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Tax breaks for couples

It’s important to understand how to take advantage of tax benefits at every stage of your life, and it shouldn’t just happen every April as you scramble to file your taxes. Being fully aware of what benefits are available to you at any given time during the year ensures that you will receive the refund you’re entitled to. As a request from a recently married friend and from my sister, I’m going to blog about common tax benefits for married or common-law partners. :)

Here are some of the most common tax benefits I can think of for married or common-law partners:

  1. Spousal RRSP contributions. This makes sense if one spouse makes significantly more income than the other. The higher income spouse contributes money in the lower income spouse’s RRSP, and can then claim the tax deduction. But most importantly, during retirement, both spouses will have a more balanced income, which means less income tax paid.
  2. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). With the HBP, you are allowed to withdraw up to $25k from your RRSP to buy your build your first home. if you are buying a home with your spouse, you can each withdraw up to $25k, for a combined $50k towards your new home.
  3. The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). Similar to the HBP, under the LLP, you can withdraw up to $20k from your RRSP to pay for training or education. But the best part is, you can take it out for your spouse or common-law partner as well.
  4. Tax break for students. This is great if either you or your partner is eligible to claim tuition. The original claim must be made by the student, but if you’re a low income-student, you may not need to use the entire tax credit if you don’t owe taxes. This means any unused amounts up to a maximum of $5k can be transferred to the student’s spouse to help reduce their taxes. And as an added bonus, TurboTax offers a free version of their tax software specifically created for students!
  5. Medical expenses. Any qualifying medical expenses for either spouse should be combined and claimed on one person’s tax return – generally the partner with the lower taxable income.

The great thing about online tax filing software like TurboTax is that they will ask questions and help guide couples through the tax-filing process – making sure you don’t miss any relevant tax savings opportunities! :)

What other tax benefits can married or common-law partners take advantage of?

Note: this post is sponsored by TurboTax Canada, but was written and edited by me.

Why I file my own taxes

It’s tax season – my favourite time of the year. :)

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve come to really like doing my own taxes. Seven years ago, I used one of those pop-up tax shops to do my paperwork, and it cost me almost $300 for what I deemed to be a pretty simple task. So from that point on, I decided to take my tax return into my own hands. Even when my freelance income rose, and I bought my home, I found that doing my own taxes was pretty straightforward.

Here are 4 reasons why I like doing my own taxes:

  • It costs you time, but you save your money. I’ve paid anywhere from $30 to $300 for someone else to do my tax return. Now, I pay between $30-50 to use online tax software.
  • It forces you to be organized. Knowing you’re going to be doing your own taxes means that you have to keep track of business receipts, charitable donations, medical expenses, and any other write-offs you might have. A tax preparer will only work off the paperwork you give them – they won’t know if you’re missing that receipt for a $100 donation – but you will.
  • It gives you an in depth look at your finances. When you do your own taxes, youbecome more knowledgable about your financial situation. You get to understand how much tax you’ve paid versus your annual income, how much you’ve saved towrads retirement, and where you stand going forward. You can also play around with the numbers to see how things ilke charitable donations or a bigger contribution to your RRSP can change your refund amount. Even though I make budgets and track my net worth on a monthly basis, I still like getting a closer look at my finances once a year, and doing my taxes is the perfect excuse. :)
  • You can do it whenever you want. Maybe I’m a bit lazy, but I like having the freedom to do my taxes whenever I want to do them. I can organize my receipts on my own time, enter in my information and stop half way through if I get caught up in something else, and do my taxes at 2am if I feel like it.

I did use an accountant a few years ago to help me file my taxes for the year I lived in Germany. I did my own calculations using TurboTax, and wanted to see how far off I was from her calculations. In the end, the accountant found a few more deductions that I hadn’t realized I was able to claim, so I’m glad I went to a professional for that kind of situation.

Do you do file your own taxes, or do you take it to an accountant?

Note: this post is sponsored by TurboTax Canada, but was written and edited by me.

Oh, hello December!

I’m still here! It has been a crazy few weeks. It’s already December and I’ve realized this blog has been neglected for a month. And for that, I’m sorry. :( Work was starting to get insanely busy at the end of October, and all of sudden, I found myself working those 65 hour/weeks I was trying to avoid. But that’s how it goes sometimes. And now that it looks like everything has calmed down a bit, I can get back on track with managing the rest of my life. :)

Here are a few updates about what’s happening these days:


The two stocks I’ve invested in are up 46% and 21% from this time last year, so I’m pretty happy about that. My only issue (and it’s a big one), I don’t exactly have an exit strategy. I’ve been doing a bit of reading online, so that will be my my financial focus for the rest of the year.

I’m continuing to invest $600/month into my TD Canada Trust e-series funds. I rebalanced my portfolio back in the beginning of November, and will be looking to increase my contribution rate next year.


I’ve been at this job since March, and have enjoyed my time here. The job offers 3 weeks of holidays, but there’s flexibility in that I can bank extra hours for more time off. That is extremely useful because BF gets 4 weeks of holidays each year, and next year he’ll have 5 weeks.

I think I’m contributing what I can, but I know I could be doing more. The department is getting restructured, and we are bringing in an additional resource which should help balance the workload. That also means I can focus on projects that play into my strengths, instead of getting bogged down with other tasks.

There’s a lot of potential here for marketing to grow, and I think there’s the proper people in management to realize that. I’ve worked for companies before that wouldn’t allow for new ideas to be explored, which hurts both the company and its employees.


My foot has been feeling a lot better, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably can’t run long distance and play field hockey at the same time. When I just focus on one activity, my foot seems to hold up fairly well. That’s really disappointing to hear. So if that’s the case, I’ll continue to play field hockey for the next couple of years, and only stick to running during the summer months.


For the first time in my life, I’ll be splitting up my time at Christmas. For 32 years, my family has pretty much the same routine from December 24-25-26, and I’m the first one that will be breaking it. :| This year, I’ll be spending Christmas Eve with BF’s family (they’re doing a Xmas murder mystery party!), and taking the ferry home in the afternoon Christmas Day. It’ll be weird not to wake up and have breakfast and open presents with the family, but at the same time, I’m excited to create my own holiday tradition as well.

Anyway, that’s the update on life over here. I’ve got a lot of things I want to write about, so stay tuned. :)

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