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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.
Who doesn't have a sweet spot for sweets? Here, a roundup of our most adored dessert and baked goods recipes of the year.
Whether it's a favourite dish you whip up with the kids, a showstopper you make for an event, or a special dessert you treat yourself to, we all have a few go-to recipes when we're in need of something sweet. But, in case you're looking for a new recipe to add to your list of favourites, we have a few amazing contenders lined up.
For the cake lover, you've got to try our Canada's Best Carrot Cake With Cheese Cheese Icing. This deliciously moist treat is perfect for all celebrations—birthdays, showers, reunions, and beyond.
The Christmas cookie lover will be all over our Cream Cheese Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies. They're soft and chewy and filled with a tangy cream cheese icing.
Like to enjoy your sweets with coffee? Go for our Pumpkin Scones With Whipped Brown Butter Icing, Chocolate Ginger Biscotti, Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Loaf, or our Best Ever Apple Pie—satisfaction guaranteed.
And finally, for the true Canadians, you've got to try our Maple Fudge, Butter Tarts and Butter Tart Squares.
But, no matter which recipe you try—though we encourage you try them all!—you're guaranteed to have an amazing go-to dessert on your need-to-bake roster.
Our most popular recipe ever! This moist carrot cake is welcome at birthdays, weddings, reunions and all special occasions.
Get the recipe: Canada's Best Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing
This classic recipe for dense candy- shop fudge will be an instant family favourite.
Get the recipe: Maple Fudge
A brown butter spread gives flaky spiced pumpkin scones nutty flavour and an extra touch of sweetness.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Scones With Whipped Brown Butter Icing
Make your own delectable custardy tarts instead of buying them.
Get the recipe: Best Maple Butter Tarts
These soft, chewy ginger-spiced thumbprints are filled with a tangy cream cheese icing for the ultimate holiday treat.
Get the recipe: Cream Cheese Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies
Whether runny or firm, with raisins or nuts, butter tarts are treats that never go out of style.
Get the recipe: Best Butter Tarts
These twice-baked cookies are great for gifting because their dryness allows them to be stored for long periods of time and is less prone to breaking.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Ginger Biscotti
Studded with chocolate chips and crystallized ginger, this moist marbled loaf makes the best fall-flavoured afternoon treat.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Loaf
It doesn't get any better than this.
Get the recipe: Best Ever Apple Pie
The perfect all-Canadian treat.
Get the recipe: Butter Tart Squares