Notably New for 2020
CRA has taken what used to be Schedule 1 and has spread it over 3 pages and blended it with the rest of the return. Every year CRA's paper returns have a new look, which is easy for them to do. What's easy on a piece of paper is much harder to duplicate with a tax program. The old Schedule 1 was a separate entity and it has to remain that way. So I've broken with CRA's 8-page return and I've shed a page. My return is now compressed and doesn't exactly match, page for page, with CRA's. Thus I've had to come up with a new way on the menu to describe where we're going. Everything is in the same order, but both you and I will have to suffer the learning curve until we figure out what the new menu items really mean.
There's a new COVID employment expenses form, T777S, for those who had to work from home. It's a simplified version of T777, which has more deductions and you're allowed to use it if your employer will sign T2200. The COVID form has a simple option of a measly $2/day with no forms to sign, or you enter in all the details and your employer must sign a T2200 Short. The T2200 forms don't get mailed in. And if your employer charges customers GST, you should be able to fill in the GST Rebate form, GST370, and claim back the GST in your expenses. With millions sending in these forms, if there ever was a year to cheat and get away with it, this is it.
Trudeau has dished out a myriad of COVID benefits, but it's only the Canada Recovery Benefit that gets clawed back (if your net income is over $38,000). So there's a special spot on the Worksheet for your CRB-T4A box 202 and you have to use it or the clawback at Line 23500 won't be calculated. Don't enter any other COVID benefits in the CRB control, use one of the Line 13000 controls just above it.
The basic personal amount at Line 30000 now varies between $12,298 and $13,229 depending if net income is over $150,473. And whereas in the past you had to enter your dependant's Line 30000 on Schedule 5, now you put in your Line 30000.
Students, with the new Canada training credit, can get part of their tuition paid back to them.
It's now possible to donate to registered journalism organizations and you can claim up to $500 for amounts you paid for a Canadian digital news subscription (showing that politicians really do love journalists, their fame depends on them).
The most colossal news is that all my letter writing to CRA, bitching about what the words "excluding losses" means, actually had an affect. On Schedule 6 and with the refundable medical supplement, CRA has added an explanatory note totalling four lines long and full of bold print. Holy cow! This is my 15 minutes of fame. I'll be able to show the grandkids how I made the world a better place to live in. I'll retell the tale again and again about how the gutsy underdog took on a heartless bureaucracy and gained a glorious victory: getting a note added to the official forms in two different locations! I can rest on my laurels now.
Sadly though, the problem hasn't actually been solved. Even if a taxpayer did read the note and did correctly remove all the businesses with losses, coming up with the right number won't help him. The staff processing paper returns won't enter his number into CRA's computer, the computer will figure that number out for itself. But the computer has to be told about the businesses with losses and CRA's staff aren't doing that. It's like a car accident: being in the right doesn't mean you don't get run over.
At least CRA's staff will now know what "excluding losses" means. I phoned them four times and got four different answers. I thought it was obvious what the meaning was — but clearly some people read English differently.
Also, "excluding losses" is how you figure out "earned income" with childcare expenses. My complaints never mentioned childcare, so CRA has yet to catch on to that one and to add in another note. I suppose I'll have to pile onto my fame and bitch about that too.
So the general warning is that CRA can be wrong. This is also shown by the recent fiasco where people without sufficient net business income still got the CERB. CRA staff failed to correctly differentiate between gross and net income. Personally, I've noticed that after CRA took the jobs from Surrey and moved them to Winnipeg (I bet a lot of people didn't make the move), that the data-entry errors have dramatically increased. If you don't get the exact refund my program says you should, scrutinize your Notice of Assessment and find out why.
Bugs and Versions
- I had to move some fields around to make some space, so running Missing from T1 General? will miss some fields. Missing will miss: everything on Schedule 9 except the note at the top of the form, regular donations and total donations; all of Schedule 14 except the total climate action claimed; and on YT Schedule 14 whether you're outside Whitehorse, but Warnings will still warn you if it's missing.
- Version 1.1 adds an 'Electricity for ZEV' field to the business and farming forms. This means the data file 20tables.mdb should be replaced. But the install program will never replace that file. So you have to rename it first, then install Version 1.1, then use 'Tools\Data Transfer\Get All' to copy in all the data already in the renamed-20tables.mdb. There's more detailed instructions at the bottom of the Readup20.txt or Readme20.txt installed with the program.
Version 1.1 also: adjusts for the new CCA class 56; keeps some forms from printing on two pages; and there were a few cosmetic changes.
- Version 1.2 corrects an error on the ON Tax Form 428 at line 74, the ON tax reduction. It also corrects errors at lines 13 and 16 on Form 428 for MB, SK and ON. And the status bar message for ON adoptions was changed to read "max-per-child is $13,156".
- Version 1.3: If you entered something on an Employment Expenses form and later removed everything, the form could still end up being ticked to be printed on the Print Menu. Version 1.3 cures that and there were a few minor changes to the look of the forms.
- Version 1.4 does what Version 1.3 promised (Inch'Allah). I finally managed to stop both Employment Expenses forms from erroneously being ticked to-be-printed on the Print Menu. Also, I corrected some mislabelled fields in Missing from last year? and the dropdown boxes on What makes taxes = 0 now hopefully match up with my 2020 return. I've still to solve Error 3075 that Missing from last year? produces. The error message provides a workaround because it tells you that the ActualName is equal to something, and that something is a missing field.
- Version 1.5 does what Version 1.4 promised but God didn't allow. Both Employment Expenses forms were erroneously being ticked to-be-printed on the Print Menu. I changed one line of code twice before I got it figured out, so I know I actually did fix it. But the change didn't it saved and didn't get uploaded. MS Access has done this to me before. My guess is that after I fixed the code and moved on to other changes the program crashed and my changes were lost. I should have quadruple-checked but I rushed things and have, once again, proved that speed kills.
On March 31, 2021, in the upgrade only, I fixed another bug in What makes taxes = 0. I may be the only one on the planet using this tool, but with the rarest of returns, it's a necessity.
- Version 1.6 fixes some labels on T1A (the loss carryback form). I initially changed the labels to read "2019", but later I must have run my code that changes "2019" in all labels to "2020". I screwed up, but at least it was a complicated screw-up.
- Version 1.7 fixes AB Schedule 14: dependants get you $123.00 but the program still had last year's value. Don't worry if you've already sent in your return, CRA will correct the error because only the number of dependants gets entered into their computer. (I swear I triple-check these numbers, but code doesn't get saved right away and sometimes, if there's a glitch, not at all. I'm going to have to put everything into a table. It will be a complete redesign, but data in a table gets saved as soon as you move to the next record.)
On May 5, Version 1.7 was revised again because I discovered that, when Schedule 14 prints, some labels print incorrectly. This won't affect your return because all of CRA's data-entry points are correct and your final balance is correct. But this form is beating me up pretty good!
The only significant legislation passed by Trump was a tax cut for corporations and the rich. The rich get richer and they make sure that the politicians join the club (what could be fairer than that?). It's the middle class who will pay for Afghanistan and Trump's unfinished wall.