Now that it’s April (no fooling!), Canadian taxpayers are running out of procrastination time to file their annual taxes. There’s a good reason why the Easter weekend is often crunch time for filing one’s taxes due April 30.
By the time the long weekend rolls around, the stack of paperwork required to file your personal income taxes should be just about complete. T5 slips (which show interest and dividend income paid outside registered accounts) were mailed out by the investment industry back in February.
T3s are generally mailed out around the end of March. T3s show investors (and the government!) any non-registered income paid out by income trusts and REITs, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. These are sent out by your brokerage or, in the case of mutual funds, directly by the fund company.
Since the T3 deadline is March 31, you’ll want to wait a week for the stragglers to arrive by mail: the last thing you want to have to do is to amend your return after you’ve already sent it in, nor do you want to be penalized for failing to report income. (I received my own late arrivals for a few ETFs and REITs just at the end of last week.)
Also, be aware that some financial institutions (like TD Direct Investing) may not be sending slips by snail mail but instead by email so check your online brokerage account for electronic versions of these slips.
You’ve probably been sitting on your employer-issued T4s for weeks now, along with charitable receipts, RRSP contribution slips and a host of other documents that should help reduce your taxable income.
Personally, to avoid the stress of this annual ordeal, I use the cloud-based tax software made by Intuit Canada’s TurboTax. It picks up all the information from last year, including personal data, past capital gains and loss information, RRSP carry-forwards and much more. While it may not help you this year, I find it useful to input the data just as soon as it arrives in the mailbox.
So when the last straggler T3s came in, it was five minutes of work to get to the point where I was almost ready to file online using NETFILE.
All you now need to file with NETFILE is your Social Insurance Number. And if you’re a student or someone who earned very little last year (say, under $20,000), it’s likely that the tax software will be free of charge. (If new to tax software and NETFILE, click here for instructions.)
Easter weekend is a good time to go over the whole return one last time to make sure you’ve remembered every last deduction. But if you have substantial non-registered investments, I suggest holding off on hitting the NETFILE send button until after the long weekend, just in case one or two more late arrivals make their appearance. If all your wealth is in RRSPs and TFSAs, then blast away this weekend.
As veteran NETFILErs well know, there’s a great feeling of relief once the Canada Revenue Agency acknowledges the receipt of your filing: usually within a minute or two of sending. Hopefully, you’ll then have a pleasant few weeks of watching spring arrive without the burden of tax preparation on one’s mind. With luck, a small tax refund may arrive just about the time the real tax procrastinators are scrambling to make the filing deadline, which this year falls on a Thursday.
If you owe the CRA any money at all, April 30 is a deadline you definitely don’t want to miss. The late-filing penalties and interest charges are onerous and–ironically–not tax-deductible! And if Ottawa owes you, the sooner you get a refund, the better.