I know, I know – it’s begining to look a lot like Christmas, and who has time to worry about things like saving on your taxes or getting your finances in order? But there are some great things you can do to help save on your taxes and get your finances organized that don’t take up too much time!
Donate to your favourite charity
It’s that time of year anyways – to think about others. December 31st is the last day to make a donation and obtain a tax receipt for 2012. Plenty of places are set up to make it easy to donate online, and you can get electronic tax receipts that are generated and emailed to you instantly. My brother and I have taken to “exchanging” charitable donations as Christmas gifts. We each donate to a cause the other believes in, and get a nice tax receipt to show for it!
Contribute to an RESP for a child or grandchild
The federal government provides a Canada Education Savings Grant of 20% on the first $2,500 of annual RESP contributions per child, which can add up to $7,200 to an RESP during a child’s lifetime. If you haven’t maximized RESP contributions for your children or grandchildren, you can make an enhanced catch-up contribution in 2012. I give money to my brother each year at Christmas to go towards my niece’s RESP.
Pay expenses by year end to be eligible for tax deductions and credits
Claiming expenses, such as interest on money borrowed for investing or student loans, daycare fees and children’s fitness or arts fees can all provide benefits at tax time. You must be sure to pay these expenses by the end of the year to realize the tax savings for 2012.
Review your investments
The end of the year is a good time to review the types of investments you hold, and the accounts in which you hold them.
Prepare for retirement
There are a number of tax considerations for those just entering into their retirement years:
If you turned 65 in 2012 and have not yet applied for Old Age Security benefits, remember that retroactive benefits, which can be worth over $6,500, can only be claimed within a limited time. To receive those benefits, you should apply as soon as possible.
If you turned 71 in 2012, you have until December 31 to make any final contributions to your RRSP and convert it into a RRIF or registered annuity. And you can’t avoid this – the bank will force convert you if you don’t arrange it yourself – they are required to by law.
What financial moves, if any, do you have planned for the end of the year?