Don’t let your taxes terrify you
By Elizabeth Russell
Tax season. It can strike fear into the hearts of the most stoic, and leave others clutching their wallets.
One of the best things you can do to help alleviate some of the stress that goes along with filing your taxes is to get organized. If you’re having someone do your taxes for you, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork before you head in for your appointment. Even if you’re unsure if certain documents will be beneficial, bring them anyway and your tax consultant can help you figure things out.
Deborah Heckert has been a Tax Consultant with Liberty Tax Service since 2011. She worked in the retail industry for many years before making the transition to taxes. “I was very intrigued with the whole operation of business. I knew I needed to understand more and did some upgrading and training in Entrepreneurship as well as Accounting & Payroll and Business Administration and Communications.” She studied to understand financial planning, working with and understanding topics such as RRSPs, TFSAs, and other areas of Investing and Interest Earned, among other topics. Now she helps clients with both Personal and Business Tax.
“I have a checklist I try to give my clients before they come in to do their taxes,” she says. That makes sense, as inevitably, even though we all know taxes must be filed each year, we tuck receipts away in the wrong place, forget about them and other expenses we could have claimed, or filed before we had everything we needed.
Some of the most common mistakes people make when filing are either not realizing what they can claim, or forgetting about expenses. “Some of the things people forget to claim on their taxes are things such as medical expenses, prescriptions, dental expenses, glasses or private health insurance premiums paid. These can be obtained at any pharmacy and/or dental office and they will be happy to do a print out for you,” says Heckert.
Other forgotten slips are T4s when someone may have worked only a short amount of time, or as casual employment. This could result in owing back any related tax credit you were not entitled to for the credit given for that year. RRSP contributions are often overlooked as well, which is unfortunate because those can actually be used to help reduce your taxes.
Heckert says one of the number one things people forget to do is update or change their address with companies they have financial ties to, or previous or current employment with. “This can result in missing T4s and other related tax slips,” she says.
For the single parents, there are always new updates and possible credits that may benefit you. It is definitely to your advantage to bring in all of your slips and to file your taxes every year to ensure you receive all of the child related sources – like the Child Tax Credit – which are related to your income.
“You may also be entitled to the National Child Tax Credit and/or other credits related to the Fitness and Arts Credit,” says Heckert. These are any expenses related to fitness or the arts, and it would be beneficial to save all receipts and registration forms to submit with your taxes.
“If you received any GST or PST from self employment or earned income from other sources outside your main employment, it is important to claim all income to avoid any unknown tax moneys owed to CRA,” she adds.
If you’re running a home-based business, it may be best to head to a tax office to have someone assist with the guidelines to help keep you on track for all your business related expenses and other information for future tax filing.
There is a benefit to returning to the same place to have your taxes done every year. At Liberty, they keep records on your filings for each tax year, along with any important updates or questions the CRA may need to ask. This will also carry any credits to your best advantage in successful tax filing every year. “We will be more than happy to assist you so there are no surprises at the end of your tax year of owing money or credits unclaimed and giving you peace of mind,” says Heckert. “We make it our business to stay on top of the changes and continuous knowledge updates for all our clients’ tax filing needs, big or small.”
The idea of having someone help file your taxes builds confidence in filing each year, which helps to alleviate the stress that goes along with it. Find out more information at the Liberty Tax Offices located at F-1155 Main Street, or at 696 Elizabeth Road.