Top Tax Websites for Canadians
Another year over, and another tax filing season looms! Although you might feel overwhelmed by the mammoth task at hand, help is always at your fingertips. Check out the following websites for free and unintimidating tax preparation advice for Canadians.
Surfing your way to tax help
So it’s 11 p.m. on April 30, and you need help. What do you do? Well, you may find the answers to some of your questions via the Internet. Several websites provide handy, up-to-the-minute tax tips. Here are our top picks:
BDO Canada: Weekly Tax Tips is a must-read.
Deloitte: Keep your eyes open for the Canadian Tax Alert publication. You’ll also find a handy automobile logbook to help you keep track of business kilometres for auto expense claims.
Ernst & Young: Watch for E&Y tax publications TaxMatters@EY and Tax Alert—Canada. You can download the yearly publication Managing Your Personal Taxes and also make use of E&Y tax calculators.
KPMG: Find out all the latest tax changes by visiting this site and reading TaxNewsFlash—Canada and the Canadian Tax Adviser.
PricewaterhouseCoopers: Look for PWC’s tax newsletter Tax Memo and tax guides on a variety of subjects. PWC also offers podcasts!
Getting help from the CRA itself
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. It operates 24/7!
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!
TFSA contribution limit: TIPS can provide you with your TFSA contribution limit as of the past January 1.
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/HST information for those who operate a business or are thinking of starting one up. For example, how to handle income tax, CPP, and EI to be withheld from an employee’s pay.
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 give you access to information about your:
Child Tax Benefit entitlements
Details on losses of prior years
Direct deposit or preauthorized payment plan information
Disability tax credit eligibility
GST/HST credit eligibility
RRSP, Home Buyers’ Plan, and Lifelong Learning Plan
Tax instalment payments made or to be made
Tax refund or balance owing
Universal Child Care Benefit entitlement
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.
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. (A trick for you: once the phone is answered, press * to be transferred to a CRA agent right away!)
If your query is in regard to electronic services (NETFILE or My Account), call the e-Services Helpdesk for individuals 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). (Note, though, that they really prefer you to call the toll-free number!) The TSOs are open Monday to Friday (except holidays, of course), 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 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.
Getting 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 a postal outlet or Service Canada office.