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Before I got married my taxes were completed via a family accountant. When my dad had his own business he used someone for his business taxes and then he just continued to use him for our family stuff. As a young adult who still lived at home some of the adult things were taken care of. Not only was I not sure how to do them but I was not aware of the costs to have someone handle them for you. When I found out the cost after I got married I spoke to Scott and we agreed to handle it ourselves. While the first year was tough I can’t recommend DIY taxes enough. This will be the 6th year we have done our taxes ourselves and I wanted to share some benefits and information to help take the plunge.
Downsides of DIY Taxes:
There is only 1 in my mind. You have to put in the work. You have to get the paperwork organized regardless of if you are handing it off or doing it yourself. But you need to understand what you are reading. The Canadian government offers a ton of resources but sometimes the questions seem more complicated than they need to be (maybe instead say the answers seem more complicated than the questions). Case in point we thought we could claim a credit for Ava which we could not. It took several days and Google searches to confirm that. If you do something once per year you likely won’t be a familiar with it as someone who does it more often. I believe the benefits outweigh the downsides of DIY taxes.
Benefits of DIY Taxes:
Understanding how you are taxed is important to understanding your overall money picture.
I spoke about this before but just to refresh your memory in case you missed it (link to advisor). I was told by a financial advisor that because I was making so little money I should not bother to contribute to RRSPs. While I should not have claimed RRSP contributions I could have carried them forward to a time when I was making more money to make the claim worth it. If you are prepping your taxes early before the RRSP contribution deadline you can see if you were to contribute more to your RRSPs what that would do to reduce taxes and provide a refund. While it is best to set up regular contributions to your retirement accounts (RRSP season) if you had any extra money kicking around you would be able to see the impact.
Understand Your Fees and What You Pay For Taxes:
If you have any non-registered investments you can see how much tax you are paying on your stuff and how you can try to reduce where you can. I have some stocks in a company plan when I worked part time at a well-known coffee shop. Since I am Canadian and the company is American there are a couple of hurdles that I have to deal with. I have to fill out a W-8BEN and I have to pay withholding taxes. For this year I paid close to 30% taxes on the dividends as well as take another hit to the refund I would get in Canada. Those factors combined make me believe that I should change this. If I were handing it off to someone else I would look at the numbers but it probably wouldn’t bother me as much as it does now.
Submit Your Taxes on Your Timeline:
The deadline to submit taxes in Canada is April 30th. We got to do it on our timeline and since we should be getting a refund we will get that sooner and we are able to reinvest it sooner. Since we did NETFILE it was even easier. Handing the work off to someone else means they submit it on their timeline. Sure it will be before the deadline but if you really want to get it handled sooner rather than later doing it yourself is the best way.
Spread Out the Work:
When we do our taxes we do it little by little. Get a T4, enter it in. Receive RRSP slips in the mail, enter them in. We never just sit down in one go and complete our taxes. We have too many things coming from different areas to just do it in one shot. This allows us to break up the work as well and makes us feel comfortable that we are submitting everything correctly because we review it several times. We always do a thorough once over before submitting the final return.
If you have a business it might be worth it to talk to a tax professional. There are deductions that you can claim that you might not know as well as ways to maximize your future goals (taking dividends or income from the company, capital expenditures etc.). I’m sure there are lots of successful people doing DIY taxes with a business but there is nothing wrong with spending some money to make sure everything makes sense.
DIY Taxes Have Never Been Easier:
SimpleTax is a great option for taxes. Once you have all your paper work together you can use SimpleTax to file online. It is a pay what you can service (really!) and it doesn’t make you click through a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t need. If you aren’t sure what you need you can get the system to guide you with some questions but if you know what you need then you can search for the form, enter it in and move on. NETFILE is easy and highly recommended if you can. SimpleTax is a great way to file your taxes yourself.
Do you file your taxes yourself or get someone else to do it? Why?