Backgrounder – 2019 Tax filing season
Starting on February 18, 2019, Canadians can file their income tax and benefit returns online, on paper, or by telephone (for those who qualify). The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is continuing to improve its services to help Canadians file their income tax and benefit returns easily using the option that best meets their needs. In the continued efforts to improve, the CRA’s newly appointed Chief Service Officer (CSO) is leading the CRA’s service transformation through an integrated, client-focused approach. The CRA is always working to make Canadians feel like valued clients and to ensure that tax-filing is a seamless experience, no matter which option individuals choose to file their returns.
Important Dates for the 2019 Tax filing season
There are a number of important dates for the 2019 tax filing season, including:
- March 1, 2019, is the deadline for contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan.
- Canadians should have received most of their tax slips, such as T4s, and receipts needed to file a tax return by early March.
- Most Canadians' income tax and benefit returns are due on April 30, 2019.
- Self-employed individuals and their spouse or common-law partner have until June 15, 2019, to file their returns. Since June 15, 2019, falls on a Saturday, the CRA will accept returns until midnight June 17, 2019.
Last year, nearly 90% of the over 29 million returns Canadians filed were completed online. The CRA supports Canadians by providing them with electronic service options that are fast, efficient, convenient, and secure, including free software that is available on Canada.ca.
My Account is the online portal through which individuals can access the CRA's full suite of online services, such as Auto-fill my return. This service helps individuals or their authorized representatives automatically fill in parts of their income tax and benefit returns with information the CRA has available at the time of filing their return, saving them significant time. To use the service, individuals must be registered for My Account and use NETFILE certified software.
Canadians no longer need to wait for their notices of assessment (NOA) if they are registered with the CRA’s My Account. They can receive their Express NOA directly in their certified tax software minutes after they file their returns electronically.
T1 paper guide mail out
Some Canadians still prefer to use paper forms. To serve them better, the CRA has mailed the income tax package to individuals who filed on paper last year. The new all-in-one 2018 income tax package is improved with simplified language, enhanced information on forms and has a more user-friendly design. Those receiving a package in the mail will have received it by February 11, 2019.
A limited quantity of tax packages will be available at Canada Post, Service Canada, and some Caisse populaire Desjardins outlets (Quebec only). Canadians will also find information in those locations on how to order these products by phone or online in case packages are no longer available.
File my return – automated telephone filing
Again this year, the File my Return service will be available to eligible Canadians with low or fixed incomes whose situations remain unchanged from year to year, even if they have no income to report, so that they receive the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. This simple, automated telephone service helps file income tax and benefit returns quickly and easily over the phone through a series of prompts and questions.
The CRA is working to reduce telephone wait times and improve accuracy for call centre clients. The Agency has moved its telephone enquiries program to a new modern telephone platform to offer more self-serve options, is hiring more agents, and ensuring employees have the right tools and training to serve Canadians.
Now when you call, you will receive an estimated wait time to speak with an agent. You can then wait in the queue to speak to an agent, decide to call back later, or use one of our convenient self-serve options.
Individuals can obtain both their account balance and the amount of their last payment made to the CRA through the use of an automated, self-serve Interactive Voice Response system without needing to speak to an agent.
Until April 30, 2019, the CRA will be offering extended evening and weekend hours for individual tax enquiries. Telephone agents will be available Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 9 am to 9 pm (local time), and from 9 am to 5 pm (local time) on Saturdays (except Easter weekend) to serve as many people as possible. Our automated service will remain available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Climate Action Incentive payment
New this year is the climate action incentive payment, which is available to eligible residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Eligible individuals can claim the payment when they file their 2018 income tax and benefit return in early 2019. A 10% supplement is available for residents of small and rural communities in recognition of their increased energy needs and reduced access to clean transportation options. The climate action incentive payment will first reduce any balance owing for the year, and may increase any refund.
Need help filing your taxes?
Individuals with a modest income and a simple tax situation may be eligible to have their tax return completed for free through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program in Quebec). Free tax clinics are offered across Canada during March and April, with some open year-round.
Additionally, organizations who serve vulnerable segments of the population can schedule in-person visits with a CRA Outreach Officer who will answer questions and distribute information products to their clients to help them file a tax return and receive benefits.
Through the Liaison Officer service, the CRA offers free in-person support and guidance to owners of small businesses or other self-employed individuals to help them understand and meet their tax obligations. Since the beginning of the program, over 33,000 visits have taken place and over 1,100 people attended seminars.
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