When tax returns for 2015 were filed, some individuals would have been required to make a substantial tax payment in April of 2016 since their 2015 tax withholdings and instalment payments (or lack of) were not sufficient to cover the additional income. In general, if that April payment upon filing was greater than $3,000, CRA will request those individuals to make instalment payments during the 2016 year.
Instalment reminders are sent out by CRA (usually in August) and may ask for large amounts to be paid in September and December of 2016. Those amounts are based on the income from the 2015 year. The first few instalment requests in 2017 may also be based on 2015 income levels. If the taxpayer’s income in 2016 is, or will be lower than 2015, the instalments per the notices may significantly exceed the taxpayer’s expected 2016 liability. It is important to note that there are alternatives to paying the recommended instalment amount included on the notice.
One such possibility is to pay instalments based on the expected tax liability for the 2016 year. If there has been a significant decrease in income, this method may free up large amounts of cash that may otherwise have been tied up in instalment payments and only returned upon CRA processing of the 2016 personal tax return.
Where CRA’s requested instalments are remitted, no instalment interest will be charged. Instalments based on 2016 taxes must be made equally by March 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15 to avoid instalment interest. If no payments were made for March and June, remitting payments for September and December can offset the late payment of the earlier amounts. Paying early, and/or paying more than the expected 2016 taxes, will reduce the potential of interest for late payments, and provide a cushion in case actual 2016 taxes exceed the estimated amount.
Now is a great time to review your 2015 and expected 2016 tax situation to determine if your instalment payments are appropriate. Call us today!