You’ve been waiting nine months to say hello, baby! You even have the names picked out, but there’s still the nursery to prepare and all the other preparations involved in welcoming a new member of the family. So let the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) take the guesswork out of filing your income tax and benefit return and applying for benefits and credits once your little one arrives.
Apply for child benefits
Skip the baby steps and jump right in when it comes to claiming the benefits and credits that you may be eligible for as a new parent. When you register your newborn with your provincial vital statistics agency, you can give your consent for them to securely send the birth registration information to the CRA. This is available through the national Automated Benefits Application (ABA). By consenting, you will be applying for the Canada child benefit (CCB), a monthly tax-free payment for eligible families with children under the age of 18, which includes related provincial and territorial program payments. Your baby will also be registered for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit and any related provincial and territorial programs.
The CRA uses information from your tax return to calculate how much your benefit and credit payments will be. However, if you missed out on using the ABA, you can register for Canada child and family benefits using My Account or by completing and mailing Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application. For more information, go to cra.gc.ca/myaccount.
Not unlike the multi-tasking you do now that your baby is home sweet home, you can also apply for your baby’s social insurance number and order a birth certificate through the ABA. All these options are available when you register your baby’s birth with your provincial or territorial vital statistics agency.
To make managing your benefits easier, use the MyBenefits CRA mobile app. The app provides you with personalized benefit information such as: a list of your benefits, the next payment date, your next payment amount, and the status of your CCB application. The app also shows information the CRA has on file, which affects your benefit eligibility, such as marital status, province of residence, and number of children in your care.
Can you claim the working income tax benefit?
Once your little one has celebrated his or her first birthday—in true cake smash fashion—finding work-life balance is a typical concern for parents re-entering the workforce. Combine maintaining a household with separation anxiety from leaving your baby and countless workplace stressors, and it can be a taxing experience. The working income tax benefit provides tax relief to low-income individuals and families who are in the workforce. Find out if you are eligible and how much you could get at cra.gc.ca/witb.
Since you can’t always be home with your child, you’ve found a child care provider you can trust. Unfortunately, that also comes with a hefty price tag. You may be able to claim child care costs if you paid for someone to look after your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s child so you could earn income, carry on a business, go to school, or do research. This may also include payments you made to a day nursery school, daycare centre, boarding school, sports school, day camp, or other camp where lodging is involved. For more information, see Form T778, Child Care Expenses Deduction, which you can find online at cra.gc.ca/forms.
Tax credits for children
As a parent you know that every bit helps when it comes to your family’s finances. And watching your child grow comes with its share of expenses. Regardless of whether your child scores touchdowns at amateur football games or dives into swimming lessons like a future Olympian, fees for these types of recreational activities can add up. Save your receipts so you can claim up to $500 in eligible fees per child under the children’s fitness tax credit. If your child attends programs that contribute to his or her artistic development, like tickling the ivories at a piano recital or going to computer camp, you may also be able to claim up to $250 in eligible fees per child under the children’s arts tax credit.
If your child is under 18 years old and eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC), you may be able to reduce the amount of income tax you pay in a year by claiming the disability amount for that child. In addition, if you receive the CCB, you can also receive the child disability benefit, which is a tax-free, monthly benefit for families who care for children under 18 who are eligible for the DTC.
Completing your tax return
There’s no need to debate your due date (pun intended)… your tax return is due on April 30. Since that day is a Sunday this year, the CRA will consider your return filed on time and your payment made if the CRA receives your submission or it is postmarked no later than May 1. Self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners have until June 15 to file their returns. But if those people have a balance owing to the CRA, the balance has to be paid no later than May 1.
Remember, the CRA uses information from your return to calculate how much your benefit and credit payments will be. You and your spouse or common-law partner will each have to file a return every year to continue getting your benefit and credit payments.
This year, you can file online as early as February 20, 2017. Last year, 84% of Canadians filed their return online. The CRA has a list of certified tax preparation software on its website, including some that is free. Using software means less time doing your return and more time partaking in the (bundle of) joy of parenthood. To find out more, go to cra.gc.ca/netfile.
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