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.
This Family Day—and every one going forward—my family and I are going to do what we can to build the kind of Canada we want to live in.
When you're living outside your birth country, with friends and family scattered around the world, you get used to running conversations over Skype and text message. In fact, when news of the ban stopping all refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations entering America broke, I was texting with a close friend from Palestine who moved to Washington D.C. with her husband and three children in 2015.
They left Gaza because of the uncertainty and instability shrouding the region. She wanted what all parents want for their children: a better future. Now, she's been plunged back into uncertainty. A Green Card holder, she doesn't know if she can visit her family and friends in Egypt. Her texts became worried questions: What will happen to her family if the ban expands to include Egypt or Palestine?
Since the ban was announced, the sands have continued to shift beneath refugees' and migrants' feet as legal battles are fought over its legitimacy. No one is sure from day to day whose travel plans will be affected, but millions of people are on edge—and there's a strong psychological toll to the uncertainty. I've certainly felt it: I'm a Palestinian-Canadian, and I travel frequently for work. I can't shake the fear that on my next visit to the US, they'll only see my birth country, my last name or the colour of my skin.
As I took in the news, I did what most of us in this country probably did in response and silently gave thanks that I'm Canadian. My immediate thought was to encourage my friend in Washington to move here with her family. Then, days later, I watched reports of the attack in Quebec City and learned of the six men who were killed while praying at their mosque.
We may not have a so-called "Muslim ban" and I'm proud to think of the nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees who now call Canada home, but we are not immune to the hate and division that is growing both north and south of the border. The ban and the attack are connected by the poison of intolerance.
Since the attack, MPs have been calling on each other to ditch the divisive politics that plays on peoples' differences. This is a good start—but it doesn't answer the question of why the mentality of "us" and "them" so easily wedged itself between Canadians.
As we mark the 150th anniversary of our nation, we need to recommit to a true culture of inclusivity for the next 150 years.
Hate comes from ignorance. The best way to learn empathy and to combat ignorance is with exposure. And that's where parents, and the lessons they teach in the safe and supportive space of the home, play a decisive role. As a family, my husband and I plan to use Family Day—this year, and every year moving forward—to help build the type of country we want for all families.
If you live near a new Canadian family, help your children get to know the neighbours, why they left their country and why they chose Canada. Select children's books that emphasize diversity. Connect complex issues back to something kids can relate to, like schoolyard and classroom antics. Ask them how it makes them feel when they get left out or picked on for being "different." Volunteer at a New Canadians Centre, or learn to cook a meal from one of the seven countries affected by the back-and-forth ban in the US.
There are incidents of Islamophobia in this country, but as both a Canadian and a Muslim, I have hope. At a funeral service for the victims, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard stood in front of thousands in attendance and declared, "We are all Quebecers." We are all victims of hate and we all have a chance to recommit ourselves to the best of Canada.
Featuring Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and more!
Pair red carpet veterans such as Amy Adams and Emma Stone with fashion’s newest “it girl", Ruth Negga, and you’ve got yourself a highly entertaining awards season. It all culminates with Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards, and we’re on pins and needles to see which fabulous gown the Oscar-nominated actresses will wear. Here are some recent runway looks that we would love to see have their own red carpet moment.
Although Adams isn’t nominated for her role in the sci-fi box office smash, Arrival, the movie itself earned eight nominations, including best picture.
Adams almost always strikes all the right notes on the red carpet while favouring Veronica Lake waves and body-conscious gowns in a jewel tone hues.
We think the 42-year-old will go for something a little more subdued because of the lack of a nomination. We’re banking on a black staples column gown, similar to this Armani Privé beauty from the spring/summer collection.
We’re keeping a close eye on the Ethiopian-Irish actress who's been nominated for her portrayal of Mildred Loving in Loving. Negga wowed us all at this year’s Golden Globes when she showed up in a fitted silver sequined Louis Vuitton gown, complete with a gold centre zipper.
Although we haven’t seen a lot of her at big fashion events, from the looks of things she’s a risk taker and she adores a good embellishment such as lace, beading or sequins. We’re thinking she’ll show up in something covered in lace with glittering embellishments, like this gown from Givenchy pre-fall 2017.
Nominated for best leading role in LaLa Land, Stone is the favourite to take home the little gold man, along with slaying it on the red carpet.
Not only does she always nail it on the big screen, but her gown and hair and makeup selections are always top notch. But the best thing about Stone’s red carpet style is she’s never boring, always shaking up her gown and designer selections. This award season alone we’ve seen her in Chanel, Valentino and Alexander McQueen. We’re feeling a floral vibe with a wee bit of colour and tons of tulle, like this Zuhair Murad gown.
This year Streep became the actor with the most Academy Award nominations ever—her nom for Florence Foster Jenkins bumps it up to 20! Meaning, she broke her own record.
Though Streep is much more known for her acting chops than her red carpet moments, she’s always true to her own esthetic. She's been spotted wearing Givenchy at the last few red carpet events, but we think she’ll try something else, something dramatic and simple, like this cape-back silky gown from Valentino.
From architectural masterpieces to classic old Hollywood glamour, the Academy Award winner and nominated (this year for Jackie) star has had some stand-out red carpet moments.
At the Golden Globes this year the expectant mom breezed onto the red carpet in a vintage-esque sunny Prada gown. Portman channelled Kennedy Onassis with a modern take on the former first lady’s iconic bouffant, classic makeup and wore a dress similar to a yellow frock that she once wore to the Metropolitan Opera House in 1975.
Although she’ll likely be wearing a custom gown because of how far along she is in her pregnancy, we think it will be less saturated and more glittery, something with an empire waist and a centred slit, like this sequinned-embellished georgette Zuhair Murad gown.
Williams, who is nominated for best-supporting actress for her role in Manchester by the Sea has been owning the red carpet all season long. She’s the current celeb spokesperson for Louis Vuitton so we know she’ll likely be clad in one of the French fashion houses gowns.
Buying art is easier than ever thanks to online shops that offer everything from contemporary abstracts to landscapes—often in a variety of sizes. With prices that won't blow the budget, you can curate an art collection from the comfort of your couch.
The image wraps around the sides so you can enjoy its beauty from every angle.
This landscape was inspired by the striking country-road views of the American Midwest.
$30 to $246, minted.com.
Canadian artist Yangyang Pan's stunning print will add drama to any space.
$62 to $192, siiso.etsy.com.
Download this fun photo and print it in any size you want!
Muted colours and textures give this piece a vintage feel.
Artist Helena Wurzel's work feels like a modern take on folk art.
$79 to $1,586, 20x200.com.
Artist Hailey Mitchell's portraits are inspired by strong women around the world.
Photography from a favourite travel destination keeps memories alive.
$30 to $299, annawithloveshop.com.
Perch this preppy greeting at the front door to welcome your guests in style.