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H&R Block's Cleo Hamel shares some ideas for elderly Canadians, and their children, to minimize taxes

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Consider income splitting. If you are a senior, you are allowed to split up to half of your eligible pension income with your spouse or common-law partner. If the lower-income spouse has very little income, this can mean serious tax savings. You may be also able to split part of your CPP retirement benefits with your spouse, though you must apply in advance (before tax time) to do this.

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File your return on time. Any senior receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) through Old Age Security should file on time to ensure their benefits continue uninterrupted.

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Check into any pensions from foreign countries. These may be subject to special tax treatment under the terms of a tax treaty. Always check with a tax professional to find out if the pension you receive from a foreign source is taxable in Canada.

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Share deductions with your spouse. If your spouse is unable to completely offset his or her age amount, pension income and disability amount against payable tax, he or she may transfer the unused portion to your return.

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Medical expenses can add up. If you purchase medical insurance for a trip or wintering in another country, it is considered a medical expense. Medical expenses are calculated based on income, so the lower-income spouse should claim them And if you have to travel to obtain medical treatment that was not available where you live, you may be able to claim the cost of transportation, meals and accommodation.

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Be aware of the Caregiver deduction. If you live with your children and you are over 65, they may be able to claim a caregiver amount for you if your income is less than $19,435. Age, income and living situation are the deciding factors; an infirmity can also make a parent a dependent. The federal caregiver amount is $4,402 for each dependent, and there are provincial deductions as well.

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Living together matters.Even if you are providing support to your parent or parents, they have to live with you in order to claim the caregiver credit. Sending money to support them does not qualify.

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Share the Disability Tax Credit. If your parent qualifies for that credit but does not have sufficient taxable income to take advantage of it, they may be able to transfer the unused amount to you. They must depend on you for all or some of the basic necessities of life for the transfer to be allowed.

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If you pay for your parents’ nursing home fees, you may be able to claim them as a medical expense. However, because you cannot claim both nursing home fees and the disability tax credit, it may be more beneficial to restrict your claim to the attendant care portion of the fees to the extent that they do not exceed $10,000.

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