Changes to the CRA’s RC59 Business Authorization Form

The Canada Revenue Agency has announced to tax preparers and representatives that if they wish to have online access to a business client’s tax information after May 15, 2017 they will have to complete the authorization request in the Represent a Client section on the CRA web site.

In order to do this, tax representatives have to log into Represent a Client and select “Review and update” from the Welcome page.  They then select “Authorization request” at the bottom of the “Manage clients” tab and follow the instructions.

Once the request is complete, tax representatives will need to print the signature page for their client to sign. Once it is signed, a scanned copy of the document may be sent to the CRA using its submit documents feature.

Using this method will allow tax professionals to gain access to their business clients’ information in five days or less instead of the 15 days it currently takes with form RC59.

If, however, you still prefer your current process, you can still use form RC59 to request access to your business clients’ information by telephone or mail.

And if you need to have authorization in less that 5 days, you should reach out to us here at Goldhar TAX, because with almost 11-years’ experience working in the CRA’s Collections department, we know how to get that authorization in the hands of someone in minutes!

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Key Deductions and Tax Credits for Persons Older Than 65-Years of Age

With the 2014 Tax Filing season rapidly approaching, I think it is important to keep track of key deductions and credits that Canadians older than 65-years-old should be thinking about when they file their Canadian tax returns this year and all years going forward.

The Canada Revenue Agency set up their own webpage dedicated just to this very topic: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/seniors/ which I recommend bookmarking, but I have summarized their points below for ease of access.

Common credits which may be claimed by seniors

  • Age amount
  • Pension income amount
  • Disability amount (for themselves)
  • Amounts transferred from a spouse or common-law partner
  • Medical expenses

Age amount

You can claim this amount if you were 65 years of age or older on December 31, 2013, and your net income (line 236 of your return) is less than $80,256. If your net income was:

It is important to remember to enter your date of birth in the “Information about you” area on page 1 of your tax return.

Remember to claim the corresponding provincial or territorial non-refundable tax credit to which you are entitled, on line 5808 of your provincial or territorial Form 428.

Tip: You may be able to transfer all or part of your age amount to your spouse or common-law partner or to claim all or part of his or her age amount. See line 326 – Amounts transferred from your spouse or common-law partner, for more information.

Pension income amount

You may be able to claim up to $2,000 if you reported eligible pension, superannuation, or annuity payments on line 115, line 116, and/or line 129 of your return.

Eligible pension income does not include the following income amounts:

  • any foreign source pension income that is tax-free in Canada because of a tax treaty that entitles you to claim a deduction at line 256;
  • income from a United States individual retirement account (IRA); or
  • amounts from a RRIF included on line 115 and transferred to an RRSP, another RRIF or an annuity.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) income does not count as eligible income here.

Pension income splitting

If you qualify to claim the pension income amount, discussed above, then you are often able to report up to one-half of that pension income on your spouse or common law partner’s tax return, which will save you tax as a couple if your spouse is in a lower tax bracket.

Amounts transferred from your spouse or common-law partner

If your spouse or common-law partner does not need to claim some or all of certain non-refundable tax credits to reduce his or her federal tax to zero, you may be able to transfer those unused amounts to your return.

Split CPP income

If you and your spouse are at least 60 years of age, and one or both of you receive CPP benefits, each spouse may be able to apply to split their benefits with the other (i.e., report half on each other’s tax returns), which can save tax if one of you is in a lower tax bracket.

CPP contributions

If you are 60 to 70 years of age and employed or self-employed, you have to make CPP or Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) contributions, even if you’re receiving CPP or QPP benefits.

You can claim a tax credit for these contributions. However, if you’re at least 65 but under 70 years of age, you can elect to stop making contributions (use Form CPT30, the applicable part of Schedule 8 to your tax return, or Form RC381, whichever applies), but don’t just stop making the contributions without that election!

Medical expenses (for self, spouse or common-law partner, and your dependent children born in 1996 or later)

On line 330 of your personal tax return you can claim the total eligible medical expenses you or your spouse or common-law partner paid for:

  • yourself;
  • your spouse or common-law partner; and
  • your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s children born in 1996 or later.

Medical expenses for other dependents must be claimed on line 331.

Tip:

You may be eligible to claim a variety of medical expenses, perhaps even previously unclaimed amounts, as long as the expenses were incurred in any 12-month period that ended in 2013. The list of eligible expenses has continued to expand slowly over the past few years.

It is wise tax-strategy to claim medical expenses on the lower-income spouse’s return to maximize your tax relief.

Disability amount (for self)

You can claim the disability amount of $7,697 on line 316 once you are eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC).

Tip:

If you were eligible for the DTC for previous years but did not claim the DTC when you filed your return, you can request adjustments for up to 10 years under the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Provisions. To claim the disability amount for prior years, you will need to file Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request, for each year you need to amend.

If you or anyone else paid for attendant care, or for care in an establishment, special rules may apply. For more information, see Attendant care or care in an establishment.

If you have a severe and prolonged physical or mental impairment, you may be eligible to claim $7,697 if a qualified practitioner certifies, on Form T2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate, that you meet certain conditions.

Public transit amount

You can claim the cost of monthly (or longer duration) public transit passes for travel on public transit within Canada for 2014. The cost of electronic payment cards can also be claimed when conditions are met.

Work force credits

If you’re still working, even part time, you may be eligible to claim the Canada employment amount (maximum $1,117) and the Working income tax benefit (see Schedule 6 of your return).

Registered plans

You’re entitled to make contributions to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) until the end of the year in which you turn 71-years-old.  Don’t forget to claim a deduction if you have made a contribution for 2014.

And if you’re eligible for the disability tax credit it is possible to make contributions to a registered disability savings plan (RDSP) to shelter income on those contributions from tax.

OAS clawbacks

Some seniors must pay back all or a portion of their Old Age Security (OAS) benefits if their income exceeds $70,954 (for 2013). If you’re in this boat, examine the types of income you’re earning to see if you can change the type of income earned to reduce the impact of these clawbacks going forward.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) also administers the Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) which is the combined payment of the Ontario energy and property tax credit, the Northern Ontario energy credit, and the Ontario sales tax credit. The annual OTB entitlement is usually divided by 12 and the payments issued monthly. Your 2015 OTB payments, which are based on your 2014 income tax and benefit return, will be issued on the 10th of each month, starting on in July 2015.

Exceptions:

Starting with your 2014 income tax and benefit return, you can elect to receive your 2015 OTB in one payment at the end of the benefit year. If your annual 2015 OTB entitlement is over $360 and you make this election, you will get it in one payment in June 2016 instead of receiving monthly payments from July 2015 to June 2016.

If your 2014 OTB annual entitlement is $360 or less, it will be issued in one lump-sum payment in the first payment month (usually July).

 

These items often changes and some situations may be applicable to you, while other’s may not.  Please speak to your accountant or tax professional to be sure they apply.  If you claim a credit you are not entitled to, the CRA will disallow the credit and charge you interest from the date the returns were due.

 

#inTAXicating

The Elevator Pitch! How Important Is It?

The elevator pitch, otherwise known as your ability to tell someone what you do for a living in 15-20 seconds without leaving out any critical details.

Wikipedia calls it this; “An elevator pitchelevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.”

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride of around 30 seconds.

The term originates from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator where after the brief pitch, the other party is interested in learning more. thus continuing the conversation after the elevator ride or through en exchange of a business card or smart phone details.

As a tax consultant, I thought I had the perfect elevator pitch that went something like this; “I help people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  I worked in the CRA for over 10-years – pretty much out of university – and worked my way up through the collections division until leaving for the private sector.”

I found it to be too long, and open for interruption so much that I would add details, such as that I completed 3-years of my accounting (CGA) designation and a 3-year MBA before leaving, or that I spent a significant part of my time at the CRA training the staff, handling the most complex accounts in the office and helping improve processes.

Then it became an elevator pitch for a 65-story building ride… To the top and all the way back down to the bottom.

Then I found an article in Forbes magazine which provided 6 alternatives to the elevator pitch so I tried them out to see if they worked better for me.  The list is below:

1. The One-word pitch – for me, it is “TAX”.  Then I watch their eyes gloss over.

2. The Question pitch – “Have you ever had (or have clients who had) problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (or Revenu Quebec, or the IRS, or WSIB, or the CRTC?)

3. The Rhyming pitch – Could not even try this.

4. The Subject line pitch – like sending an email to someone – mine would read something like “Former CRA collections officer helping people with CRA problems.”

5. The Story form pitch – I have thousands of stories… Literally.  I usually break into one of these after my introduction.

6. The Twitter or 140 character or less pitch #WhatIAmAllAbout.   I like this because it’s like using Twitter except that you really cannot tell someone that you “hashtag” Help People.  But it does give you the opportunity to state your case in a brief number of words.

So practice your pitch – no matter which method you choose – and practice them out on people to see if it gets across the message you want it to.  If not, maybe you would benefit from a different pitch or by adding or removing information to your existing pitch.

As for me… “I’m a former CRA officer who knows the CRA collections process, policy and procedures better than they do.  I help people with a variety of tax issues including but not limited to negotiation, payment arrangements, liens, RTP’s assessments, and getting them current and out of debt.  If there is a CRA issue, I have already seen it, and I know how to fix the problem.”

#x-taxer

Others make promises.  I fix problems.

If the conversation continues I explain my services are for individuals, businesses, and professional organizations who cannot proceed further with a client due to their tax issues – ie/ getting a bank loan, renewing a mortgage, confirmation of actual amounts owing before filing for bankruptcy, wage garnishments on employees, or cleaning up past tax issues for separation agreements or divorce.

#inTAXicating

Free consultation.

info@intaxicating.ca

416.833.1581

 

 

 

Beware of Fraudulent Communications! The CRA Does NOT Randomly Request Personal Information.

Canada Revenue Agency
Canada Revenue Agency (Photo credit: John Bristowe)

The CRA issued a warning, as the periodically have to do, to make sure that citizens are aware of some scams being committed via email, phone and mail whereby someone is pretending to be the CRA and they are asking for personal information such as a credit card number, social insurance number (SIN), bank information or passport information.

As in EVERY other situation, if someone, anyone asks you for this information, you should NOT be providing it.

If the CRA wants to contact you for information they already know all this information and will not be asking you for it.  Even worse is the fact that the fraudsters are arguing that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or benefit payment.

Again, the CRA knows this information and if you are eligible for a program or benefit, they will either enroll you in it automatically or they will send you a letter asking you to call the CRA general enquiries line.

Another common scam refers the person to a Web site resembling the CRA’s Web site where the person is asked to verify their identity by entering  personal information.

Again, this is not true.  The CRA website is http://www.cra.gc.ca where the “gc” stands for “government Canada” and the “ca” represents that the website is Canadian.  If the fraudster persists, please hang up and call the general enquiries line to confirm or call the RCMP (details below).

So just to confirm, and this is from the CRA website;

The CRA does not do the following:

  • The CRA will not request personal information of any kind from a taxpayer by email.
  • The CRA will not divulge taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
  • The CRA will not leave any personal information on an answering machine.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

  • Am I expecting additional money from the CRA?
  • Does this sound too good to be true?
  • Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
  • Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
  • How did the requester get my email address?
  • Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?

The CRA will continue to post notifications of fraudulent communications as they become aware of them and encourages you to check their Web site should you have concerns.

Examples You will find examples of a fraudulent letter, emails, and online refund forms from the CRA’s website in the links provided.  Notice how shoddy and unprofessional the request are.  As per telephone calls, the CRA will occasionally leave messages for taxpayers on their answering machines, including a callback number, and a request for the taxpayer to have their SIN handy when they call, however, it is important to note that not all telephone messages claiming to be from the CRA are genuine.  If you have any doubt and wish to verify the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, agent name, or location. you should contact the CRA directly by using the numbers on our Telephone numbers page.  For business-related calls, contact 1-800-959-5525 and for individual concerns, contact 1-800-959-8281.

If you have responded to a fraudulent communication and have become a victim of fraud, please contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by email at info@antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.

Be careful when giving out personal information to anyone regardless of where they claim to work.  The CRA won’t get offended.  They’ll try again a different way if necessary.

IRS Releases 2011 Tax Rates

Below is the IRS press release identifying the 2011 Adjusted tax rates, effective January 1, 2011.

SECTION 1. PURPOSE
This revenue procedure sets forth inflation adjusted items for 2011. Other inflation adjusted items for 2011 are in Rev. Proc. 2010-40, 2010-46 I.R.B. 663 (dated November 15, 2010).

SECTION 2. 2011 ADJUSTED ITEMS
Tax Rate Tables.

For taxable years beginning in 2011, the tax rate tables under § 1 are as follows:
TABLE 1 – Section 1(a) – Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns and Surviving Spouses
If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $17,000 10% of the taxable income
Over $17,000 but $1,700 plus 15% of
not over $69,000 the excess over $17,000
Over $69,000 but $9,500 plus 25% of
not over $139,350 the excess over $69,000
Over $139,350 but $27,087.50 plus 28% of
not over $212,300 the excess over $139,350
Over $212,300 but $47,513.50 plus 33% of
not over $379,150 the excess over $212,300
Over $379,150 $102,574 plus 35% of
the excess over $379,150

TABLE 2 – Section 1(b) – Heads of Households
If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $12,150 10% of the taxable income
Over $12,150 but $1,215 plus 15% of
not over $46,250 the excess over $12,150
Over $46,250 but $6,330 plus 25% of
not over $119,400 the excess over $46,250
Over $119,400 but $24,617.50 plus 28% of
not over $193,350 the excess over $119,400
Over $193,350 but $45,323.50 plus 33% of
not over $379,150 the excess over $193,350
Over $379,150 $106,637.50 plus 35% of
the excess over $379,150

TABLE 3 – Section 1(c) – Unmarried Individuals (other than Surviving Spouses and Heads of Households)

If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $8,500 10% of the taxable income
Over $8,500 but $850 plus 15% of
not over $34,500 the excess over $8,500
Over $34,500 but $4,750 plus 25% of
not over $83,600 the excess over $34,500
Over $83,600 but $17,025 plus 28% of
not over $174,400 the excess over $83,600
Over $174,400 but $42,449 plus 33% of
not over $379,150 the excess over $174,400
Over $379,150 $110,016.50 plus 35% of
the excess over $379,150

TABLE 4 – Section 1(d) – Married Individuals Filing Separate Returns
If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $8,500 10% of the taxable income
Over $8,500 but $850 plus 15% of
not over $34,500 the excess over $8,500
Over $34,500 but $4,750 plus 25% of
not over $69,675 the excess over $34,500
Over $69,675 but $13,543.75 plus 28% of
not over $106,150 the excess over $69,675
Over $106,150 but $23,756.75 plus 33% of
not over $189,575 the excess over $106,150
Over $189,575 $51,287 plus 35% of
the excess over $189,575

TABLE 5 – Section 1(e) – Estates and Trusts
If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $2,300 15% of the taxable income
Over $2,300 but $345 plus 25% of
not over $5,450 the excess over $2,300
Over $5,450 but $1,132.50 plus 28% of
not over $8,300 the excess over $5,450
Over $8,300 but $1,930.50 plus 33% of
not over $11,350 the excess over $8,300
Over $11,350 $2,937 plus 35% of
the excess over $11,350

Child Tax Credit.

For taxable years beginning in 2011, the value used in § 24(d)(1)(B)(i) to determine the amount of credit under § 24 that may be refundable is $3,000.

Hope Scholarship, American Opportunity, and Lifetime Learning Credits.
(1) For taxable years beginning in 2011, the Hope Scholarship Credit under
§ 25A(b)(1), as increased under § 25A(i) (the American Opportunity Tax Credit), is an amount equal to 100 percent of qualified tuition and related expenses not in excess of $2,000 plus 25 percent of those expenses in excess of $2,000, but not in excess of $4,000. Accordingly, the maximum Hope Scholarship Credit allowable under § 25A(b)(1) for taxable years beginning in 2011 is $2,500.
(2) For taxable years beginning in 2011, a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for a joint return) is used to determine the reduction under § 25A(d)(2) in the amount of the Hope Scholarship Credit otherwise allowable under § 25A(a)(1). For taxable years beginning in 2011, a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income in excess of $51,000 ($102,000 for a joint return) is used to determine the reduction under § 25A(d)(2) in the amount of the Lifetime Learning Credit otherwise allowable under § 25A(a)(2).

Earned Income Credit.
(1) In general. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the following amounts are used to determine the earned income credit under § 32(b). The “earned income amount” is the amount of earned income at or above which the maximum amount of the earned income credit is allowed. The “threshold phaseout amount” is the amount of adjustedgross income (or, if greater, earned income) above which the maximum amount of the credit begins to phase out. The “completed phaseout amount” is the amount of adjusted gross income (or, if greater, earned income) at or above which no credit is allowed. The threshold phaseout amounts and the completed phaseout amounts shown in the table below for married taxpayers filing a joint return include the increase provided in § 32(b)(3)(B)(i), as adjusted for inflation for taxable years beginning in 2011.

Number of Qualifying Children
Item One Two Three or More None
Earned Income $9,100 $12,780 $12,780 $6,070
Amount
Maximum Amount of Credit $3,094 $5,112 $5,751 $464
Threshold Phaseout $16,690 $16,690 $16,690 $7,590
Amount (Single, Surviving Spouse, or Head of Household) Completed Phaseout $36,052 $40,964 $43,998 $13,660
Amount (Single, Surviving Spouse, or Head of Household) Threshold Phaseout $21,770 $21,770 $21,770 $12,670
Amount (Married Filing Jointly)Completed Phaseout $41,132 $46,044 $49,078 $18,740
Amount (Married Filing Jointly)
The instructions for the Form 1040 series provide tables showing the amount of the earned income credit for each type of taxpayer.
(2) Excessive investment income. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the earned income tax credit is not allowed under § 32(i) if the aggregate amount of certain investment income exceeds $3,150.

Standard Deduction.
(1) In general. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the standard deduction amounts under § 63(c)(2) are as follows:
Filing Status Standard Deduction
Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns $11,600
and Surviving Spouses (§ 1(a))
Heads of Households (§ 1(b)) $8,500
Unmarried Individuals (other than Surviving Spouses $5,800
and Heads of Households) (§ 1(c))
Married Individuals Filing Separate $5,800
Returns (§ 1(d))
(2) Dependent. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the standard deduction amount under § 63(c)(5) for an individual who may be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer cannot exceed the greater of (1) $950, or (2) the sum of $300 and the individual’s earned income.
(3) Aged or blind. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the additional standard deduction amount under § 63(f) for the aged or the blind is $1,150. These amounts are increased to $1,450 if the individual is also unmarried and not a surviving spouse.

Qualified Transportation Fringe. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the monthly limitation under § 132(f)(2)(A), regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass, and under
§ 132(f)(2)(B), regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking, is $230.

Personal Exemption.
(1) Exemption amount. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the personal exemption amount under § 151(d) is $3,700.

Interest on Education Loans. For taxable years beginning in 2011, the $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on qualified education loans under § 221 begins to phase out under § 221(b)(2)(B) for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income in excess of $60,000 ($120,000 for joint returns), and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more for joint returns).

SECTION 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
This revenue procedure applies to taxable years beginning in 2011.