Money & Career

10 ways to make your kids pay at tax time

Make sure you know which tax credits to take advantage of -- it might save you thousands of dollars.

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Like most families, our kids are probably our biggest cost – from childcare to clothes and food, not only do they take up most of our time, they cost big bucks. But who’s counting right?! Well, tax season is the one time of year you can turn the tables and make your kids pay. That’s because the government offers deductions and tax credits designed to help you bear the high cost of raising kids. Here are the 10 biggest tax credits and deductions you need to know about if you’re a parent.

The Canada Child Tax Benefit

Apply to receive this federal credit and you could be eligible to receive $2,191 for each child under 18 (and 19 if you live in Saskatchewan).

The Children’s Activity Tax Credit

Have you spent the year shuttling your kids to ballet classes and hockey practice? Tax time is payback time – you can claim up to $500 annually in sports and fitness activity fees for each child under 16. Even some day camp costs are applicable as long as its sports or fitness related. So don’t forget to keep your receipts!

Children’s Art Tax Credit

If your kid is more into arts than sports, there’s a credit for that too; You can claim up to $500 every year for kids under 16 who was part of an arts activity (check here for eligibility). Girl Guides count too!

Childcare expenses

You can claim $7,000 of childcare expenses for each child under seven and $4,000 for kids seven to 16. The claim can lower your taxable income and reduce your tax bill.

The Universal Childcare Benefit

For kids under six, you’re eligible to receive $100 a month per child. Apply here.

Child Disability Benefit

This is a tax-free benefit for families caring for children with severe or prolonged mental or physical disabilities.

Adoption expenses

If you adopted a child in the last year, you can claim a tax credit for the year it was finalized. The maximum credit for 2012 is $11,440.

Kids’ medical expenses

Keep any medical receipts for things like glasses and braces and claim them on your tax return (as long as private insurance didn’t pay the full amount and if they total a specific amount).

Transit

If your kids are under 19 and you buy their public transportation pass, keep the receipt so you can claim it come tax time.

Tuition, education, books

If your child is in school you might be eligible for a tax credit. It’s a bit tricky though – you can only claim education-related amounts over and above what the student has claimed. Anything above that allowable amount can be claimed by a parent, grandparent, spouse or common law-partner (to a maximum of $5,000).

Money expert Caroline Cakebread has been writing for Chatelaine.com since 2006. She is a recovering academic and the mother of two small kids. She lives in Toronto where she writes and reads about all things financial. Follow Caroline at Twitter.com/ccakebread