Preparing for Personal Tax Season
JANUARY 28, 2021
Personal tax season is a stressful time for many (accountants included), and with that in mind we want to provide some help organizing your documents to file your taxes on time, properly, and with as little hassle as possible.
The Fort Group Personal Tax Checklist
Click here to download our personal tax checklist to keep you organized, and make sure you are claiming everything available to you.
We prepared this checklist to cover the common areas when it comes to Canadian and U.S. tax filings. If you have heard of a deduction that may apply to you, but do not see it on the checklist, please contact us and ask. An example of this would be the deduction for digital news subscription expenses that is new for 2020. This is a non-refundable tax credit that deducts 15% of your digital news subscriptions up to a maximum of $75 ($500 in eligible expenses). We’re always happy to help!
With the tax checklist in mind, there are a few things prudent to the 2020 tax year that are expanded upon below.
If you received any government support during COVID-19, you will be receiving a tax slip for this income (T4A). If you worked from home due to COVID-19, please see our article here for further details.
If you are not preparing your own Canadian taxes for 2020, arrange to get your tax information to your accountant as soon as you are confident that you have all of the information together. For Canadian tax returns, Fort Group will be processing all personal tax returns on a first come first served basis, so depending on workload and timing, it may be a couple weeks until you receive notice of completion, results or questions. Rest assured, Fort Group will get everyone’s return filed by the deadline. If there are any urgent requirements, please let us know and we will do our absolute best to accommodate.
If you know you owe U.S. taxes for 2020 or it is likely you will owe U.S. taxes for 2020, arrange to get your accountant your tax information as soon as you are confident that you have all of the necessary information together. As your accountant, we want to ensure that we have a reasonably accurate estimate of your taxes owing so you can make the necessary instalment payment on or before April 15th.
If you are preparing your own Canadian taxes for 2020 and you know that you will not owe U.S. taxes for 2020 please arrange to get us a copy of your Canadian tax return and other information for your U.S. tax filings on or before May 31st.
If you are a US citizen, please ensure you tell us what Economic Impact Payment (EIP) amounts you received in 2020 and early 2021. The first round of these payments was up to USD $1,200 per eligible person, and up to USD $500 per eligible child. The second round of these payments in late 2020 and early 2021 was up to USD $600 per eligible person and up to USD $600 per eligible child. For those individuals who did not receive these payments or who received less than they were eligible to receive, you have the opportunity to claim these amounts via your 2020 US tax filings. The EIP amounts are refundable tax credits so claiming them can be of benefit even if you have no U.S. taxes owing.
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident whose combined maximum non-U.S. financial account balances in 2020 exceeded $10,000 USD, you are obligated to file foreign bank account reporting (FBAR) for the year. If you are planning to file that yourself, please include a copy of your completed FBAR filing with your 2020 tax information. If Fort Group will be completing your FBAR filing for you, please use the FBAR template (download here) as a guide to collect the necessary information. Typical foreign accounts include (but are not limited to) bank accounts, RRSPs, TFSAs, cash surrender value of insurance policies, registered pension plans and non-personal accounts over which you have signing authority.
If you completed an FBAR spreadsheet for 2019, we recommend using that as a starting place for the details to input into the 2020 spreadsheet. If you no longer have a copy of that 2019 FBAR spreadsheet, and were a client of ours in for the 2019 tax year, please contact us and we will provide that to you.
When and Where to Submit Your Documents
If you would like Fort Group to prepare your Canadian tax filings, please do your best to have your files in no later than April 9, 2021. This will reduce stress for both of us as we approach the April 30, 2021 filing deadline.
If you can send files to us electronically, that would be preferred – uploading them through our secure online portal. If you are not already set-up on this system, please let us know and we can have that started for you.
If you would like to send paper files, please ensure you are sending to our Henderson Hwy Address:
100-865 Henderson Hwy
Drop off is available after business hours (outside of 9:00am – 5:00pm) using the drop box to the left of our front entrance.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (204) 942-0861.
To satisfy the lawyers:
The above article is provided for general information and educational purposes only, and in no way is intended to be relied upon or provide personal or corporate taxation advice. The article does not take into account the individual needs of the reader and may not provide advice suitable for said reader. No information contained within this article should be construed or interpreted as being directly relevant to the personal or corporate taxation situation of the reader. In any accounting, taxation, or financial matter thereby related, you should always consult a chartered professional accountant before filing any tax returns, financial statements, or related financial documents with any authorities. Any information contained within this article, including but not limited to, tax rates, filing deadlines, and eligible revenue and expenses are subject to change without notice, and Fort Group Chartered Professional Accountants is not responsible for updating this information.