Raising children is a costly business and Canada Revenue Agency acknowledges this with deductions and tax credits available when you file your annual income tax return. Here are claims for your minor children that you and your tax preparer should be considering for 2011:
• Child-care expenses. Assuming you have child-care expenses, remember to claim the lucrative child-care expense deduction, which reduces your net income. (Click here to download the form). But this claim is often audited; so, be sure to keep your child-care receipts.
Reducing your net income is important because it is the base on which many benefits and refundable tax credits and benefits are calculated. The lower your net income, the greater your ability to access those credits and benefits. The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is one of those benefits that are based on net income, in this case, family net income. It is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families and includes the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Child Disability Benefit.
• Child Amount. When it comes to non-refundable tax credits, be sure to claim the Child Amount for each eligible child under the age of 18. The $2,131 claim is not income-tested and either parent can claim it; in fact, unused amounts can be transferred from one parent to the other.
• Children’s fitness and arts activities. Check private activity receipts to see if you can claim the Children’s Fitness Amount and/or the new Children’s Arts Amount.
• Disability Tax Credit. If you have a disabled child, you’ll want to claim the $7,341 Disability Amount, which, in the case of minor child, is increased by a supplement of $4,282 for a total claim of $11,523. This supplementary amount, however, can be reduced by the amount you claim as a child-care deduction. You will need a Disability Tax Credit Certificate, form T2201 completed by a doctor.
• Public Transit Amount. Finally, be sure your young ones keep all public transit passes for a possible claim for the Public Transit Amount.
Investing Tips for Minors. Establish an in-trust account for your minor child. But be sure to deposit into the account only funds from the child’s part-time jobs, CCTB received for the child and the capital gains earned on principal transferred to the child. (The Attribution Rules, which generally prohibit the transfer of assets from higher-income earners to lower-income earners in the family, requires that interest or dividends earned on principal transferred is attributed back to and reported by the adult transferor.)
By having his or her own in-trust account, eligible earnings — interest and dividends earned on “untainted accounts” — are taxable in the child’s hands. Because of the tax-free zone, the basic personal amount of $10,822, this usually allows the earnings to accumulate tax-free.
Over time, planning around these rules but within the framework of the law will build assets in the hands of multiple family members, resulting in future income-splitting benefits.
It’s Your Money. Your Life. File tax returns for all family members together, including minor children. If you think strategically about family income splitting, you will be able to accumulate capital in many family members’ hands. The objective is to unleash the potential each taxpayer has to maximize the tax-free zone of $10,822 and save significant sums over time.