CRA & Filing news, TurboTax

Access to NETFILE Has Changed

No Comments 08 February 2013

For those of you wanting to get a head start on filing your taxes, the Canada Revenue Agency’s NETFILE service opens on Monday. Haven’t received your NETFILE access code in the mail from the CRA? Don’t panic.

An access code is no longer necessary to NETFILE T1 income tax returns.

Instead, when you go to NETFILE your return, you’ll be asked for your Social Insurance Number and date of birth as identification.

When your income tax return has been successfully filed, NETFILE will still give you a confirmation number (which you will need to keep as a record).

After you’ve filed your income tax, you can find out about the current status of your return through the CRA’s My Account service.

By getting rid of the access code requirement, the Canada Revenue Agency hopes to make NETFILE even easier to use and encourage more of us to use NETFILE.

Will Your Tax Information Still Be Safe?

The Canada Revenue Agency says that this change does not lower their security standards in any way.

The CRA uses the most secure forms of data encryption available today, the same levels of data encryption that your financial institution uses to protect your banking information.

And using NETFILE is a one-way, one time transaction of information. There is no way to change any of the information or go back and view it after it’s been transmitted. (In fact, if you need to change any of the personal information on your income tax return, you need to update it with the CRA before you use NETFILE, as there is no way to change anything in NETFILE as you are using it.)

The Canada Revenue Agency also points out that they perform “a number of identification and tax-related validations” to prevent fraud and that their secure procedures include only sending the Notice of Assessment and/or refund to the address or bank account that the CRA has on file – information that only you, the taxpayer, or your legal representative can change.

So there is no danger of someone else being able to access your tax return and get the refund you should be getting, for instance, or trying to NETFILE a second T1 tax return under your name.

(Remember: to file your income tax via NETFILE, you must have prepared your tax return by using tax software that is certified by the Canada Revenue Agency. Intuit’s TurboTax has this designation.)

See the Canada Revenue Agency’s NETFILE pages for more information.

CRA & Filing news, Tax Tips & Advice

Don’t Forget to Apply for the Ontario Trillium Benefit

No Comments 25 January 2013

Student. Worker. Senior. If you’re of legal age, you might qualify for the Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB), a tax benefit designed to help people with low and moderate incomes offset the cost of the sales taxes they’ve paid out, heating their homes, and their rent or property taxes.

And if you qualify, you will receive the Ontario Trillium Benefit  each month – up to $946 per year if you pay rent or property tax and up to $1,078 per year if you’re a senior, according to the Ontario government.

The benefit rolls three existing tax credits into one as of July 2012:

  • the Ontario Sales Tax Credit
  • the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
  • the Northern Ontario Energy Credit

So you will receive the Ontario Trillium Benefit if you are eligible for at least one of these tax credits.

Here’s what you need to know about claiming this tax benefit.

Who Qualifies for the Ontario Trillium Benefit?

Eligibility for the Sales Tax Credit portion of the OTB is determined by your income.

To be eligible for the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, you must also:

  • be a resident in Ontario on December 31, 2012;
  • be a resident of Ontario at the beginning of the payment month;
  • had rent or property tax paid by or for you for your principal residence in Ontario;
  • be 18 years of age or older, or
  • be under 18 years of age and have or previously had a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • be under 18 years of age and be a parent who lives or previously lived with your child.

If you live on a reserve and pay home energy costs, or if you live in a public long-term care home and pay accommodation costs, you may qualify for the energy component of the credit.

To be eligible for the Northern Ontario Energy Credit, you must also live in Nothern Ontario.

How Is the Ontario Trillium Benefit Calculated?

The OTB payments for 2013 are based on your 2012 income tax return.

The amount you receive is based on your adjusted net family income and the amount of rent or property tax you paid for your principal residence for 2012.

You can use the Ontario Ministry of Finance’s Tax Credit Calculator to determine if you qualify for the Ontario Trillium Benefit and see how much you would get.

But You Have to Apply

Receiving the Ontario Trillium Benefit is not automatic; you have to apply for it, and as the OTB covers three different benefits, you have to apply for the “parts” of the OTB separately.

To apply for the 2013 Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit and/or Northern Ontario Energy Credit, complete the relevant parts of Ontario Form ON-BEN. This form is part of the 2012 General Income Tax and Benefit Package.

To apply for the 2013 Ontario Sales Tax Credit, complete the goods and services/harmonized sales tax credit application area on page 1 of the 2012 General Income Tax and Benefit Package.

To make sure that you start getting your Ontario Trillium Benefit payments right away in July, you need to make sure you file your income tax on time (on or before April 30th, 2013).

If you qualify, the Ontario Trillium Benefit will be issued on the 10th of each month, starting on July 10, 2013, through June 2014.

For more information about the OTB, see the Canada Revenue Agency’s Ontario Trillium Benefit Questions and Answers.

CRA & Filing news, TurboTax

Happy Canada Day!!

No Comments 01 July 2012

With taxes done for the year, we at TurboTax want to thank you for your business and wish you a very happy Canada Day!

Canada Flag | Canadian Flag | Maple Leaf

Feel like sharing? Let us know what you did this Canada Day long weekend on Facebook. We’d love to hear all about it!

CRA & Filing news, Tax Tips & Advice

Reminder: The Business Tax Deadline is June 15th

2 Comments 08 June 2012

If you or your spouse was a self-employed individual in 2011, your tax return filing deadline is June 15th which is only 7 days away! Filing on time helps you avoid late filing penalties and ensures there is no interruption in your social benefits, such as your GST or UCCB amounts.

Need help completing your self-employed tax return? TurboTax Home and Business is free to try.

CRA & Filing news

The Top 10 Procrastinating Cities for the 2011 Tax Year

No Comments 04 May 2012

Have you filed your taxes yet? In honor of all you tax procrastinators out there, here’s our annual list of the Top 10 Procrastinating Cities in Canada.

top ten procrastinating cities 2011 tax canada

CRA & Filing news, Tax Tips & Advice

When is the tax filing deadline for tax year 2011?

No Comments 13 April 2012

Personal income tax returns for tax year 2011 must be filed on or before April 30th, 2012.

Individuals with self-employment income must file their returns on or before June 15th, 2012 but if the self-employed individual has a balance owing on his or her return, the balance must be paid on or before April 30th, 2012.

Filing your income tax return on time will ensure that you don’t pay any late penalties or interest on amounts that may be owed and ensure that there is no disruption in receiving the GST/HST credit, Canada Child Tax Benefit payments (CCTB) and Old Age Security benefit payments.

CRA & Filing news, TurboTax

TurboTax How-To: How to Use the Live Community

No Comments 03 April 2012

You will now find a new meaning to the word Help when they look to the Live Community in the right rail of our Tax products. The Live Community has now become a power house of answers though the addition of hundreds of thousands of internal and external self help sources. This means TurboTax users are going to get the help they need quickly and when they need it most! And, the best part is that they will no longer have to go outside our product to seek their answers. You can now access CRA/MRQ documents, support site content, in-product Help documents, and as always, valuable Live Community answers directly from the right side of your TurboTax product

Live Community Help in TurboTax

 

What is Live Community?

The Live community is an online network  created to give you quick access to answers while filing your return.  You can ask a question or quickly access hundreds of thousands of Help documents to get your answers fast.

 

Where is the Live Community Located?

The Live community is found on the right-hand side of the screen of your TurboTax product.

Where to find Live Community in TurboTax

 

What kind of Help materials will I find in Live Community?

You can now access official CRA/MRQ documents, TurboTax support site and in-product Help documents, and as always, valuable Live Community answers directly from the right rail of their product. There are literarily hundreds of thousands of Help documents and Q&A posts in the Live Community.

Where to find TurboTax Help

 

How does Live Community work?

Ask a question or let the community ask the questions for you. The Live community is a dynamic support feature that was design to show you the most popular questions for each section of TurboTax.  No matter where you are in TurboTax the help you receive in the right-hand side of your screen will reflect questions & answers that relate to that particular page. For example, if you are entering in your medical expenses. The Live Community will show you a list of popular questions about “Entering medical expenses” for that page.

 

Help TurboTax

 

My question isn’t in the Live Community right-rail. Can I search for it?

You sure can! Simply click into the search box and type in your question. The Live Community will do the rest. In this example, you can see there are three answers suggested by the Live Community. The Live Community also tells you who the question was answered by, if it was a helpful answer and if it solved the user’s question.

Help in TurboTax

 

You can also access the Live Community directly online here: https://turbotax.community.turbotaxonline.ca/.

CRA & Filing news, TurboTax

To Mail or NETFILE: The Benefits of filing taxes online

1 Comment 12 January 2012

If you’re like me, you receive your statements, bills and other documents electronically. These days, most forms can be downloaded online and email has, in many ways, replaced snail mail. Not only is this better for the environment, it’s convenient and simple! So why would you still use pen and paper to calculate your tax refund?

Filing taxes online is fast and easy with the Canada Revenue Agency’s free NETFILE system. If you can attach a file to an email, or upload a photo to Facebook, you can submit your tax forms. All you need is an Internet connection, a four-digit NETFILE access code and a completed tax return (TurboTax can help with this part!). You can find your access code on the information sheet of your T1 personal income tax form. To abate any privacy concerns, you should know the CRA uses the most advanced form of encryption available in North America. You can rest assured that your information is safe in their system.

Once you upload your return, you’ll receive an immediate confirmation letting you know that everything checks out or that you need to correct an error. The latter scenario isn’t likely to occur since tax software like TurboTax flags errors or inconsistencies within your tax return and tells you exactly what needs to be fixed in order for your return to be accepted – the process is simple and accurate. Try getting that kind of peace of mind with a paper return!

The CRA tells Canadians that NETFILE is the fastest way to get your refund; with direct deposit, you can receive your refund in as little as eight business days, compared with the average four to six weeks for a paper return.  Rather than having to interpret your penmanship, the CRA will have a clean, accurate file to work with and you won’t be stuck printing countless forms and licking stamps.

Check out the Canada Revenue Agency’s website if you need to find your NETFILE access code. If you need more help, you can contact the NETFILE helpdesk toll-free.

CRA & Filing news, Tax Tips & Advice

Giving Thanks with the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit

No Comments 20 December 2011

It’s a common occurrence in many communities across the province: the familiar wail of a siren, followed by one or more fire trucks barreling down the road.  Most of us likely don’t even think about the presence of firefighters in our communities on a daily basis.  They’re an indispensible part of society.  We just know that without them, we’d all be a lot worse off.

Which is why it may be surprising to some that in thousands of communities in Canada, many firefighters are not paid for their services – they’re volunteers.  In fact, Canada has more than 85,000 volunteer firefighters from all kinds of backgrounds and occupations who are currently volunteering their own time to protect the lives and properties of their friends and neighbours.  Sadly, many of them have even given their own lives while on duty.

This year, the federal government is making their job a little easier with the introduction of the brand new Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (VFTC) – a credit that Canadians wholeheartedly supported. This is a non-refundable tax credit that is available to any volunteer firefighter who serves at least 200 hours per year beginning on January 1, 2011. Volunteer Firefighters can expect the non-refundable credit to be $450 in 2011. A new line will be incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow eligible Canadians to claim the credit.

It’s also important to know that some provinces, such as Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador offer provincial Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credits too, some of which have been introduced on the heels of the Federal Tax Credit.  This is the case for Quebec, which just recently added a new tax credit, effective January 1, and for Newfoundland and Labrador, which introduced a $3,000 provincial tax credit for volunteer firefighters earlier this year.  Nova Scotia has offered a credit since 2007 and in 2008 expanded it to include ground search and rescue workers.  Remember, no matter where you live, it’s important take stock of these credits and claim every penny you deserve – something that’s easy to do with TurboTax!

Do you know any volunteer firefighters? How important are they to your community?

Saprae Creek Fire Hall in Fort McMurray

National Revenue Minister Gail Shea and Brian Jean, Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, today visited the Saprae Creek Fire Hall in Fort McMurray to promote the new volunteer firefighter's tax credit. When an eligible volunteer firefighter claims the credit on their tax return, they can reduce their tax bill by as much as $450. (Photo source: Canada Revenue Agency. www.cra-arc.gc.c)

CRA & Filing news, TurboTax

NETFILE closing soon. Already done? How about some oddball trivia?

No Comments 22 September 2011

It’s September 22, and I’m here to tell you NETFILE closes Sept 30. If you’ve been a wee bit tardy filing your 2010 taxes, there’s no time like the present. Click the image to go directly to TurboTax Online, so you can finish it up:



For those of you who’ve already finished, how about a reward in the form of oddball tax deductions, courtesy our US TurboTax cousins. The cat food one is a bit odd. And I should note that when we surveyed Canadians a couple years ago, people admitted to not only trying to write off dog food, but also their dogs as a security expense. They were unsuccessful.

Top 10 Oddball Tax Deductions

1. Pet food

A couple who owned a junkyard was allowed to write off the cost of cat food they set out to attract wild cats. The feral felines did more than just eat; they also took care of snakes and rats on the property, making the place safer for customers. When the case reached the Tax Court, IRS lawyers conceded that the cost was deductible.

2. Moving the family pet

If you are changing jobs and meet a couple of tests, you can deduct your moving expenses—including the cost of moving your dog, cat or other pet from your old residence to your new home. Your pet—be it a Pekingese or a python—is treated the same as your other personal effects.

3. A trip to Bermuda

This island is more than just a scenic place to visit. It’s also a great place to schedule a tax write-off. Business conventions held in Bermuda are deductible without having to show that there was a special reason for the meeting to be held there. That’s a sweet perk.

Other countries in the Caribbean region qualify, too, including Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Meetings held in Canada, Mexico and all U.S. possessions also receive this favorable tax treatment. Attend a convention in Paris, Rome or Beijing, though, and there’s no deduction unless you can show it made as much sense to travel abroad as to head to Pittsburgh.

4. Body oil

A professional bodybuilder used body oil to make his muscles glisten in the lights during his competitions. The Tax Court ruled that he could deduct the cost of the oil as a business expense. Lest it be seen as a softie, though, the Court nixed deductions for buffalo meat and special vitamin supplements to enhance strength and muscle development.

5. A private airplane

Rather than drive five to seven hours to check on their rental condo or be tied to the only daily commercial flight available, a couple bought their own plane. The Tax Court allowed them to deduct their condo-related trips on the aircraft, including the cost of fuel and depreciation for the portion of time used for business-related purposes, even though these costs increased their overall rental loss.

6. Breast augmentation

In an effort to get more tips, a stripper with the stage name “Chesty Love” decided to get breast implants to increase her size to 56FF. A female Tax Court judge allowed Chesty to write off the cost of her operation, equating her new assets to a stage prop. Alas, the operation proved to be a problem for Chesty. She later tripped and ruptured one of her implants.

7. Landscaping

Sole proprietors who regularly meet clients in a home office can deduct part of the costs of landscaping the property. The deductible portion is based on the percentage of the home that is used for business, according to the Tax Court. The Court also allowed a deduction for part of the costs of lawn care and driveway repairs.

8. Free beer

In a novel promotion, a gas station owner gave his customers free beer in lieu of trading stamps. Proving that sometimes beer and gasoline do mix, the Tax Court allowed the write-off as a business expense.

9. Swimming pool

A taxpayer with emphysema put in a pool after his doctor told him to develop an exercise regimen. He swam in it twice a day and improved his breathing capacity. Turns out he swam in the pool more than his family did.

The Tax Court allowed him to deduct the cost of the pool (to the extent that the cost exceeded its added value to the property) as a medical expense because its primary purpose was for medical care. Also, the cost of heating the pool, pool chemicals and a proportionate part of insuring the pool area were treated as medical expenses.

10. A girlfriend

The owner of several rental properties hired his live-in girlfriend to manage them. Her duties included finding furniture, overseeing repairs and running his home. The Tax Court let him deduct $2,500 of the $9,000 he paid her. The disallowed portion was considered to be for nondeductible personal services.

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