Last-minute tax-filing tips
April 13, 2021
Canada Revenue Agency
Have you completed your tax return? Don’t panic if you haven’t! The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is working to assist people during these difficult times, as this is a tax season like no other, so we’ve put together some helpful tips and information to make last‑minute filing easier. You can also check out our Get Ready page for information on online filing and deadlines, as well as other helpful links.
File on time
The CRA understands that 2020 was a tough year for many Canadians. It is essential that you file your income tax and benefit return on time by April 30, 2021, even if you can’t pay all your balance owing right away. Filing by April 30, 2021, will allow you to avoid interruptions to your credit and benefit payments (including COVID-19 recovery benefits) and to get your refund, if applicable, in a timely manner.
If you file on paper, you are encouraged to file before April 30, 2021, as paper returns may take 10 to 12 weeks to process, and could take even longer this year because of COVID-19.
Doing your taxes, and doing them on time, is the best way to ensure your entitled benefit and credit payments, like the Canada child benefit, the GST/HST credit, and any related provincial or territorial benefits, are not interrupted. Even if you owe tax, don’t risk having your benefits interrupted by not filing.
It is important to file on time if you receive COVID-19 recovery benefits such as the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), or Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). The CRA uses information from both your 2019 and 2020 returns to confirm your eligibility to receive these benefits. Filing on time avoids having your recovery benefit payments stopped while we validate your eligibility.
Explore payment arrangements
If you can’t pay the full amount you owe by the deadline, we can work with you to make a payment arrangement. This allows you to make smaller payments over time until you pay your entire balance, including interest.
We have expanded the parameters that allow us to put in place flexible payment arrangements to reflect current realities resulting from COVID-19 and give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay, recognizing taxpayers’ unique circumstances. Taxpayer relief is also available if you can’t meet your tax obligations because of circumstances beyond your control. The CRA may cancel penalties and interest that have been charged to you accounts.
If your total taxable income in 2020 was $75,000 or less and you received at least one COVID-19 benefit in 2020, you will automatically receive interest relief on your 2020 taxes owing until April 30, 2022 if you file your return by April 30, 2021. You should still file on time, since late-filing penalties will still apply if you file after April 30th.
Sign up for direct deposit and file online to reduce impacts and delays
To get your refund faster and avoid delays, we encourage you to sign up for direct deposit, and file online. We also encourage you to sign up for My Account; the fastest and easiest way to view and manage your tax and benefit information, or My Business Account if you own a business.
Due to COVID-19, it may take the CRA 10 to 12 weeks to process paper returns this year. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to file online this year using NETFILE-certified software, through the services of an electronic filer who is certified to use our EFILE service, or through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). If you choose to file electronically on your own, there are a variety of NETFILE-certified software products to meet your needs, some of which are free. Some of the software products can also provide you with information about benefits, credits, and deductions.
If you chose to file electronically using NETFILE, you will be asked to enter an eight-character alphanumeric access code before filing. This unique code can be found on your 2019 Notice of Assessment (NOA) in the top right area of the first page. While it is not mandatory that you enter this access code, if you do not enter it, you will not be able to use any information from your 2020 tax return when confirming your identity with the CRA. You will have to rely on other information for authentication purposes.
Use Auto-fill my return and Express NOA
Use Auto-fill my return to quickly and easily fill in parts of your return using the information the CRA has on file. If you’re registered for My Account, you can use Auto-fill my return through NETFILE-certified software. Don’t wait for a paper notice! You can also use Express NOA and view the notice of assessment in your software, right after the return has been received and processed by the CRA.
Get your taxes done for free
If you have a low to modest income and a simple tax situation, a volunteer at a free tax clinic may be able to complete your tax return for you. This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file returns virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. To see if you’re eligible and to find a clinic, go to canada.ca/taxes-help.
Need to make a payment?
You can pay your tax online! No need to leave the comfort of your home. You can pay online in many ways:
- through your financial institution’s online or telephone banking service
- using the My Payment service. This service lets you make payments to the CRA with your Visa® Debit, Debit MasterCard®, or Interac® Online card from a participating financial institution. You can access My Payment from My Account or MyCRA
- Using My Account and MyCRA to:
- set up a pre-authorized debit
- pay an overdue amount or make instalment payments
- make pre-authorized payments from your Canadian bank account to the CRA
- by credit card, PayPal, or Interac e-Transfer, through a third-party service provider
You can also make payments in person, if local health guidelines allow it. Options include paying:
- at any Canada Post outlet using cash or a debit card with a QR code you can create using My Account or MyCRA
- at a Canadian financial institution with a remittance voucher
Change your return
You can easily make a change to your return if you realize after filing that you forgot to include information for a tax deduction, credit, or benefit you're trying to claim and/or you found a missing or new receipt, information slip (like a T4), or other supporting documents. But before you can make any corrections, you have to wait until you get your notice of assessment from the CRA. You can then change your return online by using Change my Return in My Account or ReFILE in your preferred NETFILE-certified software.
Track your return and refund status
Use My Account to quickly check your return and refund status online. You can also use it to see and manage other tax and benefit information, such as your notice of assessment, TFSA and RRSP limits, and benefit payment dates.
File an income tax objection
You can file an income tax objection if you think that the CRA:
- misinterpreted the facts of your tax situation, or
- applied the tax law incorrectly when it assessed or reassessed your tax return
For more filing tips, you can check out our questions and answers about filing your taxes for help on COVID-19 benefits and the tax filing process.
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