Loss of Job Still Requires Filing Taxes

Even if you lost your job this past year, it's still mandatory that you file your taxes. If you were part of the more than 1.5 million Canadians who found themselves unemployed due to the recession, paying taxes is most likely the last thing you want to think about. Most people who lost their jobs either turned to unemployment insurance or became self-employed, either way, creating new challenges on their 2009 tax returns.

People who have been exercising the use of their unemployment insurance are generally surprised to find out they have to claim their benefits as income on their tax return. If you've started a business in the past year, you are considered self-employed and are now responsible for keeping track of expenses for things such as your home office, gas allowance and earnings. A few tips that may help get your over the filing tax hurdle:

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If you're collecting unemployment insurance benefits, the government will provide you with a T4E slip for receiving them. This slip is to be used to claim the proper amount of insurance as income on your tax return as this income is taxable and needs to be included in your total income for the year.

Canada does not support job-hunting tax credits, which means, unlike our American neighbors, you cannot use job-hunting as a tax expense in Canada. However, if you accept a new job and move more than 40 kms for it, you can deduct some of those moving expenses. If you decide to take a new path entirely and go back to school, you are allowed to borrow money from you RRSPs to use for tuition.

If you are re-training, upgrading or starting over for a new career, you can borrow from your RRSP under the Lifelong Learning Plan to pay for the costs of going to school. The government will allow you to withdraw up to $20,000 over a four-year period for this purpose, however, once you graduate or finish the course, the money must be repaid within ten years. Also, if your re-training involves government assistance tuition, the tuition is considered a taxable benefit and must be claimed. You can claim those benefits against your student credits to help offset the income amount. These student credits would include things like tuition fees, education amount and the Textbook Tax Credit.

Most people don't realize that it is perfectly okay to collect EI insurance and start your own business. You do need to be able to prove that you are operating a business in the event CRA asks.

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