Questions and answers about filing your taxes

Prior to filing your tax return

1. How do I change my address with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

You can change your address:

If you move, tell the CRA your new address as soon as possible. This way, we’ll be able to keep sending benefit and credit payments, to which you may be entitled.

2. How do I give someone else permission to access my tax information?

You can authorize a representative through My Account.

If you’re not registered for My Account, your representative can submit an authorization request through Represent a Client or through EFILE.

For more information on how to authorize a representative, go to Representative authorization.

3. How can I get free tax help if I’m the owner of a small business or self-employed?

The CRA offers free, in-person help to small business owners and self-employed individuals through the Liaison Officer Service. This service helps you better understand your tax obligations, possible deductions, and to avoid common tax errors. We want to help you do things right from the start.

4. Is direct deposit available?

Yes, you can get your tax refund, benefit, and credit payments deposited directly into your bank account at a Canadian financial institution. You can receive your refund in as little as eight business days if you’re set up with direct deposit and you file your return online.

5. How do I sign up for direct deposit?

You can sign up for direct deposit:

6. Where can I get an income tax package?

We’ll mail you the 2019 income tax package if you did your taxes on paper last year. You should get your package by February 17, 2020.

You can also:

  • order the package online at canada.ca/get-cra-forms starting January 21, 2020
  • view, download and print the package online at canada.ca/taxes-general-package starting January 21, 2020
  • order by phone at 1-855-330-3305 (for service in English) or 1-855-330-3310 (for service in French) starting February 24, 2020

If you need to order a package, please keep in mind that it may take up to 10 days for delivery. Factor this time in so you don’t miss the filing deadline.

Some tax packages will be available at select Service Canada offices in northern and rural communities.

7. How can I get my taxes done for free?

Filing online using certified tax software is fast, easy, and secure. You can find a list of certified tax software products online. Some software is free of charge.

You may be able to get your taxes done for free through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Community organizations partner with the CRA to host tax clinics where volunteers help people and families with modest incomes and simple tax situations. In Quebec, this program is the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program.

The File my Return service allows eligible individuals who have low or a fixed income Canadians to file their taxes for free through an automated phone service. Those who are eligible will receive an invitation letter in the mail.

8. What types of benefit payments, and tax credits are available by filing a return?

You may be eligible for one or more of these benefits or credits:

  • Canada child benefit is a tax-free monthly payment for families to help with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. You may also be eligible for related provincial and territorial program payments
  • GST/HST credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals 19 years or older and families with low and modest incomes to offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay. You may also be eligible for related provincial and territorial program payments

You may also be able to claim several deductions, credits, and expenses on your return to get a larger refund or lower what you pay. Some of these include:

  • Pension income splitting allows pensioners to split up to 50% of their eligible pension income with their spouse or common-law partner which may lower the taxes they owe
  • Child care expenses deduction allows parents to deduct some of their childcare expenses from their income to lower what they owe in taxes
  • Northern residents deductions are for those who permanently live in a prescribed northern zone for a continuous period of at least six consecutive months beginning or ending in the tax year. The residency deduction is based on how many days you lived there during the tax year
  • Canada caregiver credit is a non-refundable tax credit for those who support a spouse, a common-law partner, or a dependant with a physical or mental impairment
  • Disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit for eligible people with disabilities or their supporting family members
  • Volunteer firefighters’ and search and rescue volunteers’ tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit of $450 for eligible volunteer firefighters and search and rescue workers

In addition, individuals who reside in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick (2018 only) on December 31 of the year can claim the Climate action incentive (CAI) payment when filing their taxes. A 10% supplement is available to residents of small and rural communities. The CAI payment will first be used to reduce taxes owing, and may create or increase their refund for the year.

9. Do I have to report the sale of my principal residence?

As of 2016, you have to report basic information (year of acquisition, proceeds of disposition, and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence.

You do not have to pay tax on any capital gain when you sell your house if it was your principal residence for all the years you owned it, and you did not use any part of it to earn income.

For more information, go to Sale of your principal residence.

Filing your tax return

10. What is the deadline to file my 2019 taxes?

Income tax and benefit returns for individuals who are not self-employed are due on April 30, 2020.

11. What is the deadline to file my taxes if I’m self-employed?

Self-employed individuals and their spouse or common-law partner have until June 15, 2020, to file their 2019 returns. However, any amount you owe is still due by April 30, 2020.

12. Do I have to file my taxes?

Find out about your tax obligations to see if you need to file an income tax and benefit return. You may still want to file a return even if you have no income. It’s the only way to make sure you get a refund or receive certain benefits and credits. These may include the Canada child benefit, the Canada workers benefit, the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, and any related provincial and territorial payments.

13. How can I file my taxes?

You can file online, or by paper. You may also be able to file by phone if you are eligible for the File my Return service.

Filing online using certified software is fast, easy, and secure. Nearly 90% of the over 29 million returns filed last year were done online. We’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you fill out your income tax and benefit return.

You can find a list of certified tax software products online. Some software is free of charge.

If you like to file on paper, there are some options for you. We’ll mail you the 2019 income tax package if you did your taxes on paper last year. You should get your package by February 17, 2020.

You can also order or download tax packages as of January 21, 2020 or by calling 1-855-330-3305 starting February 24, 2020.

Some tax packages will also be available at Service Canada offices in northern and rural communities.

If you need to order a package, please keep in mind that it may take 10 days for delivery. Factor this time in so you don’t miss the filing deadline.

The File my Return service allows eligible individuals who have low or a fixed income Canadians to file their taxes for free through an automated phone service. Those who are eligible will receive an invitation letter in the mail.

If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers can help you to prepare your return, for free. There are tax preparation clinics across Canada between February and April, with some clinics open year-round.

14. What is the File my Return service?

You may be able to use the File my Return service if you have a low or fixed income and your tax situation is unchanged from year to year.

The service is free, secure, and easy-to-use. There are no paper forms or calculations to do. You’ll have to answer a few automated questions over the phone.

If you’re eligible, you’ll get an invitation in the mail by mid-February 2020. Follow the steps in the letter to use the service.

You may have to provide some dollar amounts so that we can properly calculate benefit, credit, and refund amounts. These amounts would only be required for those living in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Yukon.

15. Why should I file my taxes online?

When you file online using tax software, your return is sent directly to us. You also:

  • get your refund faster (with direct deposit, you could receive your refund in as little as eight business days)
  • don’t have to mail anything
  • don’t have to send receipts (make sure to keep your receipts in case the CRA asks for them later)
  • get instant confirmation that we’ve received your return

If you’re also registered for My Account, you can:

  • update your address using the software
  • quickly fill in parts of your return with information we have on file (through Auto-fill my return)
  • get an Express notice of assessment right after your return has been received and processed by the CRA
  • change your filed return (through the ReFILE service)
16. Is my information safe online?

Our online services use the highest level of online protection. We use the same technology as banks and other financial institutions.

17. If I have questions about my taxes, where can I go?

You can get information about your taxes and benefits from:

  • CRA My Account for your personal tax, benefit and credit information

You can get general information from our:

  • Get Ready and Doing Your Taxes web pages
  • Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) (1-800-267-6999)
  • Telerefund service (1-800-959-1956)
  • Individual tax enquiries line (1-800-959-8281). Telephone agents are available Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm local time. From February 24 to April 30, 2020, these hours are extended to Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm local time and Saturday (except Easter weekend) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm local time.

You can get information if you are self-employed or part of a business by:

  • using our businesses and self-employed phone service (1-800-959-5525)
  • booking a visit or a group seminar with the Liaison Officer Service
18. What are some of the common mistakes people make on their taxes?

Making a mistake can mean it takes longer for us to review your tax return and for you to get your tax refund. Mistakes can also lead to a higher chance of a review or an audit of your file.

If you own a small business or are self-employed, the CRA’s Liaison Officer Service can help you avoid some of these common tax errors. This service provides free, in-person support and guidance to help you meet your tax obligations, avoid common errors, and strengthen your bookkeeping system.

Some common mistakes include:

Not reporting all income – Make sure you report your income from all sources including:

  • tips
  • gratuities
  • a temporary job (such as freelancing or contract work)
  • a part-time job
  • income from the sharing economy or an online business
  • foreign income (including interest and other income from investments held outside Canada)

Be sure to report all income you earn whether you receive it in cash, or it’s reported as income on your T4 or other slips.

You should receive most of your slips from your employer, payer, or administrator by the end of February. If you haven’t received a slip or you’ve lost or misplaced it, ask the issuer for a copy. You can also view most slips and tax information online through My Account.

Not supporting income and expense claims – If you’re a sole proprietor or self-employed, make sure you keep good records to show what income and expenses relate to business and which are personal.

Not keeping personal information up to date – It’s important to tell the CRA as soon as possible about any change in your address or your direct deposit details. You’re also required by law to tell the CRA about any changes to your marital status. This helps avoid any disruption in your benefit and credit payments.

Making an incorrect claim – Various non-deductible amounts, such as funeral and wedding expenses, loans to family members, and a loss on the sale of a principal residence are sometimes incorrectly claimed. If the CRA finds a mistake or a claim that doesn’t apply to the situation, it’ll adjust the return.

Writing your payment amount on your paper return – If you include a partial payment of your balance owing with your paper return, don’t write that payment amount on the return (this means two submissions, one for your tax return and one for your T1135). Simply include the payment when you send your return. We’ll count it as a payment towards your tax return balance and show it as a “payment on filing” on your notice of assessment.

Late filing of Form T1135, Foreign Income Verification Statement: If you own or hold specified foreign property where the total cost amount of all such property, at any time in 2019, was more than CAN$100,000, you have to file Form T1135 by the due date of your income tax return, even if the income tax return is not required to be filed. There are substantial penalties for not filing Form T1135 by the due date, or for making a false statement or omission with respect to the required information.

If you are filing Form T1135 electronically, be sure to submit Form T1135 separately from your income tax return. You will receive a distinct confirmation number for your T1135 submission to tell you that the CRA has received your form.

19. What is a non-refundable tax credit?

Non-refundable tax credits reduce the tax you may owe. However, if the total of your non-refundable tax credits is more than what you owe, you won’t get a refund for the difference.

20. What’s new, if I’m filing by paper?

Income tax package changes:

  • There is an important change to line numbers this year. Line numbers that used to be three or four digits are now five digits. For example, line 150 on the return is now line 15000.
  • The 2019 income tax package includes:
    • a letter from the Minister and Commissioner
    • the income tax and benefit guide
    • the provincial or territorial information guide (with the exception of the province of Québec),
    • two copies of the return (which now includes schedule 1)
    • two copies of Form 428 for your provincial or territorial tax (with the exception of the province of Quebec)
    • some personalized inserts or forms, depending on eligibility
    • a return envelope

Other changes include:

  • using plain language where possible
  • reducing the number of forms by eliminating Schedule 1 and the Worksheet for Schedule 1. You can now find any charts that were on these forms on the Income Tax and Benefit Return and the Worksheet for the Return
  • updating worksheets to simplify certain calculations
  • increasing font size and white space

Digital services available to file your tax return

21. What is My Account?

My Account is a secure portal that lets you view your income tax and benefit information and manage your tax affairs online. You can use My Account to:

  • update your address
  • make a payment
  • track the status of your return
  • register for email notifications
  • set up direct deposit
  • view your T4 information, notice of assessment, and other information slips
  • view and print your proof of income statement
  • request a change to your return using Change My Return
  • check your benefit and credit payment dates and amounts
  • check the status of your Canada child benefits application and update or view information about the children in your care
  • view your disability tax credit information
  • check the deduction limit for your registered retirement savings plan and the contribution limit for your tax-free savings account
22. How do I register for My Account or the mobile web apps?

You can go online to register for My Account or the mobile web apps. You’ll have to create a CRA user ID and password or use a Sign-In Partner.

  1. To register with a CRA user ID and password you’ll need to provide personal information:
    • your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or ZIP code
    • an amount from one of your past income tax and benefit returns. Have a copy of your returns handy. The line amount requested will vary. It could be from the current tax year or the previous one. To register, a return for one of these two years must have been filed and assessed

    Next, you’ll:

    • create a CRA user ID and password
    • choose and answer five security questions

    To complete your registration:

    • request a CRA security code.
    • receive the security code by mail or by email. The CRA security code has an expiry date. Follow the instructions provided before the code expires. If your code has expired, call 1-800-959-8281 to have a new one issued to you
    • enter the security code. Once you get your CRA security code, you’ll go back to My Account, select “CRA login,” enter the requested information (your CRA user ID and password), and when asked, enter your CRA security code

    After you’ve registered, you’ll have access to all the services available in My Account.

  2. To register with a Sign-In Partner, you’ll need to:
    • select “Sign-In Partner Login/Register”
    • on the “Select Sign-In Partner” page, choose the Sign-In Partner you want to use and login
    • enter your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or ZIP code
    • have a copy of your returns from the last two years handy. To register, you must have filed a return for one of these two years
    • enter an amount from one of your income tax and benefit returns. The line amount requested will vary. It could be from the current tax year or the previous one
    • request a CRA security code
    • receive the security code by mail or email. The CRA security code has an expiry date. Follow the instructions provided before the code expires. If your code has expired, call 1-800-959-8281 to have a new one issued to you
    • return to My Account, select “Sign-In Partner Login/Register,” enter the requested information, and when asked, enter your CRA security code

    To log in again, go to the CRA login services page and choose the service you want. You’ll be able to access everything in My Account.

23. Can I register for email notifications?

Yes, you can register to receive email notifications from the CRA by:

  • logging in to My Account and selecting “Notification preferences”
  • using the MyCRA or MyBenefits CRA mobile app and selecting “email address”
  • providing your email address when filing your return through software or on paper
  • asking your legal representative to register you
  • calling the general enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281

To get your CRA mail online, you must be registered for My Account. My Account is the only way to read your mail online. Once you register for email notifications, you will no longer receive paper copies through the mail.

24. What mobile web applications are available for individuals?

The CRA has two mobile web applications for individuals: MyCRA and MyBenefits CRA.

These apps let you securely view and manage key parts of your tax and benefit information.

With MyCRA, you can:

  • see the status of your tax return
  • see how much you can contribute to your registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account
  • see how much you’ll get in benefit and credit payments and when
  • update your contact information
  • manage your direct deposit information
  • register for email notifications
  • make a payment
  • request a proof of income statement, and more

MyBenefits CRA lets you instantly view your personalized benefit information from your mobile device, such as:

  • a list of your benefits and credits
  • your next benefit payment dates and amounts
  • the status of your Canada child benefits application
25. What services are available for tax time this year?

We’ve got a range of services to help you file this tax season:

  • Auto-fill my return – Allows individuals and authorized representatives using certified software to automatically fill in parts of your return with the information we have on file. To use the service, you must be registered for My Account and file online with CRA certified software
  • Express NOA – Allows individuals and authorized representatives to view the notice of assessment (NOA) right after your return has been received and processed by the CRA. To use the service, you must be registered for email notifications in My Account, and file online with CRA certified software. If an accountant or tax professional does your taxes, ask them for your Express NOA
  • Email notifications – Sends you an email when you have new mail to view in My Account, and when a change has been made to your account, such as a change to your home or mailing address, or banking information. It’ll also tell you if paper mail from the CRA was returned to us. This service is a fraud prevention measure and you can get it through My Account or MyCRA mobile app
  • ReFILE – Allows you to change your return using certified tax software
  • Filing an income tax and benefit return on paper – We will be mailing the 2019 income tax package to individuals who filed their returns on paper last year. The package should arrive by February 17, 2020. If you want to file on paper and didn’t receive a guide and forms book, you can order it from the CRA
  • File my Return – Allows eligible individuals who have low income or a fixed income to file their taxes for free through an automated phone service
  • Individual Tax Account Balance Automated Service – Lets you quickly and securely check what you owe the CRA
  • Pay taxes in person – You can pay your personal taxes, benefit and credit overpayments, and other select payments to the CRA in person with cash or a debit card at any Canada Post outlet. Before you can pay in person, you must go the CRA’s website and create a personalized quick response (QR) code. The code can also be found on your personalized remittance voucher (RV).
  • This code contains information that allows us to credit your account, and will be scanned by the clerk. A service fee will be charged based on the amount of the payment and displays when creating the QR code

  • Check CRA processing times tool – You can check estimated CRA processing times using a new tool that is available on Canada.ca. The tool gives you personalized processing times based on information selected in drop-down menus, and it indicates when a response can be expected for various programs
  • Charlie the CRA Chatbot – The CRA is piloting new technology to better serve Canadians with Charlie the CRA Chatbot. Charlie will be available in March and can answer general tax filing questions.

After filing your tax return

26. When can I expect a refund?

If you filed your return online and are signed up for direct deposit, you can get your refund in as little as eight business days. If you filed on paper, it may take us up to eight weeks to process it.

27. How long do I need to save my receipts or records?

No matter how you file, keep all supporting documents for at least six years from the date you file your tax return. These documents help support any deduction or credit you claimed.

If you are self-employed or a sole proprietor, you may need to keep some of your business records for longer.

28. How can I pay the CRA?

You can pay your taxes in different ways:

  • through your financial institution’s online or telephone banking service
  • through the new “Proceed to Pay” buttons in My Account and MyCRA. The information needed to make the payment will automatically be added after you select a payment method:
    • My Payment – Using your Visa® Debit, Debit MasterCard®, or Interac® Online debit card from a participating financial institution
    • Pre-authorized debit from your Canadian chequing account
    • By cash or debit at any Canada Post outlet, using a QR code you generate
  • using the My Payment service outside My Account
  • by credit card, PayPal, or Interac e-Transfer through a third-party service provider
  • by setting up a pre-authorized debit agreement to pay from your Canadian chequing account
  • in person at any Canada Post outlet using cash or a debit card with a QR code you can create using My Account or MyCRA
  • in person at a Canadian financial institution with a remittance voucher
29. Should I file my return on time if I owe money and can't afford to pay it all right away?

Yes, even if you cannot pay all of what you owe by April 30, 2020, you should file your return on time to avoid a late-filing penalty.

30. What if I cannot pay my balance owing?

We can help you find a payment option if you can’t pay all of what you owe on time. Call us right away at 1 888 863-8657 to discuss a payment arrangement.

31. What are the penalties for filing late and not paying what I owe on time?

If you have a balance owing for the year and don’t file your return on time, you’ll be charged a late-filing penalty. The penalty is 5% of what you owe, plus 1% of what you owe for each full month your return is late (up to a maximum of 12 months).

If you were charged a late-filing penalty on any of your returns for 2015 to 2018, your late-filing penalty for 2019 may be higher. It will usually be 10% of your balance owing, plus 2% of your balance owing for each full month your return is late, to a maximum of 20 months.

32. What should I do if I make a mistake on my tax return?

You can use ReFILE to make a change to your return through certified tax software.

You can submit a change online using Change my Return in My Account.

You may also send a completed Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request with any supporting documents to your tax centre (listed on the form).

33. What if I want to formally dispute my notice of assessment, reassessment, or credit or benefit decision?

You may want to file a notice of objection. To find out if this option is right for you, go to File an objection.

34. What do I do if I am not satisfied with the CRA’s service or if I have experienced reprisal?

You can expect to be treated fairly under clear and established rules, and get a high level of service each time you deal with the CRA. Some complaints and disputes are caused by a lack of information or by a simple miscommunication. That’s what the CRA says, “Talk to us”.

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