Recommended Online Resources for Canadian Income Tax Payers
The Internet is a goldmine for tax-planning information for Canadians. If you’re gearing up for April 30 and dreading the prospect of filing your income tax return, turn to the following websites for tips on how to protect your income and minimize your tax burden:
BDO Canada: This site is chock-full of tax information ranging from tax facts and figures for each province to weekly tax tips.Credit: www.bdo.ca
Deloitte: The weekly tax highlights on this site will ensure you don’t miss any tax changes. Keep your eye open for TaxBreaks and guides on a variety of tax topics. You’ll also find a handy automobile logbook to help you keep track of business kilometres for auto expense claims.
Ernst & Young: This website provides the latest tax changes, as well as tax calculators. Watch for E&Y tax publications TaxMatters@EY and Tax Alert. You can download the booklet Managing Your Personal Taxes.
KPMG: Find out all the latest tax changes by visiting this site and reading TaxNewsFlash Canada and the Canadian Tax Adviser.
PricewaterhouseCoopers: Visit the publications area of the site for PWC’s tax newsletter Tax Memo and tax guides on specific subjects.
Grant Thornton: This site has a useful tax guide and one specifically for year-end tax planning. They also generate monthly tax tips.
When and how to get help from the CRA itself
Believe it or not, the CRA website is an excellent source for information. Here, you can download a copy of the income tax package and request additional forms. The site also contains detailed information on the most frequently requested topics.
If your question relates to your tax situation or you need general help, try the CRA’s automated TIPS line (Tax Information Phone Service). Call 1-800-267-6999.
To obtain specific information on your tax account, you need to provide your social insurance number, your month and year of birth, and the total income reported on line 150 of your last assessed return.
Here’s a rundown of what TIPS can tell you:
Tax refund: Find out the status of your refund.
Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit: See whether you’re eligible to receive the credit and when you can expect to receive a payment.
Child Tax Benefit: Find out whether you’re eligible to receive the benefit and when you can expect to receive a payment.
Universal Child Care Benefit: Find out when your next payment is coming. (Or, if you have a child under 6 and you’re not already receiving the UCCB, find out how to apply.)
RRSP deduction limit: Want to know your RRSP deduction contribution limit for the year? TIPS has your answer.
TIPS also provides general recorded information:
Info-Tax: General tax information on a number of tax topics.
Bulletin Board: Recent tax and benefit information.
Business Information: Tax and GST information for those who operate a business or are thinking of starting one up (for example, how to handle payroll tax, CPP, and EI deductions).
The CRA offers a service through its website called My Account, where you can access information about your personal tax and benefits 7 days a week, 21 hours a day.
My Account is quite an innovative service for the CRA. It gives you access to information about your:
Tax refund or balance owing
Tax instalment payments made or owing
Direct deposit or preauthorized payment plan information
RRSP, Home Buyers’ Plan, and Lifelong Learning Plan eligibility and outstanding balances
Child Tax Benefit entitlements
Universal Child Care Benefit entitlements
GST/HST Credit eligibility
Disability Tax Credit eligibility
Reported capital gains and losses information
Sure beats trying to phone in the middle of tax season, when all you get is a busy signal! You can also use My Account to change your filed return, to change your address and/or phone number, and to dispute your Notice of Assessment.
To access My Account, you need to register for a Government of Canada epass. You can do this by going into My Account on the CRA website. After you’ve completed the registration process and chosen your password, CRA mails an activation code to you. Just key in the CRA activation code and your password to get full access to My Account for the first time. After that, you’ll just need to enter your password.
When you don’t have an epass but need immediate access to some of your tax information, you can go into the Quick Access section of My Account. Quick Access will tell you the status of your tax return and benefit payments and your RRSP deduction limit. To identify yourself, have your social insurance number, date of birth, and total income from line 150 of your last processed tax return handy.
Enquiring by phone
Agents are also available to answer your questions by phone, Monday to Friday (except holidays), 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To accommodate the flood of calls during tax season, these hours are extended until 10:00 p.m. weekdays, and include weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. from mid-February to April 30 (excluding Easter). Contact the CRA by phone at 1-800-959-8281.
If your query is in regard to electronic services (NETFILE or My Account), call the e-service Helpdesk at 1-800-714-7257.
If you would like someone else to call the CRA on your behalf, be sure you’ve completed and mailed consent form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative. This form gives the CRA permission to discuss your tax affairs with someone other than you.
Visiting your local Tax Services Office
If you can’t find the information you need on the website, through TIPS, or through My Account, try contacting your local Tax Services Office (TSO). The TSOs are open Monday to Friday (except holidays, of course), 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (sometimes 5:00 p.m.). To find the location of your nearest TSO, visit the CRA’s website and click Contact us from the main menu. Service is by appointment only.
Where to get forms and other information
The package that’s sent by the CRA in mid-February contains only the most commonly used forms. If you didn’t receive a package, or need an additional one, you have many options:
Download forms from the CRA website.
Use the online order form on the CRA website to order forms and have them mailed to you.
Call 1-800-959-2221 and ask for forms to be mailed to you.
Pick up the T1 General Guide and Forms package from any postal outlet or Service Canada office.