Honouring John Heinrichs

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Did you know: the federal and provincial governments offer all kinds of cash incentives!? We’re here to let you in on some secrets…

1. Check for unclaimed cheques

You may have already earned money in the form of a tax credit — but you just haven’t claimed it yet. Luckily,  we won’t make you go through any hoops, because you can find out where with the click of a button.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a handy link on its website that will display any tax or benefit cheques you haven’t cashed. If you don’t already have a CRA My Account, you can register now or log in via a My Service Canada account.

2. Maximize your RRSPs & TFSAs

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are gifts from the government and two of the most powerful tools you have at your fingertips.

While TFSAs are more flexible, contributing to an RRSP will reduce the amount you owe at tax season, potentially leading to a refund landing in your mailbox. And many employers will match contributions you make to group RRSPs, offering another source of completely free cash.

For more details on RRSPs, read our blog post here.

3. Scan for benefits that suit you

Let’s say that you’ve got a vague sense that you might qualify for some government benefits, but you don’t have time to comb through all the rules and stipulations surrounding dozens of programs… Fair! 

Luckily, Canada’s Benefits Finder Tool will automatically track down programs that might apply to you based on the intricacies of your lifestyle.

Simply enter some basic information about yourself and see what unfolds!

4. Grab grants through an RESP

Post-secondary education can be incredibly pricey, so let the government shoulder some of the cost by maximizing your Registered Education Savings Plan.

An RESP allows you to save and invest for your kids’ education, completely tax-free, but the best benefit is free money through the Canada Education Savings Grant. When you contribute to an RESP, the government matches a generous 20% of your deposit, up to $500/year. The grant maxes out at $7,200/child.

Lower- and middle-income families can also qualify for the Canada Learning Bond. How much you receive depends on how many kids you’ve got and your own income level.

You don’t even need to put a single dollar in the plan to qualify; you just need an RESP. The government will contribute up to $2,000/child, starting with up to $500 for the first year and up to $100 every year the child is eligible until they turn 15!

5. Money to make your home safe? Yes, please!

It’s inevitable, we are all going to grow older eventually. And, we may need a little extra help. Looking after your ageing parents who have trouble getting around, or maybe you have mobility issues of your own? Seniors and people with disabilities can get a tax credit for upgrades in their homes.

The Home Accessibility Tax Credit helps pay for renovations that make your house easier to navigate or reduce the chance of injury. You can claim up to $10,000 of eligible home improvements per year and get 15% back when tax time comes around.

6. Enjoy your old age benefits

You’ve worked hard your entire adult life and now it’s finally time to reap the benefits. The Old Age Security pension is a form of basic income for seniors age 65 and older.

You’ll get up to $613.53 every month; if you’ve lived abroad, the amount depends on how long you’ve spent in Canada or a qualifying country.

Those pulling in very little money in retirement can compound their Old Age Security with the Guaranteed Income Supplement. That could be another $900/month, depending on your income and marital status.

7. Regain the expense of having kids

With the Canada Child Benefit, parents of kids under 18 can get a sizable monthly payment, tax-free. How much is determined by the number of kids you have, their age and your family’s income, but it maxes out at $563.75/child.Bonus: many provinces offer their own assistance programs to offset family costs.

8. Dig up forgotten bank accounts

You know that thrill of finding a $10 bill in a pair of jeans you don’t wear often? Now imagine those jeans were an old bank account. The Bank of Canada runs a registry that will allow you to recover forgotten money in accounts that have been inactive for 10 years or more.

9. Earn for going to school

University is stressful enough when you’re not under the threat of a global pandemic. Thankfully, the government will give you some extra money for your troubles.

Most students are even more broke than usual during COVID-19, the payout for the Canada Student Grant has been doubled for the 2020-2021 academic year. The grant helps students from low- and middle-income families who are enrolled in undergraduate studies.

The Canada Student Grant for full-time students is now up to $6,000/year, while part-timers can get up to $3,600.

10. Save the Earth, save some money

Everyone has a stake in preserving our natural resources and stopping climate change. That’s why each province and territory in Canada (plus some cities and utility companies) offers incentives for energy-saving upgrades to your home.

You could get a tax credit or cash incentive for anything from caulking your windows to starting a rooftop garden. Business owners: you can double dip on incentives by making commercial upgrades, like installing an air curtain at your front door.