Questions and answers about filing your taxes



This webpage will be updated periodically to incorporate changes that may affect you during tax-filing season.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) understands that COVID-19 has affected you, your family and your taxes. We remain committed to providing you with various measures of support and, as the crisis continues to evolve, we remain committed in helping you during these hard times.

COVID-19 tax-filing changes

1) How will COVID-19 benefit payments affect your taxes this year?

When filing your income tax and benefit return this year, your tax situation from 2020 may be quite different from previous years namely, if you received COVID-19 support benefits as temporary income payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits are taxable income, so you will need to enter the total amount you received on your 2020 income tax and benefit return. You will receive a T4A slip [for benefits issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)] and/or a T4E slip (for benefits issued by Service Canada), in the mail or electronically with the information you will need to enter on your return.

The Government of Canada temporary COVID-19 income support benefits are:

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
  • Employment Insurance Emergency Response Benefits (EI-ERB)
  • Similar relief payments provided by your provincial or territorial government

If you received the CERB or CESB, no tax was withheld when payments were issued. If you received the CRB, CRSB, or CRCB, 10% tax was withheld at source. 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.

2) What is a T4A, Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income and why did you get one?

Due to the unprecedented financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Canadians sought the support of the government’s COVID-19 emergency or recovery benefits, which include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), 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, and recipients must enter the total of the amounts they received last year on their 2020 income tax and benefit return.

Those who received COVID-19 emergency or recovery benefits payments from the CRA will receive a slip called a “T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income” no later than March 10, 2021. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A and RL-1 slip.

3) Did you received COVID-19 emergency or recovery benefit payments but do not have a T4A. What should you do?

You should receive a T4A slip by March 10.  If you received relief payments and do not get a T4A slip by March 10, don’t worry. You may be able to get a copy by using the My Account for individuals service or contacting the CRA directly.

4) What should you do if your T4A has incorrect information?

You may also notice that the T4A does not reflect the income you actually received. Perhaps you repaid an amount and it is not reflected on the slip, or you have not made a repayment but the income reported on the slip has been reduced by some amount. In either of these cases, contact the CRA right away when you notice the suspected error.

5) What’s a T4E and why are you getting one instead of a T4A?

Many Canadians applied for COVID-19 emergency through Service Canada. If you received these payments from Service Canada, they will send you a T4E Statement of Employment Insurance and Other Benefits so you can complete your 2020 tax and benefit return.

Information from a T4E will need to be entered on line 11900 of your 2020 income tax and benefit return. As with a T4A, this information could be entered automatically for individuals who are registered for My Account, use the Auto-fill my return function, and file with NETFILE-certified software.

For more information on when you can expect your T4E from Service Canada, or if you are not eligible for recovery benefits and in need of financial assistance, contact the department through their various service channels.

6) 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.

7) How do you enter information from a T4A on your tax return?

Information from your T4A will need to be entered on line 13000 of your 2020 income tax and benefit return as income. If you are registered for My Account, use the Auto-fill my return function, and file with NETFILE-certified software, this information could be automatically entered into your return.

8) If an individuals’ income is exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act, and 10% of their CRB, CRCB, or CRSB payment is withheld at the source, how can they reclaim the withheld amounts to which they are entitled?

Tax will be withheld at source on all Canada Recovery Benefits payments, including those made to individuals with income that may be exempt from tax. If some or all of your income is exempt from tax under section 87 of the Indian Act and you are registered, or entitled to be registered as an Indian under that Act, you may be able to get part or all of the tax back for payments received in 2020 or 2021 by filing a tax return for that year. This may include filling out Form T90, Income exempt under the Indian Act, as part of the return.

9) If you are self-employed and have 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. You are required to report the amount of assistance you received when you file your income tax return.

Government assistance is taxable and will either be included in business, farming or fishing income or, if you choose, will reduce your business, farming or fishing expenses. You may also have received a government loan. The loan itself is not taxable. However, any part of the loan that is forgiven is taxable.

10) What is the best way to file your income tax and benefit return during COVID-19?

We recognize these are challenging times, but there are ways to get your return filed quickly and safely during the COVID‑19 pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 may delay your ability to file your return if you file your taxes by paper, or delay your ability to receive your refund, benefit or credit payments by cheque as quickly as usual. For this reason, we encourage you to file your return online and use our digital services, such as My Account. Filing online is the fastest, easiest and most secure way to file your return and avoid delays. 

For non-residents, due to international mail delays, the CRA is temporarily accepting tax returns for non-residents and deemed residents through fax to the Tax Centre.

If you decide to file your return online, you can file as early as February 22, 2021, with NETFILE. We have a list of certified tax software products for filing a return, including free ones.

11) Your tax preparer or accountant had to close due to COVID-19. How do you file your return?

We understand that COVID-19 brought its fair share of challenges on may fronts but, please don’t worry, you have options. With our online tools, you can file your return and receive a refund in as little as eight business days. We strongly encourage you to file online this year using certified tax software some of which are free. Filing online helps you avoid any mailing delays that may occur due to COVID-19. You can file online as early as February 22, 2021.

12) Where can you get tax help?

If you have a modest income and need help to complete and file your return, there are free tax clinics available in your area. Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, tax clinics are generally offered between March and April across Canada, and some are open year-round. This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file your return virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement.

We strongly advise that you call a clinic before going to its location. Some clinics may need to close or change hours due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.

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, videoconference visit or a group webinar, the Liaison Officers can answer your tax-related questions (income, GST/HST, payroll), discuss business tax deductions, and help you avoid common errors that could end up costing time and money. To book your virtual visit or webinar, go to Liaison Officer Service.

13) 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 your income statement and tax slips there. Note that not all slips will be available right away. You may have to visit your My Account online on a regular basis 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 copies of all those documents in case we ask to see them later.

14) How can you get your refund quickly?

The fastest way to 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.

15) How can you check the status of your income tax and benefit return during COVID-19?

You can check the status of your return through My Account. To find out how long it should take us to complete processing, you can go to CRA processing times. We are doing our best to provide quality services to Canadians however, COVID-19 may delay our standard times.

16) You are not living in Canada. What is the best way to send your income tax and benefit return during COVID-19

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.

Given the impacts of COVID-19, there may be delivery delays in receiving the income tax package this year.  Non-residents Canadians who do not receive their income tax package by February 19, 2021, should download and print the income tax package online at canada.ca/taxes-general-package.

To minimize the impacts of mail delays, the CRA is presently accommodating non-residents by accepting tax returns through fax to the Tax Centre.

If you are not sure about your residency status for Canadian tax purposes, see Determining your residency status.

17) You sent a paper return to the CRA, but it has not been processed. Can you send a resend it electronically?

Although we are doing your best to provide quality services, the CRA may experience delays in processing paper returns and adjustments requests due to COVID-19. If you filed a 2020 paper return that has not been processed, you can file again online using NETFILE certified tax software. This does not include any return that the software says must be paper-filed or that is excluded from electronic filing.  

18) Will the filing deadline be extended due to COVID-19?

The CRA is monitoring the COVID-19 situation very closely and will inform Canadians of any changes to the deadline filing if applicable. We encourage you to file your return as soon as possible, to avoid any delays in getting a refund or a benefit or credit payment.

COVID-19 benefit payments and overpayments

19) How do you pay back COVID-19 benefit payments?

There are many ways to repay COVID-19 benefit payments, including online, through your financial institution or by mail. If you need to return a payment to the CRA, go to canada.ca/guide-cra-coronavirus.

It’s important to note that December 31, 2020 was not a repayment deadline. We encouraged repayment by this date to help us issue accurate tax slips.

If you are unable to repay COVID-19 benefit amounts, our payment arrangement parameters have been expanded to give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay. Individuals who cannot make a payment in full are advised to contact the CRA to make a payment arrangement.

You can call the CRA's TeleArrangement service at 1-866-256-1147 to set up a payment arrangement. You will need to provide your social insurance number, your date of birth, and the amount you entered on line 15000 from your last return for which you received a notice of assessment. The TeleArrangement service is available Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern time.

20) How much time do you have if you need to pay back COVID-19 benefit payments?

The COVID-19 benefits are taxable income, so you can expect a T4A or T4E tax slip in the mail showing the total amount of payment(s) you received in 2020. To help us issue accurate slips, we recommended that you repay any COVID-19 overpayment(s) before December 31, 2020.

If you repay a COVID-19 benefit overpayment, your account will be adjusted accordingly. In the event, that your overpayment was received by December 31, 2020 and was not applied correctly, the CRA will issue you an amended slip. It’s important to note that December 31, 2020 is not a repayment deadline. We are encouraging repayment by this date to ensure that there is no impact on the your 2020 income tax return.

21) How much tax will you have to pay on your COVID-19 benefit payments?

If you received the CERB or CESB, no tax was withheld when payments were issued. If you received the CRB, CRSB, or CRCB, 10% tax was withheld at source. 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.

The CRA wants to add that 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 2020, you can claim a refund of the 10% tax (5% for Quebec residents) that was withheld on these payments by filing a 2020 tax return.

There may be other impacts to filing your tax return that are specific to COVID-19 emergency benefit payments you received, or if you are a resident of Quebec.

22) What amount of COVID-19 benefits do you 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 reported on your tax return is stated on the T4A slip (if you applied through the CRA) or T4E slip (if you applied through Service Canada) you will receive in the mail or electronically.

You will need to report the amounts you received in the following areas of your tax return:

  • Box 197, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • Box 198, Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
  • Box 199, Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) for eligible students with disabilities or those with children or other dependents
  • Box 200, Provincial / Territorial COVID-19 financial assistance payments
  • Box 202, Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
  • Box 203, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
  • Box 204, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
23) How do I enter information from a T4A on my return?

Information from your T4A will need to be entered on line 13000 of your 2020 income tax and benefit return as income. If you are registered for My Account, use the Auto-fill my return function, and file with NETFILE-certified software, this information could be automatically entered into your return.

24) You received a letter or a T4A 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 the COVID-19 benefits, please contact us at once. These benefits are provided to help Canadians affected by COVID-19, and we take situations of potential fraud very seriously. We will work and provide support to affected Canadians to ensure that they are not negatively affected during the tax filing season as a result of fraudulent activities.

The CRA is working hard to ensure your tax  information is protected from fraud. We ask that Canadians help to protect their personal information as well. We strongly recommend that all taxpayers sign up for a CRA My Account which allows for Email notifications as an additional measure of security.

Before filing

25) How do you change your address with the CRA?

If you moved, you need to inform the CRA as soon as possible, to avoid any interruptions of your benefit and credits payments. If you are a paper filer, you need to update your mailing information in order to receive the 2020 Income Tax Package. We encourage you to change your address online.

You can change your address:

  • using My Account, or by using the MyCRA or MyBenefits CRA mobile web apps
  • 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
26) How do you give someone permission to access your tax information?

You can authorize a representative through My Account.

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

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

27) 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 virtually by phone or videoconference through the Liaison Officer Service. This service helps you understand your tax obligations and makes you aware of possible tax deductions. The Liaison Officers will answer tax-related questions (income tax, GST/HST and payroll), discuss business deductions and explain common tax errors.

28) Is direct deposit available?

Yes, and we strongly encourage you to sign up to avoid COVID-19 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 can receive your refund in as little as eight business days.

29) How do you sign up for direct deposit?

You can sign up for direct deposit:

  • through many financial institutions
  • by calling 1-800-959-8281
30) Where can you get the 2020 Income Tax Package?

If you filed your 2019 Income tax and benefit return on paper, the CRA will mail you the 2020 Income Tax Package. You should get your package by February 19, 2021, but it may arrive later due to COVID-19 delivery delays. Thank you for your patience.

If you still haven’t received your package, you can:

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. However, there may be longer delays because of COVID-19. Factor that time in, so you don’t miss the filing deadline.

31) 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. Filing online is the fastest, easiest and safest choice! Keep in mind that the effects of COVID-19 may delay your ability to file your return and therefore, slow down your assessment, or affect the time it will take to receive your refund, benefit and credit payments. For this reason, we encourage you to file your return online and use our online services. You can file as early as February 22, 2021, with NETFILE.

If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, you may be able to get your return done for free 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 virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement.

The File my Return service allows eligible individuals who have a low or fixed income 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.

32) What types of benefit payments, deductions and tax credits are available 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 offered every three months 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 payments
  • Canada training credit is a new refundable tax credit to help Canadians with the cost of eligible training fees. An individual may be able to claim this credit for eligible tuition and other fees paid to an eligible educational institution in Canada for courses an individual took in 2020, or fees paid to certain bodies in respect of an occupational, trade, or professional examination taken in 2020.You may also be able to claim deductions, credits, and expenses, as well as split pension income, to get a larger refund or lower your tax:
  • Canada workers benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit that provides tax relief for eligible low-income individuals helps 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 tax they owe
  • Child care expenses deduction lets parents 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 a prescribed northern zone and the 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
  • 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 credit is a non-refundable tax credit of $450 for eligible volunteer firefighters, as well as search and rescue volunteers workers.

In addition, individuals who reside in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or Ontario, on December 31, 2020, can claim the climate action incentive (CAI) payment when filing their return. Also, a 10% supplement is available to residents of small and rural communities. A CAI payment will first be used to reduce any tax owing, and may create or increase a refund for the year.

33) Do you have to report the sale of your 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 personal residence (or home), 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

34) What is the deadline to file your 2020 income tax and benefit return?

The income tax and benefit return for individuals who are not self-employed is due on April 30, 2021. If you have a balance owing, the amount is also due on that date. After this date, the CRA charges interest on what you owe until your balance is paid. We encourage you to file your return early and online. This method will help you get any refund faster and avoid interruptions to any benefit and credit payments.

If you cannot pay the full balance you owe, you can make a payment arrangement with the CRA.

In certain circumstances, the CRA can grant relief from penalty and interest to Canadians who received COVID-19 related income support benefits.

35) What is the deadline to file your return if you are self-employed?

Self-employed individuals and their spouse or common-law partner have until June 15, 2021, to file their 2020 returns. However, any amount you owe is still due by April 30, 2021. After this date, the CRA charges interest on what you owe until your balance is paid.

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.

36) Do you have to file a 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 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.

If you received Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) payments, these are considered taxable income.  This means that you will need to file a return, and enter the total amount that you received on your return.

If your income is exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act, and you received CRB, CRCB, or CRSB payments, you will have to file a return to get a refund for the 10% tax that was withheld on the payments.

37) How can you file your return?

There are different ways to file your income tax and benefit return:

Online

Nearly 90% of the over 30 million returns filed last year were done online.

You can file as early as February 22, 2021, with NETFILE. The CRA has a list of certified tax software products that can be used for filing a return, some of which are free.

We’ve 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 effects of COVID-19 may delay your ability to file your return by paper, slow down your assessment or affect your ability to receive your refund, as well as benefit and credit payments by cheque. For these reasons, we encourage you to file your return online and use our digital services.

When you file online using certified 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, 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
  • change your return (through the ReFILE service)

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

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers can help you prepare your return, for free. This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file your return virtually by videoconference, by phone or through a document drop-off arrangement. There are tax preparation clinics across Canada between February and April, and some clinics are open year-round.

Filing by paper

Due to COVID-19, your assessment may be delayed if you file your return by paper this year. If you filed your 2019 Income tax return on paper, the CRA plans to mail you the 2020 Income tax package by February 19, 2021. However, due to COVID-19, delivery may be delayed.

Due to delays caused by COVID-19, the CRA 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.

If you still prefer to file by paper, you can order or download the 2020 package as of January 18, 2021. Also, you can order the package by calling 1-855-330-3305, starting February 5, 2021 (be ready to provide your social insurance number). After placing your order, it may take 10 days for delivery – be sure to factor that time in, so you don’t miss the filing deadline.

If your income is exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act , you may be able to use a simplified paper return. These returns are only available through band councils’ offices and cannot be downloaded. Please check with your band council’s office.

Note that the simplified returns can only be used if all of your income is exempt form tax or if your taxable income does not exceed the basic income threshold for the province/ territory that you live in.

If you are unsure about the taxability of your income, we encourage you consult the Need help finding your way guidance web page.

File my Return

Eligible individuals who have a low or fixed income can file their return using the automated phone service, File my Return. Those individuals will receive an invitation letter by the end of February, but the letter may arrive later due to COVID-19 delivery delays.

You may be eligible to use the File my Return service if you have a low or fixed income and your tax situation does not change from year to year.

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.

Eligible individuals will receive an invitation letter in the mail by mid-February 2021. Follow the steps in the letter to use the service.

37 - b) How can you file if you’ve never filed a return before?

As long as CRA has the correct information on file for you, for example, your correct address, you can file your current-year return using NETFILE. If CRA does not have your current information, you will have to file a paper return. If you applied for the CERB or one of the CRBs with the help of a telephone agent, the agent will have updated your information in our system.

37 - c) 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 the CRA has the correct information on file for you, for example, your correct address, you can file returns for tax year 2015 and after using NETFILE. If you are filing returns before 2015, you will need to file those returns by paper. These returns can be found on our tax packages for all years, web page.

You can file a return as far back as ten years. It is recommended 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 2019 tax return after September 30, 2020 and you owe tax that remains unpaid at that time. For status First Nations individuals who have tax exempt employment income, you may not have a penalty as you do not have taxes owing. It is recommended that you file to have access to the benefits and credits that you are entitled to.

38) Is your information safe online?

Our digital services use a high level of online protection, which includes the same technologies as banks and other financial institutions, keep your personal information safe.

To ensure that Canadians can feel confident using our digital services, we have added some new measures following recent cyber-security incidents. For example, we have introduced a captcha to our online portals that helps distinguish between human users and bots. A captcha requires you to enter specific characters, or identify specific images, before being granted access to digital services.

We have also introduced an optional, additional security measure, which will allow you to set a unique personal identification number (PIN) for your account in order to identify yourself quickly and securely. You can create your PIN through My Account.

We also ask that Canadians help to protect their personal information by using a unique and strong password for each online accounts. Do not reuse the same password for different systems and applications, and regularly monitor all online accounts for suspicious activity.

We strongly recommend that all 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. Subscribers who receive a notification of a change they did not authorize should contact us at once through the Individual tax enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.

39) If you have questions about your taxes or benefits, where can you go?

Although we are doing our best to provide the very best service to Canadians, the CRA expects larger call volumes and longer call wait times this year due to COVID-19.

Before calling the CRA, we encourage you to consult our online services. Many answers can be found in our improved web content or by using CRA login services like My Account.  Charlie the Chatbot is available online to answer general tax filing questions.

You can get general information from our:

  • Get Ready to do your taxes 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), 9 am to 5 pm, local time.

    From February 22 to April 30, 2021, the hours are 9 am to 9 pm, local time, Monday to Friday (except holidays), and Saturdays starting March 20, 2021 (except Easter weekend) 9 am to 5 pm, local time

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
40) What are some of the common mistakes people make on their return?

Mistakes can happen to everyone. If you make a mistake on your return, it can take longer for us to review your return and help you get any tax refund that you are entitled to. In some cases, mistakes can also lead to a higher chance of a review or an audit of your file.

Some common mistakes include:

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

  • tips and gratuities
  • a temporary job (such as freelancing or contract work)
  • a part-time job
  • income from sales of goods or services (e.g., side jobs)
  • income from the platform economy or an online business
  • foreign income (including interest and other income from investments held outside Canada)

You should report all of the income you earn, whether you receive it in cash 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 haven’t received a slip, or if you’ve 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.

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. If there is a review or an audit of your file, having good records on hand will make the process faster and easier.

If you think that you may have made a mistake, see Question 49. 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. Liaison Officers can answer your tax-related questions (income, GST/HST, payroll), discuss business tax deductions and help you avoid common mistakes. To book your virtual visit or webinar go to Liaison Officer Service.

Not keeping personal information up to date – It’s important to tell us as soon as possible about any change in your address or your direct-deposit details, or your marital status (required by law). This helps avoid any disruption to 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 we find a mistake or a claim that doesn’t apply to your situation, we’ll adjust your 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, Foreign Income Verification Statement, if applicable). 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 >– At any time in 2020, if you own or hold specified foreign property where the total cost of all such property, was more than CDN$100,000, you have to file Form T1135 by the due date for a return, even if you do not have to file a return. There are substantial penalties for not filing Form T1135 by the due date, and for making a false statement or omission about the required information.

If you are filing Form T1135 electronically, send it separately from your return. You will receive a confirmation number for your T1135 submission to tell you that we have received it.

41) 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.

Online Services available to you

42) What is My Account?

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

  • make a payment
  • track the status of your return
  • register for email notifications
  • set up direct deposit and receive your refund in your financial account the same day
  • view your T4 slip, notice of assessment, and other information slips
  • 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 your 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
  • receive email notification when you have correspondence to view from the CRA and when important information is changed on your account
  • 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 features.

43) How do you register for My Account or the mobile web apps?

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

  • 1) 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:

  • request a CRA security code
  • receive the security code by mail or by email. The 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
  • After you receive 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 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
    • 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

If you have a BC Services Card, you can use that card to sign into My Account.

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.

44) What are email notifications from the CRA?

When you register for My Account, you can also register for email notifications. This optional service lets you receive correspondence online from the CRA, instead of by Canada Post.

We take the protection of Canadians’ tax information very seriously. We strongly recommend that all taxpayers sign up for email notifications, using My Account, as an extra measure of security. Through an email from the CRA, you will be notified if important information, including 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 at once.

45) Can you register for email notifications?

Yes, and by registering for email notifications you are protecting yourself from scams. If there is any change to your information in My Account, the CRA will send you an email to verify the change.

You can register to receive email notifications from the CRA by:

  • logging into My Account and selecting “Notification preferences”
  • using the MyCRA or MyBenefits CRA mobile web 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 individual tax enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281

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 no longer receive paper copies of most CRA correspondence through the mail.

46) 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’’.

47) 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 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
48) What online services are available for tax time this year?

We’ve got a range of online 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 features, 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.

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 email notifications in 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 a change to your home or mailing address, or financial information. It will also tell you if paper mail we sent was returned to us. This service is a fraud prevention measure, and you can get it through My Account or MyCRA mobile app.
  • ReFILE – Lets you change your return using certified tax software.
  • File my Return – Lets eligible individuals who have a low or fixed income 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 – You can check estimated CRA processing times using the tool that is 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 – Charlie answers general tax filing questions
  • Uncashed cheques – The uncashed cheques service in My Account lets you view any of your uncashed tax cheques from the CRA. The service lets you ask for a replacement payment and gives you payment options
  • Personal identification number (PIN) – You can 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

49) When can you 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 generally takes eight weeks before the CRA issues your notice of assessment and any refund. This may take longer due to COVID-19, so we encourage you to first sign up for direct deposit and then file online.

50) How long do you need to save your receipts or records?

No matter how you file, in general, keep all supporting documents for at least six years from the end of the taxation year they relate to, or if your return is filed late, for six years after the day you file 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 longer.

51) How can you pay the CRA?

The best way to ensure that your payment is received on time, and therefore avoid a late-filing penalty is to use one of our electronic payment options.

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 and /or MyCRA. The information needed 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

If you still want to make a payment in person, you can make a payment:

  • at any Canada Post outlet, using cash or a debit card and 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
52) Should you file your return on time if you owe money and can't afford to pay it all right away?

Yes, you should file your return on time to avoid a late-filing penalty even if you cannot pay all of what you owe by April 30, 2021.

53) What if you cannot pay your balance owing?

We encourage you to contact us even if you cannot pay the full amount that you owe us on time. If you are unable to pay your balance owing, it is important that you reach out. 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.

54) What are the penalties for filing late and not paying what you 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 the amount you owe on your filing due date, 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 2017 to 2019 and you have been sent a demand to file a tax return for 2020, your late-filing penalty for 2020 may be higher. The penalty is 10% of your balance owing on the filing due date, plus 2% of your balance owing for each full month your return is late (to a maximum of 20 months).

55) Can you request relief from penalties or interest that 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.

56) What should you do if you make a mistake on your return?

We recognize that you are doing your best to file accurate tax returns however, should you realize that you have made a mistake, do not file another return for that year. We recommend that you wait until you receive your notice of assessment before making any changes. To avoid delays due to COVID-19, we encourage to make any changes to your return electronically.

Generally you can only request a change to a return for a tax year ending in any of the 10 previous calendar years. For example, a request made in 2021must relate to the 2011 tax year or later to be considered.

You can use ReFILE to make a change to your return through certified tax software. By using the ReFILE service you can find out at once if your refund or amount owing has changed. It’s quick and simple!

You can send 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). Due to COVID-19, the CRA may experience delays in processing paper returns and adjustment requests.

57) What if you want to formally dispute your 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.

58) What do you do if you are not satisfied with the CRA’s service or if you feel you have been treated unfairly?

If you are not satisfied with the services you received from us, we encourage you to talk to us. The CRA is committed to serve you with high standards of accuracy, professionalism, courtesy, and fairness.

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