When is a senior a senior? Is it 65? Or 60? Or maybe 59? Or maybe 70? Being senior is not necessarily your age, how you feel or how your health is. Being senior boils down to one thing – money.
Last week I did the draft of my income tax returns for 2012. Not only was the income from all sources paltry but what I can’t claim for senior tax credits upset me because I’m not quite 65 – the age the Canadian Federal government puts for seniors’ tax credits, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments (the latter can be clawed back when you do your tax returns).
But, wait a minute – the Feds aren’t consistent here. Canada Pension Plans can be paid out from age 60. Last year I opted to start receiving them and many months they saved my bacon. But if my tax calculations are correct (or nearly correct – I have to go through the draft again) my income tax payment is around the same amount as one month’s CPP payment.
Besides not qualifying for seniors’ tax credits, I’m not married or living common law and don’t have a child under 18, so can’t qualify for those tax credits either. My medical-health expenses either don’t qualify or aren’t sufficient to work in with the percentage deduction there. So I’m left with tax credits for a bank service and for having a pass for Toronto public transportation. Oh, I can fill out the form for Ontario property tax credits (age isn’t a “qualification” here) – but it is no longer used as a tax credit when filing your taxes – if approved, you get a monthly payment for the next year.
But wait a minute: the Toronto Transit Commission seniors’ age starts at 65; Shoppers Drug Mart is either 60 or 65 (depending on who you ask there), Hudson’s Bay is 60, Sears is – well I don’t know as their Sears Advantage seems geared to all adult ages. VIA Rail is 60.
Can’t we get this age senior setup consistent? I suggest 55, although that won’t help me now. Of course, that isn’t where governments are thinking for seniors’ age. Freedom 55 is more of a dinosaur than we seniors are.
Where does that leave a maybe senior who is living barely above the poverty level (counting all income sources) for a single person living alone in Toronto? (And I did a Google search for that so I’m not making this status up).
Where it leaves me is having to hit on my RRSPS (which are so meagre they wouldn’t keep me for half a year) to pay my taxes and other non-regular expenses (house repairs/replacements and the like). I don’t have a company pension and it’s too late (in my years) to get into this new government pension setup for self-employed. My freelance income sure isn’t sufficient (maybe if I could spend more time at it instead of dealing with repairs and housework, it could improve. But that’s all part of “the only person living just above the poverty line syndrome). I know I’m not the only “senior” swaying in this boat.
So I do an annual hit on my RRSPs? I figure the way things are going (stress, worry, problems, even health) if I don’t they might just outlive me.
Excuse me while I attend to the latest problem – my printer is acting up – it is printing only one page at a time, even when set to do more. And I checked the connections – even switched to another power cord.
What do you think of all this senior age-money nonsense?
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes