Know When Your Canadian Tax Return Is Due

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It’s vitally important to find out your tax due date, put it on your calendar, highlight it in three different colours, and if you’ve got some neon flashing lights left over from that Halloween party, hang them up around it.

Filing your Canadian tax return on time is critical. If you don’t, and you owe money, you’ll be charged a late filing penalty in addition to interest on the taxes outstanding. And even if you don’t owe money, it’s still a good idea to file on time so that you don’t needlessly hold up your refund and benefit payments!

If your due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday, you have until the next business day to file and you will not be considered late.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/klenger 2012]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/klenger 2012

Due date for regular folk

Personal income tax returns for the previous calendar year are due by midnight, April 30. If you’re electronically filing your return, ensure you get confirmation that your return went through before this time. And if you’re mailing in your return, ensure it’s postmarked as being mailed on or before April 30. If you just put your return in a regular mailbox and it’s not picked up until the next day, it will be considered late-filed.

If you have a balance owing on your taxes and don’t file on time, you will be charged an automatic 5 percent late filing penalty based on the amount owing. A further penalty of 1 percent of the unpaid tax will also be added for each full month the return is late, up to 12 months. So, there can be an additional 12 percent penalty which bumps up the maximum late filing penalty to 17 percent. If you’re late a second time within three years of the first late filing, the penalty can be as high as 40 percent! And that’s not all: you’ll have to pay interest, too. Ouch! Even if you cannot pay your tax, make sure you file your return on time to avoid these penalties!

Due date when you’re self-employed

If you or your spouse has self-employment income to report, your return is not due until June 15. However, if you owe taxes, you must estimate your tax bill and pay it by April 30 to avoid interest charges. Note that while the return may be due June 15 the tax is still due on April 30. Many individuals think the tax is also due on June 15, but unfortunately, this is not correct.

Special due dates in the year of death

The due date for the return of a person who died in the year depends upon the date of death. If the death occurred between January 1 and October 31, the return is due on April 30 of the next year. However, in recognition that pulling together tax documents for an individual who has passed away can be challenging, when an individual has died between November 1 and December 31 the due date is extended to six months after the date of death, which will be some time after the normal April 30 deadline.

The tax return of the surviving spouse is due the same day as the deceased’s return. However, if there will be a balance owing on the survivor’s return, it’s due on April 30 following the year of death.

If the deceased or the deceased’s spouse had been self-employed, different due dates apply. In that case, if death occurred between January 1 and December 15, the due date for the return is June 15 of the following year. For deaths between December 16 and the end of the year, the return is due six months after the date of death.

If death occurs in January to April, it may be difficult to file the tax return for the immediately preceding tax year. In that case, the prior year’s tax return and any taxes owing are due six months following death. For example, if John died on February 1 of this year, his last year’s tax return is not due until August of this year (it normally would have been due April 30). Any tax liability from the final tax year (which will include only the month of January) is payable by April 30 of the next year.


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