Getting your taxes done is more than just filling in the blanks. And yet that’s what many people do when they do it themselves using tax software or paper filing or even when they have their family member or neighbour or someone else looking after their income taxes.

You don’t know what you don’t know!

You may think you are saving money by not hiring a tax professional like myself, but I would almost bet it’s costing you even more!

Just in the past month I have met several new clients (and potential new clients), just by having a conversation. I ask some questions and it often ends with: “I think you have been missing out on some credits on your tax return…. would you like me to review your past few years and see if we can do some adjustments?”

Almost always the answer is yes. And about 99% of the time, I find them some past tax savings that we can request from CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and make sure they get the best tax outcome possible for the current year and in the future.

My frustration is how do I get people like you to even give me a try? Come and see me even just every three years or so (there are some provincial credits that cannot be claimed after three years, unlike federal credits that can be claimed up to 10 years back).

Yes, of course there are some of you with straightforward taxes (just a few tax slips) that I cannot improve upon; you are limited in your tax deductions and/or tax credits.

But anyone who is 60+ or with high medical expenses I can probably help out. Or anyone with a senior in the family I can probably add some value (Manitoba Primary Caregiver Tax Credit).

Anyone with post secondary schooling I can probably help with: not just claiming the tuition, but ensuring the Manitoba Graduate’s Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate (or advanced rebate) is claimed correctly. And many times those taking a trade at Red River College haven’t always claimed the EI and the tuition receipts properly.

Medical expenses continue to be misunderstood: not knowing all what can be claimed: premiums paid through work, pension, or privately; ALL out of pocket expenses not covered, travel health insurance premiums, laser eye surgery, travelling more than 40km for service/appointments you cannot get locally and more.

Senior assisted living rent and personal care home rent can be claimed as a medical expense (when approved for the disability tax credit); of course only if you have taxes payable and many lower income seniors do not.

Are you receiving a disability income through your employer? Did you know you could deduct the premiums if you paid for some or all of them yourself? Tax software or your neighbour won’t ask you that question.

Do you pay for a “lunch program” at school? Did you know this is considered child care and can be claimed?

Pension Income Splitting has been around since 2007 and most people have been getting it right, but I did meet someone last year who didn’t complete it quite right and was reassessed by CRA for not doing it correctly. I sent in some adjustments and got them their money back.

If your head is spinning already, you need to come and see me!

Unfortunately the way our tax system works, it’s up to you to find out what you may be eligible for. That’s why I like to ask lots of questions and review past tax returns; especially of my new tax clients.

Anni Markmann is a Tax Professional, a Certified Financial Planner, and a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging living, working, and volunteering in our community. Contact her at 204.422.6631, or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne.