Questions and answers

1) What is the deadline to file your 2018 income tax and benefit return?

Most Canadians' income tax and benefit returns are due on April 30, 2019.

2) What is the deadline to file if I am self-employed?

Self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners have until June 15, 2019, to file their 2018 returns. However, as this date falls on a Saturday in 2019, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will consider your return for 2018 as filed if the CRA receives your submission on June 17, 2019, or it is postmarked June 17, 2019. Any balance owing for the year is due by April 30, 2019.

3) Do I have to file an income tax and benefit return?

Find out about your tax obligations and whether you need to file an income tax and benefit return.

Even if you don't have income to report for 2018, you should file a return to claim a refund or receive certain benefits and credits to which you may be entitled. These may include the Canada child benefit, the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, the related provincial or territorial payments, and the guaranteed income supplement.

4) What methods other than paper are available to file income tax and benefit returns?

The CRA invites you to join the growing number of Canadians who file online. Electronic methods are convenient, easy-to-use, and secure. The CRA has prepared a step-by-step guide that will help you fill out your income tax and benefit return.

You can find a list of certified desktop and NETFILE software products online, and web service options, including those that are free of charge.

You may be able to get free help from a community organization to help you file your income tax and benefit return. If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers can prepare your return for you, for free.

The File my Return service invites eligible Canadians to file their income tax and benefit return by providing some personal information and answering a few questions through an automated phone service.

5) When can I expect a refund?

If you file your income tax and benefit return online using EFILE or NETFILE and are signed up for direct deposit, you can get your refund in as little as eight business days. If you file a paper return, it will usually take the CRA up to 8 weeks to process it. 

6) What is Auto-fill my return?

The Auto-fill my return service allows you and your authorized representatives to automatically fill in parts of your 2016, 2017, and 2018 income tax and benefit returns with information the CRA has available at the time you are completing your return. To use the Auto-fill my return service, you must be registered for My Account and use a certified tax software product.

7) What is the File my Return service?

File my Return  lets eligible Canadians, particularly those with low or fixed incomes whose situations remain unchanged from year to year, file their income tax and benefit return by answering a few questions over the phone through an automated phone service. The service is free, secure, and easy-to-use.

In mid-February 2019, individuals who are eligible will receive,  an invitation letter in the mail with all the steps they need to do to file their return using the service. In some cases, eligible Canadians living in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Yukon may have to give some dollar amounts related to the correct calculation of provincial or territorial credits so that the CRA can properly calculate refund amounts.

8) Last year, how many returns were filed electronically?

Last year, nearly 90% of returns were filed online.

9) How long do I need to save my receipts or records?

Whether you file online or on paper, keep all supporting documents for your return for at least six years from the date you file your tax return. These documents include receipts to support any deduction or credit you claimed.

If you are self-employed or a sole proprietor, some of your business records may need to be retained for a different period of time

10) What are some of the benefits of using NETFILE when you do your taxes?

NETFILE is an online tax-filing service that lets you send your income tax and benefit return directly to the CRA using the Internet and a NETFILE-certified software product. NETFILE streamlines the tax-filing process and offers you these benefits:

  • update address information if you're registered for My Account
  • use of the CRA's Auto-fill my return service if you're registered for My Account
  • receive your notice of assessment (NOA) right after filing your return with the Express NOA service if you are registered for online mail.
  • faster refunds (with direct deposit, you could receive your refund in as little as 8 business days)
  • no paper return to mail
  • no receipts to send in (the CRA may ask for receipts later)
  • get immediate confirmation that your return has been received
  • submit a change to your filed return online, through the ReFILE service

11) Is my information safe online?

The CRA secure online services use the highest level of online protection. It is the same technology used by banks and other financial institutions for their online services.

12) What methods are available to pay if I owe money?

There are many ways to pay any amount you owe to the CRA

  • using your financial institution's telephone or online banking service
  • using the CRA's pre-authorized debit service offered through My Account, which lets you:
    • set up a payment from your bank account to the CRA on a pre-set date
    • pay an overdue amount or make instalment payments
  • through the CRA's My Payment service, which lets you make payments online. You can use this service if you have Visa® Debit, Debit MasterCard® or Interac® Online at a participating financial institution
  • through a third-party service provider that offers payment by credit card or PayPal.
  • in person at any Canada Post outlet using cash or a debit card

13) Should I file my return on time if I owe money and can't afford to pay the outstanding balance immediately?

Yes, even if you cannot pay the full amount of your balance owing by April 30, 2019, you should file your return on time to avoid a late-filing penalty.

14) What if I cannot pay my balance owing?

The CRA is ready to discuss payment options if you can't pay your debt in full and on time. Call us right away at 1-888-863-8657 to discuss a payment arrangement.

15) What are the penalties for filing late and not paying a balance owing on time?

If you owe tax and do not file your return on time, you will be charged a late-filing penalty. The penalty is 5% of your balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each full month your return is late (up to a maximum of 12 months).

If you were charged a late-filing penalty on your returns for 2015, 2016, or 2017, your late-filing penalty for 2018 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.

16) Is direct deposit available?

Yes, you can have your refunds and benefits payments deposited directly into your bank account at a Canadian financial institution. With direct deposit and online filing, individuals will often receive their refund in as little as eight business days.

17) How do I sign up for direct deposit?

You can sign up for direct deposit:

18) How do I change my address with the CRA?

You can do this by using My Account, My CRA mobile web app, MyBenefits CRA mobile web app, by mail or fax, with NETFILE, or by calling 1-800-959-8281. If you move, tell the CRA your new address as soon as possible to ensure the CRA can continue to deliver the benefits payments and credits to which you may be entitled.

19) What is My Account?

My Account is a secure online service that lets you manage your personal income tax and benefit information. 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 (CMR)
  • check the dates and amounts of your benefit and credit payments
  • check the status of your Canada child benefit application, and information about the children in your care
  • view your disability tax credit information
  • check your Registered Retirement Savings Plan deduction limit and Tax-Free Savings Account  contribution limit and more

20) How do I register for My Account or the mobile web apps?

You can register for My Account or the mobile web apps online by creating a CRA user ID and password or by using a Sign-In Partner.

To register with a CRA user ID and password you will need to provide personal information:

  • Enter your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or ZIP code.
  • Enter an amount from one of your 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.
  • Create a CRA user ID and password.
  • Choose and answer 5 security questions.

To complete your registration, you will need to request and enter a CRA security code. The CRA security code has an indicated expiry date. Follow the provided instructions before the code expires. If you code has expired, call 1-800-959-8281 to have a new CRA security code issued to you.

Once you receive your CRA security code, you will return to My Account, select "CRA login", enter the requested information your CRA user ID and password, and, when prompted, enter your CRA security code. You will then have access to all of the services available in My Account.

To register with a Sign-In Partner, you will need to:

  • Select which Sign-In Partner you would like to use and enter your login information.
  • Enter your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or ZIP code.
  • Enter an amount from one of your 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.

To complete your registration, you will need to request and enter a CRA security code. The CRA security code has an indicated expiry date. Follow the provided instructions before the code expires, or you will have to contact the CRA to have a new security code issued to you.

Once you receive your CRA security code, you will return to My Account, select "Sign-In Partner", enter the requested information, and, when prompted, enter your CRA security code.

To access the service anytime in the future, return to the CRA login services page, select the service you want to use and login. You will then have access to all of the services available in My Account.

21) Can I register for online mail?

Yes, the CRA's online mail service for individuals is quick, easy, and secure.

You can register to receive online mail from the CRA by:

To access your mail from the CRA online, you must be registered for My Account. My Account is the only place to view your mail online. Once you register for online mail, you will no longer receive paper copies through the mail.

22) What mobile web applications are available for individuals?

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

These mobile web applications will let you securely view and manage key parts of your tax information.

MyCRA links to several webpages where you can quickly get information about income tax and benefit matters.

With MyCRA mobile web application, you can:

  • verify the status of your tax return
  • view your contribution limits for your registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account
  • view benefit payments amounts and dates
  • update your contact information
  • manage your direct deposit information
  • register for online mail
  • request a proof of income statement, and more

MyBenefits CRA mobile application lets you instantly view all your benefit information from your mobile device.

MyBenefits CRA gives you personalized benefit information such as:

  • a list of your benefits and credits
  • your next benefit payment dates and amounts
  • the status of your Canada child benefit application.

23) Can anyone contact the CRA on my behalf to get my information?

No, taxpayer information is confidential. If you want the CRA to deal with another person or persons as your representative, we need your consent.

24) How do I authorize a representative?

You can give us your consent through My Account or by filling out and sending us Form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative.

25) Does the CRA ever use email to communicate with taxpayers?

The CRA will not send information about your refund or benefit payments by email. Additionally, it will not ask for personal information by email or leave personal information on an answering machine. However, if you have registered for online mail, the CRA will notify you by email when you have new mail to view in My Account, such as your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment. Also, if you call the CRA to request a form or a link for specific information, a CRA agent will forward the information you are requesting to your email during the telephone call.

26) Where can I get an income tax package?

To serve Canadians better, the CRA will mail a new all-in-one 2018 Income tax package to individuals who filed on paper last year.

The new 2018 Income tax package includes the Federal Income Tax and Benefit Guide, the Provincial or Territorial Information Guide (where applicable), and two copies of the return and schedules (a working copy for the individual's files and a copy to submit to the CRA). Canadians who have someone prepare or help them prepare their return, will need to share this package with them.

If you want to file on paper and don't receive an income tax package, you can order one at canada.ca/get-cra-forms or call 1-800-959-8281 (for service in English) or 1-800-959-7383 (for service in French). You can also print the forms from canada.ca/taxes-general-package.

Starting February 18, 2019, you can also obtain a tax package at Canada Post, Service Canada, and some Caisse populaire Desjardins locations. Limited quantities will be available in those locations this tax season only.

The CRA won't automatically send a tax package to individuals who filed their return by paper after October 23, 2018, or who moved after they filed their return without updating their address with the CRA. These individuals will need to contact the CRA to get a tax package. As well, we won't send a tax package to individuals who used software to prepare their return or used the services of a tax professional. However, these individuals can still order or download tax and benefit products.

27) If I have questions about my taxes, where can I get information?

You can get information from the following sources:

  • Your CRA My Account
  •  Get ready to do your 2018 income tax and benefit return
  •  Doing your taxes
  • Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS): 1-800-267-6999
  • Telerefund: 1-800-959-1956
  • Individual tax enquiries: 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 26 to April 30, 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) 9:00 am to 5:00 pm local time.
  • For Business and self-employed individuals: 1-800-959-5525

Did you know, the CRA is improving its Call centres?

For millions of Canadians, our call centres are their first choice to interact with the CRA. The CRA has made significant strides in order to better service Canadians all year around.

  • With previous investments from Budget 2016, the CRA has already taken a number of steps to improve its telephone service and accessibility, including hiring more agents. Last year the CRA had an average of 2,673 employees in its call centres compared with fewer than 2,300 in 2014-2015. Budget 2018 made further investments of $78.3 million over 5 years starting in 2018-2019 and $17.4 million per year ongoing to support these efforts and continue the progress being made to improve client services.
  • The CRA's training program was redesigned in early 2017 to better prepare newly hired agents, and to assess their readiness to leave the training environment and respond to calls. More than 700 call centre agents have now been trained using this approach.
  • To strengthen the accuracy of responses provided by call centre agents, the CRA created a new quality assurance team. This new team will review and assess the quality and accuracy of the information provided to callers and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • The CRA's interactive voice response system was enhanced in February 2018 to add a new feature that allows callers to confirm their account balance and last payment details without needing to speak to an agent.
  • More callers can now wait in queue, which has reduced the number of call attempts needed to reach an agent from an average of 3.3 in 2015-2016 to an average of 2.1 for 2017-2018.

28) What is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program?

Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, community organizations host free tax clinics where volunteers prepare income tax and benefits returns, for free, for individuals and families with modest incomes and simple tax situations. In Quebec, this program is known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program.

29) If I am self-employed or the owner of a small business, how can I get free tax help to know I am doing things right from the start?

Through the Liaison Officer service, the CRA offers free in-person support and guidance to owners of small unincorporated businesses or self-employed individuals to help them understand and meet their tax obligations.

30) What services are available for tax time this year?

  • Auto-fill my return - The service lets you or your authorized representatives automatically fill in parts of your 2016, 2017 and 2018 income tax and benefit returns with information the CRA has available at the time of filing your return.
  • Express NOA – This service delivers a notice of assessment directly into your certified tax software right after you file. To use the service, you must be registered for online mail and file online using certified tax software. If you have an accountant or tax professional to help you file your tax return, ask them to provide you with an Express NOA right after filing your tax return.
  • Account alerts – As a fraud prevention measure, this new service sends you an email when someone has changed your home or mailing address or direct deposit banking information, or if paper mail from the CRA was returned to us. You may register for this service through My Account or MyCRA mobile app.
  • ReFILE – The ReFILE service lets you change your 2018, 2017 and 2016 returns using your NETFILE certified tax software.
  • Filing an income tax and benefit return on paper – The CRA will mail the 2018 Income tax package to individuals who filed their returns on paper last year.  The mailed package should arrive by February 11, 2019.If you want to file on paper and didn't receive a guide and forms book, you can find what you need online or order it from the CRA. Each individual can only order nine packages.
  • File my Return – The File my Return service lets eligible Canadians, particularly those with low or fixed incomes whose situations remain unchanged from year to year, file their income tax and benefit return by answering a few questions over the phone through an automated phone service.
  • Our automated phone service will let you quickly and securely verify your balance owing to the CRA.
  • Pay taxes in person – You can now 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 across the country. To pay in person, you must first create a personalized QR code online.

31) What types of benefit payments, tax credits and deductions are available?

Depending on your situation, you may apply for one or more of the following benefits or credits:

  • Canada child benefit is a tax-free monthly payment to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. Families could get up to $6,496 annually for each child under 6 and $5,481 annually for each child aged 6-17. This payment may include related provincial and territorial programs.

    Individuals need to apply for this benefit by using one of the following ways:

  • GST/HST credit is a non-taxable quarterly payment that helps individuals 19 years or older and families with low and modest incomes offset all or part of GST/HST they pay. Individuals do not have to apply for this credit. The CRA will determine your eligibility automatically when you file your income tax and benefit return and will inform those who are eligible to receive the credit. This payment may include related provincial and territorial programs.
  • Working income tax benefit is a refundable tax credit available to eligible individuals and families who work but earn low income. You can also apply to get up to half of the tax credit amount in advance payments.
  • Disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.

You can also claim several deductions, credits and expenses on your return to increase your refund or reduce the amount of tax you pay. Some of these include:

  • Northern residents deductions: If you live on a permanent basis in a prescribed northern zone for a continuous period of at least six consecutive months starting or ending in the tax year, you may be eligible for a deduction based on how many days you lived there during the tax year.
  • Eligible educator school supply tax credit: Eligible teachers and early childhood educators may be able to claim up to $1,000 for eligible teaching supplies purchased in the taxation year for a maximum credit of $150.
  • Canada caregiver credit: This non-refundable tax credit gives tax relief for eligible individuals who have a spouse or common-law partner, or dependant with an impairment in physical or mental functions.
  • Pension income splitting: Pensioners may be able to split up to 50% of their eligible pension income with their spouse or common-law partner and reduce their overall tax payable.
  • Volunteer firefighters' amount and Search and rescue volunteers' amount: Volunteer firefighters or search and rescue volunteers may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit of $450.
  • Child care expenses deduction: Parents may be able to deduct a portion of their child care expenses from their income.
  • Climate Action Incentive (CAI) Payment: Eligible residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick can claim the CAI payment when filing their 2018 income tax and benefit return. An additional 10 per cent supplement is available to residents of small and rural communities. The payment will first be used to reduce any balance owing, if applicable, or may increase the amount of any refund they're entitled to.

32) Do I have to file my tax return early to have Service Canada (SC) renew my guaranteed income supplement (GIS) benefits?

For SC to automatically renew your GIS benefit in July, you should file your tax return as early as possible in the filing season but definitely before April 30th.

33) Do I have to report the sale of my principal residence?

As of 2016, you have to report basic information on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence to claim the full principal residence exemption for capital gains.

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

34) What are some of the common mistakes people make with their taxes?

Some common mistakes include:

  • not reporting all income - Make sure you report your income  earned from all sources - tips, gratuities, a temporary job (such as freelancing or contract work), a part-time job, money earned from the sharing economy or an online business. Be sure to report all income you earn even when received in cash, as well as income from all your slips, such as T4 slips. You should receive most of your slips from your employer, payer, or administrator by the end of February. If you have not received, or have lost or misplaced, a slip for 2018, ask the issuer of the slip for a copy. You can also view your slips and tax information online through My Account.
  • not supporting income and expense claims – If you are a sole proprietor or self-employed, make sure you keep good records to indicate what income and expenses relate to business and which are personal, in order to support your claims.
  • not keeping personal information up to date - It is important to tell the CRA as soon as possible about any change in your address or direct deposit details. You are also required by law to tell the CRA about any changes to your marital status which helps avoid any disruption in your benefit and credit payments.
  • making an incorrect claim - Various non-deductible amounts, such as funeral expenses, wedding expenses, loans to family members, a loss on the sale of a home designated as a principal residence, and other similar amounts are sometimes claimed in error. If the CRA concludes that a taxpayer has made a mistake or made a claim they are not entitled to, it will adjust their return.
  • entering on page 4 of your return the amount of your payment on filing - If you include a payment with your paper return, do not write the amount of the payment on the return. Simply include the payment with your return. The CRA will process it as a payment towards your tax return balance and show it as a "payment on filing" on the resulting notice. 

These common mistakes can slow the processing of your tax return and delay your tax refund. They can also lead to a higher chance of the CRA selecting your file for a review or an audit.

35) What is a non-refundable tax credit?

Non-refundable tax credits reduce your federal tax. If the total of the non-refundable tax credits is more than your federal tax, you will not get a refund for the difference.

36) What should I do if I make a mistake on my tax return?

The ReFILE service allows Canadians to submit adjustments through NETFILE and EFILE  certified tax software. Change my Return also allows My Account users to submit a change online. You may also send a completed Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request, along with any supporting documents to your tax centre indicated on the T1-ADJ form.

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