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What are tax deductions, credits and benefits?

Region: Ontario Answer Number: 1700

Reducing tax payable: deductions and credits

There are two main ways to reduce the amount of tax you pay: by claiming deductions and by claiming tax credits.

Deductions are amounts you can subtract directly from your income before calculating tax. There are not as many deductions for individuals earning employment income, in comparison to individuals who carry on a business. However, some common deductions for individuals include: support payments made to an ex-spouse, contribution amounts to an RRSP up-to your annual maximum, and moving expenses, if you had to move more than 40 kilometres because of work.

Tax credits work differently from deductions in that they are subtracted from the amount of tax you owe, as opposed to your income before taxes. The most common credit that everyone can claim is a basic personal tax credit, which allows you to subtract an amount set by the government. The federal 2018 basic personal tax credit amount is $11,809. There are also provincial basic personal tax credit amounts, set by each province. In Ontario, it is $10,354 for 2018.

Additional federal tax credits include those available for:

  • dependent spouse and children, (spouse includes common-law partners who qualify under the definition)
  • disability amount
  • caregiver expenses
  • medical expenses for the lesser of an amount equal to 3% of your income or the annual amount set by the government
  • college or university tuition
  • the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) is intended to provide tax relief for eligible working low-income individuals and families, and to encourage those who are not working to enter the workforce

Ontario tax credits

Each province also has its own tax credits. For example, Ontario provides tax credits for the following:

  • Healthy Homes Renovation
  • Focused flow-through share, to encourage mineral exploration in Ontario
  • Political contributions
  • Apprenticeship training

Ontario benefits

The Ontario government also has several benefits available to low-income individuals and families. Benefits are generally paid to the individual on a monthly basis, up-to a maximum amount set by the government. One of the requirements to qualify for any of the benefits available is that you must file a tax return, even if you did not earn any income. In Ontario, benefits include:

Visit the Ministry of Finance for more information about tax credits, benefits and incentives for Ontario residents. A complete list of the credits and tax reductions available in Ontario that can reduce your amount of provincial tax payable is also available at

For help filing your tax returns, contact H&R Block.

For legal advice and assistance with tax planning, a CRA tax dispute, or other tax issues, contact our preferred Tax lawyers and see who’s right for you: 

Barrett Tax Law

Tax Chambers LLP

Tax Chambers Tax Law Ontario All Topics Sept 2017Tax Chambers Tax Law Ontario All Topics Sept 2017

H&R Block Tax Law Ontario All Topics Sept 2017H&R Block Tax Law Ontario All Topics Sept 2017

Barrett April 2017 Ontario Tax Law Topic 185Barrett April 2017 Ontario Tax Law Topic 185

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