Grey Power 39 — April 3, 2014

John
John Fryters
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While you are reading this Grey Power column, though I am working, I am sitting here and soaking up the warm sun in beautiful Peru, the land of the Incas.  And yes, I am thinking about tax filing time which I will face upon my return.  You know the tax filing deadline is at the end of this month – April 30th, 2014.

My next two columns will be dedicated to specifically address tax issues of seniors or caregivers of seniors:

 

Free service

First of all, if you need help to complete your income tax and benefit return, your income is low, and your tax situation is simple, volunteers with Canada Revenue Agency are specially trained to help you.  For more information about the free Community Volunteer Income Tax Return Program (CVITP), or even if you want to become a volunteer, go to www.cra.gc.ca/volunteer.  The CVITP is a collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency and community organizations who host tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare the returns.

 

Foreign pensions

Although I immigrated to Canada in 1972, became a Canadian citizen in 1978, I was informed by someone that my home country, Belgium, had a social security agreement with Canada, and that I might be eligible for a disability and/or retirement pension from my old country.  I applied and yes, indeed, I have been receiving such a pension for almost two years now.  And, by the way, I only worked a total of seven years that included the compulsory military service to my home country, Belgium.  

You can get more information about this by writing to: International Operations, Service Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0L4, Canada.

However, if you get pension benefits from a foreign country, you have to report the amount of your foreign pension income in Canadian dollars on your income tax and benefit return.  But you might be able to claim a deduction on the appropriate line of your return for a part of your foreign pension income that is tax-free in Canada because of a tax treaty.  Speak to your accountant or tax adviser about this.

 

Unused medical expenses

If a financially dependent parent has enough tax credits (basic personal, age, pensions, disability income) to reduce his/her income tax payable to zero, an adult child taking care of that parent “may” be able to claim this parent's unused medical expenses (reduced by three per cent of this parent's income).  Again, speak to your accountant or tax adviser about this interesting benefit.

 

GST/HST credit

Did you know that there is an on-line calculator which can provide you with an estimate of the amount of GST/HST credit you may be entitled to receive.  It can be found by just googling in “GST/HST and related provincial program calculator on line.”

To get the GST/HST credit you have to apply for it, even if you received such credits last year.  To apply, you have to file an income tax and benefit return, even if you have no income to report.  Tick “yes” on the GST/HST credit application area of your return.  Do not forget to report on your marital status and if it applies, the information concerning your partner (including his or her net income, even if it is zero).  Otherwise, your application may be delayed.

Next week, we will visit a local accountant (tax adviser) and get some more tips and suggestions.

 

John Fryters is a 65-year-old senior citizen who provides information for and about his own peer group.  This particular column contains information from sources believed reliable but cannot be guaranteed.  This is provided for information purposes only and should not replace advice/suggestions by professionals such as accountants of qualified tax specialists. 

 

Organizations: Canada Revenue Agency, Grey Power, GST/HST International Operations Service Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Peru, Belgium Ottawa Ontario

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