Questions and answers about filing your taxes
The Educator School Supply Tax Credit and the Return of Fuel Charge Proceeds to Farmers Tax Credit have received Parliamentary approval. This means that the CRA can now process your 2021 income tax and benefit return if you claimed these credits. Contact Us if you have questions.
This web page will be updated periodically to incorporate changes that may affect you during the tax-filing season.
The CRA is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality service in the most efficient way possible. Here you will find questions and answers about popular subjects we see at tax time.
COVID-19 and tax-filing
1. How will COVID-19 benefit payments affect your 2021 taxes?
If you received COVID-19 benefits in 2021, these are considered taxable income. This means you will need to enter the total amount you received on your 2021 income tax and benefit return. A T4A tax slip will be mailed to you by the end of February 2022, and residents of Quebec will receive a T4A slip and an RL-1 slip.
The Government of Canada temporary COVID-19 income support benefits are:
- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
If you received the CRB, CRSB, or CRCB, the Government of Canada withheld 10% tax. For Quebec residents who received the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB, 5% of the tax withheld will be reported on the T4A slip and the other 5% will be reported on the RL-1 slip.
You may have also received similar relief payments provided by your provincial or territorial government. You will need to enter the total amount you received on your 2021 income tax and benefit return.
T4A information slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19-related benefits will also be provided online if you’re registered for My Account and have full access. To have full access to My Account, you need to enter the CRA security code we issued to you after completing the first step of the registration process.
T4A information slips, including information for COVID-19-related benefits, are also available through the Auto-fill my return service in certified tax filing software. This is because this service automatically fills in parts of an income tax and benefit return with information that the CRA has on file. To use the service, you must be registered for My Account.
2. What is a T4A slip and why did you get one?
Those who received COVID-19 emergency or recovery benefit payments from the CRA will receive a slip called T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income by the end of February 2022. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A and RL-1 slip. If you are registered for My Account and have full access, the T4A slip will also be available through My Account.
Due to the unprecedented financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Canadians sought the support of the government’s benefits. In 2021, these included the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) payments. As stated from the beginning, these payments are considered taxable income. Therefore, recipients must enter the total of these amounts received last year on their income tax and benefit return.
3. Did you receive COVID-19 benefit payments but do not have a T4A slip? What should you do?
A T4A slip will be mailed to you by the end of February 2022. If you are registered for the CRA’s My Account and have full access, you will also be able to view your tax slip online. If you received COVID-19 benefit payments and did not get a T4A or an RL-1 slip, you should contact the CRA.
4. What should you do if your T4A or RL-1 slip has incorrect information?
You may notice that your T4A slip does not reflect the income you actually received. Perhaps you repaid an amount and it is not reflected on the slip. Or maybe you didn’t make a repayment but the income on the slip has been reduced by some amount. In either case, contact the CRA right away when you notice the suspected error.
5. What if you have to contact the CRA about your T4A or RL-1 slip but can’t get through to an agent?
We are aware that everyone’s tax situation is unique and may require contacting one of our agents. We thank you for your patience in advance. Tax season is the busiest time for the CRA. Unfortunately, this means you may experience long wait times. Agents are working hard to answer calls as fast as possible to deliver services that Canadians expect from the CRA.
We understand that waiting to get through in these situations can be stressful. The individual tax enquiries line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, local time, and Saturday 9am to 5pm, local time, except holidays.
6. What happens if you made a payment or payments toward your COVID-19 benefit overpayment? Will that appear on your T4A slip?
If you received CRB, CRSB, and CRCB overpayments in 2020 or 2021 and made a repayment toward the amount you owe, any amounts you repaid to the CRA between January 1 and December 31, 2021, will be reflected on your 2021 T4A slip. For repayments in 2021 of benefits received in 2021, only the difference will be reported in the appropriate benefit box. Repayments of 2020 benefits after December 31, 2020 will be reported in Box 201.
If you repaid Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), CRB, CRSB, and CRCB benefits you received from CRA in 2020 after December 31, 2020, you will receive a 2021 T4A slip by February 2022 showing the amount of the repayment amount. If you received your CERB from Service Canada, the amount repaid in 2021 will be reported on your 2021 T4E slip along with other EI amounts repaid. Service Canada will send you a letter showing the amount of CERB you repaid.
7. What should you do if there are issues with your RL-1 slip?
Quebec residents who notice issues with their RL-1 slip should contact Revenu Québec.
8. What amount of COVID-19 benefits do you need to enter on your income tax and benefit return?
You will need to enter the total amount of benefit payments you received and any tax that was withheld. The amount to report on your tax return is stated on the T4A slip (if you applied through the CRA). T4A slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19 related benefits will also be provided to you online if you’re registered with My Account and have full access.
You will need to report the following amounts on your tax return:
- Box 200, Provincial / Territorial COVID-19 financial assistance payments
- Box 201, Repayment of COVID-19 financial assistance
- Box 202, Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB - The amount in this box can be claimed as a deduction on the return for either 2021 or for the year in which the benefit was received.)
- Box 203, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
- Box 204, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
9. You received a letter or a T4A slip stating that you received a COVID-19 benefit payment but you never applied. What do you do?
To report payments received in error or fraudulent activity related to COVID-19 benefits, please contact us as soon as possible. These benefits are provided to help Canadians affected by COVID-19, and we take situations of potential fraud very seriously. We will work to support affected Canadians to make sure they are not affected negatively during tax-filing season because of fraudulent activities.
The CRA is working hard to ensure your tax information is protected from fraud. Canadians’ vigilance in protecting their account information is also an essential layer of security. We strongly recommend that all taxpayers sign up for My Account, which allows for email notifications as an extra measure of security.
10. Should you file your 2021 income tax and benefit return if you are waiting for the CRA to resolve an issue with the T4A slip you received?
Yes. The CRA encourages everyone to file by the deadline. This will ensure there are no interruptions to benefit or credit payments and that you avoid late-filing penalties. You can file using the information you have available to estimate the income you received and any income tax withheld from COVID-19 benefit payments. If needed, the CRA will correct the information and send you an amended or cancelled T4A slip. If you receive an amended or cancelled T4A slip, you can request changes to your return if they are required.
11. Your income is exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act, but 10% tax was deducted from your CRB, CRCB, or CRSB payment. How can you get a refund of the withheld amounts you are entitled to?
Tax will be withheld on all CRB, CRCB, or CRSB payments, including those made to individuals with income that may be exempt from tax.
If some or all of your employment income is exempt from taxes under section 87 of the Indian Act and you are registered or are entitled to be registered under the Indian Act, you may be able to get a refund of part or all of the tax withheld on payments you received in 2020 or 2021. To get a refund, you need to file a tax return for that year. When filing your tax return, you may also fill out the T90 form, Income Exempt From Tax Under the Indian Act, to indicate your employment income tax exemption status if it applies.
12. If you are self-employed and received COVID-19 subsidies for your business, what do you need to know?
You may have received federal, provincial, or territorial government program assistance that was provided for self-employed individuals, businesses, farmers, or fishers. Government assistance is taxable so you must report the amount of assistance you received when you file your income tax return.
You can either include it in your business, farming or fishing income, or if you choose, reduce your business, farming or fishing expenses by the amount.
If you received assistance from any of the following income support programs, you are considered to have received it immediately before the end of the claim period it relates to:
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
- Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP)
- Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP)
- Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP)
You may also have received a government loan. The loan itself is not taxable. However, any part of the loan that is forgivable is taxable in the year you received the loan.
13. Where can you get tax help?
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to help by completing your tax return through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In Quebec, you can check with the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. Tax clinics are generally offered across Canada between March and April and many are available throughout the year. Organizations can host in-person clinics, following local public health guidelines, or may offer virtual clinics where your return can be completed by videoconference, phone or through a document drop-off arrangement. Go to canada.ca/taxes-help for more information.
If you’re doing your taxes yourself, check out Learn about your taxes, our new online learning tool. This resource seeks to empower individuals to take their personal taxes into their own hands by demystifying taxes, increasing awareness of benefits and credits, and showing them how to do their taxes. This information is presented in short lessons, exercises, quizzes, and videos. It is a helpful resource for anyone wanting to learn about taxes or those who just need a refresher.
If you are a small-business owner or self-employed, you can get free tax help by booking a virtual visit with a Liaison Officer. During a phone visit, a videoconference visit or a group webinar, a Liaison Officer can:
- answer your tax-related questions (income, GST/HST, payroll)
- discuss business deductions, and
- help you avoid common errors that could end up costing you time and money
To book your virtual visit or webinar, go to Liaison Officer Service.
14. Your employer went out of business and you don’t have your T4 slip. Where do you get it and other slips?
The information on your T4 slip is important when preparing and filing an accurate income tax and benefit return with the CRA. If you are registered in My Account, you can get a copy of you T4 slip and other tax slips there. However, not all slips will be available right away. You may have to visit My Account regularly to access them.
Even if you don’t have all your tax slips, we encourage you to file by the deadline to avoid penalties and interest. You can use your pay stubs or statements to calculate your income and any related deductions and credits you can claim. You should keep a copy of all those documents in case we ask to see them later.
COVID-19 benefit payments and overpayments
15. Did you qualify for interest relief on your 2020 taxes owing?
If you met all the eligibility criteria and filed your 2020 tax return on time, the CRA will automatically apply interest relief on your 2020 taxes owing up to April 30, 2022.
If you filed your 2020 return and qualified for interest relief, you have until April 30, 2022, to pay any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year to avoid future interest charges.
16. How do you repay COVID-19 benefit payments to the CRA?
There are many ways to repay COVID-19 benefit payments to the CRA: online, through your financial institution or by mail. For the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), you may want to return or have to repay it to the department (CRA or Service Canada) that issued you the CERB payment.
If you’re unable to repay COVID-19 benefit amounts in full, you must contact the CRA as soon as possible so that we can work with you to find a suitable payment arrangement. To help Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA has expanded its payment arrangement options to provide more flexibility, based on your ability to pay.
If you’ve received COVID-19 benefit payments or you’re a resident of Quebec, there may be other impacts when filing your tax return.
To set up a payment arrangement, you can call 1-833-253-7615 (within Canada or the United States) or 1-613-221-3002 (outside Canada or the United States) to speak with a CRA agent.
When you call, you’ll need to give us:
- your social insurance number
- your date of birth, and
- the amount on line 15000 of your last notice of assessment
17. How much time do you have if you need to pay back COVID-19 benefit payments?
The CRA and Service Canada encourage you to repay any COVID-19 benefit you were not entitled to receive by December 31, 2022. This will help us issue accurate T4A and T4E slips and ensure there is no impact on your 2021 income tax and benefit return. If the CRA or Service Canada receives your repayment by that date but incorrectly applies it, they will send you an amended T4A or T4E slip.
COVID-19 benefit payments are taxable income and must be reported on your income tax and benefit return. If you received benefits from the CRA in 2021, you can expect to receive a T4A slip showing the total amount of payment(s).
This year, T4A slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19 related benefits will be also be available online if you’re registered with My Account.
18. How much tax will you have to pay on your COVID-19 benefit payments?
If you received the CRB, CRSB, CRCB, 10% tax was withheld from the payment.
However, you may also owe tax when filing your income tax and benefit return. This will depend on your personal circumstances and the type of COVID-19 benefits you received.
For Quebec residents who received the CRB, CRSB, CRCB or CWLB, 5% of the tax withheld will be reported on a T4A slip and the other 5% will be reported on a RL-1 slip.
Some provinces or territories may have sent out pandemic-related payments that are considered taxable income. These amounts should be entered on your tax return.
If your income is normally exempt from tax, your COVID-19 benefits may also be exempt from tax. If you received CRB, CRSB, or CRCB payments in 2021, you can claim the 10% tax (5% for Quebec residents) that was withheld on these payments by filing a 2021 tax return.
There may be other impacts to filing your tax return that are specific to COVID-19 benefit payments you received, or if you are a resident of Quebec.
Before filing your income tax and benefit return
19. How do you change your address with the CRA?
You can also change your address:
- by mail or fax
- through certified tax software when filing your return, if you are registered for My Account
- by calling 1-800-959-8281
If you have moved, you need to inform the CRA as soon as possible to avoid interrupting your benefit and credits payments. If you are a paper filer, you need to update your mailing information in order to receive the 2021 Income Tax Package. We encourage you to change your address online and sign up for email notifications. These notifications act as an early warning about important changes made on your account.
20. How do you give someone permission to access your tax information?
For more information on how to authorize a representative, go to Representative authorization.
21. How can you get free tax help if you’re the owner of a small business or self-employed?
The CRA offers small-business owners and self employed individuals free help by phone or videoconference virtually through the Liaison Officer Service. This service helps you understand your tax obligations and makes you aware of possible business deductions. The Liaison Officer will answer tax-related questions (income tax, GST/HST and payroll), discuss business deductions and explain common tax errors.
22. Is direct deposit available?
Yes, and we strongly encourage you to sign up to avoid delays in receiving your refund or benefit and credit payments. If you’re set up with direct deposit and you file your return online, you may receive your refund in as little as eight business days.
23. How do you sign up for direct deposit?
24. Where can you get the 2021 income tax package?
If you filed your 2020 income tax and benefit return on paper, the CRA will automatically mail you the 2021 income tax package. You should get your package by February 21, 2022.
If you haven’t received it by February 21, you can:
- view, download, and print the package from canada.ca/taxes-general-package
- order it online at canada.ca/get-cra-forms
- order a package by calling the CRA at 1-855-330-3305 (be ready to give your social insurance number)
If you need to order a package, please keep in mind that it may take up to 10 days for the package to arrive by mail. Factor that time in, so you don’t miss the filing deadline.
25. What services are available that can help me file for free?
The CRA has a list of certified tax software for filing a return, some of which are free. Avoid delays and make tax filing easier by filing online. We process online tax returns in two weeks, while a return sent by mail takes 10 to 12 weeks. For this reason, we encourage you to file your return online and use our online services. You can file as early as February 21, 2022, with NETFILE.
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to complete your tax return through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In Quebec, you can check with the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. Community organizations partner with the CRA to host tax clinics where volunteers help people and families with modest incomes and simple tax situations file their returns. This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file your return in-person by following local public health guidelines or virtually.
The File my Return service allows eligible individuals who have a low or fixed income to file their return for free using an automated phone service. The service is secure and easy to use. There are no paper forms to complete or calculations to do. Individuals who are eligible will receive an invitation letter in the mail by the end of February.
If you’re doing your taxes yourself, check out Learn about your taxes, our new online learning too. This resource seeks to empower individuals to take their personal taxes into their own hands by demystifying taxes, increasing awareness of benefits and credits, and showing how to do their taxes. This information is presented in digestible lessons, exercises, quizzes, and videos. It is a helpful resource for anyone wanting to learn about taxes or those who just need a refresher.
26. What types of benefit payments, deductions and tax credits are available by filing a return?
By filing a return, you may be eligible for one or more of the following:
- 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 payments
- Goods and services tax / harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit is a tax-free payment every three months for individuals 19 years or older and families with low and modest incomes to offset all or part of the GST or HST they pay. You may also be eligible for related provincial and territorial payments
- Canada training credit is a refundable tax credit to offset some of the eligible training fees you pay by lowering your taxes. You may be able to claim this credit for eligible tuition and other fees you paid to an eligible educational institution in Canada for courses you took in 2021, or for fees you paid to take an occupational, trade, or professional examination in 2021.
- Canada workers benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit that provides tax relief for eligible low-income individuals. The CWB is targeted at working individuals and families who are in the workforce and who are earning a low income. You claim the CWB when you file your income tax return. If you think your income will stay the same, you can receive up to half of your benefit in advance payments instead of waiting for tax time
- Pension income splitting lets pensioners split up to 50% of their eligible pension income with their spouse or common-law partner, which may lower the combined tax the couple has to pay
- Child care expenses deduction may be available to parents to deduct some of their eligible child care expenses from their income to lower their tax
- Northern residents deductions are for those who permanently live in prescribed intermediate zone for a continuous period of at least six months, beginning or ending in the tax year. The residency deductions are based on how many days you lived in a zone during the tax year. To find out if you live in a prescribed zone, visit Line 25500 - Places located in prescribed zones.
- Employment expenses deduction may let you claim certain expenses you paid to earn employment income if you meet the eligibility criteria
- 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 a disability or their supporting family members
- Volunteer firefighters’ and search and rescue volunteers’ tax credits are non-refundable tax credits of $450 for eligible volunteer firefighters, as well as for search and rescue volunteers workers. You can only claim one of the credits, not both
- Climate action incentive (CAI) will now be paid as a quarterly benefit. If you are a resident of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Ontario and you are eligible, you will automatically receive your CAI payments four times a year, starting in July 2022. To receive your payments, you have to file a tax return even if you have not received income in the year. You may qualify for the supplement for residents of small and rural communities if you currently reside outside of a census metropolitan area (CMA) and expect to continue to reside outside of a CMA on April 1, 2022
27. Do you have to report the sale of your principal residence?
As of 2016, when you sell your principal residence, you have to report the sale and designate it as your principal residence and give basic information (year of acquisition, proceeds of disposition, and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return.
You do not have to pay tax on any capital gain when you sell your personal residence 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 2021 income tax and benefit return
28. Do you have to file an income tax and benefit return?
You should find out about your tax obligations to see if you need to file an income tax and benefit return. Filing a return is the only way to receive refunds as well as certain benefits and credits, including the Canada child benefit, the Canada workers benefit, the goods and services tax / harmonized sales tax credit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement and related provincial and territorial payments.
To continue supporting Canadians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, important income support was extended through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) until May 7, 2022.
The Canada Recovery Benefit, CRSB, or CRCB payments are considered taxable income, 10% tax was withheld at source. Therefore, the T4A tax slip issued for these payments will indicate the total amount of income to be reported and the amount of tax withheld at source to be claimed on your tax return. The T4A information slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19-related benefits will be provided online if you’re registered for My Account and have full access. To have full access to My Account, you need to enter the CRA security code we issued to you after completing the first step of the registration process. If you’re not registered for My Account, you will receive your T4A tax slip in the mail.
To continue getting your benefit and credit payments, you need to do your taxes on time every year, even if your income is tax exempt or you had no income at all.
29. What is the deadline to file your 2021 income tax and benefit return?
The income tax and benefit return for individuals who are not self-employed is due on April 30, 2022. Since April 30, 2022, is a Saturday, your return will be considered filed on time if the CRA receives it or it is postmarked on or before May 2, 2022. If you have a balance owing, it is also due by that date. Your payment will be considered paid on time if it is received by the CRA or processed at a Canadian financial institution on or before May 2, 2022.
We encourage you to file your return early and online to avoid any interest charges that could result from filing your income tax and benefit return late or paying your balance owing late. Filing your return early and online will also help you get any refund faster and avoid interruptions to any benefit and credit payments.
If you cannot pay the full balance owing, you can make a payment arrangement with the CRA. In certain circumstances, the CRA can grant relief from penalty and interest.
30. What is the deadline to file your return if you are self-employed?
A self-employed individual and their spouse or common-law partner have until June 15, 2022, to file their 2021 income tax and benefit returns. However, any balance owing is still due by April 30, 2022. However, since April 30, 2022, is a Saturday, your payment will be considered paid on time if the CRA receives it or it is processed at a Canadian financial institution on or before May 2, 2022.
31. How can you file your return?
There are different ways to file your income tax and benefit return. Learn about your taxes is a new free online learning tool that can help guide you through doing your taxes.
Over 90% of the almost 31 million returns received by the CRA last year were filed online.
We’ve also got a step-by-step guide to help you fill out your return. Filing online is always the fastest, easiest, and safest choice! Keep in mind that the service standard for processing digital returns is two weeks and for processing paper returns, it may take up to 10-12 weeks due to COVID-19 related delays.
When you file online using certified tax software, your return is sent directly to us. You also:
- may 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, and you avoid mailing delays
- don’t have to send receipts (but make sure to keep your receipts in case we ask for them later)
- get instant confirmation that we’ve received your return
- can change your return (through the ReFILE service)
If you’re registered for My Account and you file your return electronically, you can:
- 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 we have received and processed your return
- conveniently view your RRSP deduction limit and TFSA contribution room online
Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (or the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program if you live in Quebec)
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to help by completing your tax return through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In Quebec, you can check with the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. Tax clinics are offered across Canada between March and April and many remain available throughout the year. Organizations can host in-person clinics, and may also offer virtual clinics where your return can be completed by videoconference or phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. For more information, go to canada.ca/taxes-help.
Filing by paper
It may take 10 to 12 weeks to process paper returns. If you choose to file by paper, file as early as you can to avoid any interruptions to benefit and credit payments.
The 2021 income tax and benefit package will be sent to paper filers who filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return on paper. The package should arrive by February 21, 2022.
If you don’t receive it by February 21, you can:
- view, download, and print the package from canada.ca/taxes-general-package
- order it online at canada.ca/get-cra-forms
- order a package by calling the CRA at 1-855-330-3305 (be ready to give your social insurance number)
It can take up to 10 business days for the package to arrive by mail. Include this time in your tax planning so you don’t miss the filing deadline.
You can order or download the 2021 income tax package as of January 18, 2022.
If your income is tax-exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act, you may be able to use a simplified paper return. These returns are available only through band councils’ offices and cannot be downloaded. Please check with your band council’s office.
You can use simplified returns only if all your income is exempt from tax or if your taxable income is not more than the basic income threshold for the province or territory you live in.
If you are unsure about the taxability of your income, we encourage you to consult the Reporting income web page.
File my Return
- Eligible individuals who have a lower or fixed income can file their return using the automated phone service, File my Return. Eligible individuals will receive an invitation letter from the CRA in the mail by mid-February 2022. Follow the steps in the letter to use the service.
- The service is free, secure, and easy-to-use. There are no paper forms to complete or calculations to do. You just have to answer a few automated questions over the phone.
31b. Can you file your return online if you’ve never filed a return before?
As long as the CRA has the correct information on file for you, for example, your correct address, you can file your current-year return online using certified tax software.
If the CRA does not have your current information, please update it before you file. We encourage you to file online, rather than on paper. If you file a paper return, it will take longer and your notice of assessment may go to the wrong address.
31c. I haven’t filed my taxes for previous years, how can I file these tax returns?
As long as you have filed a tax return in the past with the CRA and we have the correct information on file for you, for example, your correct address, depending on the software product you use, you may be able to file returns for tax years 2017 and after using certified tax software. If the CRA does not have your current information, please update it before you file.
If you are filing returns from before 2017, you will need to file paper returns. These returns can be found on our tax packages for all years web page.
To avoid delays in receiving your notice of assessment or it going to the wrong address, we encourage you to update your personal information at the CRA before you try to file.
You can file a return as far back as ten years. We recommend that you file the oldest return first to take advantage of carry-over amounts that may be available from the previous year.
The CRA will charge you a late-filing penalty if you file your 2021 tax return after the due date and you owe tax that remains unpaid at that time.
32. You are not living in Canada. What is the best way to send your income tax and benefit return?
If you are living outside Canada but are considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes and have a Canadian mailing address, we strongly encourage you to file your return online.
Non-resident Canadians who do not receive their income tax package by February 21, 2022, should download and print the income tax package online at canada.ca/taxes-general-package.
To lessen the impacts of international mail delays for non-residents, the CRA is currently accepting tax returns by fax to one of our tax centres.
If you’re a resident of Canada with a non-Canadian mailing address, the EFILE service will now accept your T1 return for the 2021 and later tax years. However, this change doesn’t apply to the NETFILE service, which still requires a Canadian mailing address.
If you are not sure about your residency status for Canadian tax purposes, see Determining your residency status.
33. Is your information safe online?
Our digital services use a high level of online protection, which includes the same technologies used by banks and other financial institutions, to keep your personal information safe.
To ensure that Canadians can feel confident using our digital services, we have added some new security measures. These measures include captcha, which helps distinguish between human users and bots when signing into CRA portals. A captcha requires you to enter specific characters or identify specific images before you can access digital services.
As well, we have added multi-factor authentication for all users to help make your CRA sign-in services more secure! To ensure everyone can use it, we’ve introduced a new passcode grid option. Learn more at Multi-factor authentication to access CRA sign-in services.
We have also introduced an optional, additional security measure that allows you to set a unique personal identification number (PIN) for your account so you can identify yourself quickly and securely on the phone with the CRA. You can create your PIN through My Account.
We also encourage Canadians to help protect their personal information by using a unique and strong password for each online account. Do not reuse the same password for different systems and applications, and regularly monitor all your online accounts for suspicious activity.
In February 2022, we will require that you sign up for email notifications in My Account as an additional measure of security. This service notifies you by email if important information, including your address or direct deposit information, has been changed on our records. If we notify you of a change you did not authorize, you should contact us at once through the individual tax enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.
34. If you have questions about your taxes or benefits, where can you go?
Before calling the CRA, we encourage you to check our digital services. Many answers can be found in our improved web content or by using CRA sign-in services like My Account. Or you can ask your general tax filing questions online to Charlie, our helpful chatbot.
You can get general information from our:
- Get ready to do 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
The individual tax enquiries line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, local time, and Saturday 9am to 5pm, local time, except on holidays.
If you are a small business owner or self-employed, you can get information by:
- using our business and self-employed phone service: 1-800-959-5525
- booking a phone call, video conference or a group webinar with our Liaison Officer Service
35. What are some of the common mistakes people make on their income tax and benefit return?
Mistakes can happen to everyone. If you make a mistake on your income tax and benefit return, it can take longer for us to review your return and prevent you from getting any tax refund, credit or benefit you would be entitled to. Mistakes can also lead to a higher chance of a review or an audit of your return.
Some common mistakes include:
Not reporting all income – Make sure you report your income from all sources, including:
- COVID-19 benefits payments
- tips and gratuities
- a temporary job (such as freelancing or contract work)
- a part-time job
- income from sales of goods or services (like side jobs)
- income from the platform economy or an online business
- foreign income (including interest and other income from investments held outside Canada)
As a Canadian resident, you are subject to Canadian income tax on your worldwide income from all sources. You should report all the income you earn (both monetary and non-monetary), whether you receive it in cash or merchandise, or if it’s reported as income on your T4 or other tax slips. You should receive most of your slips from your employer, payer, or administrator by the end of February.
If you have not received a slip or if you have lost or misplaced one, you should ask the issuer for a copy. To avoid delays, you can also view most slips and tax information online through My Account. Sign in before tax season to make sure you have access and your personal information is up to date.
Not supporting business income and expense claims – If you’re a sole proprietor or self-employed, make sure you keep good records to support your business income and expenses. You cannot claim expenses that are personal to you as business expenses. If we audit your income tax and benefit return, having good records on hand will make the process faster and easier.
Not keeping personal information up to date – It is important to tell us as soon as possible about any change in your address, direct-deposit details or marital status (required by law). This helps avoid any disruption to your refund and benefit or credit payments.
Personal expenses – You cannot deduct expenses that are personal to you from your income. Examples of these non-deductible amounts include funeral and wedding expenses, loans to family members, and any loss on the sale of personal-use property like a principal residence or an automobile. If we find a mistake or a claim that does not apply to your situation, we will adjust your income tax and benefit return accordingly.
Writing the amount of your partial payment on your paper return – if you are paying only part of your balance owing, don’t write this amount on your paper return. The payment you send with your return will be counted as a payment towards your tax return balance. It will then show as a payment on filing on your notice of assessment.
Filing Form T1135, Foreign Income Verification Statement, late – At any time in 2021, if you owned or held specified foreign property and the total cost of all such property was more than CDN$100,000, you have to file Form T1135. Generally, you must file Form T1135 by the due date of your income tax return. A partnership must file Form T1135 by the due date of the partnership information return, even if the income tax return (or the partnership information return) is not required to be filed.
There are substantial penalties for not filing Form T1135 by the due date and for making a false statement or omission regarding the required information.
For more information regarding penalties, see the Table of penalties.
If you are filing Form T1135 electronically, send it separately from your income tax and benefit return. You will receive a confirmation number to confirm we received it.
If you think you may have made a mistake, see Question 54. If you are a small business owner or self-employed, you can get free tax help by booking a virtual visit by phone or videoconference with a Liaison Officer. Liaison Officers can answer your tax-related questions (income, GST/HST, payroll), help you better understand possible business deductions and show you how to avoid common errors. To book your virtual visit or webinar go to Liaison Officer Service.
36. Is the Voluntary Disclosures Program available to Form T1135 filers?
Yes. If you did not file Form T1135 or if the information you provided is incomplete, the CRA encourages you to come forward and correct inaccurate or incomplete information, or to disclose information not previously reported through the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP). If the CRA accepts your application, you would be eligible for relief from prosecution, and in some cases, from penalties and some of the interest you would normally be required to pay.
The VDP is also available for all taxpayers who would like to disclose information they did not report or correct information they already submitted, as long as they meet certain conditions.
37. What is a non-refundable tax credit?
A non-refundable tax credit reduces 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.
Digital services available to you
38. What is My Account?
My Account is a secure, easy and convenient tool that lets you view your income tax and benefit information and manage your tax affairs online. You can use My Account to:
- change your personal information, such as your address, phone number and marital status
- make a payment
- track the status of your return
- register for email notifications
- receive email notifications when you have correspondence to view from the CRA and when important information is changed on your account
- view your tax slips and notice of assessment
- view and print your proof of income statement
- ask for a change to your return using Change My Return
- check your benefit and credit payment dates and amounts
- apply for child benefits
- check the status of your Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application, and update or view information about the children in your care
- view uncashed cheques from the CRA and ask for a duplicate payment
- 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
- set up a personal identification number to identify yourself when calling the CRA
- apply for COVID-19 benefits (such as the CRB, CRSB and CRSCB)
If you applied for COVID-19 financial support through My Account, you will need to enter the security code you received in the mail when you first applied to access all of My Account’s services.
T4A Information slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19 related benefits will also be provided to you only if you’re registered with My Account and you have full access. Sign in before tax season to make sure you have access and that your personal information is up to date.
39. How do you register for My Account or the mobile web apps?
To register using a CRA user ID and password you’ll need to provide us with personal information:
- your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or zip code
- a line amount from one of your past income tax and benefit returns. Have a copy of your two most recent returns handy. The 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 need to:
- create a CRA user ID and password
- choose and answer five security questions
To complete your registration:
- receive the CRA security code by mail. 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
- go back to My Account after you receive your CRA security code, select “CRA sign in,” 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.
To register with a sign-in partner, you’ll need to:
- select “Sign-In Partner”
- on the Select Sign-In Partner page, choose the sign-in partner you want to use and sign in
- enter your social insurance number, date of birth, and current postal code or zip code
- have a copy of your income tax and benefit returns from the last two years handy. To register, you must have filed a return for one of these two years
- enter the requested amount from one of your returns. The line amount requested will vary and could be from the current tax year or the previous one
- receive the CRA security code by mail. 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,” enter the requested information, and when asked, enter your CRA security code
We have added multi-factor authentication for all users to help make our CRA sign-in services more secure! To ensure everyone can use it, we’ve introduced a new passcode grid option. Learn more at Multi-factor authentication to access CRA sign-in services.
If you have a provincial digital ID, you can use it to sign into My Account. This service is only for British Columbia residents at this time.
To sign in again, go to the CRA sign-in services page and choose the service you want. You’ll be able to access everything in My Account.
40. What are email notifications from the CRA?
When you register for My Account, you should also register for email notifications. This service lets you receive correspondence online from the CRA instead of through Canada Post.
We take the protection of Canadians’ tax information very seriously. To better protect you and your personal information we now require that you provide your email address to use My Account, as an extra layer of security. Through an email, the CRA will notify you of important information, including if your address or direct deposit information has been changed on CRA records. If you receive a CRA email notification about a change that you did not authorize, you should contact the CRA as soon as possible.
41. Can you register for email notifications?
Yes, and by registering for emailnotifications you are adding an extra layer of security to your account. Ifthere is any change to your information in MyAccount, the CRA will send you an email toverify the change.
You can register to receive email notifications from the CRA by:
- signing in to My Account and selecting “Notification preferences”
- using the MyCRA or MyBenefits CRA mobile web apps and selecting “email address”
- providing your email address when filing your return through software or on paper
- providing your email address to your tax preparer who uses EFILE
- asking your legal representative to register you
- calling the individual tax enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281
- sending a written request to the CRA
To get your CRA mail online, you must be registered for My Account. Using My Account is the only way to read your mail online. After you register for email notifications you will have the option to select if you would like to receive CRA correspondence by paper mail, or to be notified by email, when CRA correspondence is available for viewing electronically in My Account. T4A information slips from the Government of Canada for COVID-19 related benefits will also be provided to you online if you’re registered with My Account and you have full access. Sign in before tax season to make sure you have access and your personal information is up to date.
42. How do you know if an email notification is from the CRA?
The CRA will never use aggressive language or tone, ask for prepaid credit cards, threaten arrest, or threaten to send police. A CRA email notification will only advise you that you have correspondence to view in My Account or that important information was changed on CRA records. A notification will never ask you to confirm information or click on a link. Emails sent from the CRA’s email notification service will have the sender name ‘’Canada Revenue Agency / Agence du revenue du Canada.”
43. What mobile web applications are available for individuals?
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 income tax and benefit 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
- 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 processing status of your Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application
44. What digital services are available for tax time this year?
We’ve got a range of digital services to help you file this tax season. Most of these services require My Account to access them.
You may have used My Account for the first time to apply for a COVID-19 benefit. If so, to access all of My Account’s services, enter the security code you received in the mail when you applied for the benefit. If your code has expired, call 1-800-959-8281 to have a new one issued to you. Sign in before tax season to make sure you have access to My Account and that your personal information is up to date.
Our digital services
- Auto-fill my return lets you and your authorized representatives automatically fill in parts of your return with the information the CRA has on file. To use the service, you must be registered for My Account and file online with certified tax software.
- Express NOA lets you and your authorized representatives view your notice of assessment (NOA) right after the CRA has received and processed your return. To use the service, you must be registered for My Account and file online with certified tax software. If an accountant or tax professional files your return, ask them for your notice of assessment.
- 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 your home or mailing address, or your direct deposit information. It will also tell you if paper mail we sent to you was returned to us. This service is a fraud prevention measure, and you can get it through My Account, MyCRA mobile web app, or MyBenefits CRA mobile web app.
- ReFILE lets you change your return using certified tax software.
- File my Return lets eligible individuals who have a low or fixed income auto-file their return for free using an automated phone service.
- Individual Tax Account Balance Automated Service lets you quickly and securely check what you owe the CRA.
- Check CRA processing times lets you check estimated CRA processing times using the tool available on Canada.ca. The tool gives you processing times based on information selected in drop-down menus, and it indicates when a response can be expected for various programs. The information provided is the same as you would receive by calling the CRA.
- Charlie the CRA chatbot answers general tax filing questions and can be found on the CRA homepage and many other of our web pages on Canada.ca.
- View uncashed cheques from the CRA in My Account and, if necessary, request a duplicate payment.
- Personal identification number (PIN) lets you create a PIN when you call the CRA on the individual tax enquiries and the benefit enquiries lines. A PIN is a fast and secure way to identify yourself when you call us, and it can help us determine if someone is impersonating you. You can create a PIN in My Account or with the help of one of our agents.
After filing your income tax and benefit return
45. How can you get your refund quickly?
The fastest wayto get your refund is by combining online filing with direct deposit. You could get your refund in as little as eight business days. Direct deposit is fast, convenient and secure. You can also register for CRA direct deposit through your financial institution.
The CRA has a list of certified tax software products to help you file your return, some of which are free.
46. How can you check the status of your income tax and benefit return?
You can check the status of yourreturn through My Account.To find the date we target to complete processing your return, you can go to Check CRA processing times. Our service standard is to issue your noticeof assessment (NOA) within two weeks of receiving your digital return. If youare eligible to use the Express NOA service, you will be able to view your NOA rightafter the return has been received and processed by the CRA. Canadians whofile electronically and who are signed up for direct deposit may get theirrefund in as little as eight business days.
It may take 10 to 12 weeks for us to process paper returns. The CRA processes them in the order it receives them.
47. You sent a paper return to the CRA, but it has not been processed. Can you resend it electronically?
Yes, if you filed a 2021 paper returnthat has not been processed, you can file again online using NETFILE certified tax software. This does not include any return that thesoftware says must be paper-filed or that is excluded from electronic filing.
48. How long do you need to save your supporting documents?
As a general rule, you have to keep all supporting documents for at least six years from the end of the tax year they relate to. However, if you filed your income tax and benefit return late, keep your documents for six years after the day you filed your 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 a longer period of time.
49. How can you pay the CRA?
You can pay your tax in different ways:
- through your financial institution’s online or telephone banking service
- through the new “Proceed to Pay” buttons in My Account or MyCRA. The information you need to make a payment will show 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 the RV code on a remittance voucher or a QR code, which you generate from the CRA web pages
- using the My Payment service in 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
The best way to ensure that your payment is received on time and avoid arrears interest is to use one of our electronic payment options.
If you still want to make a payment in person, you can pay:
- at any Canada Post outlet, using cash or a debit card. To do so, you will need a QR code. You can create a QR code using My Account or MyCRA. A Canada Post clerk will scan the QR code so that we can credit your account. The service fee is based on the amount of your payment. If you create a QR code from our web pages, the fee will display with your code.
- at a Canadian financial institution with a remittance voucher. You can order personalized remittance vouchers and in some cases print your own. See Order remittance vouchers or payment forms.
50. Should you file your income tax and benefit return on time if you owe money and can't afford to pay it all right away?
Yes, even if you cannot pay the balance owing on or before May 2, 2022, you should still file your income tax and benefit return on time to avoid a late-filing penalty.
51. What if you cannot pay your balance owing?
We encourage you to contact us if you cannot pay the full amount you owe us on time. We can help you find a payment option that will allow you to pay us over time. The CRA charges interest on what you owe until your balance is paid. To discuss a payment arrangement, call us at 1-888-863-8657.
52. What are the penalties for filing your income tax and benefit return late and for not paying what you owe to the CRA on time?
If you have a balance owing for the year and do not file your income tax and benefit return on time, you will be charged a late-filing penalty. The penalty is 5% of your balance owing that remained unpaid when the return was required to be filed, plus an additional 1% 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 2018 to 2020 and you have been sent a demand to file a tax return for 2021, your late-filing penalty for 2021 may be higher. The penalty is 10% of your balance owing that remained unpaid when the return was required to be filed, plus an additional 2% for each full month your return is late (to a maximum of 20 months).
53. Can you ask for relief from penalties or interest you have been charged for filing or paying late?
The Minister may grant relief from penalties or interest when the following types of situations prevent a taxpayer from meeting their tax obligations:
- extraordinary circumstances
- actions of the CRA
- inability to pay or financial hardship
- other circumstances
For more information about the circumstances that may warrant relief from penalties or interest, see Cancel or waive penalties or interest.
54. What should you do if you make a mistake on your income tax and benefit return?
We recognize that you are doing your best to file accurate tax returns. However, if you realize that you have made a mistake, do not file another return for that year. Wait until you receive your notice of assessment before making any changes to your return.
Generally, you can request a change only to a return for a tax year ending in any of the 10 previous calendar years. For example, a request made in 2022 must relate to the 2012 tax year or later.
You can request an adjustment to your return by using Change my Return in My Account or ReFILE through NETFILE-certified software. With the ReFILE service, you can find out right away if your refund or amount owing has changed. It’s quick and simple!
You may also mail a paper Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request with any supporting documents to your tax centre (listed on the form). Due to COVID-19, the CRA may experience delays in processing paper adjustment requests. The delays are currently between 10 to 12 weeks.
55. What if you want to formally dispute your notice of assessment, reassessment or determination?
If you want to dispute your notice of assessment, reassessment or determination, you can file an objection. To find out if this option is right for you, go to File an objection.
56. What do you do if you want to provide feedback on the CRA’s service?
If you have compliments, suggestions or are not satisfied with the services you received from us, we encourage you to talk to us, as your feedback is important in helping us put people first. The CRA is committed to serving you with high standards of accuracy, professionalism, courtesy, and fairness, and we welcome all input that enables us to meet that commitment.
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