Changes to keep in mind for 2017 tax filing

Tax season may be galloping toward us but the Fraser Institute’s Tax Freedom Day in Canada is being pushed further and further out.

In 2016, it was pegged at June 7. In 2017, it was June 9 and we wouldn’t bet against an even later date in 2018. In fact, if federal deficits were funded by taxes instead of debt, the date would be pushed out nine days further.

Every year, changes are made to the tax system. Here are some of the changes that will affect your tax return for last year.

New benefits and credits

The Canada child benefit is a tax-free monthly payment to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. The CCB might include the child disability benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs. The new CCB replaced the Canada child tax benefit, national child benefit supplement and the universal child care benefit applied in 2016.

The northern resident’s deduction increased $8.25 to $11 a day. If you have lived on a permanent basis in a prescribed northern or intermediate zone for a continuous period of at least six consecutive months, you may be eligible for a deduction.

Other changes

The children’s fitness tax credit was reduced from $1,000 to $500 in 2016, but the additional amount of $500 for children eligible for the disability tax credit has not changed. Likewise, the children’s arts tax credit for 2016 was reduced from $500 to $250, but the additional amount of $500 for children eligible for the disability tax credit was not changed.

Through the home accessibility tax credit, you can still claim a non-refundable tax credit for eligible expenses incurred to improve accessibility in your home for a disabled person.

You still need to report the sale of your principal residence. Starting with the 2016 tax year, you were required to report basic information, such as the date of acquisition and proceeds of disposition on your tax return when you sell your principal residence to claim the full principal residence exemption. You do not have to pay tax on any capital gain when you sell your house if it was your principal residence for all the years you owned it and you did not use any part of it to earn income.

New services

The Canada Revenue Agency introduced the Express Notice of Assessment (NOA) this year. This service delivers an instant assessment result message and provides a notice of assessment directly into the certified tax software the next day. To view your NOA, you must be registered for CRA online mail.

They have also updated many other secure email links that allow you to view the status of your account and communicate with CRA more effectively than in the past.

CRA has also established a link between My Account and My Service Canada Account. You can now access these two accounts through a single sign-in session.

Happy filing season.

Grant Diamond is a tax analyst in Saskatoon, SK., with FBC, a company that specializes in farm tax. Contact: fbc@fbc.ca or 800-265-1002.

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