It’s tax time! Using your income tax refund wisely

April 23, 2018 

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

It’s tax time again! While not everyone looks forward to doing them, for many people, filing taxes can be the first step toward greater financial well-being. Today I want to talk about how we at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada are encouraging positive saving and spending habits through the income tax filing process.

For many people with modest incomes, doing taxes can help them gain access to government benefits and income to which they are entitled. This is not often well understood. In fact, tax filing can mean more money in your pocket that you can use to pay down debt, or to build savings. This is why we’ve partnered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on a new initiative to encourage people, once they get their tax return, to use it wisely.

First, a little background. For several years, FCAC has worked closely with CRA to promote the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Through this program, community organizations and volunteers offer tax clinics to assist Canadians with modest incomes to complete their tax returns and, often, to access government benefits. The numbers tell the story: through these CVITP tax clinics, in one year Canadians received approximately $200 million in tax refunds, and $1.3 billion in benefits entitlements. That’s a total of $1.5 billion for Canadians who did their taxes through these clinics! 

This year, FCAC is going a step further to help people decide what to do when they get a tax refund, including encouraging savings. Our publication, What to do when you get an income tax refund (PDF –  275 KB), is being distributed at the volunteer tax clinics. It offers valuable guidance on your right to open a bank account, and tips on how to manage your money so you can make the most of it. 

This publication covers key topics and resources including: 

  • Cashing your tax refund cheque 
  • Getting your money faster with direct deposit
  • Planning how to save and use your money
  • Making sure your bank account fits your needs
  • Links to free, online tools including:
    • Budget Calculator
    • Financial Goal Calculator 
    • Account Comparison Tool

Tax filing is an important way for Canadians to access the public benefits to which they are entitled, and a great time to build financial literacy by reviewing personal finances.

This brochure is available in PDF format, and can be printed and shared by anyone with any recipients of tax refunds or benefit payments. You can also access the web link to this publication and other resources on our website. Feel free to share it, and please email us your feedback at We want to hear from you!

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