Canadian federal tax credits you’ll want to know about

If you are filing your own return, or even if you’re using a tax service, you’ll want to be familiar with the Canadian federal tax credits that apply to you, or those you’re filing on behalf of.

Tax credits and deductions can be claimed to reduce how much tax you must pay this year. While our list isn’t comprehensive, we’ve identified top tax credits for working adults, parents/caregivers, seniors, students, volunteers, and anyone looking to maximize their refund. You can find a full list of tax credits on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website here.

Click here to jump to information that applies to you if you’re a: working adult, parent/caregiver, senior, student, volunteer, or for a few general credits.

Which Canadian federal tax credits apply to me if I’m a…

Working adult

If you’re a Canadian over 18 and you are working, you’ll want to ensure you understand the following tax credits:

Contributions to registered savings plans can generally be used to reduce the amount of income tax you owe the government. Contributions must have been made before March 2, 2020 to be used in this tax year. 

  • Annual dues (union, professional, etc.) - Line 21200

If you pay annual union or professional dues, or any dues related to your employment (including those paid on your behalf and reported as income), you may be able to claim those costs as a tax deduction. 

If you moved at least 40 kilometres to find work or be closer to work, or to run a business, you may be able to claim moving expenses on your tax return this year. 

Individuals who have an impairment in physical or mental functions and have paid for certain medical expenses in order to work may be able to claim those expenses on their tax refund. Be sure to read the conditions before claiming. 

Parent/Caregiver

Being a parent or caregiver comes with a lot of expenses, and the federal tax credits below can go toward helping you cover those costs.

If you paid to have someone look after an eligible child so you could work, you may be able to claim those costs. Eligible expenses may include caregivers, daycare, before/after school programs, some day camps and more.

If you are making deductible support payments under a court order or written agreement, you may be able to receive a tax credit.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to claim an amount for an eligible dependent. There are a number of conditions to qualify for this amount, but it’s worth double-checking.

If you are a caregiver for your spouse or common-law partner, an eligible dependent over 18, or an infirm child under 18 years of age, you’ll want to review caregiver amounts before filing this year’s tax return.

If you adopted a child under the age of 18 this year, you can claim expenses related to the adoption to maximum of $16,255.

If you have a child in college or university, you can transfer any remaining credit left after the student has used their tuition amount to reduce their own tax owing. 

If you paid out of pocket for a covered medical expense for you or your child, you may be able to claim some or all of those expenses as a tax credit. Make sure to read the link for details. 

If you or your child qualify for the disability tax credit, and you made qualifying renovations to your home to make it more accessible, you may be able to claim these costs as a tax credit.

Senior

If you are a senior or are filing on behalf of a senior, these tax credits may be able to reduce taxes owing.

If you qualify for the disability tax credit, and made qualifying renovations to your home to make it more accessible, you may be able to claim these costs as a tax credit

If you paid out of pocket for eligible medical expenses, including attendant care or care in a facility, you may be able to claim some of your costs as a tax credit. Eligible credits generally include amounts paid for care at a nursing home, out-patient clinics, as well as support with activities like food prep, housekeeping, health care and more for those unable to do the activities themselves; be sure to read the link for details.

Student

If you’re a post-secondary student, or recently graduated, you may not owe a lot on your taxes. That being said, there are a few credits you can use to maximize your refund.

If you are attending post-secondary school full time and moved at least 40 kilometres to be closer to your school, you may qualify for this credit. 

If you are paying interest on or have paid interest on a student loan given under the Canada Student Loans Act, Student Financial Assistance Act or Apprentice Loans Act, you may be able to claim the interest you’ve paid.

While federal education and textbook tax credits were eliminated in 2017, you may be eligible for provincial or territorial credits. Note: you will need a tax receipt from your school to qualify.  

Volunteer

Volunteer firefighters and volunteer search and rescue who completed at least 200 hours of eligible services this year can claim $3,000 on Lines 31220 and 31240, respectively. Be sure to read the details on who this credit applies to.

General

There are a few “general” tax credits it’s good for everyone to know about.

If you are a first-time homebuyer who acquired a qualifying home, or are a homebuyer with a disability/buying on behalf of someone with a disability, you may be eligible to claim a $5,000 credit on your tax return this year. 

If you made a donation or gave a gift of property to certain institutions this year, you may be able to claim all or part of the amount on your tax return. 

 

  • Climate action incentive – Line 45110: Residents of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario who meet the outlined criteria can claim a basic amount, and there is a 10% supplement for residents of small and rural communities in these provinces. 

 

 

If you were an educator in 2019, you can claim up to $1,000 of eligible teaching supplies expenses. 

 

  • Free tax clinics

While this isn’t a tax credit, it’s a useful service for many Canadians. Eligible individuals may be able to have their tax return done for free.  To find out if you’re eligible for a free tax clinic, or to find one in your area, go to the Government of Canada’s website.

While this article can’t capture every Canadian federal tax credit, it does give you a sense of what credits may be available to you this tax year. It’s always best to review the CRA’s complete list of tax credits, and read through each credit that may apply to you prior to filing your tax return. If in doubt, speak with your financial advisor.

We hope that with the knowledge of these tax credits, you can qualify for a tax refund, or at least reduce your balance owing. If you are one of the lucky individuals who qualifies for a refund, check out our tips on how to best use the extra money.

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