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5 things you should know before filing your taxes

Craig Sebastiano

It’s tax season and many people have begun filing their taxes. But if you’re a last-minute filer like most Canadians, there are a few things you should know before you submit your return.

The deadline to file and pay taxes is on the last day of April

You must file your tax return by April 30, which is a Tuesday this year. If you’re self-employed, you have until June 17 to file your return (it’s usually June 15, but since it falls on a Saturday, you have a couple extra days). However, if you owe the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) money, you must pay the amount by the end of April even if you’re self-employed. Not filing on time when you owe money can be costly. You’ll be charged a fee of 5% on the amount you owe plus an additional 1% of your balance owing every month for up to 12 months.

Even if you don’t owe anything, you won’t be charged a penalty if your return is filed late. However, you may face a delay in benefits or credits, such as the Canada child benefit (CCB).

Claim all income

Do you currently have a side hustle as an Uber driver or as a tutor? Are you finding goods at garage sales and selling them on eBay? Are you renting out your place on Airbnb? Do you have a job where you earn tips that aren’t reported on your T4? If you earn income that’s not reported on a tax slip, it’s still considered income by the CRA. Income not reported on a T4 slip should be reported on line 104 of your return.

Don’t forget to claim credits and deductions

As a tax filer, you’re entitled to a number of tax credits and deductions, such as RRSP contributions, child care expenses, charitable donations, and interest paid on student loans. If you’re employed and also have a side hustle or if you’re self-employed, you’re allowed to write off any reasonable expenses you paid to earn income. You may want to consult a professional to find out what costs are considered reasonable.

There are free tax filing options

Sometimes it makes sense to have an accountant or one of those tax preparation companies do your taxes for you. However, the cost might not be worth it when you have a simple tax situation. If you have just a T4, donation receipts, and RRSP contribution receipts, it’s not worth paying someone to do your taxes for you. There are many free online offerings from AdvTax, GenuTax, H&R Block, SimpleTax, StudioTax, and TurboTax. If you have a low income and a simple tax situation, you may be able to get someone to file your return for you at a free tax clinic.

Hold onto your receipts and returns

The CRA recommends that you keep any tax slips, receipts, returns, and other related documents for “at least six years from the end of the tax year to which the records relate.” That means you should hold onto your 2017 return and the supporting documents until at least Dec. 31, 2023. Why? Because the CRA may review your return and having receipts will make it easier to support any claims you may have.

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Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

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