You may have seen a series of heartwarming advertisements by a major Canadian bank that promote hockey season as “Canada’s fifth season.” As patriotic as this may be, and while the ads certainly make an apt metaphor for the popularity of the de facto national sport, there is one other season to add to the calendar each and every year, and that’s tax season.
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced that the 2018 tax filing season will officially open on February 26, 2018. Next Monday, the CRA will begin processing income tax and benefit returns filed by Canadians in the way that is most convenient to them.
It doesn’t quite have the ring to it that a fresh year of on-ice competition might, but the new tax season does offer a slate of improvements to Canadians looking to make their annual filings as easy, efficient and uncomplicated as possible.
Last year, nearly 90% of the 25 million returns Canadians filed were completed online.
- Starting February 26, 2018, Canadians can start filing their income tax and benefit returns online.
- March 1, 2018, is the deadline for contributing to a Registered Retired Savings Plan.
- Canadians should have received most of the tax slips, such as T4s, and receipts needed to file a tax return by March.
- Most Canadians income tax and benefit returns are due on April 30, 2018.
- Self-employed individuals have until June 15, 2018 to file their return.
- From February 26 to April 30, 2018, the CRA will be offering extended evening and weekend hours for Individual Tax Enquiries. Over 3,000 telephone agents will be available Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 9 am to 9 pm (local time) weekdays, and from 9 am to 5 pm (local time) on Saturdays (except Easter weekend) to serve as many people as possible.
- New this year, individuals can obtain both their account balance and the amount of the last payment made to the CRA through the use of an automated, self-serve Interactive Voice Response system without needing to speak to an agent.
- Express NOA allows those using certified tax software as well as tax preparers to print a notice of assessment right after filing.
- Canadians can now make in-person payments at any Canada Post outlet using cash or debit card.
Tax preparation is a key element of personal financial health and planning. Putting the time and effort in to optimizing your filing will likely benefit you in the long run. Know what you can deduct, why, and how much. Know where you can keep your money to help it grow without being overly taxed. These and other strategies are best discussed with a trained advisor: however, it’s important to keep an eye out for the approaching “season” by organizing and planning your finances year-round.