ca.
Even if you have oily skin, winter is time to replace your oil-free gel or clay cleanser in favour of milks or balms. This balm cleanser replenishes lost moisture through glycerin and cocoa butter while still erasing all traces of makeup and grime. $10, beautyboutique.ca.
When your skin is red, parched and in desperation for some heavy-duty TLC, that’s when you send in the face masks. In 15 minutes, this hyaluronic acid-infused facial sheet mask will prevent dullness and provide 24 hours of moisture retention. $18, indeedlabs.com.
Right now, summer feels like a distant dream—but your skin could still use a touch of (faux) summer glow. This foundation gives a dose of gradual self-tanner, providing buildable coverage when on, and a healthy bronze once you rinse it off. $18, almay.com.
Plenty of body washes can leave you dehydrated by the time you step out of the shower. This one does helps lock-in moisture post-shower with argan oil. $5.50, walmart.ca.
If body oil isn’t your thing, nourishing body butter is the skin fix you need. Whipped with shea and cocoa butter—both hailed for their moisturizing properties—there will be no dry skin ‘round these parts. $12, beautyboutique.ca.
This is a lifesaver. Coconut oil is an amazingly cost-effective way to help your body soak up all the moisture it needs. Since it can get greasy, slather it on overnight and wake up with supple skin (try your hair, as well). Added bonus: the scent will leave you smelling of the beach. $14, walmart.ca.
Nothing is worse than checking yourself in the mirror and realizing your lipstick is dray and cracked—and your lips are no better. Be preemptive and exfoliate before you leave the house using this E.L.F. stick made with sugar crystals that aren’t overly abrasive. $4, elfcosmetics.com.
"I don’t want velvety soft, moisturized hands for under $7,"—said no one ever! This cult classic is super-concentrated with glycerin, is fragrance-free and has the stamp of approval from the National Eczema Association. $7, well.ca.
Is everyone in the office—or your children’s school—getting sick? Spritz this anti-bacterial spray without fear of catching whatever bug is going around. Bonus: the added lavender oil prevents your hands from drying out. $7.50, drbronner.com.
Coming in an array of shades, this lip balm will give you that just-bitten winter colour we all strive for—while still keeping your pout moisturized and flake-free. $6, walmart.ca.
The sniffles, watery eyes, snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes–all of these contribute to smudged makeup and raccoon eyes. To keep you looking doe-eyed all day long, switch over to one of our favourite waterproof mascaras. $10, well.ca.
Editor's Best Advice Image by: Stocksy United
From cold showers to the best must-have products, here's our best fashion and beauty advice.
The most fashionable people know how to mix old and new. Anyone can swipe plastic at a department store, but it takes a strong sense of style—and creativity—to score a treasure at a vintage or thrift shop. Try this approach to building an outfit: Pick one key vintage piece (when shopping, look for intricate beadwork, embroidery and luxurious materials) and pair it with newer items in your closet. That rare vintage find will get you tons of compliments, trust me!
Hot showers may feel great, but they're a real bummer for your skin and hair. They strip away skin's natural defences against dryness and irritants and can weaken hair and make it susceptible to breakage. Lukewarm water, on the other hand, leaves skin hydrated, while cool water helps to close the hair cuticle so tresses look shiny.
Need for speed
"When I have to be fast, I skip traditional eyeshadow and use a shadow stick instead. It blends seamlessly, looks flawless and there isn't any powder fallout... A lifesaver!" - Jodi Urichuk, hair and makeup artist
If you've ever fallen in love with an almost-perfect item of clothing, you know the value or a good tailor—a hemmed pant leg or nipped-in waist can upgrade an entire outfit. But some fixes are easier than others: It's best to buy a coat or blazer that fits properly at the shoulders and then hem the sleeves if necessary. Even with a good tailor, taking in a shoulder seam can be risky.
Tip to toe
Not sure how to ground an outfit? Take a modern approach to pairing and juxtapose styles. If you want to show off your bare legs with a hem that hits midthigh or higher, go for a chunky heel. If the base of your outfit has an obvious masculine look (wide-legged trouser, cargo pant or cuffed jean), opt for a dainty heel.
Tools of the trade
1. Teardrop-shaped sponge
Use it to blend foundation, cream blush or highlighter by lightly bouncing the sponge across skin—the pros call this technique stippling.
The Original Beautyblender, $28, sephora.ca.
2. Basic Black Strappy Heel
The ultimate go-to shoe, it can pull together any outfit and add sophistication.
Suede ankle-strap shoes, $135, ninewest.ca.
3. Good-Quality Blow-Dryer
Look for a lightweight one that is easy to use and gives you plenty of heat and control settings.
T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i, $320, sephora.ca.