Over time, taxes erode both your income and capital more than any other factor, making tax literacy an important part of financial literacy. So, it makes sense that those who have the most to gain by being tax-astute are the young; they have more time to benefit from the positive effects of investment compounding.
As a parent, you play a significant role in introducing basic tax and investing rules to your children. Here are some tips for the young adults in your family:
File tax returns for adult children. Young adults — those who have reached the age of 18 in the tax year — should file a return regardless of income.
Filing a return creates eligibility for refundable tax credits such as the GST/HST credit, available to taxpayers 19 years of age or older, or the Working Income Tax Benefit. (The latter, however, is not available to individuals whose annual income is less than $3,000 or who are students for more than 13 weeks a year, unless the student has an eligible dependent). Filing also gives young adults access to a variety of provincial tax credits.
Because young adults often have more than one part-time job, employers may withdraw more income taxes from their earnings than necessary. Likewise, if young adults contribute to the Canada Pension Plan before the age of 18 or if their total income is less than the $3,500 basic exemption, they may over contribute to CPP. Similarly, they may pay too much to Employment Insurance. By filing a return, these young adults not only recover overpaid source deductions — and get a refund — but they also create RRSP contribution room based on their earned income, even if they are not taxable.
Then, there are lucrative non-refundable tax credits, including the tuition, education and textbook amounts. If your young adult is a student at a qualifying educational institute, claiming these amounts on a return can reduce his or her taxes to zero. And, if unabsorbed on the student’s return, these provisions can either be carried forward for use in reducing future income taxes, or up to $5,000 can be transferred to a supporting individual, in this case, you.
Your adult children, if 19 years of age or older at the end of the tax year, should also claim Public Transit Amounts for money paid for public transit passes.
It’s Your Money. Your Life. Help your children become more tax-astute. Also, introduce them to your tax advisor. They will benefit from having a professional answer their tax questions. Today’s efforts will pay off handsomely in the future.
NEXT TIME: CLAIMING TAX BENEFITS FOR DISABLED ADULTS
Evelyn Jacks, president of Knowledge Bureau, is author of Essential Tax Facts 2012 and co-author of Financial Recovery in a Fragile World. To purchase your books, visit www.knowledgebureau.com/Books.asp . Knowledge Bureau also publishes The Smart, Savvy Young Consumer for young adults. To encourage tax literacy among your young adult children, order here.