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The Old Age Security program is the only aspect of Canada’s retirement income system which does not require a direct contribution from recipients of program benefits. Rather, the OAS program is funded through general tax revenues, and eligibility to receive OAS is based solely on Canadian residency. Anyone who is 65 years of age or older and has lived in Canada for at least 40 years after the age of 18 is eligible to receive the maximum benefit. For the second quarter of 2020 (April to June 2020), that maximum monthly benefit is $613.53.


By the time most Canadians sit down to organize their various tax slips and receipts and undertake to complete their tax return for 2019, the most significant opportunities to minimize the tax bill for the year are no longer available. Most such tax planning or saving strategies, in order to be effective for 2019, must have been implemented by the end of that calendar year. The major exception to that is, of course, the making of registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions, but even that had to be done on or before March 2, 2020 in order to be deducted on the return for 2019.


The past few months have been an almost perfect storm of bad financial news for Canadian retirees. The historic stock market downturn which occurred in mid-March resulted in a significant loss of value for many retirement savings portfolios, whether those savings were held in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). That downturn was accompanied by three consecutive interest rate cuts by the Bank of Canada, meaning that rates of return on such safe investment vehicles as guaranteed investment certificates, which were already low, became negligible.


There have been so many announcements over the past couple of months with respect to temporary changes to individual and business tax obligations that keeping up with all of the new rules and altered deadlines isn’t easy. The good news is that, in all cases, individual taxpayers (both employees and the self-employed) are being provided with extended time to pay any income tax amounts for both 2019 and 2020. And, in most cases, taxpayers also have more time to file returns for the 2019 tax year.


Suspension of review, audit and collection activities

The Canada Revenue Agency regularly carries out review activities in which taxpayers are asked to provide documentation or other information with respect to their entitlement to claimed benefits or credits.


Wage subsidy program for employers

The federal government will be providing eligible employers who have experienced a significant decline in revenues with a wage subsidy. For purposes of the subsidy, eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers, as well as non‑profit organizations and registered charities.


Changes to filing and payment deadlines for 2019 returns

Individual Canadians are generally required to file their tax returns for the 2019 tax year on or before April 30, 2020. Self-employed Canadians (and their spouses) have until June 15, 2020 to file such returns. All individual Canadians, regardless of their filing deadline, must usually pay all taxes owed for 2019 by April 30, 2020.


The current pandemic has changed the lives of Canadians in innumerable ways, and the tax system has not been exempt from those changes. In fact, since we are currently in what would in normal circumstances be the peak of the filing, payment and return processing season, the usual tax-related obligations which apply to both individuals and businesses have been altered or extended in a number of ways to accommodate current realities.


Most taxpayers sit down to do their annual tax return, or wait to hear from their tax return preparer, with some degree of trepidation. In most cases taxpayers don’t know, until their return is completed, what the “bottom line” will be, and it’s usually a case of fearing the worst while hoping for the best.


The Canadian tax system provides individual taxpayers with a tax credit for out-of-pocket medical and para-medical expenses incurred during the year. Given that such expenses must be incurred at some time by virtually every Canadian, that credit is among the most frequently claimed on the annual return. Unfortunately, however, the rules governing such claims are detailed, somewhat complex and frequently confusing.


Two quarterly newsletters have been added—one dealing with personal issues, and one dealing with corporate issues.


Sometime during the month of February, millions of Canadians will receive mail from the Canada Revenue Agency. That mail, a “Tax Instalment Reminder”, will set out the amount of instalment payments of income tax to be paid by the recipient taxpayer by March 16 and June 15 of this year.


The indexing factor for federal tax credits and brackets for 2019 is 1.9%. The following federal tax rates and brackets will be in effect for individuals for the 2020 tax year:


A generation ago, retirement was an event. Typically, an individual would leave the work force completely at age 65 and begin collecting Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits along with, in many cases, a pension from an employer-sponsored registered pension plan.