Seniors' Guide
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If you are a senior, there are many reasons why you should file an annual personal tax return even if you have no income to report. For example:

  • The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit, a tax-free quarterly payment that helps offset all or part of the GST or HST you pay
  • refundable tax credits or grants that you may be eligible for even if you have no earnings or have paid no tax
  • pension programs that automatically renew when you file your tax return, such as Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor.

There are additional government income programs for older Canadians, but you must apply for most of them. You won’t receive benefits automatically. Many programs use your income tax return to determine if you are eligible. Filing your tax return by April 30th each year is the best way to ensure that you are getting the benefits you are eligible to receive.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
TTY: 1-800-665-0354

Filing Your Tax Return

You can prepare and file your tax return on paper or electronically. If you send a paper form, include all of your information slips that show your income and deductions, and keep a copy of your return for future reference. If you file electronically, there are programs that can help you, such as NETFILE. Tax packages are available at Canada Post outlets and Service Canada offices, or may be downloaded and printed from the CRA website at

If you are entitled to a tax refund, the CRA will issue one. If you owe money, there are a number of ways you can pay, including using the CRA’s electronic payment service called My Payment. You can also pay through your bank or by attaching a cheque or money order made out to the Receiver General to the front of your paper return when you file. If you choose this option, make sure to include your Social Insurance Number on the back of your cheque.

Canada Revenue Agency
Telerefund: 1-800-959-1956
Payment Arrangements: 1-888-863-8657
TTY: 1-800-665-0354

If you are the executor of an estate, you are responsible for filing a tax return for the deceased. For more information, please see the SAFETY AND SECURITY (END OF LIFE) section.

“Learning About Taxes”

This free online course can help teach you how to prepare and file a basic income tax and benefit return. To access the course, please visit

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

Do you need help to complete your income tax and benefit return? The Canada Revenue Agency works with community organizations to connect volunteers with eligible low-income individuals with simple tax situations who need help preparing their tax returns. If you have a basic understanding of income tax and you would like to volunteer for this program, contact a participating organization in your community.

Canada Revenue Agency
TTY: 1-800-665-0354

Provincial Tax Credits and Benefits

Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit – This tax credit helps with the cost of making your home safer and more accessible. It can be claimed by senior homeowners and tenants, and by people who share a home with a senior relative. Some examples of eligible expenses include wheel-in or walk-in showers, grab bars and handrails, or lowered counters or cupboards.

Ontario Ministry of Finance

If you are a senior with a low-to moderate-income, you may be eligible to receive the following:

  • Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) – The OTB combines the Ontario Sales Tax Credit, Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit and Northern Ontario Energy Credit. Most recipients receive monthly OTB payments.
  • Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant – Up to $500 for each eligible household to help offset property taxes if you own your own home.
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance Program – Low-income customers can get up to $500 in emergency assistance for your electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and $500 for gas bills.
    Contact a social service or government agency
  • Ontario Electricity Support Program – The program provides low-income consumers with a monthly on-bill credit to reduce their electricity bill. You can apply for the program beginning in mid-October 2015. On-bill credits will begin for electricity used starting January 2016.
    The amount of the monthly credit will depend on how many people live in your home and your combined household income.

Caregivers may be eligible for the Tax Credit for Caregivers and other benefits. Please see the CAREGIVING section of this guide for more information.

For information about property tax relief for seniors or people with disabilities, please see the HOUSING section of this guide.

Pensions and Other Benefits

Contact Service Canada for information about the Old Age Security (OAS) Pension program or the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). When you call, make sure you have the number that appears on your OAS or CPP payment, your Social Insurance Number or the number on your Old Age Security card. If you’d like to have your benefits directly deposited into your bank account each month, be sure to have the full number of your bank account when you call. You can find this information at the bottom of one of your cheques. If you don’t have a chequing account, ask your bank for this information.

Service Canada
TTY: 1-800-255-4786

Old Age Security (OAS) Pension

If you are 65 years of age or older and have lived in Canada for 10 years or more after turning 18, you can apply for the OAS pension which provides monthly benefits to eligible Canadians. You don’t have to be retired to receive the basic OAS pension, but you must apply for it. If you are a low-income senior, you may be eligible for other benefits as early as age 60. If you lived or worked in another country that has a social security agreement with Canada, you may be eligible for benefits from Canada or from the other country. For more information, see the section on International Benefits in this chapter.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

If you are a low-income senior living in Canada who receives OAS pension benefits, you may qualify for the GIS as well. The amount you receive is based on your annual income or the combined annual income of you and your spouse or common-law partner. You must apply for this benefit and renew it every year, either automatically by filing an income tax return by April 30th or by filling out a renewal form.

Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor

If you are receiving the GIS and your spouse or common-law partner (same sex or opposite sex) is between 60 and 64 years of age, he or she can apply for the Allowance. The Allowance for the Survivor can be claimed by a widow or widower between the ages of 60 and 64.

Other Benefits

You may also be eligible for other programs, some of which are intended for low-income seniors or for particular groups, such as veterans. Contact Service Canada to find out if you are eligible for a particular program.

Service Canada
TTY: 1-800-255-4786

Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)

GAINS is a provincial program that ensures a guaranteed minimum income for qualifying Ontario senior citizens. To be eligible, you must be an Ontario resident, 65 years of age or older who is receiving OAS and GIS benefits, and who has a total income below the level guaranteed by the province.

Ministry of Finance
1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297)
TTY: 1-800-263-7776

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement Pension

Most people over the age of 18 who work in Canada pay money into the CPP. You and your employer each pay half of the contributions. If you are self-employed, you pay both portions. It’s important to remember that you must apply for CPP benefits. You won’t automatically be enrolled when you turn 65.

Some people may qualify to receive CPP benefits as early as age 60, while the latest you can choose to begin receiving the pension is at age 70. The amount you receive is based on how much you contributed and for how long, as well as the age at which you start to receive benefits. Income from CPP benefits must be declared on your annual tax return.

Service Canada
TTY: 1-800-255-4786

Disability Benefits

If you are a CPP contributor under the age of 65 and cannot work because of a disability, you may be eligible for monthly benefits provided by the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits program.

Survivor Benefits

CPP survivor benefits are paid to a deceased contributor’s estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner (same sex or opposite sex) and dependent children. The death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of a deceased CPP contributor. The survivor’s pension is a monthly pension paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased contributor. The children’s benefit is a monthly benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor.

Pension Sharing

Spouses or common-law partners (same sex or opposite sex) who are together, who are both at least 60 years old and who are both receiving CPP pension benefits can share their CPP retirement benefits. This may reduce the amount of personal income tax that older couples pay.

International Benefits

This program may provide retirement, disability or survivor benefits to eligible individuals who have lived or worked in another country, or to the surviving spouse, common-law partner or children of eligible individuals.


Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

If you wish to continue working after age 65 you are eligible for the same EI benefits as other workers in Canada. You must meet the qualifying and entitlement conditions. The receipt of pension income does not prevent you from receiving EI benefits. If you return to work, accumulate enough insurable hours and meet the entitlement conditions to set up a claim, your pension income will not be deducted from your EI benefits.

Service Canada
TTY: 1-800-529-3742

Financial Planning

Everyone should have a financial plan. It’s never too late to get started. A good plan will include your current and future living expenses, sources of income, assets, tax planning, insurance needs and investments. You can find free guides on the Internet to help you get started or you can contact a certified financial planner. Elder planning counsellors specialize in working with people 50 years of age and older.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)

Many people choose to privately save for retirement by putting money into RRSPs. RRSP contributions are tax deductible and interest you earn in the plan is tax free. Payments made out of an RRSP, however, are taxable. By law, you cannot hold an RRSP beyond the last day of the year in which you turn 71. A RRIF is a fund that provides income during your retirement. As with an RRSP, a RRIF is an arrangement between you and a carrier, such as an insurance company, a trust company or a bank.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

This unique bank account allows you to set money aside tax-free throughout your lifetime. Each calendar year, you can contribute up to the TFSA dollar limit for the year, plus any unused TFSA contribution room from the previous year. Your federal income-tested benefits and credits such as OAS, GIS or EI benefits will not be reduced as a result of the income you earn in your TFSA or the amount you withdraw from your TFSA. Contact your financial institution to learn more or visit

Lifelong Learning Plan

This plan allows you to take money out of your RRSPs to pay for training or education for you or your spouse/common-law partner. When you withdraw funds for this purpose, you have up to 10 years to repay the amount back into your RRSP. Students must have completed an educational program before the end of the year in which they turn 71.

Financial Assistance

Ontario Works

If you qualify, Ontario Works provides money to help cover the costs of basic needs, such as food and rent. How much you receive depends on your family size, income, assets and housing costs. Your local Employment and Social Services office can provide more information.

Home and Vehicle Modification Program

Run by the Ontario March of Dimes, this program provides funding for basic home and/or vehicle modifications so that people with mobility restrictions can continue to live safely in their homes and participate in their communities.

Ontario March of Dimes
1-877-369-4867 (press “2” to speak with an Intake Counsellor)

For Veterans

Disability Pensions and Awards

Veterans Affairs Canada offers a wide range of services and benefits to eligible veterans and others. Disability pensions and awards are available for conditions related to service in the Merchant Navy, Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police or to those serving in support of the Canadian Forces in wartime or in Special Duty/Operational Areas.

Veterans Affairs Canada

Bureau of Pensions Advocates

This nationwide organization of lawyers within Veterans Affairs Canada provides free legal help for veterans who are not satisfied with decisions about their claims for disability benefits.


War Veterans Allowance

This allowance is available to eligible low-income veterans of the Second World War or Korean War. Surviving spouses, common-law partners and orphans may qualify for this allowance if the deceased veteran or civilian had the required war service.

Veterans Affairs Canada

Soldiers’ Aid Commission of Ontario

The Commission provides financial assistance to Canadian and Allied Veterans living in Ontario who enlisted and served in Canada and/or overseas in the Second World War or the Korean War and to their spouses or surviving dependants. One-time assistance is provided every 12 months to resolve a specific problem. Funds can assist with the purchase of health-related items (hearing aids, dentures, eyeglasses, etc.), home repairs, moving costs or furniture, and assistive devices (wheelchairs, chairlifts, etc.).

Royal Canadian Legion - Ontario Provincial Command

Veterans Affairs Canada

Benevolent Funds

Benevolent Funds assist veterans, ex-service personnel and their dependants. Applications can be made through a Veterans Affairs Canada counsellor or your Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Service Officer. Requests for assistance usually relate to basic needs (food, shelter and medical care) on a one-time only basis.

Royal Canadian Legion - Ontario Provincial Command

Veterans Affairs Canada