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Taking the Stress Out of Filing T4 Slips and Tax Tips

By Alex Correa

One of the first signs of spring? T4 slips.

That’s right. Despite all that we endured over the past 12 months, tax season has now returned, too.

Whether you file online, by snail mail or use a tax professional, we want to make the experience as painless as possible. (Approximately 10 percent of Canadians still file paper returns, according to the latest statistics from the Canada Revenue Agency.)

No extensions have been announced by the CRA, so this year’s filing deadline is May 2, 2022.

CLIMATE ACTION INCENTIVE

The Climate Action Incentive provides an advance repayment of the federal carbon tax in Alberta. In previous years it was claimed on your tax return in the form of a refundable tax credit. However, the government has announced that for 2021 returns, they will instead start paying it in quarterly instalments in April, July, October and January. For this year only the April payment will be combined with the July payment to give the CRA time to implement the new system.

WORKING FROM HOME

Throughout 2021, many Canadians continued working from home—turning their bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms into home office spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19. To ease the burden of mean added expenses on employees and businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will continue the simplified process for claiming home office expenses it implemented in 2020 for your 2021 income tax return.

If you worked from home 50% of the time (or more) for at least four consecutive weeks last year due to COVID-19, you qualify to claim a deduction of $2 per day, for 250 days worked at home in 2020, to a maximum of $500. This straightforward, flat rate method doesn’t require you to track your expenses or calculate the square footage of your home workspace.

The traditional, detailed method of reporting remains available, though it requires that you calculate all expenses and provide supporting documentation, and also get a completed and signed T2200S form from your employer. Refer to the CRA website for more information.

Though not everything can be claimed, some eligible home office expenses include electricity, heat, water and internet-access fees. To submit a home office expenses claim, using either the flat rate or the traditional method, simply fill out the new T777 form​ and apply it to your tax return.

COVID BENEFITS

A deduction for the repayment of benefits can normally be claimed only in the year they are repaid. However, in the case of COVID benefits (such as CERB), a temporary rule has given taxpayers the option of claiming it in the year the benefits are received instead.

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ONLINE OPTIONS
• If you’re filing online, make sure the program is NETFILE-certified with the Canada Revenue Agency.

• A complete list of NETFILE-certified tax software is available via the CRA’s website: including free and paid programs from different companies.

• Compare programs before you start to prepare your taxes. Paid software features more options such as transferring last year’s tax data, unlimited tech support, access to tax experts, and adjusting previously filed returns.

SNAIL-MAIL SUGGESTIONS
• If you want to be able to track your mailed tax return, send it by registered mail. You’ll get a receipt noting the day your return was filed, plus the ability to track the package on its way to the CRA.

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• Send your return by May 2, 2022 to avoid late-filing penalties.

• Due to COVID-19, processing times for paper returns are longer this year—10 to 12 weeks instead of the usual eight weeks. That’s six times longer than digital returns. The CRA is encouraging Canadians to file electronically.

NEED HELP?
H&R Block offers basic tax prep starting at $49.99 (plus GST) until March 31, 2022. “Whether you upload your documents securely from home, drop them off at one of our offices or file online using do-it-yourself software, we’re so confident that we’ll get it right, we offer a 100% Accuracy Guarantee and a Maximum Refund Guarantee*, so you get back everything you’re owed,” says Kristi Rose, manager of business development at H&R Block.

HOW TO SAVE
Assisted tax filing: Show your AMA membership and receive a discount on assisted tax filing at H&R Block. First-time customers save 20% and returning clients save 10%. Upload your documents securely from home or drop them off at an H&R Block office and a tax expert will prepare and file your return remotely.

DIY tax filing: Want to file your taxes yourself? AMA members can access H&R Block’s tax software at no cost. Plus, AMA members and their partner also save 20% on any 2021 H&R Block online tax software paid products.

*If you discover an H&R Block error on your return that reduced your refund (or increased your liability), we will amend the return at no additional charge to correct our error. If H&R Block makes an error in the preparation of your tax return that costs you any interest or penalties on additional taxes due, although we do not assume the liability for the additional taxes, we will reimburse for the interest and penalties.