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Great Ways to Use Your Tax Refund in 2024

Written by Jessica Steer
With tax season behind us, you may have recently received a tax refund from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). If that's the case, there are plenty of options you have for using your tax refund.
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    It all depends on how much you received and what your goals are. It can be very tempting to spend it as soon as you can on an impulse purchase, but there are also plenty of other ways you can use the return to your advantage and put yourself ahead for the year.

    Does Everyone Get Tax Returns?

    Not everyone who files their income taxes is eligible for tax refunds. It all depends on your taxable income and/or whether or not you have tax automatically taken off of your pay check: self employed or employed.

    That said, sometimes people who are not self-employed have to pay taxes as well. Things like not having enough taxes taken off or having rental income or a second income can make a big difference in whether or not you pay taxes. Really, everyone's tax situation is different so until you file, you may not know whether you will receive a refund or not.

    How to Use Your Return Wisely

    When it comes to receiving your tax return, many people see it as free money when it's actually just an overpayment you made in taxes on your earned income that is now getting returned to you. Hence the name, tax return. That doesn't mean it isn't a welcome bonus though.

    Emergency Fund

    Having some money put to the side is always a good idea. You never know when an emergency can happen so it's handy to have money put aside to help avoid incurring any debt. Whether its medical expenses, home improvements, pet emergencies or anything in between, having an emergency fund is highly recommended. Anything you can add to it from your income tax return can make a big difference.

    Credit Card Debt

    Whether you have a little or a lot, credit card debt can rise quickly, especially since they have some of the highest interest rates out there. The faster you pay them off, the more money you can save. Using your refund for this purpose can make getting out of debt faster a reality.

    Retirement Savings

    This is another great way to not only save some money, but to earn more on your tax refund for the next year. Adding money to your RRSP, Registered Retirement Savings Plan, is a great way to save not only for retirement but also to purchase a home as a first time home buyer. Anything you enter into it is tax free since you don't actually have to pay taxes on it until you start receiving the funds as retirement income. Not only that, depending on the market values and interest rates, by the time you retire you will also have earned money in addition to the money you have invested. This can really help set you up for your financial future.

    Extra Cash

    If you already have some emergency savings, no credit card debt or it just doesn't make sense for you to use your income tax refund for any of these things, it can just be used for some extra cash. So many Canadians are being hit hard by inflation right now, so the money can be used just to help you get ahead.

    How You Receive a Tax Refund

    FIling your taxes can be done a number of ways such as doing your taxes online, through mail using income tax forms or through a tax software. Any of these methods can be done whether you use an accountant or not. It allows you to file for any tax credits and tax deductions and will let you know whether you receive a refund or have a balance owing. If you have an outstanding balance, that will need to be paid by the tax deadline to avoid interest rates.If you don't owe then chances are you will receive a refund.

    If you do qualify for a refund, then you will either have that money sent to you via cheque or deposited into your bank account through direct deposit. How long it takes for you to receive the refund will depend on when you filed your taxes and the method you are receiving it. It can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

    Other Ways You Can Receive a Larger Refund

    As we mentioned above, when you file your return there are tax credits that you could be eligible for. The most common of these is the Disability Tax Credit. That said, you can't apply for this credit when you file your taxes. You have to apply previously with the CRA. Once you have been approved then you will receive the extra credits on your taxes.

    There are specific requirements that each of these credits require in order to be approved. With the Disability Tax Credit you must fill out the application form and have a medical professional fill out the form as well. Once you have done this you send it in and you will then receive a letter notifying you if you are approved or not. The ideal behind this credit is to help those with disabilities cover medical expenses, or other expenses related to their disability, by paying less tax.

    Reasons You May Not Receive Your Refund

    If you filed your taxes but you have not received your refund, this could be for a few reasons. You may have a tax bill from a previous year or you may be filing many tax years at one time so it's taking longer for your refund to be processed. If you aren't receiving your tax refund because you owe taxes, or money to the government in any capacity, then it's likely that you will be notified through a letter. You can always contact the CRA directly though and they will let you know the reasoning based on your individual tax situation.

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