January is almost already behind us and February is a brief 28 days, which can only mean one thing: Tax season will be here before we know it.
As the saying goes, taxes are one of life’s certainties, and it’s probably a safe bet that nobody really looks forward to dealing with the Tax Man.
But you should also keep in mind that filing taxes is also the gateway to benefits and credits such as the GST/HST credit, the Canada Child Benefit if you’re a parent, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement if you’re a low income senior.
Our government wants to make it easier for Canadians to receive the credits and benefits to which they’re entitled. That’s why I’m pleased to say we recently announced two important changes to improve the tax-filing experience.
The first involves a direct mail-out to paper filers.
For many, having to travel to find income tax forms and guides each year is inconvenient. This is especially true for people with mobility challenges or those living in rural communities.
Starting this year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will automatically mail a package to anyone who filed on paper the previous year. This will benefit an estimated 1.9 million Canadians, a large portion of who are seniors and those without consistent access to the Internet.
The second improvement will benefit people on low or fixed income. The CRA is launching a “File my Return” automated phone service, which will help more than 950,000 Canadians. Eligible individuals will be able to file their taxes simply by answering a series of questions over the phone. There are no paper forms to fill out or calculations to make.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes and where to find tax filing tips.
What will be in the mail-out package to the paper filers?
Canadians who filed on paper last year will receive the 2017 tax package in the mail by Feb. 26. The CRA will provide:
- two copies of the federal forms and schedules;
- two copies of the provincial/territorial forms and schedules;
- the 2017 General Income Tax and Benefit Guide; and
- a pre-addressed return envelope.
If you moved since you last filed a return and have not updated your address with the CRA, you will need to contact the agency or visit a Canada Post or Service Canada outlet to get a tax package.
How do others obtain copies of these forms or a guide?
You can place an order online or download and print the documents through the CRA website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca. Beginning Feb. 5, you can call a dedicated telephone line to order a package:
- 1-855-330-3305 (for service in English)
- 1-855-330-3310 (for service in French)
Limited copies will still be available at Canada Post and Service Canada locations starting Feb. 26. Copies will also be available in our constituency offices at 375 Main St. W., North Bay, and 112 Whitewood Ave. West, Temiskaming Shores.
What is the new “File my Return” service?
The File my Return service lets eligible individuals with low income or a fixed income that is unchanged year-to-year file their income tax returns simply by giving some personal information and answering a series of short questions through an automated phone service.
File my Return is free, secure and easy to use. There are no paper forms to fill out or calculations to do.
Those who are eligible will receive a personalized invitation letter in the mail in the middle of February and can begin using the service on Feb. 26. It is available 21 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern time, seven days a week, throughout the tax-filing season.
When should returns be filed?
For most people, the deadline is April 30, 2018. Filing on time or even early will help avoid interruptions to payments such as the Canada Child Benefit, Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit, and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
To learn more about tax filing, visit www.canada.ca/taxes-get-ready for links to services and information, including tax tips, a step-by-step guide on how to file an income tax return, and help finding certified software and web applications for electronic filing.