Doing taxes can be overwhelming, especially since each province and territory has its own system. What most Canadians want to know is how to pay less income tax — and that means taking advantage of tax credits in Canada and Quebec.
Put simply, tax credits allow you to "write off" expenses, deducting money from the amount you owe or adding to the amount you get back from the government. Non-refundable credits help with the former and refundable credits help with the latter, FYI.
As always, the key to doing your taxes is to keep receipts and other documents as proof of the expenses you claim.
Did you do any of the 9 things below in 2020? See if you can claim them this year!
Medical Care (Quebec)
In Quebec, you can claim a non-refundable tax credit if you paid medical expenses exceeding 3% of your net income for the year.
The expenses need to have been paid over the course of 12 months — either for yourself, your spouse or your dependent.
You can consult Revenu Québec's list of eligible medical expenses for more information. Just make sure you keep physical copies of your medical receipts as proof.
Digital News Subscription (Line 31350)
You must have paid the amounts to a qualified Canadian journalism organization (QCJO) that does not hold a licence to broadcast. It should be a digital news subscription to content that is primarily original news.
If you shared the subscription with another person, you can split the tax claim. However, the total amount of your claim and the other person’s claim cannot be more than the maximum amount allowed for the credit, the federal government says.
Infertility Treatment (Quebec)
In Quebec, you can claim a refundable tax credit for expenses related to an in vitro fertilization, if you meet the following conditions:
- You were resident in Quebec on December 31 of the covered taxation year
- You paid the expenses in that taxation year
- Neither you nor your spouse had a child before the start of the treatment for the expenses you're claiming
- A physician has certified that neither you nor your spouse underwent surgical sterilization by vasectomy or tubal ligation for reasons that are not strictly medical
Revenu Québec says you should not include expenses if you were already reimbursed for them or if you were entitled to a reimbursement — unless the reimbursement is included in your income.
Donations & Gifts (Line 34900)
If you, your spouse or your common-law partner donated money to certain institutions, like a Canadian charity, you may be able to claim non-refundable tax credits.
The federal government website says, generally, you can claim all or part of the eligible amount up to a limit of 75% of your net income.
You can consult the Canada Revenue Agency's pamphlet on gifts and income tax for more information.
The Schedule 9 federal tax form covers donations and gifts.
A tax credit for donations and gifts can also be claimed in Quebec.
Interest Paid On Student Loans (Line 31900)
You may be eligible for a non-refundable tax credit for the interest paid on your post-secondary student loans in 2020 or the five years prior.
The conditions are that you must have received the loan under:
- the Canada Student Loans Act
- the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
- the Apprentice Loans Act
- provincial or territorial government laws similar to those acts
If you don't have taxes to pay for the year you paid the interest, the government says it's to your advantage not to claim it on your return — you can carry the interest forward and apply it on your return for any of the next five years.
Consult the federal government's pamphlet on students and income tax for more information.
The federal Schedule 11 form covers education and tuition amounts.
You can also claim a provincial tax credit for interest on student loans in Quebec, if you meet the criteria.
First-Time Home Ownership (Line 31270)
- You, your spouse or common-law partner acquired a qualifying home in that tax year
- You did not live in another home owned by you, your spouse or common-law partner in the year you bought the home or in any of the four preceding years
Single-family houses, semi-detached houses, mobile homes, townhouses, condo units, apartments in buildings and apartments in duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes all qualify.
A tax credit of up to $750 is also available for first-time home buyers in Quebec.
Donations To Quebec Political Parties
You can claim this tax credit if you made donations by cash or cheque to eligible Quebec political parties.
The tax credit applies to donations to:
- Official representatives of municipal political parties or independent candidates authorized under Quebec's Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities; and
- financial representatives of municipal party leadership candidates authorized under this Act.
You can't claim this provincial credit if you were a political party candidate, independent candidate or leadership candidate of an authorized party and you made contributions for your own benefit or the benefit of the party.
Volunteer Firefighting (Line 31220)
You can claim a $3,000 non-refundable credit for the federal volunteer firefighters' amount (VFA) if you were a volunteer firefighter in 2020.
To claim Quebec's volunteer firefighters' tax credit, you need to have performed at least 200 hours of volunteer service throughout the year.
The Quebec government says you can't claim the VFA if you replace permanent firefighters for short periods, are regularly on duty at a fire station or are paid for your duties.
Volunteer Search & Rescuing (Line 31240)
The $3000 search and rescue volunteers' amount (SRVA) is similar to the volunteer firefighters' amount — except that you have to volunteer for a qualifying search and rescue team in order to claim it.
The services you would have had to perform to claim the SRVA include:
- responding to and being on call for search and rescue-related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer
- attending meetings held by the organization performing the search and rescue
- participating in required training related to search and rescue services
Your search and rescue organization can tell you if it is eligible for the SRVA — but the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association or the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary are all eligible organizations.
You can also claim a provincial search and rescue volunteers' credit in Quebec.