Half Year Tax Thoughts
It's summertime and only tax professionals are thinking about taxes. I'm thinking about your taxes all the time. But this time of year, maybe while I'm sipping on something refreshing!
Some people should be thinking about their tax situation now; if you start thinking of these things next February or March, it may be too late.
Pharmacare Deductible - has your family net income decreased by more than 10% from 2015 to 2017? If so, you may want to apply to Manitoba Health to have your current deductible decreased for the current Pharmacare year (April 1 2017 to March 31 2018).
Most seniors are aware of this, but it applies to any family that may have high prescription drug costs that may reach their Pharmacare deductible. New seniors or those who have recently retired may not have thought about it much while working and having a health plan cover their prescriptions, but if you have never applied for Pharmacare (and get an updated letter each year in May), you may want to get your application in now before you actually need it.
Are you over 65 and your income has reduced? You may now qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If you are 65+ and your spouse is 60-65, the income level to qualify is higher than when both of you are 65+, so check it out. Once you have applied your eligibility is reviewed every year after you file your income taxes.
Are you 55-65? Has your family income reduced due to retirement or semi- retirement? Maybe you should start withdrawing some of your Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) if you are in a lower tax bracket. Once you are 65+, there are other credits that come into play and you may end up paying higher taxes on your RRIF withdrawals at that point than now. Get some expert tax advice on this before you go ahead. Give me a call. Plan now!
Has your health changed (worsened)? Maybe you now qualify for the Disability Tax Credit? Trouble walking? Hearing? Seeing? More time needed to test your blood sugars and adjust your insulin if you are diabetic? Problems with incontinence or bowel movements? Has your mental capacity decreased due to dementia?
These impairments may affect your day to day life and you may qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and reduce your taxes payable. Get the application and have your doctor complete it and get it sent to Canada Revenue Agency now.
Has someone in the family had a decrease in health? Are you providing more care? Maybe you qualify for the Manitoba Primary Caregiver Tax Credit. Find out more to see if you qualify.
Did you have an amount owing on your 2016 taxes when you last Spring? Do you want to change that so you do not owe next Spring? You need to have more tax deducted from yours sources of income. I see this happen normally in two situations.
The first situation is when you have more than one employer, either working more than one part time job, or you have a main full time job and have a second part time job. Make sure the 2nd employer uses the tax code of "zero". That means that every dollar gets taxed (instead of both employers only taxing you once you are over the 11,000 basic exemption).
The second situation I see often is the newly retired who have income from many sources and all are not taxing enough; get more tax deducted from at least one of the sources; CPP (Canada Pension Plan) or OAS (Old Age Security) are the easier sources to have more tax deducted. You can go on line if you have "my account" set up, or phone them, or see me for a form.
Or if you had too much of a refund, you can have the tax deducted reduced so you have more money each month instead of waiting until tax time.
If you haven't already, make sure you are keeping all your medical receipts and records. You can claim as a tax credit all medical expenses that you pay yourself.
This includes the premiums you pay for your own health plan directly from your bank account or from your pay statement. If it comes out of your bank account, did you get a receipt in January confirming what you paid? (Blue Cross only issues if you ask, so make sure you do next January). Plan now!
Check your tax slip from 2016; was the amount of medical premium listed there on your T4 or T4A? How about your pay statement? Was it clearly listed as health premiums (then keep your December 2017 pay statement that shows the year to date).
If it just says "group insurance" that is not good enough because it likely includes disability insurance and life insurance premiums too. Make sure your employer gives you a letter in January confirming what you paid for your health and dental plan through your payroll deduction. Tell them now that you will be asking for it in January so they are prepared! Plan now!
Other out of pocket medical expenses include the amount the plan doesn't pay, often a 20% co-insurance, or maybe the 50% for medical expenses.
And there may be medical expenses that are not covered at all by your health plan: eyeglasses, laser eye surgery, travel health insurance, dental, and more. Make sure you have a file or envelope so you keep all of these receipts to claim on your 2017 taxes next Spring. Plan now!
And keep track of your medical travel. If you travel more than 40km one way to a health professional that does not exist within 40km (normally a specialist in Winnipeg), then keep track of the date, location, name of professional and reason for visit. Keep track of all members of the family. If you record it on a large paper calendar, make sure on January 1 you keep the 2017 calendar where you keep the rest of your tax papers.Or ask us for a medical travel form. Plan now!
Did you receive your notice for the Canada Child Benefit that was sent out by CRA in July? Is your family income under 65,000? You may be able to decrease your net income for 2017 and increase your CCB and tax savings by using RRSPs. If you buy an RRSP, you get a tax break of 26 to 33%, and you also increase the CCB by another 13%; so you can get almost half of your RRSP contribution paid back to you in real tax savings. Get an estimate of your 2017 taxes so you can see how much you could save by using RRSPs before the March 1 2018 deadline. Plan now!
Do you see a trend here? Planning now can save some real tax dollars next Spring when we complete your taxes.
Remember my Death Café's are now every third Thursday of the month. Contact us to be on the phone list.
Have an enjoyable rest of the summer, spending time with family and friends and enjoying the great outdoors!
AnniMarkmann is a Personal Income Tax Professional and Certified Financial Planner; living, working, and volunteering in our community. Contact her at 204.422.6631 or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne (near Co-op) or Info@SteAnneTaxService.ca