Doing your taxes
This page gives you information on what you need to know to do your taxes. There are links in each section that will lead you to more information on that topic.
- Do you need to file a tax return?
- When is your 2017 tax return due?
- Do you need help doing your taxes?
- How to do your taxes
- When will you get your notice of assessment (NOA)?
- When will you get your refund?
- Do you owe money?
- Do you need to make changes to your tax return?
1. Do you need to file a tax return?
Find out your tax obligations and whether you need to file an income tax and benefit return.
If your income was tax exempt or you had no income in Canada this year, you still have to file your taxes to get the benefits and credits you might be entitled to, such as:
This tax-filing season, be sure to read about important changes and improvements that were made to services, benefits and credits for 2017 tax year.
2. When is your 2017 tax return due?
Most income tax and benefit returns are due on or before April 30, 2018.
Self-employed individuals and their spouse or common-law partner have until June 15, 2018 to file their return. However, any balance owing for 2017 must be paid on or before April 30, 2018 to avoid interest.
If in 2017, you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business whose expenditures are mainly for a tax shelter, you have to send in your return no later than April 30.
If you need to file a tax return for someone who has died in 2017, the due date for their return will depend on the date of death and whether the person owned a business in 2017.
3. Do you need help doing your taxes?
If you need a hand doing your taxes, you may be eligible for free help!
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, a volunteer from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program may be able to complete your income tax and benefit return for you, for free. This service is offered all year around. From February to April, community organizations across Canada host free tax preparation clinics to help eligible individuals.
4. How to do your taxes
You can fill out your return online, on paper, or by phone.
Did you know that last year nearly 90% of Canadians chose to file their income tax and benefit return online? Filing online is convenient, easy, and secure.
To help you file electronically, the CRA provides a list of certified desktop and online software products, and web service options, including those that are free of charge.
If you register for My Account, you will have access to the secure Auto-fill my return service. If you use certain tax preparation software, it automatically fills in parts of your return, with information that the Canada Revenue Agency has on file for you.
To serve Canadians better, the CRA will mail the 2017 Income Tax and Benefits Guide and forms book to individuals who filed on paper last year. You should receive the packages by February 26, 2018.
It can take up to 10 business days for the income tax and benefit package to arrive by mail.
On the phone
New for this tax-filing season, the File my Return service invites eligible Canadians to file their income tax and benefit return by providing some personal information and answering a series of short questions through a dedicated, automated phone service.
File my Return is available to select Canadians with low or fixed incomes whose situations remain unchanged year-to-year. Canadians who may be eligible will receive a personalized invitation letter in the mail by mid-February 2018.
Many individuals get the assistance of a spouse or common-law partner, other family member, friend, or accountant when doing their taxes. You don't need to authorize them as your representative if they're only doing your taxes.
However, if you want that person to represent you for your income tax matters - access information or make limited changes to your account- you have to authorize that person as a representative.
You may be able to get free help from a community organization to help you file your income tax and benefit return through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers can prepare your return for you, for free.
Steps to filing an income tax and benefit return
Step 1: Collect all your information and supporting documents that show your income, and that support any deductions and credits you plan to claim
To fill out your return, you need all your tax information slips that show your income, such as your T4 slip. You should have received most of your slips and receipts by the end of February. However, T3, and T5013 slips will come later as these do not have to be sent by the issuer until before the end of March.
If you have not received, or have lost or misplaced a slip for the current year, you have to ask your employer, or the issuer of the slip, for a copy. If you are registered for My Account, you may be able to view your tax information online and use the secure Auto-fill my return service to automatically fill in parts of your return with information the Canada Revenue Agency has on file for you. You could also use your pay stubs or statements to estimate the income to report and any related deductions and credits you can claim. Attach a copy of the pay stubs or statements to your paper return and keep the original documents. If you are filing online, keep all of your documents in case we ask to see them later.
Gather the receipts or records you will need to support any deductions, credits, amounts or expenses you will be claiming.
Step 2: Select the software you will use to fill out your return or get the general income tax and benefit package for 2017
NETFILE- certified tax preparation software offers you a convenient and secure way to do your taxes online. The Canada Revenue Agency has a list of certified software, some of which are free, which allows you to complete and send your return directly to the CRA.
If you are registered for My Account, you can use the Auto-fill my return service to automatically fill in parts of your income tax and benefit return when you use certified tax preparation software. Certified software products will also allow you to use the Express NOA service to receive your notice of assessment right after you file your return. Many products also offer ReFILE capability, which allows you to submit adjustments to your return after you receive your notice of assessment.
Step 3: Make sure your personal information is up to date
Changes to your personal information such as your marital status, the number of children in your care, your banking information and your address directly affect your benefit and credit payments. If there has been a change in your life let the CRA know as soon as possible to make sure you get the benefits and credits you're entitled to.
You can change your address and your direct deposit information before you file your return if you use a NETFILE-certified tax preparation software.
Step 4: Report your income
Report the income you received in the year from all sources, both inside and outside Canada.
Look on the back of your information slips to find instructions on where to report an amount.
Step 5: Find out which deductions, tax credits, and benefits you can claim
Get information about the deductions and tax credits you can claim on your return to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. You will also find information on where to claim these amounts on your tax return or on a related form or schedule.
Step 6: Send your return to the Canada Revenue Agency
After you or your EFILE service provider have sent your income tax return through the software, you may choose to receive your notice of assessment (NOA) electronically, right away with Express NOA. Avoid delays with paper mail and get your Express NOA or ask your EFILE service provider for one.
You can also file a paper return by mailing it to your tax centre after completing it.
Step 7: Keep your supporting documents
You must keep all your tax documents for at least six years after the last tax year they relate to. If you filed your return late, your records must be kept for six years from the date the return was filed. If you claimed expenses, deductions or tax credits, make sure you keep all your receipts and related documents in case the Canada Revenue Agency asks to see them.
5. When will you get your notice of assessment (NOA)?
If you use the new Express NOA service using certified tax software, you will get your NOA seconds after filing. You can also ask your tax preparer about Express NOA to get your assessment faster. Otherwise, you can expect your NOA in the mail 5-10 days after filing electronically and eight weeks if you file a paper return.
Receive your notice of assessment (NOA) online
Get your NOA online with online mail! It's the fast, easy, and secure way to manage your CRA mail. There are different ways you can register:
- log into My Account or the MyCRA mobile web app
- enter your email address when you file your return
- through your tax preparer
6. When will you get your refund?
If you file your return online and choose direct deposit, you can get your refund in as little as eight business days. If you send us a paper return, it generally takes eight weeks before we issue your notice of assessment and any refund.
7. Do you owe money?
In order to avoid interest or penalties, you need to pay the balance you owe in full to the Canada Revenue Agency on or before April 30. There are different ways you can make a payment to the CRA:
- online banking
- debit card
- credit card
- pre-authorized debit
- wire transfer for non-residents
- cash or debit at Canada Post
- service provider
- Canadian financial institution
If you cannot pay the balance you owe in full
If you can't pay the full amount you owe, you can make a payment arrangement. The Payment agreement calculator can assist you in formulating a proposed payment plan to pay off your tax debt taking into consideration your financial situation. However, it's up to you to contact the Canada Revenue Agency.
After April 30, 2018, the Canada Revenue Agency will charge interest on any amount you owe until your balance is paid. The Canada Revenue Agency can grant relief from penalty or interest, but only in certain circumstances.
8. Do you need to make changes to your tax return?
You can make changes to your return by using the ReFILE service offered in certified tax preparation software packages or, if you are registered for My Account, you can request a change to your return by clicking "Change my Return" and updating the required information..
You can also request an adjustment to your return by mail using Form T1-ADJ T1 Adjustment Request.
If you sent your request electronically, it can take up to two weeks for the Canada Revenue Agency to make a change. If you mailed your request and used the Form T1-ADJ form changes can take up to eight weeks.
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