[Interview] Tax Tips for Canadians, with Allan Fefergrad, CPA, CGA

Details on a 20 Dollars Bill

Details on a 20 Dol­lars Bill

For Cana­di­ans, April is “this time of the year”, also known as “damn, I have to fill my tax return again”. Yet, income tax in Canada is a topic I haven’t really writ­ten about for one good reason—I am not exactly a specialist.

I do fill my tax return every year and I take pride in doing so. I am happy to con­tribute to the health­care sys­tem and to the many ser­vices we can all use as mem­ber of the com­mu­nity. I am usu­ally pretty good at deal­ing with appli­ca­tions and legalese (I filled my own visa, per­ma­nent res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship appli­ca­tions all by myself, after all!) but to me, tax return forms are cryp­tic pieces of paper, even after eight years in Canada.

So I looked for a tax spe­cial­ist… and ta-da! I found Allan Fefer­grad, CPA, CGA, from AF Account­ing.

Allan grad­u­ated from Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity with a major in Finance and a minor in Finan­cial Account­ing. After work­ing five years in the account­ing indus­try, he went back to school part-time to pur­sue a Cer­ti­fied Gen­eral Accoun­tant des­ig­na­tion and obtained it in 2010. He is now a mem­ber or the Char­tered Pro­fes­sional Asso­ci­a­tion of Que­bec.
He spe­cial­izes in both per­sonal and cor­po­rate tax returns.

Can you briefly explain why indi­vid­u­als should fill a tax return?

You have an incen­tive to fill it: you may be enti­tled to a refund!

Indeed, the major­ity of indi­vid­u­als who are employ­ees actu­ally get a refund for fil­ing taxes. These indi­vid­u­als have their taxes deducted of their reg­u­lar pay cheques at rates set by the gov­ern­ment. Fil­ing a tax return is when you get to declare your deduc­tions such as med­ical expenses, char­i­ta­ble dona­tions, RRSPs child­care expenses, tuition, etc. This is where the refund comes into play. The tax return is sim­ply a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of your income for the year and all your deductions.

Another rea­son to file is to receive your child tax ben­e­fits. The fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments offer finan­cial assis­tance to fam­i­lies with chil­dren under 18. This assis­tance is based on the fam­ily income, how­ever if a tax return is not filed, then the child tax ben­e­fits you may be enti­tled to will come to a halt.

Even if you have no income at all, there is still a ben­e­fit to file a tax return. You may also be eli­gi­ble to receive GST and other cred­its. The GST credit is paid out to low income indi­vid­u­als on a quar­terly basis. Most provinces have their own pro­grams, such as the Sol­i­dar­ity Tax Credit in Que­bec and the Ontario Tril­lium Ben­e­fit.

Stu­dents enrolled in post-secondary edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions should file as well. They receive tax cred­its and can trans­fer these cred­its to their spouse, or par­ents if they choose to. If the cred­its are not used or trans­ferred, they will be car­ried for­ward to future years and used when the stu­dents begin working.

What is the most impor­tant tax tip new­com­ers to Canada need to know?

You may be eli­gi­ble for ben­e­fits such as the GST/HST tax credit, the Canada child tax ben­e­fit and the Uni­ver­sal child care ben­e­fit. (This is true: a new par­ents, we dis­cov­ered the great “baby ben­e­fits”!).

New­com­ers to Canada can review their tax oblig­a­tions here.

What’s the most com­mon tax-filling mis­take peo­ple make?

Not fil­ing taxes as a stu­dent enrolled in uni­ver­sity or col­lege. Many of my clients sud­denly feel the need to file a tax return only once they begin work­ing full-time upon grad­u­a­tion. But when you file your taxes while still a stu­dent, you ben­e­fit from the GST tax credit, you claim your tuition tax cred­its and carry them for­ward. As a stu­dent, you gen­er­ally can use any money that comes your way, right?

Most peo­ple have the idea that fil­ing taxes costs you money and stray away from doing so. Fil­ing taxes in these low income earn­ing years actu­ally bring you extra money! And don’t for­get that the taxes with­held from those sum­mer jobs get refund as well.

Can you remind us what are the key tax-filling dead­lines for indi­vid­u­als in Canada?

There are two dead­lines to keep in mind:

  • April 30 of each year for all individuals;
  • June 15 for those who are self-employed.

Any good web­sites or resources you would recommend?

I post reg­u­lar tax tips and advice on AF Account­ing. I also refer to this web­site quite often for gen­eral tax advice and bud­get changes.

The web­site of the Canada Rev­enue Agency (the CRA) has a wealth of information.

Finally, new­com­ers to Canada should check out this page from the CRA’s web­site.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Alejandro Bustos on

    Inter­est­ing post! I already filed my taxes, but I will aim to read those rec­om­mended web sites in order to pre­pare for next year.

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