8.4.1 Getting organized
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Direct deposit is fast, convenient and secure. If you currently receive your federal payment(s) such as your income tax refund, Goods and services tax (GST)/Harmonized sales tax (HST) credits, Canada child benefit (CCB), Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Old age security (OAS) payments by cheque, enrol in direct deposit. This will ensure you receive your payments on time in the event of an emergency or unforeseen circumstances.
Your income tax returns, together with any payments due, must be sent to CRA by April 30 of each year. It's very difficult to get organized at the last minute. To make things easy on yourself, follow these simple steps:
- Set up a family tax file with multiple parts. A large accordion document file or part of a file drawer works best for this. Keep it where it will be easy to get at.
- Create a large file or section for each member of the family that you will be filing for. List basic information, including names, dates of birth and social insurance numbers.
- In each family member's file, create a section for current and past documents.
- In the Past section, place copies of old returns that have been filed, together with any supporting documents, Notices of Assessment, etc. Label them clearly with the tax year they apply to. If these are bulky, place each year in a separate file.
- In the Current section, place any records relating to the current tax year, such as T-slips and related employment records, donation receipts, medical expenses and investment receipts.
- If any family member is self-employed, create a separate file for their business records. File a copy of the business income statement in the Current section when it is complete.
- As you receive documents such as tax receipts or T-slips through the year, place them in the Current file for the family member they apply to.
If you will have more than a few documents, put them in separate subject files:
- income from all sources
- receipts that may be deductible
- personal expenses such as medical expenses and mortgages
- logs of car expenses or other items you may need.
- Place documents that you will need every year, such as investment records, in the general section where you have filed the person's name and social insurance number.
- As soon as possible after you receive your T-slips, take them and the other documents in the Current file to complete your tax return. The sooner you complete your return, the sooner you will get a refund of any money you have overpaid.
- At the beginning of each calendar year, start a new Current file. After you have filed your tax return for the past tax year, label it with the year and move it to the Past section. Place your Notice of Assessment in the file when you receive it. You can destroy the old files when they are seven or more years old.
- To check the status of your tax accounts, you can use the My Account service of the Canada Revenue Agency. You'll have to sign up online and verify your identity using information from your previous Notice of Assessment. Then you'll be able to review your return, your refund, benefit payments and other information.
- Plan ahead—don't wait until April. April 30 is the deadline for filing your taxes, but by then it's too late to plan. Planning your taxes early in the year gives you a chance to organize your affairs so that you pay only the taxes you must.
For more information, see the video, Organizing your taxes.
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