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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Presto and tax credits


You know what I like most about having this website? How us GO/This Crazy Train regulars truly care about each other and look out for each other, specifically each other's financial interests.

For example, this email from TomW:

from: txxxx@hotmail.com
to: cj@thiscrazytrain.com
date: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM
subject: Presto and tax Credits

Hi CJ,
I went to H&R Block the other day to sort out my tax return, and took my Presto usage statement with me. The person helping me throught the statement was rather confusing, and ended up going to a senior person to make sure she'd go things right. Senior person said he'd seen several of these, and had concerns that they "weren't in CRA-approved format" (!!). We ended up putting the relevant amount down for the transit tax credit, but was warned I might have issues if the CRA audit me. (My reply was that there will be 100,000+ people submitting these things...)
So, I thought the above may of interest to fellow readers.

25 comments:

Bicky said...

Thanks, TomW for your insight. Since my TUR is wrong to begin with, I'll just keep my transaction summary handy and use that instead, if necessary. I only had one month with PRESTO and the rest were paper passes.

Taxes 2012 could prove interesting.

Anonymous said...

If even one person is audited and losses their credits we should form a class action suit against Presto.

TT said...

My transit credit amount was audited last year so hopefully I'll escape an audit this year and bypass this potential mess. I really hope Presto sorts this our by 2013.

Squiggles said...

I like that idea Anon, but doubt it would happen.

I especially have concerns with the validity of Presto to start with in regards to the tax credit.

It started with something the last commenter said in the last Presto entry. Basically that Presto is its own company and not owned by GO/Metrolinx, and therefore not eligible under the CRA tax credit. Gotta do some digging to see if this is actually correct.

But regardless, plan on sticking to the plan of using receipts and transit reports to figure out 2012 taxes.

Oh Tom, question: If I take the bus for 32 trips a month, paid with my Presto card, can that be claimed as well? Or is it only GO related fares that count?

lswgirl13 said...

Interesting. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the public transit tax credit is almost next to nothing anyways so I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Besides, I keep all my GO receipts anyways.

Bicky said...

@lswgirl13: Transit passes and RRSP contributions are the only things that save my @$$ come tax time. I'll take every little penny.

Harith said...

I'm going to have my taxes done by HR Block as well, and they provide audit support so they can deal with the CRA jerks if it comes to that.

TomW said...

@Squiggles: yes, you can claim yoru 32 bus rides, provided they were all made with the *same* service provider (within a 31 day period). 20 on TTC and 12 on MiWay doesn't work.

@lswgirl13: The tax credit is worth 15% of amount you paid... it's like getting 15% off *all* fares. If you don't want that money, I'll have it please.

Squiggles said...

Thanks Tom!

That is what I thought, but figured you would be the best person to ask for clarification.

lswgirl13 said...

Ohhhh, don't get me wrong you guys, I want every dime I can get back. Correct me if I'm wrong Tom (and maybe the person who did my taxes the last few years wasn't doing them correctly) but it was always my understanding that you don't actually get the 15% back???

C.J. Smith said...

I always have.

lswgirl13 said...

I should go back and look at my previous returns then. And get going on getting this year's done too!!!

Bicky said...

The transit pass is a federal 15% non-refundable tax credit. It reduces the amount you would owe. A refundable tax credit is one you receive even if your income is zero and no tax is payable. Non-refundable, you don't get it back if you don't owe taxes.

I just roughed mine out with Ufile and claiming the transit credit nets me $XXXX amount. Without the transit passes factored in, my refund is $449 LESS.

Now, if the ON gov't would get on board and offer it at the provincial level, that would be aces. Given their $16B shortfall, I doubt that will happen.

kary said...

I was also audited for my transit expenses last year, however Canada Post decided not to deliver that letter to my house. So obviously I missed the deadline to submit my receipts. Canada post DID deliver a letter to me from CRA this January, informing me that because I did not repond to their request for my travel receipts, the tax credit has been disallowed. I had to repay over $500, because interest was added. So...I filled in a request for reassessment, sent in my GO receipts and passes, and am still waiting. I'm quite sure I will be audited again this year. This damn receipt better be valid.

Bicky said...

@kary - that sucks! I hope things work out for you.

kary said...

Thanks Bicky. We complained to Canada Post a few years ago, because every once in a while someone from the neighbourhood drops off our mail that was in their superbox, or we get mail for somebody on another street. A few days later there was a note stuck on our front door from a mail carrier , "Sorry, I'll try harder". We don't know if it was sarcastic or not.

Chowderhead said...

@TomW re: " 20 on TTC and 12 on MiWay doesn't work."

That's not how I read the primer from the CRA. The section about electronic payment cards only referred to the number of trips on the card, it didn't mention anything about systems.

I only use Presto once a day on the TTC since the station nearest work doesn't have it, so I don't hit the 32 trips.

I claimed it all, we'll see what happens.

TomW said...

@ Chowderhead:
You're right! It says nothing about the agencies/providers involved. :-)
I may have to recaclulate things...

Matt said...

A little misery-loves-company:

@kary – don’t feel too bad. I have been denied my transit credit the last 2 years, and expect that they will deny me again this year just because they are fuckers (I think I have been reassessed for one thing or another about 5 of the last 7 years...it’s becoming comical). They turned me down last year because I was using 10-ride passes almost exclusively, even though I rode GO daily. It seems that the CRA is trying to find all kinds of ways to de-motivate people to use public transit. I mean, why shouldn’t the part-time transit user (someone who would not find value in an unlimited-use monthly pass) be rewarded for taking public transit, even if it is only for irregular trips? The sad part is that for 2011, I used a monthly pass only once, and presto for 3 months. The first 8 months of the year were 10-ride passes, which I know are ineligible now. And if they deny my Presto usage, then my transit credit will be a whopping 15% of $210. Wooooooooooooo!

lswgirl13 said...

Ohhhhh Kary, that sucks. And I hear ya' on the supermailboxes. Another government thing to complain about. They contract it out and I know I have mail that was never delivered. What a joke. From the sounds of things there are a ton of people getting audited out there! But yes, everyone encourages public transit but then seems to make it so difficult to claim what is rightfully yours.

Saabji said...

Hey Tom W,

Did you go to the H&R Block in Whitby? Saabji.

kary said...

Update: I logged into my CRA account today. My transit assessment has been readjusted, the money I had to repay will be refunded, and will be in my account on March 22nd. They also refunded the $20.00 in interest that they had charged, which is surprising.

Drinks on me :-)

Bicky said...

That's good news, kary. Happy to hear it.

Ted Sone said...

My 2011 transit deduction was denied by the CRA until I submitted documentation. I sent them copies of the 10 ride pass for the year and today received a notice that because this ticket type is not 'unlmiited' it is not eligible. Even under the Presto system there are 'no charge trips' after 41 but these only apply to A-B trips, not using the service anywhere anytime. So GO can never apply this deduction?

Anonymous said...

I agree, Presto isn't doing a very good job with their transit usage report. I had to create a spreadsheet with columns for each month then manually go through each weekly period entering rides and cost. Then I totaled them and created some conditional cells to highlight which were more than our equal to 32. Then sum up the total costs of those columns to give me what is eligible! Talk about error prone. Presto is supposed to be a state of the art transit system service provider! The minimum they could have done was develop a small algorithm that shows you which 31 day periods you are eligible to claim. Even though this whole thing stinks as I have months where I rode 30, 31 times. Those are lost...