Do I need to file a tax return if I am new to Canada?

Are you new to Canada?


Did you know?

If you are a newcomer to Canada for all or part of a tax year, you may need to file an income tax and benefit return if you have to pay tax, want to claim a refund, or receive benefits.You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you establish significant residential ties in Canada, for example, a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner and dependants who move to Canada to live with you, personal property, and social ties in Canada. You usually establish these ties on the date you arrive in Canada. For more information, go to Do you have to file a return?.

Important facts

  • If you’re new to Canada, it’s important to understand your tax obligations and the credits and benefits available to you.
  • By filing an income tax and benefit return, you might be able to get credits and payments such as the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit and Canada child tax benefit payments—even if you have no income to report or tax to pay.
  • Everything you need to know as a newcomer is available at www.cra.gc.ca/newcomers. For example, you can find information on getting your social insurance number, filing a tax return, tax treaties, as well as contact information if you need assistance.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) online services make filing easier and let you get your refund faster

The CRA’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track your refund, and more. Sign up for direct deposit too! Your refund and any benefit or credit payments owed to you will be deposited directly into your account, putting your money in your pocket faster. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

Did you buy a home in 2013?

Did you know?

If you bought a home in 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a tax credit and a plan that may help you save on this purchase.

First-time home buyers’ tax credit

If you are a first-time home buyer, you may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750 on the purchase of a qualifying home.

To qualify for the home buyer’s tax amount:

  • you or your spouse or common-law partner must have bought a qualifying home; and
  • you can’t have lived in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner that year or in any of the four preceding years.

If you are buying a home and are eligible for the disability tax credit or if you are an individual buying a home for a related person who is eligible for the disability tax credit, you may also qualify for this credit even if you have already owned a home.

A qualifying home must be registered in your name, in your spouse’s or common-law partner’s name, or in both names, according to the applicable land registration system, and must be located in Canada. It includes existing homes such as single-family houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings, and homes under construction.

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

You may also be eligible to participate in the Home Buyers’ Plan, which allows you to withdraw funds from your registered retirement savings plan to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. You can withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year, and you have up to 15 years to repay the amounts you withdraw.

For more tax information for homeowners, go to www.cra.gc.ca/myhome.

CRA online services make filing easier and let you get your refund faster

The CRA’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track your refund, and more. Sign up for direct deposit too! Your refund and any benefit or credit payments owed to you will be deposited directly into your account, putting your money in your pocket faster. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

Does the Bank of Canada email to the public?

Bank of Canada Warns of Ongoing Email Scam

The Bank of Canada (the Bank) has warned Canadians that an unsolicited email scam has falsely claiming to originate from the Bank has been circulating.

 

These scams are misrepresenting the Bank and use the institution’s name, logo, and other identifiers without authorization. The Bank has warned that it has no connection to such emails. In a statement released on its website, stating that: 

“The Bank of Canada is Canada’s central bank and therefore does not accept deposits from or on behalf of individuals, nor does it collect personal or financial information from individuals. The Bank has reported these fraudulent emails to the police. If you receive an unsolicited email, delete it immediately. The Bank of Canada and its employees and officers do not request personal or financial information through email and do not participate in any email or Internet-based communications that request information or payment for services.”

The Bank suggests the following if you receive an email that purports to be from the Bank of Canada, and you have concerns about the contents of that email:

  • Delete the email immediately and contact your local authorities.

  • Access the Bank of Canada website at www.bankofcanada.ca by typing the URL yourself (do not follow links). Look for references to the program identified in the suspect email.

  • Call the Public Information Office at 1.800.303.1282 (toll free in North America), or see the “Contact Us” page on their website.

    Link to the Bank’s warning: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/bank-of-canada-warns-of-email-scams/

What is the red tape reduction measure?

The Harper Government kicks off 2014 with a renewed commitment to red tape reduction for businesses

January 28, 2014 – Ottawa – Canada Revenue Agency

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, with the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Edward Fast, Minister for International Trade, the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, and Ms. Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), today highlighted the Government’s progress on red tape reduction. Minister Findlay expressed optimism for the relationship between businesses and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which has been made stronger as a result of the red tape reduction measures the CRA has implemented to date.

As of January 6, 2014, businesses can file their T5013, Partnership Information Return, electronically through My Business Account and Represent a Client. In addition, the CRA’s Liaison Officer Initiative will provide in-person support and information to small and medium enterprises at key points as their business grows, to help them get it “right from the start.”

In the fall of 2014, the CRA will again conduct red tape reduction consultations with small businesses and their service providers in cities across the country, seeking their views on the CRA’s progress on reducing red tape and ensuring the Agency’s action plans remain relevant to the needs of small businesses.

In the past year, the Government of Canada implemented significant red tape reduction measures, from increasing its accountability to businesses, introducing time-saving measures, to enabling businesses to file and manage their information online.

Accomplishments in 2013:

  • Agent ID for the CRA’s business enquiries telephone service. Now, when a business owner calls the CRA, the agent who answers provides an ID number at the beginning of the call. The Agent ID number increases the CRA’s accountability for business calls, ensures a consistent experience for callers, and makes it easier for business owners to give feedback on CRA services.
  • A one-stop-shop webpage for business services. Businesses can now easily find information and service options relevant to their tax situation.
  • The My Business Account online enquiries service. Businesses or their representatives can ask the CRA tax-related questions about their accounts online and they will receive answers online and in writing.
  • A new online mail service for Canadian small businesses. Through Manage Online Mail, Canadian businesses can choose to receive their notices of assessment and reassessment electronically, and some letters for their corporate and GST/HST accounts.
  • A new CRA Red Tape Reduction Action Plan webpage. Businesses can see up-to-date information on the CRA’s red tape reduction progress.

Quick facts

  • In the fall of 2012, the CRA held its own consultations with businesses. The results of the 2012 consultations are available in the report Focusing on Small Business Priorities: Canada Revenue Agency Consultations on Cutting Red Tape.
  • To participate in the upcoming consultations, please visit the CRA’s Red Tape Reduction webpage regularly, and stay connected by subscribing to our mailing lists and joining the conversation on Twitter.
  • From April 2013 to November 2013, the CRA responded to almost 4,300 enquiries online through the My Business Account enquiries service, a 25% increase over the same period last year.
  • Using the CRA’s business number (BN) as the common identifier for federal, provincial, and municipal interactions with businesses is part of the effort to reduce red tape for small businesses. So far, six provinces and one city have adopted the BN. More municipalities and governments are expected to adopt the BN to facilitate registration and eliminate duplicate accounts and errors.

Quotes

“I would like to thank the CFIB for their input on CRA red tape measures implemented in the past year, specifically on the Agent ID and My Business Account online enquiries. With the help of business communities, our Government has made significant progress on making compliance easier and decreasing regulatory burdens so businesses can be competitive and innovative within their sectors. This will in turn create jobs and underscore Canada’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to do business. Since most businesses in Canada have less than 100 employees, it’s very important to meet their needs and continue to encourage their feedback and ideas. The CRA’s promise is to consult businesses every two years, and this year, we hope to reach further than we have ever before.”

– The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, Minister of National Revenue

Is Canada’s economy improving?

Canada’s gently improving economy

A number of recent numbers from Statistics Canada testify to gently improving economic conditions.

• In November, wholesale sales  rose 0.7% to $49.6 billion, continuing a gradual upward trend begun in early 2009, deep in the recession. Five of the seven subsectors made gains with the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry leading with a 6.3% increase. The motor vehicle and parts subsector, up 1.5%, recorded its second consecutive increase.

Retail sales also edged upward in November to $39.4 billion, adding 0.2%, the fifth consecutive monthly gain. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as electronics and appliance stores more than offset declines at most store types, says StatsCan.

Manufacturing sales,  likewise, increased in November, up 1.7% to $49.9 billion. As with wholesale sales, manufacturing sales have pursued a gradual upward trajectory since early 2009. Sales rose in 12 of 21 industries, says StatsCan, with the transportation equipment industry — up 3.8% to $8.7 billion in the month — leading the charge and accounting for more than a third of the total increase. Within that industry group, motor vehicle industry sales increased 4.1% and aerospace product and parts industry gained 6.5%.

In the primary metal industry, sales rose 5.9% to $4 billion, the highest gain since July 2011.

• Also on a positive note, the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance  (EI) benefits in November decreased by 4,500 or 0.8% to 528,000, says StatsCan. From a peak close to 850,000 in mid-2009, the number of EI recipients has consistently edged its way downward.

• Investment in non-residential building construction was $12.0 billion in the fourth quarter, a 1.0% gain from the previous quarter. This was the third consecutive quarterly increase and was led by higher spending for commercial and industrial buildings.

• Canadian existing home sales continued to weaken in December, plunging 17.4% year over year, reports the Canadian Real Estate Association. The silver lining in that dark cloud is a mere 1.6% slippage in housing prices year over year.

“The Canadian housing market continues to cool,” wrote Bank of Montreal senior economist Benjamin Reitzes in a recent report. “While some will focus on the deep dive in sales from a year ago, it looks as though prices are providing a better read on the health of the sector, as homeowners are in no rush to sell. Prices are easing gently, consistent with a soft landing through much of the country.”

TD Bank Group economist Francis Fong, likewise, ends his recent report on an upbeat note. Although he doesn’t see a lot of growth in the first half of this year, the second half is a different story. “By the second half of [the] year, we do anticipate an acceleration of economic growth,” he wrote, “particularly in the United States. With Canadian manufacturers and exporters still tightly linked to the fortunes of the U.S. economy, this should translate into a stronger pace of manufacturing sales growth.”

This article was written by Evelyn Jacks. Evelyn Jacks is president of Knowledge Bureau and has authored several of its tax courses and books.

Should I transfer my RRSP/RRIF to my Spouse at Death?

RRSP/RRIF Spousal Transfers on Death – Not so Automatic – Be Careful you don’t Create a Family War

 

Most people are aware that upon their death, their RRSP/RRIF can automatically transfer tax-free to their spouse’s RRSP/RRIF if their spouse is the beneficiary of their plan. The advantage of this spousal rollover is that the income tax on the value of the RRSP/RRIF is deferred until the surviving spouse passes away.

However, if the surviving spouse has other ideas and does not transfer the proceeds of the RRSP/RRIF to a plan of their own, the possibility exists that they could end up keeping the proceeds of the plan while leaving the related income tax liability to be paid by the deceased’s estate. While this can be an issue for any family, for blended families, this has the potential to ignite World War 3.

I recently attended the Ontario Tax Conference. The participants were lawyers and accountants, most of whom specialize in income tax. I know a room full of accountants and lawyers talking tax, what could be more torturous. However, there was actually a very outgoing and passionate presenter by the name of Christine Van Cauwenberghe of the Investors Group. 

Christine presented the technical details relating to this issue, from the mechanics of the “refund of premiums” to the administrative withholding requirements for financial institutions. But, in simple terms, this is what you need to understand.

When you designate your spouse as the beneficiary of your RRSP/RRIF, they will receive the proceeds of your RRSP/RRIF directly. It will then be his/her responsibility to transfer the entire proceeds to their RRSP/RRIF. If they do that, the bank issues the tax receipts in their name and there are no income tax consequences, end of story. 

However, your spouse has no legal obligation to transfer these funds to their RRSP/RRIF. In fact, where your spouse rather use the funds immediately, does not get along with your natural children or is from a second or third marriage and has his/her own children and/or does not get along with their step-children, they may decide to take the money themselves and not transfer the funds to their plan. In these circumstances, the tax receipt for the RRSP/RRIF will then be issued to the deceased’s estate. While the spouse may be held jointly and severally liable by the CRA for the related income tax, if the estate has enough assets, the CRA will typically go after the estate for the taxes, not the spouse.

In order to avoid this potential minefield, Christine suggests that you designate your estate as the beneficiary of your RRSP/RRIF, with a clause that provides two alternative options:

Option 1: The beneficiary (your spouse) chooses to elect with the executor(s) to have the RRSP/RRIF amount taxed in their own name as a refund of premiums. Under this option, the spouse receives the entire RRSP/RRIF proceeds and typically transfers the proceeds to their RRSP/RRIF and the estate assists in filing an election. The required election form is Form T2019, however, you would probably not want to name a specific form in the will, only that there is an option to elect.

Option 2: If the spouse does not agree to the joint election, then they are only entitled to an allocation of the RRSP/RRIF funds net of the associated income tax liability to be incurred by the estate.

A disadvantage of designating your estate as the beneficiary of your RRSP/RRIF is that the funds will be subject to probate in most provinces. Some people feel that the probate fees (1.5% of the value of the RRSP/RRIF in Ontario) are a relatively small cost in order to prevent the potentially disastrous result of your spouse taking the entire proceeds of your RRSP/RRIF and leaving the estate to pay the related income tax.

If your spouse and children do not get along, or you have a blended family, you may wish to review this issue with the lawyer who drafted your will.

 

This article was written by The Blunt Bean Counter and posted on Nov 26, 2012 at www.thebluntbeancounter.com

Would a partnership be a useful vehicle?

Changes to the “Bump” Rules for Partnership Interests

Subject: Partnerships

“partnerships are still a useful vehicle”

Number: 12-36

Date: November 16, 2012

A partnership is a useful form of business organization that has tax advantages as a flow-through vehicle.  If you are planning the acquisition of a business, a partnership can be useful as a way of flowing income and losses (especially losses!) to the purchaser.

Income tax rules allow a purchaser to increase, or ”bump”, the tax cost of certain assets (e.g. land that is not inventory, marketable securities and partnership interests) owned by the acquired corporation (the “target” corporation), if the target corporation is merged with the acquiring corporation after the purchase.

These rules are useful where the purchase price for the shares of the target corporation is higher than the underlying tax basis in the assets of the target corporation, such as companies that own substantial amounts of real estate.  Acquisition planning often involves a tax-free transfer of assets that would not be eligible for a bump (such as depreciable assets and goodwill) to a partnership in advance of the acquisition so that, at the time of the acquisition, the target corporation owns a partnership interest (eligible for the bump) as opposed to assets that were not eligible. 

The March 2012 budget, and the October 2012 draft legislation implementing the budget proposals, will effectively eliminate this planning opportunity. These rules also prevent planning that would otherwise restore the ability to bump the partnership interest.

While the ability to bump the partnership interest has been restricted, partnerships are still a useful vehicle for business acquisitions or structuring newly formed businesses.  Your TSG representative would be happy to discuss with you the best way to structure your business.

TAX TIP OF THE WEEK is provided as a free service to clients and friends of the Tax Specialist Group  member firms.  The Tax Specialist Group is a national affiliation of firms who specialize in providing tax consulting services to other professionals, businesses and high net worth individuals on Canadian and international tax matters and tax disputes.

Do you qualify for the SR & ED program?

Despite Proposed Changes, Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Still Provides Big Benefits for Small Businesses

Subject: SR&ED
Number: 12-37
Date: 11/23/2012

it is a good idea to review upcoming SR&ED expenditures and accelerate the spending

On August 14, 2012, the Department of Finance released draft proposals to reduce some of the benefits available under the SR&ED program however significant benefits still remain for small businesses.  In particular, the 35% refundable credit has not been changed.

What is SR&ED?

The SR&ED program provides tax credits to businesses conducting research and development in Canada that will lead to new, improved or technologically advanced products or processes. The definition of SR&ED for tax purposes is the subject of much uncertainty and beyond the scope of this tax tip.  In general, however, eligible SR&ED is a subset of what is commonly referred to as research and development.

CCPC vs. Non-CCPC

Canadian Controlled Private Corporation’s (CCPC’s) generally receive a cash refund of 35% of the first $3,000,000 eligible SR&ED expenditures, annually. This benefit is ground down if the prior year’s taxable income exceeds $500,000, or taxable capital exceeds $10 million. The draft proposals do not reduce this refundable credit.

Non-CCPC’s receive a 20% investment tax credit (ITC) which can be applied to reduce current year taxes payable, carried back 3 years or carried forward 20 years. The Non-CCPC tax credit rate will be decreasing to 15% effective January 1, 2014.

Proxy method instead of actual overhead

The proxy method can be used to determine the amount of overhead costs that can be claimed for tax credit purposes.  This amount is usually easier to determine (and audit) as it is calculated as 65% of direct R&D wages. The proxy factor will be reduced to 60% effective January 1, 2013 and to 55% effective January 1, 2014. The decreasing proxy factor may cause organizations to consider whether using the traditional method of accounting for overhead will now result in a greater claim. The traditional method requires detailed calculations to track overhead so consideration should be given to the time it will take to produce (and support on audit) the detailed overhead calculations required by the traditional method.

Summary of changes

 

2012

January 1, 2013

January 1, 2014

Non-CCPC rate

20%

20%

15%

CCPC rate

35%

35%

35%

Prescribed proxy amount (PPA)

65%

60%

55%

With the modifications to the SR&ED rules coming into force over the next two years, it is a good idea to review upcoming SR&ED expenditures and accelerate the spending, where practical, before certain rates are curtailed.

TAX TIP OF THE WEEK is provided as a free service to clients and friends of the Tax Specialist Group member firms. The Tax Specialist Group is a national affiliation of firms who specialize in providing tax consulting services to other professionals, businesses and high net worth individuals on Canadian and international tax matters and tax disputes.

 

What deductions apply to Artists & Musicians?

Special Tax Deductions for Artists and Musicians

Artists and musicians may claim expenses for items specific to their profession, including capital cost allowance on musical instruments.

 These claims are limited to the lesser of $1000 and 20% of employment income. Claims may be made for items such as ballet shoes, body suits, art supplies, drum sticks, computer supplies, home office costs, as well as rental, maintenance, insurance and capital cost allowance on those musical instruments. This is another example where consistent gathering and storing of out of pocket expenses can pay off for taxpayers with unique costs.

Does it pay you be organized?

Tax Tips:

 

Being an organized tax filer starts now

The biggest challenge to preparing your tax return is not your math skills. It’s the gathering and organizing of the various forms and receipts that feed into your return. In fact, it usually takes longer to sort receipts than it does to enter the data into the tax return.

So, get organized — and the best time to do this is now, while the horrors of the 2012 tax filing season are fresh in your mind. Set up your files now and file charitable donations, document medical expenses, keep track of employment or business expenses on an ongoing basis. Time new asset purchases and tweak your investments to your best advantage. You’ll be ready to file as soon as the last slip arrives in the mail!

Remember: the better you are at bringing order to your documentation, the wealthier you will be at tax filing time. It will also reduce the amount you’ll pay a tax professional to do your taxes. Do yourself a favor and beat the taxman with an organized approach to your income taxes.

Contact Us

Padgett Business Services

1511 10 Street SW Calgary, AB T2R 1E8
Phone: (403) 220-1570

Email: Padgett Calgary

Subscribe to our SMALL BIZ BUILDER Newsletter.
Yes Please!

Our Rating

Click for the BBB Business Review of this Accountants - Certified Public in Calgary AB