Johnson Insurance 2021 Scholarship Program

Children and grandchildren of BCRTA members can apply for a $1,000 scholarship.

Johnson Insurance 2021 Scholarship Program Opens April 15th, 2021

Since 1998, Johnson has awarded over 1500 scholarships and academic grants valued at more than $1 million to support young Canadians coast to coast in pursuing their post-secondary education.

This year, Johnson is  pleased to offer 50 scholarships worth $1000 each to students who fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • if you, your parent/guardian or grandparent have a home or car insurance policy through Johnson or MEDOC travel insurance policy or group benefits plan (such as health, dental or life insurance) through Johnson
  • if you, your parent/guardian or grandparent are a member in good standing of BCRTA  (policy not required)*

Students must complete high school in 2021 and must be beginning post-secondary education this fall or CEGEP (if living in the province of Québec).

For more information on applying, please see the online application form and Scholarship Program Guidelines and to obtain full requirements and submission instructions, please visit

johnson.ca/scholarship

 

 

Spring into Motion – Online Event 10 AM April 22, 2021

BCRTA is pleased to invite you to an online event as we celebrate brighter days and bigger horizons to come. Join us for an informative live-streamed event!

BCRTA Spring 2021 Spa Package Giveaway! Enter by April 22 2021

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to our winners!

 

Win a Spa Retreat Packages for You and a Friend

SPRING GIVEAWAY!
WIN A SPA RETREAT PACKAGE FOR YOU AND A FRIEND!

A package of getaway experience items delivered to each of you.
You may enter up to FIVE times – name a friend on each entry. Use the form below.

Contest closes April 22, 2021. Entry open to all BCRTA Members.

What’s Included

Original soy wax candle
Woodlot, Vancouver, BC
White peony tea
Anteeo Tea, Victoria, BC
Premium hand soap with essential oils
Atelier la Vie, Montréal, QC
Lemon infused raw honey
Mellifera Bees, Vancouver, BC
Old Town ‘Northern Lights’ soap
Anto Yukon, Carcross, YT
Personalized gift tag and greeting card
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC
Illustrated map of Canada gift box
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC
Fresh sheet story telling card
Saul Good Gift Co, Vancouver, BC

 

COVID VACCINATION UPDATE MARCH 2 2020

The Government of BC has issued a progress update with projected dates for vaccine availability in British Columbia, by age group.

Here is a graphic that summarizes the plan:

 

Source: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0015-000355

Tax Credits That Help Caregivers

Oscar* would not disagree that 2020 was a terrible year. COVID-19 had effectively imprisoned him at home. Then Eleanor, his spouse, had been disabled by a stroke and now requires special care, including being confined to a wheelchair. Looking after her was taking a great deal of time, patience – and money.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), unpaid caregivers of seniors spend an average of 17 hours per week taking care of their elderly parents or relatives. If those seniors have dementia, their caregivers put in up to 26 hours per week – on top of their own everyday workload and routine.

Most caregivers also pay out of their own pockets for many of their loved ones’ necessities like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, transportation, specialized devices, rehab and sometimes even home renovations.

Oscar was looking for any ways to help relieve some of the financial challenges he was facing as a caregiver. With tax season now underway, his advisor suggested he could start by taking advantage of many of the non-refundable tax credits available for caregivers.

Tax credits reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar. For example, a tax credit of $200 will directly lower your tax bill by $200. Medical tax credits are non-refundable credits that will similarly reduce what you owe but will not result in a tax refund. These are meant to help even out the tax burden by allowing some relief for additional medical and disability expenses that most other taxpayers do not face.

Here are four non-refundable tax credits that may benefit Oscar:

1. Medical expense tax credit (METC)

The METC provides a non-refundable tax credit for “qualifying medical expenses” that exceed a certain threshold – the lesser of 3% of net income (line 23600), or $2,397 federal and $2,277 BC (2020). These include expenses like home care, medically required equipment, etc., for which you have not been reimbursed by a health insurance plan or in any other way. Oscar can also claim his own expenses for Eleanor’s care. For instance, if he took her to her dentist and paid $500, he could count the $500 he paid towards a claim for the METC.
Incidentally, this credit can also be used for the expenses of family, so you might be able to claim for those of your dependant spouse and children. You can also claim the credit for others who depend on you for support, such as adult children and grandchildren, as well as your parents or your spouse’s parents. They don’t even have to live with you as long as you paid medical expenses for them and they are Canadian residents who depend on you for financial support throughout the year.
Eligible medical expenses might include:

  • Payments to a health professional (e.g., dentist, nurse, pharmacist, optometrist, psychologist, counsellor, chiropractor, podiatrist, therapist, dietician)
  • Medical services not covered by insurance (e.g., laser eye surgery)
  • Medical services outside of Canada
  • Health aids or devices (e.g., prescription eyeglasses, wheelchair, hearing aids, crutches)
  • Prescription drugs or medications
  • Nursing home care and attendant services (just the cost of nursing care, not the cost for room and board)
  • Service animals
  • Ambulance fees
  • Wigs made for hair loss due to disease treatment

This is by no means the full list. Please access the CRA’s detailed medical expense page on their website where you will be able to search for any particular expense and find out whether you can count it as a medical expense on your tax return.

2. Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

As Oscar is taking care of someone who is dependent on him, and has a persistent physical or mental disability, he will be able to claim the non-refundable Disability Tax Credit (DTC).
To qualify for the DTC he will require:

  • A medical professional must complete CRA’s T2201 Disability Tax Form describing the nature of the disability and how it is a severe and prolonged impairment.
  • If approved by the CRA, Eleanor can claim her medical expenses if she has sufficient income. If she cannot use a portion of the credit to further reduce her income tax, Oscar can claim the disability amount as a “supporting person”.

Also, as Eleanor is financially dependent on Oscar, he may be able to transfer some or all her DTC to himself. Depending on his situation, he may have to choose between Eleanor claiming the DTC and transferring it to himself or counting the expense towards a claim for the METC.

Importantly, the successful approval of the DTC provides Eleanor herself with further access to many other forms of government assistance. It is an essential part of any disability financial support plan.

3. Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)

Oscar had installed a $10,000 wheelchair ramp to the home last year, so he can claim the non-refundable Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC).
Intended for medically necessary home renovation, addition, or alteration, the 15% HATC is worth a federal credit of up to $1,500 per calendar year, per individual. To claim this credit (line 31285), the renovation must be made to help a senior or a disabled person age 65 or older who are already approved for the DTC. It is there to help make things easier for the care-receiver, whether it is gaining better access to a home, being more mobile within that space or reducing the risk of harm or injury.

In addition to a wheelchair ramp, Oscar might also claim items like the following:

  • grab bars
  • hand-rails
  • walk-in bathtub
  • wheel-in showers
  • widening doorways for wheelchairs
  • lowering cabinets
  • stairlift

The HATC does not apply to the cost of household appliances, housekeeping or gardening.

Many accessibility renovations also qualify as medical expenses, so parallel claims can be made for both the HATC and METC.

For BC residents, the Province also offers the 10% BC Senior’s Home Renovation Tax Credit of up to $1,000 per calendar year, per individual, so it may be possible to enjoy a triple tax credit.

4. Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC)

Oscar can prove that he provides food, shelter and clothing for Eleanor. A loved one, like Eleanor, with a handicap, injury or illness, and who depends on you for support, even if they live separately, is considered by CRA as an infirm dependant. This means the person you are caring for has some kind of physical or mental condition that prevents them from doing basic tasks or providing for themselves.

You are eligible for the Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) whether it is your partner, child, grandchild, parent, sibling or other close relative, so long as they’re dependent on you as a caregiver, and you regularly and consistently provide them with some or all of the basic necessities of life. You can even claim this credit for taking care of your adult stepchildren or in-laws.
British Columbia also offers the B.C. Caregiver Credit to enhance the CCC. For 2020 it is a maximum of $4,791 and is reduced by the dependent’s net income in excess of $16,216 (2020).

To get a better sense of what you can claim as a caregiver and what lines on the tax form you need to fill out, check out the CRA’s web page on credits, deductions and expenses. Better still, consider working with an accounting or financial-planning professional to make sure you are correctly following the rules and getting the most from these credits.

Always be sure to keep all your receipts – you never know when you’ll be asked to produce them.

* Names have been changed.

 

About the Author

Michael Berton, CFP®, RFP®, CLU®, CHS, FMA is a Senior Financial Planner with Assante Financial Management Ltd. In Vancouver, (604) 678-3096. Michael has taught Financial Planning courses at BCIT and TWU. He has written for Advisor’s Edge, Advocis FORUM, and Advisor.ca. He is married to another financial planner, has three children and lives in North Vancouver. Always discuss your particular circumstances with a financial planner prior to acting on the information above.

 

 

 

TAX TIPS for the 2020 Tax Year

Once again we present BCRTA members a guide to help you make the most of your annual tax return. Of course BCRTA does not offer income tax advice, but here are some common issues and deductions to keep in mind. Working through this list will help you complete your return to your maximum advantage. Our annual check list is put together by our Pensions and Benefits Committee.

So let’s get started!

Eligible Medical Deductions

Any eligible medical costs that you pay that exceed 3% of your net income can be deducted when you complete your income tax return this year. A couple usually should combine all medical expenses on one tax return – usually the one with the lowest income – to gain the highest value deduction.

  • Eligible medical expenses are those payments made by you or your spouse that were not fully reimbursed by an insurance plan. Some examples that you should explore:
  • Prescribed medications
  • Payments to a medical doctor, dentist, and most paramedical service providers such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapy, etc.See CRA’s complete list of medical expenses that may be eligible for tax deductions at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/rc4065/medical-expenses-2016.html.
  • Premiums that you paid for any health service plan other than MSP.
    • If you participate in our Johnson Insurance with Prestige Travel Plan you should receive a letter that itemizes your claimable premiums as well as your claims history that shows your eligible deduction. If you don’t see this by March 16, follow up with them.
    • If you participate in MEDOC and have requested a letter that shows the eligible amount of premiums in a previous year you should receive it soon. This year’s tax notices are scheduled to be sent out by February 19th. If you are a MEDOC participant but have never requested this notice, call Johnson at 1.800.563.0677 and you will automatically receive one every year.
    • If you are signed up for Extended Health Coverage with Green Shield and premiums are deducted from your Teacher’s Pension Plan payments, GSC premiums are always shown in Box 135 of the T4 you received from TPP. See more about tracking GSC claims at https://www.bcrta.ca/gscclaims

BC Recovery Benefit and the one-time payment for people receiving Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Both the BC Recovery Benefit ($500/person or $1,000/family) and the Federal one-time payment for seniors ($300/person receiving OAS plus $200/person receiving GIS) are tax-free payments. You do not need to report them on your income tax form.

The New Canada Caregiver Credit

The Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) is a non-refundable tax credit that may be available to you if you support a spouse, common-law partner or a dependant with a physical or mental impairment. For detailed information visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/canada-caregiver-amount.html.

Disability Tax Credit

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they pay. For detailed information visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/segments/tax-credits-deductions-persons-disabilities/information-medical-practitioners/eligibility-criteria-disability-tax-credit.html.

Age tax Credit

If you were 65 or older on Dec. 31, 2020 you may claim an age tax credit. The credit is geared to income with the maximum discount for those whose income is less than $$38,508, and the credit is gradually eliminated as your income increases. There is a corresponding provincial tax credit as well. This deduction can also be transferred to a spouse. For detailed information visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/line-301-amount.html.

Charitable Donations

Tax credits are available for donations made to registered charities. In a spousal relationship, the claim can be split or attributed to either person to provide the greatest tax advantage. For detailed information see https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/charities-giving/giving-charity-information-donors/claiming-charitable-tax-credits.html.

Political contributions

Tax credits are available for any contributions you and your spouse made to registered federal political parties or British Columbia political parties. For more information about the federal credit visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/income-tax.html.
For British Columbia credits go to https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/corporations/provincial-territorial-corporation-tax/british-columbia-provincial-corporation-tax/british-columbia-political-contribution-tax-credit.html.

Payment Options

If you are among the 16% of Canadians that owe tax after filing, you now can pay using a credit card, PayPal, or Interac e-Transfer (See Payments to the Canada Revenue Agency on the CRA website).

Sign up for Direct Deposit with your Revenue Canada account to receive your refund deposited into your bank account. Log-in or register at www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

Other Options

You can now also file a return electronically on CRA’s website. You will have to register on the CRA website MY Account service to do this. Once you have registered, you can take advantage of CRA’s “Auto-fill My Return” Feature.

Need Help Filing Your Return?

There are several low-cost or free tax filing programs available on-line. Search for “on-line tax filing.” A listing provided by CRA can be found by visiting https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/community-volunteer-income-tax-program.html.

There are also many volunteer run tax preparation clinics at Seniors’ and Community Centers around the province.

CRA Scams

We always remind members that there are unfortunately a lot of fraudsters who try to take advantage of seniors by pretending to be a collection agency or government official.
But by being alert to fraud, you won’t fall for any phone calls, e-mails or letters pretending to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency. If you receive one of these contacts, it is important to provide NO information. Instead, always contact CRA directly by calling 1-800-959-8281 or check your CRA My Account on-line.

 

Gerry Tiede is BCRTA Past-President and Chair of the Pension and Benefits Committee.

Immunization Registration

Source: Government of BC Vaccine Information

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/vaccines

We are all eagerly awaiting news on the roll-out of a COVID vaccination program in BC. Seniors have been prioritized in the planning.

The latest information is available on the Government of BC website, address noted above.

Immunization clinics

Immunization clinics are being organized in 172 communities in B.C and will be overseen by your local health authority. The clinics will be held at large centres including:

  • School gymnasiums
  • Arenas
  • Convention halls
  • Community halls
  • Mobile clinics in self-contained vehicles will be available for some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues.
  • Immunization clinics details will be available before Phase 3 of B.C.’s Immunization Plan.

Starting in mid-to-late February, Health Authorities will be reaching out to seniors aged 80 years and older, Indigenous seniors aged 65 years and older, and Indigenous Elders to provide information on how to pre-register for immunization appointments.

You can pre-register two to four weeks before you are eligible to reserve a vaccine appointment. Eligibility is based on your phase and age, working backwards in five year increments.
Pre-registration opens March 2021.

Census 2021 Opportunities

As retirees many of us are looking for opportunities to become involved in community activities that extend beyond the teaching workplace. Some of us do it out of a feeling of giving back for what we have received in our working careers, some for wanting to show our commitment to the values of our Canadian culture and civic responsibilities, and some of us may out of need be looking for some part-time employment to pay unexpected bills.

The next census will take place in May 2021. Statistics Canada will be hiring approximately 32,000 people across the country to assist in census data collection activities. Statistics Canada wants BCRTA members who are interested to be aware of these job opportunities.

Census information is vital for all communities for planning schools, daycare, housing, hospitals, emergency services, roads, public transportation, and employment skills training. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada has adapted to ensure that the 2021 Census is conducted throughout the country in the best possible way, using a safe and secure approach.

Should you have any questions, please contact Statistics Canada at statcan.censusoutreach.west-rayonnementdurec.ouest.statcan@canada.ca.

Thank you in advance for supporting the 2021 Census.

Terry Green/Chair
Well- Being Committee

Coffee Contest a Hit – Big Turnout for Online Christmas Event

BCRTA offered members a chance to have “coffee with a friend” in December with a special giveaway contest. BCRTA members could enter their name and the name of a friend. Winners received a coffee-themed gift basket delivered to their home, and their friend received one too. Over 3,000 contest entries were received!

Gift basket winners were announced at the 2020 Christmas Online Social by BCRTA Executive Director Tim Anderson and President Grace Wilson.

Our winners were:

  • Kathleen H and friend Carla,
  • Ivan S. and friend Megan, and
  • Judy Y. and friend Randi.

The online Christmas presentation included a greeting from President Grace Wilson, music from Diana Wort and some scenes from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol by actor Ron Reed. Over 1,000 BCRTA members tuned in via Zoom and YouTube live.

With the success of the giveaway contest and online presentation, similar events are sure to follow!