Preparing Your Tax Return

Have you paid your income taxes yet? A tax return is basically your report to the government of all of your income and some other financial details for a given year. While your return may show that you have to pay more tax, you may also be eligible for a tax rebate if you have credits for expenses like health care, child care or school. Before you begin, take some time to learn more about taxes and filing a tax return.

The Basics:

  • For authoritative information about taxation, contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
  • Income tax is collected by the CRA on behalf of the federal government, provinces and territories. Be aware of the deadline for filing your tax return, usually at the end of April. There are financial penalties for filing a late return if you owe the government money.
  • The amount of income tax that a person pays is based on the amount of taxable income earned during the previous calendar year and any tax credits that have been earned.
  • Keep a record of your income from all sources. If you work for someone else, they are obligated to send you a statement listing your income and any deductions that have been made for income taxes, employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan, etc. Use this information to fill out your tax return.
  • You can fill out and send your tax return on paper or electronically. Print forms are available from several sources:
    • On the Internet: You can view and print the General Income Tax and Benefit Return online, or you can download the files onto your computer's hard drive. You can also use CRA's online order form to have a printed copy of the General income tax and benefit package, and any other forms and publications, mailed to you.
    • By phone: You can get a printed copy of the General income tax and benefit package mailed to you by calling 1-800-959-2221.
    • In person: You can get the General guide and forms book for your province or territory from any postal outlet or Service Canada office near you between February and early May each year.
  • To file your return over the Internet via CRA’s NETFILE service, you will need to purchase commercial tax filing software or have your return filed by a professional tax service. CRA will provide you with an access code to connect to their server so that you can send your data to them.
  • If you send in a paper form, include your information slips detailing your sources of income and deductions.
  • Keep a copy, paper or electronic, of your return for future reference.
  • After your tax return has been processed, CRA will mail you a Notice of Assessment showing any changes or corrections made to the tax return (such as identifying and correcting a math error). If you are entitled to a refund because CRA agrees with the calculations on your return that you over-paid your taxes during the year, CRA will issue a refund.

Helpful Web Sites:

  • Are you about to file your first tax return and don't know where to begin? CRA offers an online course to help you learn how to file a tax return and further information to help you to understand all about your tax return.
  • Students: are you moving to attend school? Buying textbooks? Paying tuition or student loan interest? Paying for child care? You could be eligible for a tax refund! Read about what you can include in your tax return if you are a student or recent graduate.
  • Some life events, such as moving, getting married, a disability or a death in the family can affect your income tax. Find out from CRA if any of them apply to you.
  • Canada Revenue Agency's My Account connects you to your personal tax and benefits information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and allows you to check for your tax refund, check your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) limit, track your GST/HST payments and change your address.