Ron Clarke has his MBA and is a business owner in Trail.

Tax time: What’s new for Canadians this year?

Tax Tips & Pits with Trail Times columnist Ron Clarke

Interestingly, for the second year in a row it can be stated, this is “one of the quietest” years regarding tax changes on the personal tax front for the better part of a decade.

This statement was true in 2017 after the government’s missteps with tax reform proposals and its subsequent attempt to stay low key during 2017 tax filing. However, moving into an election year in 2019, you might have expected a bunch of tax treats for Canadians for 2018 tax prep, but how could the government so quickly reverse its tough tax guy stance?

Here are some announcements for 2018 personal tax preparation, along with a few reminders from last year’s tax prep.

The “Public Transit Pass” deduction is gone. Greener world?

The “BC Fitness” kids credit is gone. Healthier lifestyle? And its counterpart, the “BC Arts” credit is gone too. In fairness, the feds already dropped these last year.

The “BC Education Coaching” credit is gone. Introduced just two years ago for BC teachers who spent time outside of the classroom mentoring kids.

New to the medical expense claim is an expanded definition of “service animal”. Now included are animals that assist mentally impaired individuals, not just the physically impaired. Costs paid for the animal, its food, vet and training expenses can be claimed.

For late tax filers who owe tax, there are no interest rate increases this year after last year’s jumps, albeit no increases had been introduced for years prior to that.

If you have set up “My Account” with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on-line, you can now give permission to CRA for notifications to be sent to you when any change is made to your personal data held by CRA. If a change is registered with CRA, CRA informs you through your “My Account”. This new service has been designed and is being introduced of course to give you an immediate heads-up if someone has hacked your account and is changing your personal data, the two prime examples being a change to your address and a change to your banking information. A good move by CRA.

The annualized CND – USA funds average exchange rate is 1.2957 that CRA requires to be used when conversions are necessary.

Perhaps under the title “just because”, CRA has changed the name of the long time investment Schedule 4 to the “T1-INV”. And the relatively new home accessibility Schedule 12 is now simply called “T1-Accessibility”. Is CRA trying to provide fun or frustration during tax preparation?

A reminder of a couple of the higher profile changes introduced last year, one very welcome and the other not so.

The “Canada Caregiver Credit” introduced last year continues. It was a welcome replacement of three convoluted medical credits. Kudos on this one.

The post secondary “Education Amount” deduction disappeared last year federally, however the province still accepts the deduction. This is the flat rate for a student’s textbooks based on months of attendance. Increased federal money for student grants was to replace the lost deduction. Outcome unknown.

Ron Clarke has his MBA and is a business owner in Trail, providing accounting and tax services. Email him at ron.clarke@JBSbiz.ca. To read previous Tax Tips & Pits columns visit www.JBSbiz.net.

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