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.
BC Retired Teachers message of support for active teachers

Message of Support for Active Teachers During the Pandemic

A special message of support to active school staff from Gerry Tiede, President of the BC Retired Teacher’s Association:

Dear Teachers, Administrators and Support Staff across British Columbia,

On April 22, the Executive of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association took time to reflect on the unprecedented circumstances faced by our friends and active colleagues in the school system.

I am writing on behalf of our 17,000 members to express our concern for your well-being and to express our confidence in all of you. We know that however challenging it is to work with students in the new ways that the COVID-19 pandemic demands, that you bring the characteristics always shown by teachers, support staff and school and district administrators. When faced with challenges great or small, you have always stepped forward to meet the needs of students through creative problem-solving and good-will. Your students know it now more than ever, and so do we.

We are so very proud to be part of the same history and fraternity as you. Although we are required to be physically separated right now, we want you to know that we are cheering you on from the sidelines!

We wish you good health. Your work is appreciated by your retired colleagues.

Thank you and stay well,

Gerry Tiede
President
BC Retired Teachers’ Association
www.bcrta.ca

COVID-19 FAQ

Benefits of BCRTA Membership

As a retired teacher/administrator member of the BCRTA, I have been able to participate in many valuable and rewarding opportunities at both the provincial and local RTA levels.

I have been a member at the Provincial and local RTA since my retirement in 2007. I hold an executive position in my RTA and have been on two provincial committees for the past three years. It has been my hope that by doing this that I am contributing to the welfare and betterment of all provincial members. The friendships that I have formed through both the provincial committees and local association have resulted in lifelong connections.

My local branch has as its aim to “live for today and tomorrow, not yesterday.” Our past gives each member a common history but it is not our driver. My local branch meets four times a year for about 90 minutes. If there should be important provincial information it is shared at that time or via email or snail mail throughout the year. We often have a guest speaker to provide information on topics that have been suggested by members. We have also been fortunate to send two local members to the Provincial RTA and AGM each Fall. This keeps us connected in positive ways.

I would encourage all retired educators to open the door to the benefits of becoming a member of BCRTA and their local RTA if they are fortunate to have one. I also recommend that you look at the BCRTA website and see the many things available to active members. I recently used the Endless Savings and More App and saved enough money to pay for my provincial and local membership to the BCRTA for the coming year. It is reassuring to have an executive at the provincial level that supports our pension, our medical and dental benefits, and other opportunities that allow us to age with dignity.

Elaine Thompson
BCRTA and Local Association Member

BCRTA Member Survey 2019

The Survey is Now Complete

Thank you to all who participated.

CUSO International

CUSO International is currently seeking Education Assistants for the year 2018-19 who will be placed in various schools in the Northwest territories with the objective to improve education outcomes for Indigenous children and youth. We cover the costs of flights, accommodation, medical, training, and provide a monthly stipend.

See a full description of the placement here.

CUSO International also has other opportunities in Education in 7 countries around the world.

Partner Mailing Update

One of the benefits of belonging to BCRTA is access to the Member Advantage program. From time to time members receive mailed offers from Advantage partners. We are working to improve this program.

Here are some answers to questions we have had about the mailings.

1. Mailing Lists and “Who Sent This?”

We will be moving to more clear labelling on envelopes, to indicate that this is a mailing generated as a benefit of membership, with offers for services from Members’ Advantage Partners. Instead of getting one offer, we may bundle them together as one mailing. We follow up with partners to gauge the effectiveness of mailings. We want members to receive offers that are relevant and useful.

Your information is always protected. Advantage partner firms are not given access to your information. We have an arrangement where the Advantage partner forward their ad to a professional “Mailing House” which prints the material, uses the mailing list that BCRTA manages, and sends the finished pieces through the mail. The only way the Advantage Partner learns about you and your details is if you choose to respond. Members can be assured that their privacy is always protected.

We are currently reviewing the language of all mailing materials for tone and clarity, and the packaging of the mailing. We want to make sure members understand clearly what the offer is, and the offer is the best it can be. The content will clearly state the nature of our relationship with the Advantage Partner.

Advantage Partners pay the cost of the mailing.

2. Why Bother Mailing?

Our Members’ Advantage Partner programs offer members good deals on products and services, and this is a benefit of membership valued by many. We have received a handful of emails expressing concerns about mailings, but many more members have responded positively, expressing interest in exploring the offerings. Positive responses outweight negative responses by a factor of twenty to one.

Our Advantage partnerships provide members with discount and preferred offers, and some send a portion of your purchases to support the work at BCRTA. You can see the numbers in each annual report. It amounts to many thousands of dollars each year. These funds help keep your annual membership fees at a very reasonable level.

So there are plenty of positive reasons to provide this service to the members who want it. But that doesn’t invalidate the concerns of those who prefer to not receive mailings, and we want to respect all members’ wishes. So that leads us to the next point.

3. How Do I Make it Stop?

We are developing some more detailed information to go into future mailings that explain the program and will offer members an easy way to shut off all future mailings of this kind. If you are not interested in getting these promotion pieces, we don’t want to bother you with them.

You can take action now, if you like. If you wish to not receive any mailings, please email office@bcrta.ca and simply say “Do not send me any further partner promotional mailings.” Please include your name and address so we can be sure to take you off the mailing list.

4. The Bottom Line

The BCRTA values your membership in our association and we value your direct and honest feedback about your experience. What sort of offers are helpful to you? Let us know. Your feedback helps us do better and be better. We measure “better” by the quality of our member experience. We want your experience to be the best it can be, and we trust that the steps we are undertaking will help do that.

For-Profit Health Care: A Fact Sheet

Produced by the Canadian Health Coalition

Medicare has existed in Canada for 50 years guaranteeing access to physicians and hospital services regardless of a person’s ability to pay. In recent years, Canada has experienced creeping privatization and for-profit delivery of health care services which has led to the illegal billing of patients, lower quality of care, unnecessary medical tests, and pressure on patients to buy.

  • Two reports in 2017 showed for-profit clinics across the country are illegally billing patients or misleading them into thinking they have to pay for publicly covered services.
  • Boutique clinics are common in major urban settings in Canada.  They offer “executive” services which have been shown to lead to unnecessary medical tests which may do more harm than good.
  • A doctor in British Columbia has taken his province to court arguing for the right of physicians to charge both the public system and the patient for the same procedure. He also argues there should be no cap on private fees for health care so doctors can charge whatever the market will bear.

88 private clinics across Canada have been illegally billing patients.
Ontario Health Coalition, 2017

  • For-profit diagnostic imaging centres have been established in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  Although they provide fewer images than the new public MRIs, the provincial governments promote then as an “innovation” in health care delivery.
  • The for-profit plasma industry has opened clinics in 2 provinces in Canada, with plans to open many more.  They set up in vulnerable communities and pay people for their blood plasma and then sell it on the international market.
  • For years patients in Quebec were charged for services such as eye drops (up to $300), inserting an IUD (up to $200), and instruments and medication for a colonoscopy ($500)

The Federal Government’s Role and Responsibility

The federal government is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Canada Health Act (Act). All provinces and territories must provide medically necessary heath care services that are publicly administered, universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and delivered without user fees or extra billing.

To enforce the Act, the federal government can withhold health transfer money from offending provinces and territories.  However, in the recent years, the federal government has chosen to turn a blind eye.

Content from the Canadian Health Coalition, research provided by JoAnn Lauber