D. Smith: Getting the most from your tax return

As the income tax deadline gets closer, it is time to gather your papers and prepare to file your personal tax return.

As the 2011 income tax deadline gets closer, it is time to gather all your papers, receipts and tax slips and prepare to file your personal tax return before April 30, 2012.

There are a few new credits to include on this years tax filing:

Parents can now save up to $75 at tax time for eligible expenses paid for registering, or buying membership for your children in a certain artistic, cultural, recreational or development activities. Keeps children busy and parents get a tax break.

Volunteer firefighters may be able to reduce their taxable income by as much as $450 if they have completed at least 200 hours of eligible volunteer time.

If you donated certain flow-through share properties to a qualified donee after March 21, 2011, it may result in a deemed capital gain that is subject to an inclusion rate of 50 per cent.

A few recent changes include for the Canada child tax benefit, you need to notify the Canada Revenue Agency of any changes to your marital status by the end of the month following the month of the status change. Each eligible parent in a shared custody situation gets half of the child benefit and credit payments for that child every month they qualify.

Additional examination fees now qualify for the tuition amount.

The minimum duration of courses taken at a university outside of Canada has been reduced to three consecutive weeks.

There were some recent changes for CPP contributions effective Jan. 1, 2012. Check out this very informative government website at www.servicecanada.gc.ca.

Claim all your deductions, don’t miss out on allowable expenses. Some people file their own tax returns.

It is difficult to be an expert on tax filing when you only do it once a year.

You may choose to get professional tax assistance.  Tax laws change frequently.

Moving costs are one of the most often missed expenses when filing a tax return.

If you move and establish a new home to be employed or carry on a business at a new work location, of if you move to study courses as a student in full-time attendance at a university, college or other educational institution that offers courses at a post-secondary level you may qualify for moving expenses.

To qualify, your new home must be at least 40 kms (by the shortest usual public route) closer to the new place of work or educational institution.

CRA has an excellent website for you to save as one of your favourites, www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

This website has valuable information and tips on making sure we claim available deductions and tax credits.

You should file your tax return annually even if you have no tax to pay.

You do not want to miss out on available deductions. By filing your tax return, you may be eligible for the GST/HST credit, child tax benefits or senior income supplements.

After you file your annual tax return each year, you will receive a Notice of Assessment; this is an important confirmation notice received each year from CRA to keep with your tax papers.

The tax deadline is April 30. Interest and penalties may apply to amounts owing for late filing. It is our financial responsibility to file a tax return every year on time.

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