Preparing to File Your Taxes in Canada

It’s tax time! Hopefully, you’re getting ready to file your taxes, awaiting your tax package from the Canadian Revenue Agency and organizing your supporting documentation. You should receive your tax package, based on the province or territory in which you resided on December 31, sometime in January.

Each CRA tax package should contain the following:

  1. Your tax return form
  2. Your federal tax worksheet
  3. The forms for any schedules you require
  4. Provincial or territory tax worksheet
  5. Information guide

If you don’t have a tax package by the end of January, or if you have the wrong one (the CRA will usually just send you a package based on the way you file your taxes the previous year), you should make an effort to get your hands on one. You can download and print the right package for you from the CRA web site, request a mailed package using the Internet, order a tax package by calling 1-800-959-2221, or go to a postal outlet or Service Canada office and pick up a package in person.

Keep an Eye Out for Tax Slips from Others

As the end of February approaches, you should receive slips with tax information. Employers, payers, plan administrators and others will be sending you relevant information (it will go to the CRA as well). Your T4 slips include information about your income, pension plans, old age security income, benefits, insurance and other income. You might also receive T3 slips providing information about trust income that you need to file your taxes.

When you receive this information, keep it together, and somewhere safe. Set up a folder so that you know right where this information is, and so that it is easily accessible as you prepare your taxes. Understand which slips belong with which returns (you might need a separate return if you have a business), and organize your slips as they come in. Also, be aware of the organizations and people that might be sending slips. If an expected slip doesn’t come in, contact someone to find out where the slip is.

Organizing Your Paperwork to File Your Taxes

While you wait for your slips to come in, it might be a good idea to organize what paperwork you can. Collect relevant receipts and other documentation that you need in order to qualify for tax deductions and tax credits. Without documentation, you might be unable to reduce your tax liability. Keep documentation for tax breaks together, and when your slips come in, place them with the appropriate documentation. That way, the process of filing your taxes will go smoother.

Even if you have someone else prepare your taxes, you should try to organize your paperwork as much as you can. Call ahead of time to make an appointment so that you can get in, and ask what you need to bring to your appointment. Many accountants can provide you with a checklist of what to bring to your appointment when you file your taxes. Even if you don’t use an accountant to prepare your taxes, you can still ask for a checklist. The CRA also has a helpful checklist of items that you need for your tax return.

Start now, and prepare a little bit at a time, and you will be ready to properly file your taxes when the time comes — with as little fuss as possible.

Any other suggestions for when you file your taxes?

12 comments to Preparing to File Your Taxes in Canada

  • Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

    Its doesn’t seem as though filing taxes in Canada is too much different than doing it in the US. One thing though like you mention is making sure you have all your documents and are organized. My accountant makes sure everything is in order for me but I still make sure I am organized.

  • We try to stay organized through out the year. We use Quicken to manage our transactions and we file receipts as we go for tax time later. We also use UFile to submit our return online which makes it really easy,. This year though we need to figure out how to submit the blog income. Going to be a bit of work, especially with having everything in Paypal.

  • Last year I opted to use Turbo Tax online and was so happy with it! In the past, I’ve always purchased the software but because of reformats etc. have never been able to properly upload old tax info from the previous returns to the new one. This year I won’t have that problem since I can just login to my account and continue on from last year! Very excited!

  • Credit Cards Canada

    Don’t forget that if you have kids, you will need to collect receipts from all sort of activities if you want tax deductions. Sports and many other organized activities are now tax deductible.

  • The thing that is tripping me up is that I am learning how to prepare IRS taxes this year in addition to my Canadian ones this year because of the crazy residential tax rules I am subject to now (or apparently always was).

  • Like many have said, being organized is key. I, too, keep my taxes organized throughout the year. There are a lot of similarities between U.S. and Canadian taxes, but enough differences to make sure you know how to properly file. For a couple of years, I worked for a company in Taiwan and had to pay taxes in Taiwan, as well as the U.S. Luckily, the U.S. offers a deduction for foreign taxes paid.

  • Income Tax Man

    I enjoy doing my taxes because it is interesting. Really it is, trying to get the most back on your tax return. I did my taxes for 2010 and 2011 online and I will do my 2012 taxes online most certainly. Thanks for the informative article.

    • Until last year when a local company did our taxes for us pro-bono I had done my taxes online for 5 or more years. Fastest way to get it done and the services available make it pretty easy to do the return – saves you to do the calculations (though it is smart to do the math yourself as well, just in case!).

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