Home owners are always griping about how their houses are money pits. So it's nice to know that last year, especially, home ownership brought with it some tax perks, ones that will let some Canadians hang on to a few extra dollars.
"In 2009, there were a lot of provisions aimed at home owners," says Robin Taub, a Toronto-based chartered accountant and financial coach. "First-time buyers were specifically targeted, so they should all have a close look at their income tax return."
By comparison, the 2010 federal budget has very little in the way of tax relief for individual Canadians, she added, let alone home owners.
Is this a good time to lock in or refinance your mortgage?
With the April 30 tax filing deadline approaching, Ms. Taub has these tax tips for home buyers and home owners:
1) Tax relief for buyers First-time home buyers who bought their home after Jan. 27, 2009, may be eligible for the Home Buyers' Tax Credit. The 15-per-cent tax credit is applied to expenditures of up to $5,000, which translates into tax savings of up to $750. To qualify, you and your spouse or common-law partner may not have owned a home in the current year or any of the prior four calendar years. For more information on the Home Buyers' Amount, click here.
2) Put your RRSP to work Under the Home Buyers' Plan, first-time buyers may withdraw up to $25,000 from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) without paying any taxes on the amount withdrawn. The money can be used to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself, or a related person with a disability. The limit has increased this year from $20,000 in prior years. Withdrawn amounts are repayable over a 15-year period.
3) The reno subsidy If you tackled some home renovation projects between Jan. 28, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010, you may be eligible to claim the home renovation tax credit (HRTC). The tax credit is 15 per cent of qualifying expenses above $1,000 but less than $10,000, to a limit of $1,350. You can claim the cost of labour, building materials, landscaping, among other things. Cleaning your carpet or eavestrough, or buying furniture or electronics, does not qualify.
4) Put your TFSA to work The tax-free savings account (TFSA) that can be used for a down payment. Any adult Canadian can earn tax-free income in this registered account by contributing up to $5,000 each year. Earnings in the plan are not subject to tax, so your savings can accumulate and grow more quickly. Also, they money you remove from a TFSA is not reported as income. You can accumulate TFSA contribution room each year simply by filing a tax return and unused contribution room may be carried forward.
5) Home office deductions If you either work from home or run a home-based business, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes and capital cost allowance. You can also deduct utilities, home insurance, and cleaning costs. But only the business portion of these expenses is deductible for tax purposes. To calculate this portion, use a "reasonable basis such as the area of the work space divided by the total area of your home."
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6) No tax on home sale From a tax perspective, one of the best reasons to buy a house is that any capital gain realized from the sale of your "principal residence" is not taxable.
Check with Revenue Canada to ensure these details apply to you.