Tax Filing Season: Methods of Filing Your Taxes

Canadian Tax Filing Tips

Tips for Filing Your Taxes in Canada

We’re right in the midst of tax filing season now.

I’m proud to say that we have done ours (after some hair pulling and I’m still waiting on some paperwork that I can use next year, but that’s another story-and we will get into that one, I promise!)

However there are still plenty of people who have not yet done it.

For those Master Procrastinators, well, it’s time for a stern finger wag and some tips on how to get those taxes filed quick so that you aren’t trying to beat a deadline that is fast approaching.

In this segment, we’ll look at your options for filing your taxes and what aren’t your options anymore.

Tax Software

Once something that only experts and the experienced used, now a strongly recommended method by both the experts and the governments, tax software is a program that can walk you through your taxes on your computer or over the internet (or both). It’s great because credits are automatically calculated and you can scoop up credits that may never have occurred to you. If your return is particularly complex, you may still want to have it looked over, but the software is getting more intuitive every year.

Examples of tax software are TurboTax (my favourite!), Ufile, GenuTax and TaxTron, but there are many other varieties out there. TurboTax is consistently ranked the best, but if you’re a student, Ufile is almost always free and if you have a simple return, any software will do the trick. There all manner of advantages to using software: it’s getting easier to do a wide range of taxes, you can get more credits and they usually warn you of flags that could bring down the wrath of an auditor so you can either dodge them or prepare for them. (I always opt to dodge, even when it costs me because frankly, I’m terrified of being audited!)

Once you have finished your taxes, you can use NetFile with most software to officially file them. NetFile has been made easier to use this year with the doing away of the CRA code (that usually took a few days to reach you, slowing the process) and replacing it with the use of your SIN and birth date. (Trust me, this made things easier.) This also gives you your return faster-usually within two weeks of filing. An alternative to this is to print your return and then mail it off. You may have to do this if the program you use isn’t supported by NetFile-some of them aren’t. You may also want to do this if you need to send in supporting documentation and you want to do this all at once.

Professionally Done

I actually used to get our taxes done by a firm up until about last year when I decided to save us some money (but add to my stress) and do it myself, so I can certainly see the perks. Professional firms will file your tax return electronically and you get your money back quickly-even instantly if you’re willing to pay a fee for it. The big advantage here is peace of mind: if your taxes are screwed up, they have to fix it, not you. And for people with very complicated taxes, such as weird self employed workers (mine was always simpler for me to manage because I’m extremely part time, but I’m the exception), people with foreign holdings or other quirks, it’s just much easier to throw it all at the professionals and let them do it.

There are lots of accountants and tax preparation firms out there, so you have some choice. They include H&R Block, Liberty Tax, and private accountants. Shop around and ask around for the best one to suit your needs.

Manually Done

I wouldn’t do it, but my father still does it by hand, so it exists!

This isn’t recommended much anymore because it’s easy to make mistakes and you have to make sure you mail everything you need to prove that your taxes are legit, including receipts. If you have very simple taxes, doing it by hand is by far the most affordable way to pull it off-you can pick up the papers at your postal office and it costs you a stamp and a few hours time. However, it’s not the best thing to do unless your taxes are very easy or you know exactly what you’re doing and can handle stress and numbers very well.

Telefile Service

Once, if you had a simple return, you could ‘call it in’ (do your taxes by telephone). Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued. Sigh.

So there you have it; some good options for filing your taxes this year. What are you waiting for?! Get it done!

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