Eight things to remember before you file your 2021 income tax and benefit return
March 18, 2022
Canada Revenue Agency
Getting ready to file your income tax and benefit return? We have a few tips that could help you prepare, save time and ensure you receive all the benefits and credits that you are entitled to:
1. File your return on time
First things first, make sure you file your return and file it on time. It’s important so that you can receive the benefits and credits to which you may be entitled. We use the information from your income tax and benefit return to calculate your benefits and credits. If you’re already receiving benefits and credits, filing by the deadline will help avoid delays or interruptions to your payments.
You should file a return every year, even if you don’t owe tax on your income or had no income to report. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they should also file an income tax and benefit return. You should file your return by the deadline, so you aren’t charged late-filing penalties on any money you owe.
The deadline to file an income tax and benefit return for most individuals is April 30, 2022. Since April 30, 2022 is a Saturday, your return will be considered filed on time if the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) receives it or it is postmarked on or before May 2, 2022. If you or your spouse or common law-partner are self-employed, you have until June 15, 2022, to file your income tax and benefit return.
If you have a balance owing, it is due by April 30, 2022. 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.
If you filed your 2020 income tax and benefit return and qualified for interest relief because you received COVID-19 benefits, you have until April 30, 2022, to pay any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year to avoid future interest charges. This applies to the tax owing for the 2020 tax year only, and not for previous tax years.
Even if you owe tax, don’t risk having your benefit and credit payments interrupted by not filing. If you cannot pay your balance owing, we can work with you on a payment arrangement.
If you want to file your income tax and benefit return yourself, we have a step-by-step guide that makes filing easy.
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to file your taxes. Free tax clinics are available in person and virtually. To find out if you’re eligible and to find a tax clinic near you, go to our free tax clinics page.
2. File your return online
- NETFILE-certified tax software
- the services of an authorized service provider who can use our EFILE service
- the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program
If you choose to file online using NETFILE, a variety of software products exist to meet your needs and some are free. If you’re using NETFILE-certified tax software and you’re registered for My Account, you can use Auto-fill my return and Express NOA (notice of assessment). Auto-fill my return lets you fill in parts of your return with the information we have on file. Express NOA allows you to view the NOA in your tax software, right after the return has been received and processed by the CRA.
To use information from your tax return to authenticate when you call the CRA, you’ll need an eight-character alphanumeric access code before filing. This unique code can be found to the right, beneath the notice details box on the first page of your previous NOA. Your access code will let you use information from your 2021 tax return when confirming your identity with the CRA. Your access code isn’t mandatory when filing your 2021 tax return, but without it you’ll have to rely on other information for authentication purposes. You can view your NOA in the CRA’s secure portal, My Account.
Our service standard is to issue your NOA within two weeks of receiving your income tax and benefit return online. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the CRA may take 10 to 12 weeks to process paper returns. The CRA will process them in the order they are received. Canadians who file online and who are signed up for direct deposit may get their refund in as little as eight business days.
3. Claim all your benefits, credits, and deductions
You may be able to claim tax deductions, credits, and expenses on your return. We use the information from your return to calculate your benefit and credit payments. We also use the information on your spouse’s or common-law partner’s return (if applicable). These benefit and credit payments include:
- Canada child benefit
- goods and services tax / harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
- provincial or territorial benefits
You may be able to claim non-refundable tax credits for your medical expenses, for your student loan interest and if you have a disability, you may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). You can apply for the DTC by submitting a completed T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate form any time during the year. You may also be able to claim a deduction for child care expenses. If you worked from home due to COVID-19, you may also be eligible to claim a deduction for home office expenses. These claims can reduce the amount of tax you may owe. Find out what you can claim.
If you own a business or are self-employed, you may be able to claim certain business expenses. These include motor vehicle and business-use-of-home expenses. You may also be required to register and file a GST/HST return. Book a free virtual visit with a liaison officer either by phone or videoconference. They can help you understand your tax obligations and discuss business deductions before you file your return.
4. Enter all your income and COVID-19 benefit payment amounts
If you received benefits issued by the CRA in 2021, such as the Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, you should have received a T4A information slip in the mail by the end of February. Residents of Quebec will receive a T4A information slip and an RL-1 slip.
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.
You should have received your T4 slips from your employer by the end of February 2022. You may get slips from other payers, such as pension providers and financial institutions. If you don’t have all of your 2021 slips, ask your employer or payer for a copy. If you register for 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 your income to report.
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 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 and have full access. For more information, visit our COVID-19 benefits and your taxes web page.
Some income you earn may not be included on an information slip. You should report other types of income such as:
- Tips and gratuities earned at your place of work.
- Income earned through buying and selling cryptoassets.
- Income from sales of goods or services (such as side jobs) regardless of whether payments were in cryptocurrency or traditional monetary currency.
You should also report world-wide business income earned through the platform economy:
- Sharing economy – Using or sharing personal assets to earn revenue
- Gig economy – Freelance, or short-term contract-based work
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P) – Selling of goods from one person or party directly to another
- Social media influencers – Income earned through social media platforms via:
- subscriptions to your channel(s)
- advertising (clickbait and brand advertisements)
- calls to action
- merchandise sales or commission on sales
- tips or donations
- perks such as products, clothes, trips or other merchandise
- referral codes
- barter transactions (reciprocal exchange of goods or services without using money)
Reporting all of your income helps contribute to the social and economic well-being of Canadians in need. The tax you pay supports benefits and programs delivered through the tax system.
5. Make the right claims
Make sure you know what you can and can’t claim. Sometimes people mistakenly claim costs that aren’t eligible for tax deductions. If we find a mistake, we’ll adjust your return. For more information, visit our common adjustments page.
If you filed your return, but you want to change it, you can:
- use Change my Return in My Account;
- use the ReFILE service in your certified tax software;
- submit a completed Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request;
- ask your tax representative to request a change to your return.
Wait for your NOA before you request to change your return.
6. Simplify your life with My Account
My Account helps you easily manage your taxes from the comfort of your home. It lets you access your tax, benefit and credit information online. You can also use it to:
- track the status of your income tax and benefit return and your refund
- apply for benefits and credits
- update your address
- register for email notifications
- make a payment
- view your notice of assessment or reassessment
Make sure your information is up to date with us before you file. This will ensure you get your benefit and credit payments on time.
7. Pay on time
If you have a balance owing, paying it in full by the deadline will ensure interest isn’t charged. If you can’t pay all of your tax debt at once, please contact us as soon as possible. We can work with you to find a workable payment arrangement. Until you pay an amount you owe, interest compounds daily. For more information, go to When you owe money – Collections at the CRA.
8. Keep receipts and documents
You should keep all your receipts and documents for at least six years starting from the end of the taxation year to which they relate, or if your income tax and benefit return is filed late, for six years after the day you file the return. In general, if you are an individual (not self-employed) and file your 2021 tax return on time, you are required to keep your receipts and documents that relate to the 2021 taxation year until at least the end of 2027.
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.
Sometimes we review returns to make sure that income, deductions, and credits are properly reported. If you have to support your claims, having your receipts and records on hand will make it easier.
More helpful resources
For answers to common questions, check out our questions and answers about filing your taxes page. We will update this page periodically to incorporate changes that may affect you during tax-filing season.
If you need a quick answer to a question, you can use Charlie the chatbot. Charlie will help you find the information you need to file your income tax and benefit return. You can find Charlie on the CRA homepage and many other of our pages on Canada.ca.
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