Income Tax Information Circular

Customized Forms

This circular replaces and cancels Information Circular 97-2R18.

What’s new?

1. Starting with the 2019 tax year, the line numbers on the back of various information slips have changed from three digits to five digits. You must use the updated line numbers for any customized form.

General information

2. The CRA creates returns, forms and slips that Canadian taxpayers use to meet their income tax obligations. If these do not meet your software specifications, we can accept a customized version. This information circular provides guidelines for producing customized forms. Please note that we use “forms” in this circular to refer to all CRA returns, forms and slips.

3. The CRA will accept only customized forms that comply with the specifications in this circular.

The CRA has developed a consolidated information slip called the T5008 Trading Summary, which provides a list of individual security transactions. You can use this slip instead of issuing separate tax slips for each transaction.

The CRA’s T5008 Trading Summary is shown in Appendix D of Guide T4091, T5008 Guide - Return of Securities Transactions. If you use the T5008 Trading Summary, you must use the most current version as shown in Guide T4091.

You can also send investors a customized trading summary. However, the CRA will accept the customized trading summary without the individual tax slip only if the summary includes all of the following:

Note

Company or corporate logos cannot appear on the T5008 information slip.

For more information about all customized forms, send an email to: customized-hors-series@cra.gc.ca.

Approval process

4. Most customized information slips and summaries no longer need CRA approval. For a list of slips and summaries that do need CRA approval for customization, and their valid revision years, go to canada.ca/cra-customized-forms.

5. When you send customized forms to the CRA for approval, allow 20 working days for a decision.

6. Customized forms must be a likeness of the latest version available at canada.ca/cra-forms.

7. Do not send documents that contain protected information, such as (but not limited to) recipient name, address or social insurance number.

8. Send your customized forms for approval to the appropriate address below, based on the form type.

  1. Trust, securities and retirement compensation arrangement (RCA) forms, including:
    • T3 tax returns and schedules
    • T3 information slips and summaries
    • T5008 slips, summaries and replacement statements
    • T737-RCA slips and summaries

    When sending T3 tax returns and schedules (print or *.pdf) for review, you must include a list of all the forms that your software contains, whether or not you are submitting them for approval.

    Email: send a *.pdf format to customized-hors-series@cra.gc.ca.

    Mail: Send printed forms to:
    Individual Returns Directorate
    Third Party Reporting Division
    Information Returns Filer Services Section
    750 Heron Road, 6th Floor
    Ottawa ON K1A 0L5

  2. GST forms

    Send printed forms to:
    Business Returns Directorate
    GST/HST Returns & Rebates
    Processing Division
    750 Heron Road, 3rd Floor
    Ottawa ON K1A 0L5

    If you need any information about customized GST forms that is not in this publication, go to canada.ca/gst-hst or call 1-800-959-5525.

  3. Charities forms

    The CRA must approve all test cases for these charities forms:

    • Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return
    • Form T1235, Directors/Trustees and Like Officials Worksheet
    • Form T1236, Qualified donees worksheet / Amounts provided to other organizations

    To request the Vendor Certification Manual and test cases, contact the Charities Directorate:

    Email: Charities-Bienfaisance@cra.gc.ca

    Mail: Charities Directorate
    Client Interface Section
    Place de Ville, Tower A
    320 Queen Street, 13th Floor
    Ottawa ON K1A 0L5

9. When sending an information slip or a summary form for approval, you must include the following information:

10. Your samples must be good-quality, legible copies of the final version. We do not accept faxes or hand-written changes. After you receive an approval code, you must add it to the bottom right-hand corner of the form before printing.

Note

The CRA will not approve prior year forms with notes indicating changes for the upcoming years. You must submit the final version you intend to use. It is your responsibility to proofread and correct the forms with respect to spelling, content and format.

11. CRA approval of a customized form remains valid until the CRA publishes a revised version that makes your customized form obsolete. You must then submit a new, revised form to get a new approval code.

Commercial software

12. The CRA approves only the *.pdf file or printed forms, not the software used to generate the forms and tax calculations. The software packaging information should not give the impression that the CRA approved the software. In addition, the packaging information should indicate the following:

Guidelines for information returns, forms, and slips

13. When creating your customized version of a form, you can check early releases of the CRA’s documents on our Early Access website. To request access to this password-protected site, contact the administrator at EDDSADMING@cra-arc.gc.ca. A non-disclosure agreement will be required. The final versions of these documents are available at canada.ca/cra-forms-list.

Guidelines for information slips

14. All CRA information slips can be customized. When processing a taxpayer’s return, we will accept customized slips if they closely resemble the CRA version and meet the specifications in this circular. You can find the CRA slips at canada.ca/cra-forms-list.

15. Information slips, such as the T4, T4A, and T5 slips, are the most commonly customized CRA forms.

Customized information slips must meet the following requirements:

  1. Dimensions:
    Dimensions
      Width Length
    Maximum 8.5 in (21.5 cm) 7 in (17.5 cm)
    Minimum 5.5 in (13.75 cm)
    for 2 slips per page
    2.75 in (6.80 cm)
    for 4 slips per page
  2. The information on all copies of the slips must be legible. If you are required by law to send two copies to the recipient, you must either send us both copies for approval or clearly identify in the email or on the draft you send for approval that recipients will receive two copies.
  3. All forms must indicate “Protected B when completed” as shown on the CRA’s version.
  4. CRA will accept unilingual forms if they are in the recipient’s official language of choice.
  5. For information slips, you must include all identification areas, income tax and code boxes (for example, recipient type or report, employment or footnote codes). Except for those required fields, you can choose to include only the boxes that meet the recipient’s circumstances.

    For slips that the taxpayer will file with the CRA on paper, keep boxes in the numerical order of the boxes on the CRA slip. For any box printed on the front of the slip, you must include the corresponding text description on the back of the slip. If you do not include a particular box on the front of the slip, you must make sure the corresponding text is not included on the back of the slip.

  6. The CRA’s Federal Identification Program (FIP) signature, including the flag symbol, is required. If you customize CRA forms, your corporate name must not be used in place of the CRA’s FIP signature. You can indicate your corporate name in the area that requires the originator’s name and address (usually at the bottom right of the slip).

    For a sample of the logo, go to canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/government-communications/federal-identity-program/technical-specifications/official-symbols/canada-wordmark.

  7. Use approximately the same font size you find on our forms, but not smaller.
  8. Shading is required for paper copies that taxpayers will print and mail to the CRA. Shading is not required for electronic filing.
  9. The Privacy Act statement included on CRA forms must appear on each customized version. For an example, see the privacy notice on your tax return.

16. Paper filing:

  1. Summary forms filed on paper must show all the information boxes, in the exact order and position, as on the CRA forms.
  2. Any forms filed on paper must show the shading in the boxes (in whole or in part) in the exact manner as shown on any of the CRA forms.
  3. Serial numbering is not required.

17. Electronic filing:

  1. For electronically filed T5008 slips, Return of Securities Transactions, you can file on a fund-by-fund / single transaction basis with the CRA; however, you must still give the taxpayer a T5008 slip or a trading summary for each consolidated T5008 slip issued to them. The CRA must review the transaction summary and give you an approval number before you can issue the slips. The top of these transaction summary must have the overall look and feel of the original form, while the client’s transactions can be listed in a statement format below.

    The transaction summary must prominently display the following message, preferably in boldface or a noticeable colour:

    T5008 – Securities transactions are disclosed to the Canada Revenue Agency on a yearly basis. These transactions are to be reported on your income tax and benefit return. Please retain for income tax purposes, as no other form will be issued.

    For examples of the accepted format, see Appendix D of Guide T4091, T5008 Guide - Return of Securities Transactions, at canada.ca/cra-publication-t4091.

    Note

    This document is not intended to become part of any regular company statement, but must remain as a separate document that would accompany that statement.

  2. If you are a mutual fund trust and electronically file your T3 slip, Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations, you can combine the income and capital gains from several funds onto one T3 slip for each unit holder. The phrase “Combined information slip” must be clearly written on the unit holder’s T3 slip, under the unit holder’s name and address. You must also give the unit holders a “statements/transaction summary” that helps reconcile the amounts reported on the combined information slip, thus maintaining a clear audit trail.

Customized tax returns

18. All software developers, tax professionals or individuals who create a program to print returns, such as T3 returns and charity forms, must obtain CRA approval to generate these returns.

The CRA does not accept customized, pre printed paper individual income tax and benefit (T1) returns.

Filing customized tax returns

19. To help the CRA process customized paper returns, the taxpayer should attach the forms, schedules and other related documents to the return in the correct order, stapled in the top left-hand corner so that all the information can be seen. The correct order of attachments for various returns is presented at the end of this circular. The taxpayer should attach only the relevant completed schedules or forms to the return. If they include blank schedules or forms, processing of the return may be delayed.

20. The CRA will accept photocopies of returns, schedules and forms, including photocopied signatures. The CRA will also accept forms downloaded in the *.pdf format from canada.ca/cra-forms-list. However, the documents have to meet the following paper and printing specifications.

Guidelines for customized tax returns

21. The following requirements apply to customized tax returns, schedules and related forms:

Paper specifications:

  1. For most documents, the page size has to be 21.5 cm × 28 cm (8½ in. × 11 in.) after the stubs have been removed.
  2. Continuous feed paper will be accepted if the pages are detached and the stubs removed.
  3. The CRA will accept only the first copy of “no carbon required (NCR)” paper.
  4. The paper must be white and unlined.

Printing specifications:

  1. The quality, density and clarity of the font should be similar to the font on the CRA documents.
  2. The page and line format should be the same as the page and line format on the CRA documents.
  3. The identification information, line descriptions and field numbers should be printed in the same order as they appear on the CRA documents.
  4. The areas indicating “Do not use this area” must be shown in exactly the same size and configuration as on CRA returns.
  5. Abbreviations on the documents will be accepted as long as the descriptions are clear and concise.
  6. All titles and keying field numbers must be in bold print.
  7. All entries in the identification area and amounts entered in the keying fields must be in bold print.
  8. Zeros should not be entered in keying fields, unless specifically required.
  9. No more than one page of each document should be printed on one side of a sheet of paper.

T1 computer-generated returns

22. In addition to the preceding paper and printing specifications, the following specifications also apply to computer generated individual income tax and benefit returns (T1):

  1. If a software product was EFILE- or NETFILE-certified in a previous year, the first version of the current year product must be released with 2D bar code capability for its computer-printed returns.
  2. If a software product has never been certified for EFILE or NETFILE, it must be certified for EFILE or NETFILE before you submit it for 2D bar code certification for its computer-printed returns. For information about 2D bar code certification, see the 2D Bar Code and Condensed Return Standards document, available on our Early Access website.
  3. Software products or applications that are free to all users, regardless of income, do not need to include 2D bar code capability.
  4. The individual income tax package must include all provincial and territorial variations of the T1 return, schedules and tax credit forms.
  5. The return, schedules and related forms must show the taxpayer’s name and social insurance number on the top of each page.
  6. The returns, schedules and related forms must indicate “Protected B when completed” in the upper right-hand corner of all pages that allow for any entries.
  7. The relevant form number must appear on computer-generated forms related to the income tax package. Where possible, this form number should be left-justified at the bottom of the first page of the form.
  8. For schedules or forms of more than one page, provide page numbering at the bottom of each page (for example, page 1 of 2). Insert page breaks similar to where they occur in the CRA versions or where they will cause the least confusion.
  9. The return, schedules and forms have to show the cent indicators as required (large black dots to the right of the keying fields). For the cent indicator, CRA will accept the “¢” sign or a lower case “c” in the same position as the black dots on the return and schedules.
  10. If the T1 income tax and benefit return show a clear space of 3 cm to the right of a keying field or a blank line under a keying field, so should the computer generated return. The CRA uses these spaces for corrections.
  11. The top of the name and address area and of any other information areas on page 1 must be positioned at 3 cm or more from the top of the printed return.
  12. The printed return should not have more than 6 lines per inch vertically and 12 characters per inch horizontally.
  13. On the last page of the return and all related forms and schedules, place the Privacy Act statement below “Do not use this area.” Where possible, right justify the Privacy Act statement.

23. Please note that customized T1 returns must meet these specifications:

  1. Returns generated by software that will not be EFILE- or NETFILE-certified, should be identical to the income tax and benefit return (available at canada.ca/cra-forms). Bar codes should not be included on these returns.
  2. Returns generated by software that will be EFILE- or NETFILE-certified should follow the specifications for the T1 General – Condensed return (as indicated in the 2D Bar Code and T1 Condensed Return Standards document, available on the Early Access website). Bar codes should be included as indicated in the standards document.

T3 computer-printed tax returns

24. T3 trust income tax and information returns, schedules and related forms must meet the paper and printing specifications in paragraphs 22 and 23, as well as these requirements:

  1. A T3 tax return package should include the T3 tax return, schedules and all related forms.
  2. The return, schedules and related forms should show the name of the trust and the tax year at the top of each page.
  3. The approval code should be placed on the last printed line on page 1 of the return.

Charity computer-printed returns

25. Charities forms T3010, T1235 and T1236 must meet the paper and printing specifications in paragraphs 22 and 23, as well as these requirements:

  1. The return should show the charity’s business number / registration number and fiscal period-end on the top of each page.
  2. The approval code should be placed on the bottom right of each page of the return.

Rejecting computer-printed tax returns

26. The following are some of the reasons why the CRA may not accept a computer printed return for processing:

  1. The print quality is illegible.
  2. The return is not in the correct format.
  3. The return does not show cent indicators.
  4. The return does not show a CRA approval code.

These returns may be delayed or returned by the tax centre for correction.

Order of attachments for T3 and charity tax returns

27. To accelerate the processing of tax returns, the taxpayer should arrange the attachments in the order in which the CRA will process them. (See the appropriate order in the lists below.)

When the taxpayer is making an election, this should be noted prominently in the relevant area of the return or schedules, or a note should be attached to the return.

T3 trust return

28. Document order:

  1. T3SCH12 - Schedule 12, Minimum Tax (only if minimum tax applies)
  2. T3SCH11 - Schedule 11, Federal Income Tax
  3. Form T3FFT, T3 Federal Foreign Tax Credits
  4. Form T3MJ, T3 Provincial and Territorial Taxes – Multiple Jurisdictions
  5. Provincial or territorial tax forms
  6. Form T3PFT, T3 Provincial or Territorial Foreign Tax Credit
  7. T3SCH10 - Schedule 10, Part XII.2 Tax and Part XIII Non-Resident Withholding Tax
  8. All remaining schedules in numerical order
  9. Form T184, Capital Gains Refund for a Mutual Fund Trust
  10. Form T1055, Summary of Deemed Dispositions
  11. T2038-IND, Investment Tax Credit (Individuals)
  12. Information slips for income received
  13. All other documents in any order

Charity tax return

29. Document order:

  1. Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return
  2. Form TF725, Registered Charity Basic Information Sheet
  3. A copy of the registered charity’s financial statements
  4. Form T1235, Directors/Trustees and Like Officials Worksheet
  5. Form RC232 Corporations Information Act Annual Return for Ontario Not for Profit Corporations (if applicable)
  6. Form RC232-WS, Director/Officer Worksheet and Ontario Corporations Information Act Annual Return (if applicable)
  7. Form T1236, Qualified Donees Worksheet/Amounts Provided to Other Organizations (if applicable)
  8. Form T2081, Excess Corporate Holdings Worksheet for Private Foundations (if applicable)
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