Top 9 Overlooked Credits & Deductions

As we approach some important income tax deadlines* I wanted to share something our friend, David Gyurits from Investia Financial Services, shared with us on over looked tax credits and deductions. If you have questions about filing or what options you have feel free to contact David Gyurits.

*March 2nd is the last to contribute to your RSP for 2014 and April 30th which is the deadline to file your taxes

Medical expenses

“Quite often things get missed because this is a rather large umbrella and people don’t know what they’re allowed to claim,” Battista says.

Some of the often-missed items that can be claimed under this umbrella, Battista says, are travel medical insurance, extended health-care premiums, and certain alternative health-care services, such as traditional Chinese medicine if you live in B.C., where the profession is regulated. (Allowable medical expenses vary from province to province.)

Kids’ creative, outdoors, and development programs

It’s not just painting classes or piano lessons that are eligible for the 15 per cent nonrefundable Children’s Arts Tax Credit on an amount up to $500 per child but also programs such as Brownies and Girl Guides.

Other eligible programs, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, include an activity that “contributes to the development of creative skills or expertise in artistic or cultural activities; provides a substantial focus on wilderness and the natural environment; helps children develop and use particular intellectual skills; includes structured interaction among children where supervisors teach or help children develop interpersonal skills; or provides enrichment or tutoring in academic subjects”.

Kids’ physical activities

Take note, parents: the 15 per cent nonrefundable Children’s Fitness Tax credit has gone up.

“The children’s fitness amount used to be $500 but now people can claim a maximum of $1,000 per child for fees for membership or registration in a physical activity program,” says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning with CIBC Private Wealth Management . Eligible activities include sports like hockey, soccer, and gymnastics as well as less obvious ones such as horseback riding, sailing, and bowling.

Public transit passes

The Public Transit amount allows you to claim the cost of passes for allowed unlimited travel within Canada on local buses, streetcars, subways, commuter trains, and local ferries.

“If you pay for a monthly transit pass for your child, you can claim that on your taxes too,” Battista says.

Disability

“A lot of people don’t realize they might qualify,” Battista says. “There is this notion that you have to be in a wheelchair. It’s important to look at all the different qualifying factors.”

According to Disability Tax Service, which charges 20 per cent of a refund received for its services, the list of potentially eligible conditions is long, ranging from anxiety and ADHD to irritable bowel syndrome and personality disorders.

Family Tax Cut

“This one may get missed because it’s brand new,” says Golombek. “It applies if you have a spouse or [common law] partner and kids under 18, you’re able to notionally transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income from the higher- to the lower-income spouse.”

The maximum benefit for the non-refundable credit is $2,000.

Student loan interest

“If you’re repaying student loans, the interest is eligible for a tax credit, but only on federal and provincial student loans, not loans from a financial institution,” Golombek says. “If you have a student line of credit at your bank, you’re out of luck.”

Certain home purchases

With the Home Buyers amount, you can claim up to $5,000 if you or your spouse or common-law partner buy a qualifying home assuming you or your spouse or partner haven’t owned a home in the preceding four years.

Kids’ summer camps

“The cost of summer camps qualifies as child-care costs,” Golombek says. These include day camps and day sport schools as well as overnight sports schools or camps where lodging is involved

Do I Have To Pay My Debts?

Time limitation on collecting a debt in Ontario

In Ontario, an unsecured creditor has a legal right to collect on an unpaid debt no later than two years from the date of the last activity on the account.

Unsecured creditor means a creditor that has not registered a mortgage or a lien on a piece of property such as a house or car, a credit card is normally an unsecured creditor.

Last activity means the date of the last payment, even a partial payment, or the date the debtor last acknowledged owing the debt to the creditor.

Therefore, the debt does not have to be repaid if you have not made a payment on the credit card for more than two years and they did not start a legal action against you within that two year time period.

This, however, will not stop all actions by debt collectors and collection agencies. Collectors will continue to contact you and they may threaten legal action as they are aware that most Ontarians are oblivious to this time limitation. In such a case, inform the Collector never to contact you again and under no circumstances should you acknowledge that you owe the debt to the creditor or the collector as this will restart the two year time period.

Further, Collectors still have the ability to report the unpaid debt to credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax and Trans Union. This unpaid debt will remain on the debtor’s credit report for six years from the date of the last activity, thereafter it will be automatically purged by Equifax and Trans Union.

If you see an unpaid debt or discrepancy on your credit report, you can challenge the discrepancy by completing the attached Consumer Credit Report Update Form and providing all the relevant documents:

  1. photocopies of all necessary documents
  2. receipts
  3. legal documents
  4. proof of current address
  5. photocopies of two pieces of identification

Rebuilding your Credit

Living with bad credit is difficult, as it complicates your life and makes it feel as though you are missing out on opportunities.

Rebuilding your credit, whether you have been through bankruptcy, consumer proposal or made mistakes with your personal finances, doesn’t have to be complicated but it takes patience and a plan. Remember your credit will not be fixed overnight but following the steps below could help improve your credit rating in time. The key would be persistence and patience.

• Obtain your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion and verify that the information is correct. Here is a link to further understand your credit report and score:

• Pay your bills on time. This is one of the most important and easiest ways to build your credit. It will showcase good money management to your lenders and reflect a positive change in your financial behaviour.

• Apply for a cell phone. Phone companies report your payment habits to the credit bureau each month.

• Apply for secured credit card. The management of credit is essential to rebuilding your credit and a secured credit card will allow you to have a credit card and provides the lender with security as you will be required to provide a security deposit in order to be approved. The security deposit can range from $300 to $10,000 depending on your need. Try to not carry more than 30% of the credit limit on a monthly basis. Here are some companies that provide secured credit cards

• Don’t apply for too much credit. Every time you do, it will affect your score. If you are declined once or twice, allow 6 months in between applications. The longer you wait the more beneficial.

• Most importantly: create a monthly budget and live within your means. Ensure to set aside a few dollars for savings. Though savings accounts are not reported to the credit bureau they help establish healthy finances and saving can then also be used for an emergency or as a contingency fund if an unexpected expense occurs.

The following is a link to help you budget and see if you are living within your means: http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources/interactive_budget_worksheet.html

For further information on rebuilding your credit please refer to this link with the Government of Canada: http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/Eng/forConsumers/lifeEvents/dealingDebt/Pages/Rebuildi-Reacutet.aspx

The Offset Phenomenon (The Case of the Disappearing Money):

Have you ever experienced going to the bank expecting to withdraw some money only to find out that there is very little if nothing left?

Of course, many of us may have experienced this. It may have been because we have forgotten a cheque or two that we have issued or a recurring automatic payment or maybe your bank just took some money out so that it can pay another account that is in default.

All contracts that you sign when opening a savings, chequing, credit card or line of credit with a financial institution has an offset clause. This that allows them to apply any funds on accounts that are in good standing against any debt that is in default.

It is because of this reason that you must to stop using the financial institution that you would do your day to day banking with if you have credit in the same institution that has been included in the Debt Settlement Program. You don’t want to be in a position where the bank has “offset” your savings or chequing account because of credit that you have chosen to stop paying.

Here are copies of Bank agreements (savings and credit card) that you enter into that shows the offset clause:

Royal Bank:

 
RBC Royal Bank Disclosures and Agreements related to Personal Deposit Accounts

(Page 75, B. Personal Deposit Account Client Agreement, # 17, Application of Funds)

RBC Royal Bank® Credit Card Agreement

(Page 2, Cancelling This Agreement)

TD CanadaTrust:

 
TD Canada Trust Financial Services Terms

(Page 7, G – All Accounts and Services, # 4)

TD Canada Trust Cardholder Agreement and Benefit Coverages Guide

(Page 7, 14. Our Rights If You Do Not Follow This Agreement, b)

CIBC:

 
CIBC Personal Account Agreement

(#15 Set-off Debts Against Accounts)

CIBC Visa™ Cardholder Agreement

(Page 12,  Visa Accounts Not in Good Standing)

Bank of Montreal:

 
BMO Agreements, Bank Plans and Fees for Everyday Banking 

(Page 8,  3. General Terms and Conditions)

BMO Mastercard® * Cardholder Agreement

(Page 2, #22 Cancellation of your card)

Bank of Nova Scotia:

 
Scotiabank Personal Financial Services Agreement

(Page 35-37, Your Payment Obligations)

Scotiabank Revolving Credit Agreement

(Page 4, Offset)

National Bank of Canada:

 
National Bank General Information and Agreement

(Page 13:  7. Overdraft Protection for your Transaction Accounts)

(Page 25: 10. Overdraft Protection)

Agreement Governing the use of the Mastercard™ Credit Card Issued by National Bank Of Canada

(Page 2, #8 Payment)

Call Blocking on Androids

Built-in call blocking features

1

Most Android phones allow you to block contacts directly through your phone. The procedure can be unique to your specific Android phone as it varies from phone to phone.

Voicemail redirection on Nexus 4

2

Although not exactly a call blocking feature, the voicemail redirection feature on the Nexus 4 can be used as a call blocker of some sort. To redirect calls to voicemail, just select a contact from the People app, open the Menu, and select All Calls to Voicemail.

Calls from the selected contact will now be directed to your voicemail box. Also, if you don’t have a voicemail subscription or you haven’t setup your voicemail properly, the phone will automatically reject calls from the redirected contacts.

Call barring on Xperia T, HTC One

3

On the Xperia T and HTC One, call blocking is known as Call Barring, which can be accessed on either phone’s Call Settings page on the Settings menu. Here you can block all outgoing calls, outgoing international calls, outgoing international roaming, all incoming calls, or incoming international roaming calls from everyone. You will need your barring passcode in order to activate these features.

4

On the HTC One, there is another way to block calls — through the Phone app. Just open the menu in the Phone app and select Blocked Contacts. Then, tap the Add button to add a contact to block. You can either add a contact from the People app or manually enter a number to block.

Call rejection on Optimus G

5

To block calls on the LG Optimus G, go to Settings > Call > Call Reject. From there you can enable the phone’s feature to reject all calls. You can also create a rejection list that only blocks calls from contacts included on the rejection list.

Reject List on Galaxy S4

6

Users of the Samsung Galaxy S4 can take advantage of the phone’s Reject List, which keeps a list of numbers that are blocked.

There are two ways to add a contact onto the Reject List. The easiest way is as follows:

  1. Open the contact’s page.
  2. Tap the Menu button.
  3. Select Add to Reject List.

The steps above will cause all of the selected contact’s numbers to be added to the Reject List. On the Contacts list, blocked numbers are shown with the blue universal “No” symbol.

If you need to block only some of the contact’s numbers, you can unblock the valid numbers through the Auto Reject List menu in the Phone app.

7

Another way to block contacts is to manually add numbers to the Reject List, as follows:

  1. Open the Phone app.
  2. Tap Call Settings.
  3. Tap Call Rejection.
  4. Tap Auto Reject List to open the list.
  5. Specify an exact number. You can also add numbers matching a search string that you specify. For example, you can add contact numbers that start or end with the digits that you provide, or includes the digits specified.

Blocking Mode on Galaxy S4

8

The Samsung Galaxy S4 also has the Blocking Mode feature, which lets you limit phone calls at certain hours. To enable Blocking Mode, go to Settings. Open the My Device page, tap the Blocking Mode option, and from there turn on the Blocking Mode switch. You can select what features to block. You can disable incoming calls, notifications, alarm and timer, and/or LED indicator.

When blocking calls in this way, all incoming calls will be automatically rejected and you will not hear any ring or feel any vibration when there is an incoming call, but you will see a notification of the missed call. If you want certain contacts to be able to reach you even if Blocking Mode is enabled, specify them in the list of Allowed Contacts.

Third-party apps for blocking phone calls

If your Android phone doesn’t have a built-in call blocking feature or if it does but you find it’s lacking, you can choose one from the many third-party call blocking apps on the Google Play Store. In particular note are the Mr. Number app, Call Blocker app, and Calls Blacklist app.

Call Blocking on Home Phones

Stopping unwanted callers on your home phone can be done through your service provider or by purchasing call blocking devices.

In this electronic age where almost everyone has access to a cell phone, home phone use, sometimes called landlines, seems to be declining. Unlike, cell phones, landline phone numbers are usually readily accessible to anyone via your local telephone directory. This means marketing and sales companies, collection agencies, or any nasty unwanted callers will be able to include your number on their daily to call list.

Stopping unwanted callers is not impossible and there are numerous ways of being able to do so. For Marketing calls, you can add your name to the nationwide do not call list registry. Calls from Creditors and Collection agencies however are a different matter. Stopping them from calling you at home may not be as easy as registering your name to a list.

If you have a home phone, depending on your service provider, they may provide a call screening service available to you free of charge or as part of the call display package.

Below are website links of major telephone companies that provide call screening and blocking services:

Bell: How to use Call Screen

Bell Aliant: Call Screen Feature

MTS: Phone Services – Features – Call Screen

NorthernTel: Call Management Services

Primus: Home Phone Service Guide

Rogers: Home Phone Calling Features

SaskTel: Star Codes for privacy and security features

Shaw: Home Phone User Guide

Telebec: Call Screen

Telus: Home Phone Call Screen

If your service provider does not have these services available. There are devices that you can purchase that can block or screen hundreds of creditor and collection calls. These devices may be a better option as service providers limit the number of telephone numbers that you can block from as little as 10 to no more than 30 telephone numbers. Creditors and collection agencies may call from a host of different phone numbers that may exceed this limit. To purchase these devices, you can visit your nearest electronics or on-line store.

 

Call Blocking for iPhones

One way to block contacts is to manually add numbers to the Reject List. This will prevent your phone from ringing however blocked numbers can still leave voicemail.

To Block:

Step 1: Go into Settings
1

Step 2: Choose phone option

2

Step 3: Choose Blocked

5

Step 4: Choose number or contact from list of contacts (you may need to add creditor to contacts)

4

To Unblock:

Step 1: Go into Settings

1

Step 2: Choose phone option

2

Step 3: Choose Blocked, choose edit

5

Step 4: Swipe left, click unblock.

6

7

Canadian Cease & Desist Letters

Stop collection calls with these simple letters.

 

pdf icon copy

Cease & Desist Letter for Ontario

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for Quebec

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for PEI

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for Saskatchewan

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for NFLD

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for Nova Scotia

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for New Brunswick

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for Manitoba

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for British Columbia

 

pdf icon copyCease & Desist Letter for Alberta

Consumer Protection Agencies Across Canada

If you feel that a collection agency is harassing you or breaking any laws please contact your provincial Consumer Protection Agency via the below contact information.

 

Alberta

Service Alberta
Investigation Services – North
3rd Floor, Commerce Place
10155 – 102 Street
Edmonton AB T5J 4L4

Fax: 780-422-9106

pdf icon copy Government of Alberta – Consumer Complaint Form
 
 

British Columbia

Consumer Protection B.C.
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd.
Victoria BC V8Z 0B9

Toll Free: 1-888-564–9963
Fax: 250-920-7181
Email: info@consumerprotectionbc.ca

pdf icon copy

Consumer Protection BC – General Complaint Form
 
 

Manitoba

Consumer Protection Office
302-258 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800 in Winnipeg
Toll Free in Manitoba: 1-800-782-0067
Email: consumers@gov.mb.ca

pdf icon copy

Filing a Complaint with the Consumer Protection Office – MB
 
 

New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
Kings Place (King Tower)
440 King Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H8

Telephone: 506-453-2659
Toll Free : 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494

pdf icon copy

Financial and Consumer Services Commission – NB
 
 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Consumer Affairs Division
Service NL Government of Newfoundland Labrador
P.O. Box 8700 149
Smallwood Drive Mount Pearl, NL A1B 4J6

Telephone: 1-877-968-2600.

pdf icon copy

Newfoundland & Labrador Complaint Record

 
 

Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia
PO Box 2734
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K5

Telephone: 1-800-670-4357

pdf icon copyNova Scotia – Online Enquiry Form
 
 

Ontario

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Consumer Protection Branch
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave Building A
North York ON M3M 1J8

Fax: 416-326-8665
Email: consumer@ontario.ca

pdf icon copy

Consumer Protection Ontario – Filing a Consumer Complaint
 
 

Prince Edward Island

Consumer, Labour and Financial Services
Justice and Public Safety
95-105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-5653
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799

pdf icon copy

PEI Consumer Services – Consumer Services
 
 

Quebec

Consumer Protection Office

Toll Free: 1-888-OPC-ALLO (1-888-672-2556)

If you feel a collection agent is harassing you, you may contact the Consumer Protection office by phone, through written inquiry or by visiting one of their offices.
 
 

Saskatchewan

Consumer Protection Inquiries:
Email: consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca
Telephone: 306-787-5550
Toll Free: 1-877-880-5550
Fax: 306-787-9779

If you feel a collection agent is harassing you, contact the Consumer Protection Division at the above information.

How to Handle Collection Calls at Work

1. When a collector calls you at work, following their introduction, they will likely attempt to verify your information to confirm your identity:

Collector:

Can I get you confirm your date of birth/address/last 3 digits of SIN, etc.?

You:

I am sorry but I am not comfortable disclosing or confirming any personal information at work. In fact, I am not permitted to take personal calls at work under any circumstances. The fact that you called here will have me in trouble and if these calls continue, you will be placing me in jeopardy of disciplinary action from my employer, which would include losing my job.

What I will do is take your information: Can I get you to repeat where you are calling from, on whose behalf you are collecting, as well as your name, employee number, your collection license number and the name of your supervisor? (wait for the collector to provide the requested information. Repeat it back to them to confirm, if they do not provide the information jump to step 2)

Thank you for that. Could you please confirm that you have noted my file that I am never to be contacted again at work? (wait for them to confirm that the file has been noted not to contact you at work again)

Thank you for confirming my account has been noted.

Please be advised that I expect to not receive any more calls at work. If I receive so much as one more call at work regarding this matter from yourself or your company, I will not hesitate to contact and file a complaint with your supervisor, your company’s upper management, the Better Business Bureau and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

2. If the collector refuses to provide the information you have requested:

Collector:

You can discuss this debt directly with me and do not need to contact my supervisor to get this matter resolved.

You:

I am entitled to know who is handling my affairs and who I need to speak to.

3. If the collector asks you to confirm or provide contact information:

Collector:

What number can I reach you at to discuss this matter? Can you provide (or confirm) your home phone number, cell phone number and e-mail?

You:

As mentioned earlier, I will contact you. I will not be providing you with any of my personal information. If you would like to speak to my lawyer you can do such by calling: 1 866 570 9988.
(End the call)