File your taxes for free
Tax time! Does this stuff get anyone else excited?! Collecting all of your slips, figuring out what goes where, which claims you’re eligible for, wee fun! Said nobody ever. Tax time sucks, but, it’s a necessity for Canadians, unless you’re into not paying taxes I guess. There’s a few different ways to file your taxes, paper, over the phone (in some cases), and online, and I thought it might be helpful to share some information about these and how to file for free. I’ve never paid to file my taxes, and you shouldn’t either. It’s really not as difficult as it seems! Serious.
Individual tax returns need to be files by April 30th, 2018!
That means as of this posting you have 15 days to file your personal income tax!
What makes me an expert on this stuff? Hah, I am no expert but thank you for the kind words. Full disclosure: I have worked at the Canadian Revenue Agency as a taxpayer service agent, taking calls from Canadians about all sorts of tax situations. I would help them with sending out slips, providing info, that sort of thing. This was back in the late 2000’s, so I am a little out of date on certain topics, but I do have sort of a background in this. Also? Mrs CM works at an accountants office doing taxes.
Revenue Canada has put together a helpful page on filing your taxes from start to finish. Check that out here!
Also don’t file your taxes at H&R Block. They treat you like you’re an idiot, look at this ad. Like come on! It’s so not hard. They’ll happily charge you like $90 to file a basic T4 return. That’s crazy and they should feel bad.
Hi if you're a coach or not, if you don't know how to file a T4, don't let them treat you like an idiot. Send us a message. It's super easy to do, online, for free. H&R charges like $90. Fuck that. pic.twitter.com/MG1rNd1H5m
— ᴄʀᴀᴄᴋᴍᴀᴄs (@Crackmacs) April 5, 2018
This tweet/ad is the whole reason I’m putting this blog post together.
What do you need to file your taxes?
First and foremost you need your slips (the little piece of paper your employer gives/mails to you with all the numbers in the boxes), or at least the information from them. Most people only have a T4 slip (income tax) from working their regular job and earning a single income. Only having a T4 makes filing your taxes extremely easy. Note! before you file online, make sure your information is up to date with Revenue Canada. If you attempt to file online with a different address than they have on file, it might be rejected.
You can call Revenue Canada and request that they mail you a replacement slip, and, read the values to you from the boxes so that you can file your taxes. You don’t need the physical copies anymore, just the information. Don’t hesitate to call them up.
In addition I would recommend setting up direct deposit before you file your taxes. It’ll speed up the process immensely, you’ll get your return in 8-9 days if filed online.
You can give them a call at 1-800-959-8281.
During tax season Revenue Canada offers extended telephone support.
“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).”
- Get replacement T-slips mailed to you
- Get help filing out your tax return
- Benefits, eligible dependents, disability, first nations, corporate returns, RRSPs, tuition, capital gains or losses, etc.
- Update your information
- Request other documents
- Any other tax questions you might have
Having worked there and answering questions myself, I’d just like to clear something up. I’ve heard of people being afraid of calling the CRA because it might trigger an audit. Or, if you’re rude to the person on the phone they can make an audit happen, or ‘screw you over’ in some way. This is 100% not possible. The agents that answer the calls have limited access and have nothing to do with audits. They don’t have a person they can call to audit you. There is no escalation process for this (that I was ever aware of). The agents are there to help you with whatever you need. Don’t be afraid of them – and most importantly, just be polite. They are but a tiny cog in a huge machine, and they aren’t responsible for your tax situation. That said, don’t take shit from them either. If an agent is ever rude to you, ask to speak to their team leader, because they should be professional at all times.
My Account for Individuals
In order to file your taxes online, you’re going to need to sign up for “My Account”. Do that here. Through this account you can monitor your returns, track things, change info etc. It’s incredibly handy to have all of this information online.
Bonus: your tax slip information is included here, so if you don’t have your T4 slip, your employer will have sent in their copy, so you can still get the information you need to file.
Make sure to save the login information for this, you’ll need it again in the future.
Oh also, if for some reason you would like to purchase tax filing software, I’d recommend TurboTax standard.
Filing on paper
The old fashioned way. Haven’t done this in years. I don’t recommend it unless you absolutely need to. It’s kind of a pain to fill out, then it’ll take like 6 weeks to process your return (even longer if you don’t have direct deposit setup). Post Offices will have copies of income tax returns if you need them. You can also request that they be mailed to you. Here is the link to have it mailed to you. You can print off your own copy here.
Filing over the telephone
“TELEfile” was an option that existed until 2013. You could simply just phone your return in, pressing numbers for values etc. It was easy but quite time consuming. Recently the CRA created a new program that allows low-income individuals to file their taxes over the phone. Check out the details here in a CBC article.
Filing online using Netfile
Netfile is the name of the service Revenue Canada has that allows people to file their taxes online. In order to use this you’ll need that “My Account” set up, and tax filing software (as well as all your slips and information, duh). They don’t have software of their own nor a web form you can fill in, so you’ll need to pick something that works for you. Some programs are free, some cost money.
From all of these, I suggest you use Studio Tax. I’ve been using it for years without any issues. It’s free with no ads and is easy to use. They also have a Windows and Mac version. Although it is free, there is a maximum of 20 returns you can file. Not sure why you would need that many anyway.
Download here: http://www.studiotax.com/en/?page=2
There are other free software packages you can use such as Turbo Tax, AdvTax, or SimpleTax, however I’ve personally never used them so I can’t offer any recommendations other than that they’re popular and free. Any option you go with will work just fine. Some free versions of products sometimes require you to be under a certain dollar amount. Like if you made less than $30,000 it’s free, otherwise you have to pay. StudioTax isn’t like that, it’s free free free. Ufile offers it’s services for free if you’re a student, or have a single T4 slip return, or a CPP pension return, or if it’s your first time filing, or if you make less than $20,000/yr.
Please keep in mind that it’s free when you judge how it looks.. haha. They do accept donations!
From here you just fill out the information it asks for and you’re golden. Read through every question carefully and answer everything. When it comes time to fill in the information from your T4 or other slips, just simply type the same numbers in the same boxes. It’ll walk you through everything right until the end, and you’ll be able to file it.
Here’s an example question.
You would want to make sure you check NO, unless you make installment payments. Super easy, so long as you’re able to read and comprehend English.
Information is presented to you clearly, and they explain everything. There’s also another reminder that your information needs to be up to date within Revenue Canada’s database. The numbers are provided if you need to call. Handy stuff.
Once your return has been sent to Revenue Canada you’ll be given a confirmation ID to show that it did in fact transmit to the Government and you’re golden.
Go file your taxes!
You still have time. You do not want to be late when filing taxes if you owe money to the government. They’ll not only keep charging you interest, it compounds daily. That means every day it charges you interest on the amount owed yesterday.. which means you’re going to owe a lot of money real quick.
If you have corporate taxes.. well, those rules are totally different and I’m not even going to get into that.
Happy filing! Hopefully you get a nice big fat return.
Please drop any questions you may have in below and we’ll do our best to help.