Last year’s tax preparation checklist was our most frequently accessed resource. So we are back this year with an updated guide to help you make the most of your tax return. BCRTA does not offer income tax advice, but here are some common things to keep in mind. Working through this list will help you complete your return to your maximum advantage. This year’s check list was put together by our Pensions and Benefits Committee, with some additional tips from financial expert and PostScript columnist Mike Berton.
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 here.
- 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 www.bcrta.ca/gscclaims
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 click here.
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 click here.
Age tax Credit
If you were 65 or older on Dec. 31, 2018 you may be able to claim an age tax credit. The credit is geared to income with the maximum discount for those whose income is less than $36,976, 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 click here.
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 click here.
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 click here and for British Columbia credits click here.
Tax Form Updates
The CRA has revised the T1 Personal Income Tax return form this year. You should allow yourself a little extra time to complete the return. The new return has expanded from four to eight pages including calculations that were once on other schedules. Line numbers have changed from 3 digits to 5 digit numbers. Where possible, the print is larger to assist those with vision impairments.
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).
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 clicking here.
There are also many volunteer run tax preparation clinics at Seniors’ and Community Centers around the province.
Be on the alert for phone calls, e-mails or letters pretending to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency. If you receive one of these, provide NO information. Rather contact CRA directly by calling 1-800-959-8281 or check your CRA My Account on-line.