They make it look a lot more complicated than it really is, probably to support the professional tax preparation industry. =) To fight the power, this is how to do your taxes:
Basically there's a book with the actual forms, and there is also a guide book. Get both at a post office, and grab a good calculator. I used the one on my cell phone because it let me add more than one number at a time. Sit down in a quiet place, ideally when you're not tired. Have your T4 slip(s) and tuition credit certificates handy.
Open up the forms book, and find the middle blue part. That's your actual return. Start there. Fill in your personal information. Soon it'll start telling you to find things on your T4 slips. That's easy, because they tell you the number of the box you'll find it in on your T4! So just slog on through, skipping the boxes that don't apply to you.
On that note, if you ever wonder if something does apply to you, that's what the guide book is for. It's got a line-by-line description of everything on the return and the Federal schedules (I'll get to that in a second). It's invaluable.
Also notice that there are two of everything in the forms book. Do your first draft on one copy, then come back and fill out the other more neatly when you're finished.
There will be at least two, and possibly more points where the return will ask you to complete a Federal schedule or provincial form (The latter may not apply to you; we only do it because Nova Scotia collects income tax directly, unlike some other provinces. This was done in a reaction to a Federal rate change so that our province could maintain its revenues.). Calculate and attach said forms even if the result is $0.00, which mine all were. Sometimes the schedule will ask you to complete a schedule - for instance, the Federal Tax Schedule 1 will lead you to Federal Schedule 11 to calculate your tuition tax credit.
How to calculate percentages without a "%" button: To "add" a percentage to an ammount, multiply by 1.percentage. Remember the leading zero. For instance, to multiply by 8%, use ammount x 1.08. To multiply by 16.5%, use ammount x 1.165. Get it? To simply calculate a percentage of something, multiply by 0.percentage. For instance, to calculate 7% of something, use something x 0.07.
Typically, you'll do the Federal first, then the provincial, although they say it doesn't really matter. But if you're doing your taxes in numerical order (highly reccomended), then that's what'll happen for you.
Eventually, at long last, you'll arrive at the point where you get to sign the return. That copy, with all the chicken scratches, is the one you'll keep for your records. Complete the good copies on the duplicate sheets. If you're getting a refund, put your direct deposit information at the end of the return if you like. If you have to pay them, attach a cheque or something. I didn't pay too much attention to that part, because it looks like it may be some time before I'll have to do that! =)
Get out a paper clip and put all your T4 slips, required recipts (if you're deducting business expenses, etc..), and the whole shebang together in the provided envelope, and mail!
That, in a grossly oversimplified way, is how to do your taxes. I hope that's enough information to get you started. Well begun is half done.
For anyone who asks why I didn't NetFile or TeleFile, the answer is that you're not allowed to if you're filing for the first time. I guess you wouldn't learn anything if you weren't.
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Memo to my CPA-dwelling friends (including but possibly not limited to stopkissing_ shizzlystyx): You-Na and I will be shooting a video at CPA on Thursday (the 19th). I'll probably be there around lunchtime, and in particular I intend to be in the staff room area to shmooze with former teachers as school lets out. Anyway, I'd be tickled to pieces if you'd come say "hi," but I know you guys must be busy.
Mr. Lewis is a really cool principal. He was very friendly, articulate and professional. I want to thank him for giving me permission to shoot this video. It will not be disrupting classes in any way - most of the photography will actually take place after school lets out and things get quiet. (It's a lot easier that way, and I speak from experience! =)
I also saw Ms. Henderson, and she said "hi," but then she recognized me and did a joyous double-take wow sort of thing. It was comical. We never got off on the right foot in class, but it was more my fault than hers. It's nice to see she remembers me fondly.
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I accepted the placement in Ukraine. My NSCAD professors were really flexible and have offered me the opportunity to get everything done early as well as the opportunity to combine projects together - for instance, a video soundtrack can become a sound project. I'll always appreciate them for that. Who knows whether I'll stick around at NSCAD long enough to get a degree, but I do like to have a few more credits under my belt before I go galavanting around Eastern Europe again.
That's all from the Newsdesk in Bedford. Our next report may come to you on Saturday or Sunday, depending on this blogger's free moments. Thank you and good night.