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Free Money Monday! (and Canada’s Children’s Arts Tax Credit)

It’s Sunday, but I’ve already got the Monday blues. It’s not that I don’t like my job, it’s just that the longer winter goes on, the more I just want to do nothing but curl up with a book and a fresh pressed coffee. A beach sure sounds nice right about now. But I digress …

I’m actually here to write about the taxes. I kid you not. I really am. Specifically, Canada’s newly introduced Children’s Arts Tax Credit. You’ve already likely heard about the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, which was introduced in 2007. But now, Arts can receive the same type of credit when you file your taxes for 2011.

Free money for me!

For me, this is the equivalent of free money, since we’ve been paying for Stella to participate in these kinds of programs for a few years now. So what kinds of activities are eligible? According to the Canada Revenue Agency‘s web page, eligibility seems fairly broad. It includes an activity that:

  • contributes to the development of creative skills or expertise in artistic or cultural activities;
  • provides a substantial focus on wilderness and the natural environment;
  • helps children develop and use particular intellectual skills;
  • includes structured interaction among children where supervisors teach or help children develop interpersonal skills; or
  • provides enrichment or tutoring in academic subjects.

By that definition, one would assume that anything from Girl Guides, to piano lessons, to painting classes would be eligible. Your best bet is to ask the organization itself and ensure you collect and keep your receipt.

Someone’s done the math, and apparently if you claim $500 worth of art credits, then you will save $75 when you file your taxes. To learn more and check the details, you can click on the icons below.



Free money for you!

What’s not to like about free money, right? So, I’m going to do a bloggy giveaway for this $50 bill. All you need to do is help me raise awareness about this new tax credit.

How can you help spread the word?

  • Tweet the following: “When you file your taxes this year, don’t forget to claim your child’s arts activities! #freemoney @coffeewithjulie”
  • Email, phone, or tell a friend
  • Update your Facebook status to let your friends know
  • Share your thoughts on this Arts credit on your blog

Then let me know in the comments below (1) how you helped spread the word, and (2) what you would do with this free money. I’ll pick a winner randomly next Sunday at 5pm.

Disclosure: A PR agency has sponsored this post, but that $50 bill is actually mine. I will mail it to the winner. 

Edited on Feb 29th to add: Um, people don’t seem to be following the instructions above for how to enter this giveaway! If you’ve already commented below, I’ll count your entry … but next giveaway I will be super-strict-teacher about it! You’ve been warned! 

Edited on March 5th to add: And the winner of the Free Money Monday is Lisa Sansom! Congrats Lisa, I will be in touch to get your mailing address and thanks so much for helping to spread the word via your twitter! 


  1. Oh that is GREAT news Julie!!  I was waiting for this one.  I was pleased when the fitness tax credit was introduced (although let’s face it, those that really could benefit can’t generally afford the these expensive extra curriculars anyway – it gives a little back to those of us that already afford these wonderful benefits for our children) but I wished it was an ‘activity’ tax credit be it sports, fitness, arts, drama, music or whatever a child may be involved in above and beyond their school day. I believe all of these types of activities enrich our childs development in one form or another. SO – I am happy happy to see the arts recognized as beneficial to children! I was really pleased that you mentioned the criteria were not strict.  Because the fitness tax credit?  Wow…I was amazed at the silly criteria to be eligible. Here is an example of a sitution I have that baffles me:  my 10 year old participates in rigorous cross country running and track training (with an organized track club) 2x/week – 1.5 hours per session.  That is 3 solid hours of cardio and strength training. YET – because they are ‘6 week’ at a time sessions (usually a 2 week break in between) and not 8 weeks (you know, in terms of what you receipt must say) – to receive a tax break, I’d be better off putting him in….8 week consecutive bowling club. (bowling is considered strenuous sport contributing to cardio endurance…yes).  Huh. Now that is not logical!  I am not opposed to bowling or any of the other ‘qualified’ sports  – I think any extra curricular is wonderful! But the 8 week thing is not sensible to me. 5+5 doesn’t count? Our 5 week ski lessons a no-go either – even though he did 4 weeks at school ski club immediately followed by 5 weeks of lessons with the family (total of 9 weeks). Alas, that is my rant:)  On a positive non-whiney note – I am very fortunate and blessed that I am able to offer my children these activities at all!  Many people can’t even consider signing their kids up for thousands of dollars of hockey, ski, soccer, horseback riding, golf…You name it!  Or expensive drama, art and music classes – tax break or not. 

    Looking forward to my ‘free money’ next year:)  Thanks for sharing!!

    • coffee with Julie says:

      Hmm…. you know what? The problem you note above looks the same as for the Arts credit. Below is the eligibility details from the website and just like the Fitness credit, 8 weeks seems to be the magic number. :(

      To be eligible, a program must be supervised and suitable for children. Eligible programs include:
      – a weekly program of a minimum eight consecutive weeks duration in which a minimum of 90% of all the activities are eligible activities;- a program of a minimum five consecutive days duration in which more than 50% of the daily activities are eligible activities;- a program of a minimum eight consecutive weeks duration offered to children by a club, association or similar organization offering a variety of different activities when more than 50% of the activities offered are eligible activities or more than 50% of the time scheduled for activities offered to children is for activities that are eligible activities (if both 50% tests are not met, a prorated portion of the fees will be allowed, representing the percentage of eligible activities offered by the organization or the percentage of time scheduled for these activities by the organization); and- a membership of a minimum eight consecutive weeks duration in an organization if more than 50% of all the activities offered to children by the organization are eligible activities (if the 50% test is not met, a prorated portion of the fees will be allowed, representing the percentage of eligible activities offered to children by the organization).- A program that is part of a school curriculum will be ineligible.

      And I agree that so many activities are so very costly that low income families would not be able to participate — tax credit or not. My colleague told me that as a single mom she simply had to tell her boys that they couldn’t play hockey. There just wasn’t the money to do it. It might be best to allow a more substantial tax credit to lower income families and make other more financially fortunate families ineligible for the credit. 

  2. smothermother says:

    oh gosh!  thanks for the reminder.  i’ve got to dig up the jellybean’s swimming and taekwondoh receipts.  and tomorrow morning at the bus stop i’m going to be chatting this up with the 10 other parents there.  i know lots of them have their kids in a bunch of arts programs.  i think it’s such a fabulous idea.  let’s spread the news!

  3. Sarah McCormack says:

    good tips Julie. Seeing as my husband gets strange thrills from tax season, i was aware of these breaks but i’m sure lots of people are not.

    i agree with your sentiment that i would prefer that lower income families were provided with ways to particpate in these activites, and would be happy to sacrifice any tax break we receive to fund this. 

    and i would put the $50 towards a few home items , including a door mat i saw and must have that said ‘Be Nice or Leave’.  love that.


  4. Sarah McCormack says:

    p.s.  since i don’t do facebook, tweet, or blog i will do things the old fashioned way, and climb up on my roof and shout this out to my neighbourhood :)

  5. Annie Boucher says:

    I shared the info on two of my Twitter feeds. What would I do with the money? I’d add it to the pile of money that goes out each month… mortgage, groceries, RESPs, RRSPs, gas…  

  6. I’d like there be an an arts credit for adults! Arts supplies are expensive!

  7. neat. I tweeted it from pesbo. mentioned to a couple friends too.

  8. Tweet tweet tweeted it!! :-)

  9. Wow! This is great and I hope it will result in generations of children with greater appreciation of the arts! :)

  10. I told all the parents with children in my daughter’s weekly art class to be sure to claim the credit. If I won the $50, I’d put it towards another session of the same art class; my daughter’s artistic talents have blossomed in this amazing community class.

  11. I would use it to pay for a half day pottery class for my kids – which they love. And then I would *ahem* proudly display their works of art in our living room until I could convince them the pieces were so gorgeous the boys should go to sleep every night looking at them and wouldn’t it be great to have the lovely pieces in your bedrooms.  Or I’d buy wine.  Either/or. 

  12. I told the other moms at the school bus stop about this. None of them knew about it. We all thought it was just for sports. Thanks for the info! I will also be telling my Mom & Child book club tomorrow when we meet.

  13. ok i will post it to my facebook so my friends around the world can saw it because i need money here asap coz i need it for my expenses by the way my fb is check it out if you dont believe… and pls pm me asap if u send money to me so i can know thanks… Godbless and keep safe…   

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  17. My name is Holly and I work at the Ontario Ministry of Finance. Here is some information about Ontario’s tax credits and benefits that may be of interest to your readers for their 2013 income tax returns.
    It’s that time of the year again tax season is in full swing! Did you know that your family may be eligible for some of Ontario’s tax credits and benefits? Here’s some information to help you get started.

    Ontario offers a number of tax credits and benefits including:

    • Children’s Activity Tax Credit
    • Ontario Child Benefit
    • Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant
    • Ontario Trillium Benefit
    • GAINS
    • Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit

    It’s important to remember that you must file a 2013 income tax return to apply for most of these credits and benefits. Direct deposit is the fastest and easiest way to receive your payments. For more information on how to apply, visit the Government of Canada’s website.

    Want more information on our tax credits and benefits? Visit


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