Way back in the olden days, my Grade 11 economics teacher promised he would make each of us $100 by the end of the term. He pulled off this trick by showing us how to do our taxes and claim the provincial sales tax credit. For a sixteen-year old kid with a part-time job, it was a pretty big deal – $100 for 20 minutes of math. For a few weeks, I was seriously thinking about becoming a tax accountant.

Thankfully I avoided that fate, but I still like doing taxes every year. There’s something about the ritual I enjoy – gathering and sorting the slips, filling in the little boxes, and that growing sense of excitement as you get closer to the final page and find out how much money you’re getting back. Just writing about it is getting me all hot and bothered…

For the past few years, I’ve put away the paper and pencils in favour of It’s totally addictive, due largely to the constantly changing refund / owing display on each page. This year it’s more blatant than ever, with big green numbers for refunds, and scary red numbers if you owe money.

For some reason, I started out with a $300 refund before I’d even entered my slips. After I entered the information from my T-4, I cheered as the refund soared. Then I entered B’s info, and our refund inexplicably vanished. That’s one of the downsides – there’s no explanation provided for why the number goes up or down.

I wasn’t too worried, since I still had an ace up my sleeve – daycare expenses. I entered the first receipt, and was rewarded with a big green number in the refund box. Cha-ching. I entered the second receipt, pushed “continue”, and was stunned when the number didn’t change.

It turns out that the maximum child care claim is $7,000 per child. Um, excuse me Mr. Flaherty, have you checked out daycare costs for a toddler these days? $7,000 doesn’t come close to cutting it, unless you’re using an unlicensed place that looks more like a puppy mill than a daycare.

So, what am we going to do with our refund? While I have visions of big screen TV’s, family vacations, and original artwork dancing in my head, the sad truth is we’re going to pay down some debt – another lesson from my Grade 11 economics teacher. Thanks, Mr. Ferber.

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