For most people, doing a tax return seems like a really daunting task, with all sorts of esoterically named and categorized forms. Do you know the difference between a T2125 or a T778? One’s for reporting business income and the other is for claiming childcare expenses. Things get pretty complicated for adults with full time jobs and families to support.
Thankfully, as a semi-starving artist my tax returns are pretty simple, and my low income lets me get some pretty solid tax benefits that most people probably don’t know about. I don’t know if I’d be better off living off of unemployment insurance, but hey, I’m not going to assume that the grass is greener on the other side. If you do your own tax returns, it’d be good to know what these little benefits are. Or if you have someone else doing your taxes, it’d be good know that they’re getting you the free money that the government has arbitrarily decided you deserve.
GST/HST Credit Application
This one is incredibly easy to get. All you do is check a box on page one of your T1 return. Make sure you check the box. It’s not a ScanTron so I don’t think you can mess this up.
Canada Employment Amount & Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts
Do you work? In other words, did you get a T4 slip that told you to put an amount on line 101 and 104? Then you should claim the Canada Employment Amount on your Schedule 1 form. Avoid paying those taxes.
Another way for you to avoid taxes is to use your tuition, education and textbook amounts (assuming you were a student). It’s important to fill out a Schedule 11 form (both for Federal and Ontario) to pass on the amounts to the next year. I currently have over $20k worth of deductions. You don’t want to miss out on this once you start working.
Working Income Tax Benefit
So for this one, you need to be working and with low income. You can actually see how much you’ll get by checking out this page: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/wtb/menu-eng.html
Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
I’m pretty sure all students – basically anyone who paid for rent – can apply for this one, and all you do is fill out an ON-BEN form. What you need is your address, landlord information, and how much rent you paid. You can also claim this amount if you paid property tax, for those of you who actually own a house.
So aside from the usual reporting of all your other income, these are the main things that most people, with low incomes like me, take notice of. Get free money people!
On a side note, these little benefits are also a way for the government to get its citizens to self-police themselves by reporting incomes and such. For example, for the OEPTC you report the rent you paid and the landlord’s information; that way, the landlord has to report his or her rental income to the government. Sneaky right?