Accountants and tax preparers all over Canada are waiting with bated breath for the end of April and dreaded busy season, when sleep will no longer be a luxury and dreams cease to be tax reconciliation exercises. At this point in the month, most tax filers have submitted their info and efiled (or mailed in) their tax returns. Of course, there are always a few stragglers (accountants among them) who have either have not had the time to prepare their tax files or simply tend towards the easy yet stressful path of procrastination. For those that are in the straggler category, below is some guidance to help facilitate the process:
- Tax returns are due April 30th - you have until midnight if you are efiling your return or whenever your post office closes if you are mailing your tax return.
- Both Revenue Canada and Revenue Quebec are strongly encouraging tax filers to file their returns electronically (so much so that penalties are being imposed on registered tax preparers who paper file more than 10 returns). There are only a handful of restrictions which prevent you from e-filing your returns, so the majority of Canadian taxpayers should have no problem with this, particularly if they are using tax preparation software. The great benefit of filing electronically is that it is far more efficient as tax returns do not have to be printed, assembled and signed, envelopes labelled, addresses procured and envelopes mailed. Also, tax software makes the process relatively simple particularly for individuals with simple tax returns.
Additional Reading: Using Ufile to prepare your small business tax return
- If you do have to mail your tax return, addresses can be found at the following links:
Note that you generally only have to mail the Federal condensed form and the Quebec keying summary along with a handful of schedules. Any additional schedules will be requested by the tax authorities, if necessary.
- If you are self employed, you and your spouse, even if he or she is not self employed, actually have until June 15th to file your tax return. The caveat is that you have to pay any taxes payable by April 30th (or at least an estimate) otherwise interest starts to accrue. The difference is that you are not charged late filing penalties until June 15th
Additional Reading: 12 Tax Tips for Self Employed and Freelancers.
- New Canadian residents are required to paper file both Revenue Canada and Revenue Quebec tax returns. Also, new residents should ensure that they reflect the date of their entry into Canada to ensure that tax credits are appropriately pro-rated.
- Tax instalments to Revenue Canada are due for taxpayers who owe more than $3,000 in taxes for the year except for residents of Quebec, who are required to pay instalments if they owe more than $1,800 to Revenue Canada and more than $1,800 to Revenue Quebec. Keep in mind that both Revenue Canada and Quebec will send you instalment reminders and related forms to enclose with your instalment payment. These can also be paid online. Note that tax instalments are generally due by individuals who do not pay deductions at source throughout the year and included dividend and investment income recipients and small business owners.
Additional Reading: Info on calculating and submitting instalments
- Payments of taxes payable for the current year can be made to Revenue Quebec and Revenue Canada, through bill payments directly through your bank, by sending them a cheque (please include your Social Insurance Number and “Income Taxes 2012”)or you can wait for the assessments. Keep in mind that, if you choose the latter option, you might be charged interest, depending on when the tax return is filed and assessments are issued.
- Changes to your tax return are actually fairly straightforward. You must wait for your notice of assessment before making any changes, as the Revenue Agencies will often pick up any discrepancies. Once the notice of the assessment has been received, you can change your return electronically or fill out a form.
Additional Reading: How to Amend your tax return after it has been filed
- Even if you have no income, you should still file your tax return to receive benefits including the child tax benefit, GST Tax credit and Solidarity Tax Credit (in Quebec)
- Both Revenue Canada and Quebec have portals for taxpayers where you can view all your tax information including notices of assessments, RRSP contributions, status of refunds, benefit payments, address changes etc.
Unfortunately, we are stuck with the obligation to pay our taxes, so we might as well try and simplify it to the extent possible. Filing your taxes annually and on time is good practice, helps to avoid late filing penalties and nasty notices from the government, and for some can actually result in some benefits via refunds and refundable tax credits.