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Tax tip: Claiming childcare expenses

Ryan Gossling, income tax, childcare expenses, child care expenses

A lot of new mamas (and dadas) come to Homeroom unsure about what childcare expenses they can and can’t claim come tax time. 

Below, we look at eligible childcare costs, the amount you can deduct and which parent claims the costs. 

So, what constitutes a childcare expense?

Childcare expenses are amounts you or another person paid to have someone look after an eligible child so that you or the other person could:

  • carry on a business either alone or as an active partner
  • earn income from employment
  • attend school under the conditions identified under Educational program
  • carry on research or similar work, for which you or the other person received a grant

The child must have lived with you or the other person at the time the transaction incurred for the expense to qualify. Usually, you can only deduct payments for services provided in Canada by a Canadian resident. See other situations for exceptions.

What are eligible childcare expenses?

  • Daycare/ day nursery schools or caregivers providing childcare services. An official childcare expense receipt must be provided.
  • If you employ a nanny, those costs are deductible. Contact us if you need help with payroll source deductions here.
  • Boarding school or overnight sports schools/ camps where lodging is involved (see note in Part A of Form T778)
  • Day camp/ sports school expenses where the primary goal of the camp is to care for childrenNote: An institution offering a sports study program is not a sports school.

Children’s sports and arts credits:

Any program that runs for minimum six consecutive weeks would apply. The maximum amount is $1,000 for sports and $500 for arts (eg. swimming lessons, soccer, dance, hockey, theatre, music and art classes.)

Good to know:

  • The child must have been under 16 years of age (or under 18 years of age if eligible for the disability tax credit) at the beginning of the year in which the eligible expenses were paid.
  • You can claim an additional amount of $500 for each eligible child who qualifies for the disability amount and for whom you paid a minimum of $100 in registration or membership fees.
  • Two parents can claim eligible fees for the same child, as long as they do not claim the same fees and the combined amount is not more than $500

Note: Save your receipts, and dig up more info on the children’s arts tax credit here, and for the children’s fitness tax credit here.

Is your child eligible?

An eligible child is a child of you or your spouse or common-law partner, or a child who was dependent on you or your spouse or common-law partner. Net income in the year was less than or equal to the federal basic personal amount ($11,138 in 2014, $11,327 in 2015).  The child must have been under 16 years of age at the beginning of the year, unless the child was mentally or physically disabled.

Who claims the childcare costs?

When the child lives with both parents, the parent with the lower net income (or zero net income) must claim the expense deduction. The supporting parent with the higher income may claim a deduction only during the period in which the lower income spouse or common-law partner is mentally or physically infirm, confined to a bed or a wheelchair, attending full- time at a secondary school or a designated educational institution or incarcerated in a correctional facility.

The amount that can be claimed for childcare is subject to special rules when the lower income spouse or common- law partner is in part-time attendance at a designated educational institution. Special rules also apply for single parents and those who have separated during the year or are divorced.

How much can you deduct?

You can deduct up to $8,000 annually for each child who is aged six or under at the end of the year, and up to $5,000 for each child aged seven to 15 at any time in the year.

This limit goes up to $11,000 annually for each child who is eligible for the disability tax credit (see topic 80). Also, the total deduction can’t exceed two-thirds of the salary or business income of the parent who is required to claim the deduction. However, it’s limited by the actual amounts paid in the year for childcare.

Still have questions? Comment below for a quick response, or call us at 604-739-9536.

So you think you can claim that expense?

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That’s Michelle Chand, our cool new intern, and a messy bookkeeping project on her lap we call The Big Blue. But all you see is your face,  stuck amid a pile of receipts you are not even sure you can claim as a business expense and a mean clock ticking down to tax time? We can help!

So, you just got a styling hairdo at your favourite salon and a fancy Aritzia number to go with it.  But can you claim your new look come tax season?

Every year around this time, clients come in, confused about what they can and can’t claim.

So, we decided to bust common tax myths:

Home office Tax Myths:

  • If you have a home office you cannot claim any expenses related to your dog as a security expense. That means vet bills, dog food and hours spent loving your dog are not under any circumstances tax deductible.

  • Home office deductions are based on the percentage of your home that you use to conduct business NOT  the size of your home. You need to calculate: square footage of business area and divide that by the square footage of your home. Storage space for business supplies and/or tools also can be included in your calculations as an area used for business.

Clothing Tax Myths:

  • GENERAL CLOTHING CANNOT BE WRITTEN OFF UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. The only benefit you are going to get from purchasing some new work threads is the satisfaction of looking really good. The only exception to the rule is safety clothing such as hardhats or steel toe boots and company branded clothing that is considered a uniform.

  • Dry Cleaning is only deductible if you are having a company uniform cleaned. That beautiful Armani Jacket you own unfortunately needs to be cleaned at your own expense.

Food Tax Myths:

  • A legitimate meal expense  is one where you are going out with a colleague or potential client to discuss business. Going for a solo lunch while working doesn’t count for a meal. You should also record the name and number of the client you are meeting with on the meal receipt.

NOTE: In an audit of one of our clients, the auditor asked to see each meal receipts with the name and phone number of the person who was present at the meal AND a description of the type of business that was discussed.

Vehicle Tax Myths:

  • Just because your vehicle is branded doesn’t mean that you write off 100 per cent of vehicle expenses. Auto expenses are calculated based on percentage of the year’s total km’s that are driven for business purposes. That said the expense of having your car branded is 100 per cent deductible as advertising expense.

Client Gift Tax Myths

  • If you purchase liquor or any type of gift certificate from a restaurant for example a Starbucks or Whole Foods gift certificate, as a client gift, this is considered a MEALS expense (so only 50 per cent is deductible) NOT an advertising expense (100% deductible). In order to deduct client gifts at 100 per cent you need to buy gifts that aren’t food such as spa packages, flowers, Home Depot gift certificates etc.. Additionally you need to make sure you note which client received what gift in case you are audited.

Employee Tax Myths:

  • If  you receive a T4 from your employer, you are not eligible to deduct ANYTHING unless your employer fills out a T2200 form authorizing you to do so. That said any dues or insurance you purchase from professional organizations can be deducted so long as you have been designated as a professional.

Student Tax Myths:

  • Unfortunately as a student you are not allowed to deduct any additional expenses beyond what your tuition slip from your educational institution (T2202) indicates. Therefore items such as your computer and stationery supplies are non-deductible.

When filing your taxes it is important to keep in mind that from  the CRA’s perspective anything that could be deemed as personal, WILL be deemed as personal in the event of an audit.

Although you can take the risk and claim the above expenses you really should not, because in the event that you are audited and your claims are denied you will be forced to pay a fine in addition  to paying back all of the tax you avoided along with interest.

We are taking appointments for tax consultations now so if you want to get ahead of the rest and book your ideal time contact us now.

Also, enter our latest competition for your chance to win a free tax return.