Meet Jessica, who recently started her first job at a local store. She works part-time after school and gets paid biweekly.

girl waving

Now that she's entered the workforce and started earning money, she's legally required to report her income and pay taxes.

If you're like Jessica and don't have much experience then it's important tolearn how to file your income tax returns so that you avoid legal and financial troubles.

Who Should File A Tax Return?

Canada's tax system is based on the self-assessment principle:

  • Anyone who earns money has to complete a tax return each year to report their income and calculate whether they owe tax or receive a refund.

  • It must be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

  • The Income Tax Act states that the deadline for most Canadians to file their income tax and benefit return is April 30. It's important to file your return on time because you may be entitled to a refund, benefits, or credits.

Are You Ready?

1) Be aware of key dates for the year's taxes

Visit the Government of Canada Website to get reliable information about tax filing dates.

2) Always keep your CRA information updated

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3) To get started, first gather:

  • Your tax slips (such as T4, T5, or T2202A information slips)

  • Receipts for any deductions, credits or expenses that you can claim

  • Information relating to any income not reported on a tax slip (like tips, gratuities, or occasional earnings)

Let's Begin

To complete your return you can choose from several methods:

1) Electronic Filing

  • CRA-approved tax software(free or paid) is used to calculate and file taxes electronically.

  • It can be done online, downloaded, or installed on your device.

  • It's available only to Canadian residents.

  • Processing time is around 2 weeks.

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2) Paper Filing

  • Manually complete and file your taxes on paper by requesting an Income Tax Package.

  • It's free of cost and available to anyone.

  • Processing time is around 10 - 12 weeks.

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3) Tax Preparation Service

  • A tax preparer (discounter) calculates your refund and pays you a discounted tax refund right away before they file your tax return.

  • This is a paid service that can be used by anyone.

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4) Authorized Representative

  • You can authorize an accountant or a trusted family member or friend to act on your behalf to complete your taxes and access your tax accounts.

  • It's available to anyone, paid or free.

  • Processing time is around 2 weeks.

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5) Community Volunteer Tax Clinic

  • Volunteers at free tax clinics can help you complete your taxes.

  • Find aFree Tax Clinicnear you.

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What Happens Next?

After you file your tax return:

  • Pay any balances you owe

  • Make any changes to your tax return if you need to

  • Make sure you're registered with My Account. This is a secure portal that lets you view your personal income tax and benefit information, and manage your tax affairs online.

  • You can even install the MyCRA mobile App and securely access important tax information and manage personal details, wherever you are. 

Quiz

Jessica has completed filing her tax return. What can she do next?

Check to see if her return has come in

She doesn't have to do anything else

Take Action

Remember, it's not against the law to have a tax debt and owe money to the CRA but it's against the law to not file your tax returns.

So make sure to file your tax return accurately & on time!

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This Byte has been authored by

CK

Chitra Krishnan

Lifelong Learner