Eight Things to Remember at Tax Time
Getting ready to do your taxes? We have a few tips that could save you time and money.
1. File your tax return
First things first, make sure you file your tax return! It’s important to do your taxes, so that you can get any benefits and credits for which you may be eligible! The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses the information from your tax return to calculate your benefits and credits. You should do your taxes on time every year, even if you don’t pay taxes on what you made or if you made nothing at all. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they also have to do their taxes.
Most income tax and benefit returns for the 2019 tax year are due on April 30, 2020. You should file your return by the deadline so you don’t pay penalties on any money you owe.
In order to receive your benefits and credits, you must file your return every year. If you want to do your taxes yourself, the CRA has a step-by-step guide that makes doing your taxes easy. If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers may be able to do your taxes for you, for free. Go to canada.ca/taxes-help to see if you’re eligible and to find a clinic.
2. Claim all your benefits, credits, and deductions
There are tax deductions, credits, and expenses you may be able to claim on your return. Benefits and credits such as the Canada child benefit, the GST/HST credit, and any related provincial or territorial benefits are payments to help you throughout the year, so you have more money in your pocket!
You may be able to claim a credit for your medical expenses, and for your student loan interest or a deduction for child care expenses which can reduce the amount you owe on your taxes. Find out what you can claim.
If you own a business or are self-employed, you may also be able to claim certain business expenses like motor vehicle or business-use-of-home expenses. Get free help to better understand your tax obligations and discuss business tax deductions before filing your tax returns by booking a visit with a CRA Liaison Officer.
3. Report all your income
You should get your T4 slips from your employer by the end of February. You may also get slips from other payers, such as pension providers or financial institutions. If you don’t have all of your 2019 slips or if you lost one, ask your employer or payer for a copy.
If you register with My Account, you may have access to online copies of your slips. If you’re still missing information, use your pay stubs or statements to estimate the income to report. Keep all of your documents in case the CRA asks to see them.
Some income you earn may not be included on a tax slip. You should report other types of income such as tips, money earned by providing accommodations or ride sharing, regularly selling for profit, and providing tutoring, maintenance, or snow removal services.
4. Make the right claims
Make sure you know what you can and can’t claim. Sometimes people mistakenly claim costs that are not eligible for tax deductions. If we find a mistake, we’ll adjust your return. We see common ineligible claims such as:
- funeral expenses
- wedding expenses
- loans to family members
- reimbursed medical expenses (such as prescription drug claims)
If you already filed your return and want to make a change to it, you can:
- use the ReFILE service in your certified tax software
- use Change my Return in My Account
- ask your tax representative to send a change to your return
5. Use tax software
Using certified tax software, you can quickly and securely send your completed tax return to us. Some of these software options are free to use! Some of these programs can give you more information on the benefits and credits you can apply for, and on the deductions you can claim.
6. Register for My Account, simplify your life
Managing your taxes doesn’t have to be hard. Register for My Account to easily:
- view and update your personal information
- see what you owe to the CRA
- view your TFSA and RRSP limits
- view the status of your return
Make sure your information is up-to-date with us. This will ensure you get your benefit and credit payments, and can help protect you from frauds and scams.
7. File and pay on time
If you have a balance owing, paying it in full by the deadline will ensure interest is not charged. If you cannot pay in full, you may be able to make a payment arrangement. This lets you make smaller payments for the debt and interest over time.
If you have a balance owing and don’t file your return on time, the CRA will charge you a late‑filing penalty. The penalty is 5% of your balance owing on the due date of your return, plus 1% of your balance owing for each full month your return is late (to a maximum of 12 months).
If you are receiving benefit payments, like the Canada child benefit, filing before the deadline will help ensure your payments are not delayed or stopped.
8. Keep receipts and records
Keep all your receipts and documents for at least six years from the end of the last tax year they relate to, or in case of a late filing, from the date the return was filed.
Sometimes we review returns to make sure that income, deductions, and credits are properly reported. If we review your return, having your receipts and records on hand will make it easier for you to support your claims.
For general inquiries:
Canada Revenue Agency
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