If this is your First tax return
You'll be asked to create your tax file and set up your user ID and password.
The software will prompt you to type in your personal information, and the relevant information from your tax slips.
It will help you identify applicable tax deductions and credits, using relevant information from certain receipts and certificates.
if you don't have your cra account
If you expect a refund, the CRA will send you a cheque.
You may need to print and mail by regular post your tax return if your submission to NETFILE did not succeed.
- This can happen if the CRA does not have your date of birth on file. The CRA matches your file return with its database using your SIN and your date of birth.
- If your return is not accepted, go back to the FILE tab and answer 'by mail' in response to the question "How do you want to send your return to the government?" Then print and mail.
If you have it
Your Notice of Assessment will be posted in your CRA account.
- You'll get an email notification if you've selected this option in your CRA account.
Keeping up with your taxes means submitting your return every year and monitoring your CRA account.
Keep your Notice of Assessment in a safe place.
- If you work, part-time or full-time, it includes your RRSP contribution limit for the next year (RRSP stands for 'registered retirement savings plan"). You will use it later, when you are in a higher tax bracket, and it has more value to you.
- It will also sum up your cumulative contribution limit for the TFSA account ('tax-free savings account').
- Even if you're not using registered accounts yet, start to learn about them:
If you don’t file by the deadline…
- If you owe money, you will be charged interest and penalties
- Late filing penalty is 5% of your balance owing plus 1% for each full month the return is late up to a maximum of 12 months
- Interest on late or insufficient payment is determined every 3 months and compounded daily. Interest will also be charged on penalties, starting the day after your return is due
- If you did not report all your income or overstated credits, you may also be fined but the CRA may waive the penalty if you voluntarily tell it you made a mistake
- Your refund and your GST/HST credit will be delayed
If you under-report income from employment or investments, you will be assessed various penalties.
If you owe taxes and cannot pay, you should register with My Account and set up a payment plan (you will still pay interest).
If you don’t have a receipt to prove your claim for a deduction,try to recover the receipt. If you cannot, you should not claim the item because the CRA often follows up and asks for original receipts.
If you discover that you owe past taxes, it’s better to deal with it because sooner or later you will have to. If you owe taxes, it is better to initiate by filing than wait for the CRA to contact you. If you find yourself in this situation, you should seek professional advice.
Find a current list of providers on the CRA website, https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html
Once you complete your return, double-check all entries and compare them with the tax slips, certificates and receipts you received.
- Review any suggestions your software makes. They may not always be appropriate, but sometimes point out things you've missed.
- If you've submitted taxes before, your software provider may feature a line-by-line comparison of this year's return to last year's. It's useful – look for any discrepancies and make sure you understand them. If you don't, there may be a mistake.
When you're satisfied,
- Save your tax return as a PDF and / or print a copy. Your software provider will also keep it.
- It’s a good habit to keep copies of your tax returns (in case you need to dispute a mistake or just for comparison).
- Make sure the pdf / paper copy of your return is in a secure place - it has confidential information, notably your SIN. Protect it to lower the risk of identify theft and financial fraud against you.
- Store your receipts in a safe place. The CRA asks that you keep receipts for 6 years. They may send you a letter in summer asking for original receipts. Before you send the originals, make copies of all receipts you plan on sending. Keep teh copies with the rest of your tax documents.
File electronically from your tax software to NETFILE, which will transmit it to the CRA. Save the confirmation number you receive when the filing is completed. Write it down.
Make a payment if you owe tax - before the end-of-April deadline.
You can do it online from your chequing account - choose the CRA as a payee.
The CRA provides instructions on its website how to make the payment using a debit card, e-transfer, a credit card, PayPal, and even in person at a bank or Canada Post Office.
after you've submitted your tax return
After your filing has been processed by the CRA, you will receive a Notice of Assessment - this may take a few days.
- It's an official evaluation of your tax return.
- The CRA may point out mistakes you made in your tax return. You’ll need to address them.
- Your Notice of Assessment may give you some tax-planning ideas. For example, if you work and study, you may be receiving large tax refunds because of tax credits you are receiving. For next year, consider letting your employer know about the tax credits so that they reduce the tax they deduct from your paycheques. You will get the money sooner than waiting for your annual tax refund.
If you decide to do it yourself, choose your tax software provider
If you have it
If you expect a refund, the CRA will make a direct deposit to the account you've identified in Your CRA Account.
- Login to your chequing account 8 days after you've submitted the return.
decide how you'll do your taxes
There are 2 ways to do your taxes:
1. Prepare your tax return yourself, using a free CRA-approved tax preparation software.
2. Hire a professional to do it for you - for a fee.
It's a personal choice. Keep in mind that:
- You'll likely learn more by doing it yourself - and you'll save some money.
- Even when you outsource to the professional, you'll still have to collect your tax slips, certificates, and deductions yourself.
If you've submitted tax returns before
Recall your user ID and password from last year if you're using the same provider.
A lot of the information will be auto-filled for you because you have your CRA account:
- Your personal information
- Information from the tax slips your employers / banks have uploaded to the CRA system).
The software will help you identify applicable tax deductions and credits.
You may have to manually add any slips and certificates that have not been uploaded, and key in any expenses for which you have receipts - if you are eligible for such tax credits.
if you don't have your cra account
Your Notice of Assessement will be sent by regular mail.
BY THE END OF APRIL - Submit your tax return
Start as soon as you have your tax slips, certificates and receipts ready. Electronic submission opens in late February.
- Most of these documents should be in your hands in February though the deadline for financial institutions to produce the T3 slips (investment income) is at the end of March.
Prepare your tax return.
- On the CRA website, open your chosen tax preparation software.