New income tax changes for your 2017 returns

(NC) With the income tax deadline approaching, there are some significant changes that have rolled out this year that will affect many Canadians. Here are some that can help make filing quicker and easier.

Public transit reimbursement. Early last year, the government announced the elimination of the public transit reimbursement, citing the credit wasn’t effective enough in encouraging the use of public transportation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead of the individual tax credit, the federal government has announced that it will invest $20 billion over the next 11 years to improve transit across the country.

“Though the credit ended mid-year, you can still claim a 15 percent non-refundable tax credit for transit passes purchased between January 1 and June 30 on your 2017 income tax and benefit return,” says Lisa Gittens, senior tax professional at H&R Block.

Children’s activities. The Children’s Arts and Fitness tax credits, including the special supplement for disabled children, will no longer be available. In previous years, parents and guardians were able to receive credits for such activities as art classes, piano lessons, hockey and soccer.

Small business. Good news for small business owners – the government is moving forward with a plan to lower small business taxes from the current 10.5 percent to 9 percent.

Military credit. In recognition of the commitment and sacrifice members of the Canadian Armed Forces make, it was announced that military salaries of all deployed personnel would be exempt from federal income taxes.

Education. Back in 2016, the federal government eliminated the federal education and textbook tax credits, to come into effect January 1, 2017. This means 2016 was the last year students were able to make these claims.

“The silver lining here is that the carry-forward rules apply, so any unused education tax credits that arose prior to 2017 are still available to be claimed either this year or subsequent years moving forward,” explains Gittens. Depending on where you live, you may also still be able to claim a provincial credit.

If you have questions about changes to tax laws, contact a local tax expert like those at H&R Block to ensure you’re getting the greatest return possible.

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