Tax tips and tools from CRA
By Doug PicklykHPAC General
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers the following pointers for tradespeople filing a 2015 tax return:
If you bought new tools for work this year, you may be able to claim the tradesperson’s tools deduction, a deduction of up to $500. You will need your employer to certify the tools were bought by you, for you, to be used directly in your work, to claim the deduction. You may also be able to get a rebate on the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) you paid. For more information on deducting the cost of eligible tools and other deductions and tax credits, go to www.cra.gc.ca/trades.
If you pay dues for membership in a trade union, hold on to your receipt! You may be able to deduct the amount paid on your tax return, including any GST/HST you paid as part of your dues. Find out more by searching Annual union, professional or like dues on the CRA website.
If you are self-employed, you may also be able to deduct other reasonable expenses you paid to earn income—including vehicle expenses, supplies needed to complete a job, and office space expenses. Have you converted part of your garage into a workspace for your business? When you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct a portion of maintenance costs such as heat, home insurance, electricity, cleaning materials, and more. To learn more, go to www.cra.gc.ca/smallbusiness and select Business expenses.
Employers can benefit too. If your business hires a qualified apprentice working in an approved Red Seal trade, you may qualify to claim the apprenticeship job creation tax credit. This non-refundable investment tax credit is equal to the lesser of $2,000 or 10 per cent of the eligible apprentices’ salaries or wages. If you do not need to use the whole credit amount this year, carry the unused amount back three years or carry it forward up to 20 years. For more information on the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit and other investment tax credits, go to www.cra.gc.ca/smallbusiness and select investment tax credit.
Most Canadian income tax and benefit returns for 2015 are due on April 30, 2016. However, since this date is a Saturday, the CRA will consider your return as filed on time and your payment to be made on time if it receives your submission or it is postmarked by midnight on May 2, 2016. Self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners have until June 15, 2016, to file their income tax and benefit returns, but any balance owing is still due no later than May 2, 2016.
Filing electronically with NETFILE allows the CRA to process your return more quickly. For a list of software and web applications, including some that are free for everyone, go to www.cra.gc.ca/netfilesoftware. Also, new this year, the CRA’s Auto-fill my return service is available through some certified software. This secure service automatically fills in certain parts of your income tax and benefit return. To use the Auto-fill my return service, you must be fully registered for My Account at www.cra.gc.ca/myaccount.
You can deal with many of your tax matters online by using My Account or My Business Account, which are both available at www.cra.gc.ca/electronicservices. Get the MyCRA mobile app and access key portions of your tax information from your mobile device.
If you have ever made a mistake or omission and would like to correct your tax affairs, you can find more information about the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosures Program at www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.