Tax season

No matter how young or old your kids are, they make life hectic, enjoyable, crazy and wonderful all at the same time. They also make it expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your tax bill this season and help with some child-related expenses. Cleo Hamel, senior tax analyst at H&R Block Canada, offers the following tax tips for families who wish to reduce their 2012 tax bill:

Signed up for kinder gym? The Children’s Fitness Amount is a non-refundable credit that is worth up to $500 for children under the age of 16 enrolled in an eligible program of physical activity. Not every program meets the eligibility guidelines; make sure you keep your receipts. Children with disabilities will qualify for an advanced credit if they are younger than 18.

Kids are a credit: Parents can claim the $2,191 Child Tax Credit for each child younger than 18. This will result in a federal tax saving of $328 per child. If one parent cannot use the entire amount to lower their tax payable, the unused amount can be transferred to a spouse or common-law partner.

Claim childcare: Keep all your receipts for childcare expenses. From daycare to nannies to babysitters, childcare expenses are claimed by the lower-income spouse. Unfortunately, any unused amount cannot be claimed by the higher-income earner unless there was a period of separation of 90 days or more or the other spouse was in school, prison or the hospital. And if you paid your older child to look after younger ones, he or she has to be 18 or older to qualify as a childcare expense.

Use public transit: Taxpayers who use public transit can claim a non-refundable tax credit for their passes. This includes passes purchased for dependent children under the age of 19. The passes have to be for a period of at least one month or weekly passes purchased over a period of four consecutive weeks. Electronic payment cards also qualify.

Artistic impression: The Children’s Arts Credit can cover a wide range of activities from Girl Guides to language lessons to art classes. The organization should provide a receipt so you can claim up to $500 as a non-refundable federal credit.

Canada Learning Bond: Designed to help lower income families the Government provides $500 in a CLB at birth for children whose families are entitled to the National Child Benefit Supplement. As long as the family is still entitled to the supplement, they will receive an additional $100 CLB each year until the age of 15.

Hamel stresses the importance of keeping all your receipts to ensure you can claim everything. Though the tax savings will certainly never equal all the expenses of raising kids, every extra dollar helps.

Avoid missing out on those savings by using tax preparation software, like H&R Block At Home (, which guides Canadians through step-by-step tips to identify every possible deduction or credit, calculates your return as you go, and ensures you get your maximum refund. Worried you missed something using another software program? Take it into an H&R Block office and a tax professional will do a free Second Look review.

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Disclosure: Information provided by H&R Block ( I received a free software code to facilitate this post. No other compensation was provided.