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Make Tax Time a Family Affair!

If you have a family, taxes can be a daunting task. Filing an income tax return is about more than just declaring what you owe - it’s an opportunity to take advantage of the many credits and child and family benefits available to support your family finances. This could translate into more money for groceries or kick-start that vacation fund for a fun-filled family getaway.

File your return online and if you’re getting a refund and are using direct deposit, you could see your refund in your bank account in as little as eight business days! The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a list of certified software packages including some that are free. To find out more, visit netfile.gc.ca. The deadline to file your personal income tax return is April 30th. However, if you or your spouse or common-law partner are self-employed, you have until June 15th to file your return. Note: If you’re self-employed and have a balance owing for 2014, you still have to pay it on or before April 30th, 2015.

If your family is juggling school, work and recreational activities, consider filing your return ahead of the deadline for a little peace of mind. With so much on your plate, skip the last-minute number crunching and avoid stress by taking advantage of the CRA’s secure electronic services. Using online help tools like videos and webinars, the CRA will walk you through the basics of completing your income tax and benefit return, making it easier than ever to file your taxes.

Even if you haven’t earned any income in the past year, ensure you receive the credits and child and family benefits to which you are entitled. From the $160 (under proposed changes), monthly universal child carebenefit, available for all children under six years of age (under proposed changes, there will be a $60 monthly benefit for children ages six to 17), to the Canada child taxbenefit, a tax-free monthly benefit to help with the cost of raising children under age 18, to the goods and services/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit, there are benefits available to help families with their expenses throughout the year. For more information about your child and family benefits and credits, visit cra.gc.ca/benefits.

To make things even easier, you can apply online to receive your Canada child and family benefits by using the Apply for child benefits service through My Account.

You can also use My Account to receive your notice of assessment and notice of reassessment online. When you register for online mail, you will receive your notice of assessment through the CRA’s My Account secure online service at cra.gc.ca/myaccount.

Whether your child’s dreams are a career on hockey skates, racing down the slopes on a snowboard or performing for a famous ballet company, paying for lessons to make those dreams a reality can be costly. Save your receipts to claim the fees you have paid of up to $1,000 per child under the children’s fitness tax credit, a non-refundable claim that could mean savings of up to $150 per child.

Is your child a budding artist or musician? If your child attends programs that contribute to his or her development, you may be eligible for a break at tax time. Tutoring also qualifies for the credit. The children’s arts tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit of up to $75 for each child.

Did you know there’s a new credit, called the Family Tax Cut? It’s a proposed new non-refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 available to eligible couples with children under the age of 18. The Family Tax Credit will allow a higher-income spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket.

The CRA has reserved a portion of its website for families and the particular tax situations that may apply to them. Using the website search function, go to the top things families should know about taxes page, cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/txtps/2013/tt130218-eng.html.

A quick read covers many of the things you need to know about your tax return, including how to claim the working income tax benefit for families with low income, child care expenses, the family caregiver amount and the child disability benefit.

If you need help filing your return, have a modest income and a simple tax situation, contact the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which runs volunteer tax clinics across the country. To find a volunteer tax preparation clinic, visit cra.gc.ca/volunteer.

With so many options available to guide you during this tax season, there’s no excuse to delay. To get started on your taxes, visit cra.gc.ca/getready.

Don’t miss the latest CRA news or tax tips - follow the CRA on Twitter: @CanRevAgency.

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