5 tips for a successful first-time filing experience .
February 19, 2021
Filing your first tax return in Canada might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re a first-time filer or getting ready for another tax season, rely on these 5 handy tips to take the stress out of filing your return and make sure you Get What’s YoursTM.
1. Stay organized.
Get familiar with the types of supporting documents you might need by reviewing H&R Block’s Canadian tax checklist.
You’ll need your tax slips to complete your return. You’ll receive tax slips from organizations like your school, your employer, or the government to report information like income you earned or amounts that you owe. If you’re a resident of Québec, you’ll not only receive federal information slips but also the corresponding slips from Revenu Québec. Visit the H&R Block Online Help Centre for a list of federal and Québec tax slips and what they report.
In order to claim many common credits, expenses, and deductions, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec (if you’re a Québec resident) might ask for your receipts. Make it a habit to file your receipts every time you empty your wallet, or if you receive them by email, save them to a specific folder on your computer. You might also want to take photos of hard copy receipts and add them to your digital folder.
Be sure to keep all your documents for at least 6 years – the CRA and Revenu Québec can request to see them at any time if your return is selected for a detailed review.
2. Keep track of key deadlines.
Try using a calendar (or calendar app) to keep track of important tax-related dates, such as when the CRA opens for electronic filing, tax filing deadlines, and so on. If you can, set reminders on your phone so when it’s time to file, you’ll be ready.
You can also sign up for our newsletter to get reminders about key tax dates delivered straight to your inbox, or keep checking the H&R Block Tax Tips Blog for the latest news from the CRA and Revenue Québec. For example, if the CRA announces filing extensions for 2020 returns, you’ll find out here!
Keep in mind, it’s important to file a return even if you don’t have income for the year. The government needs the information from your return to confirm your eligibility for federal benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and the GST/HST Credit as well as provincial benefits like the BC Recovery Benefit. If you don’t file a return, you’ll miss out on these benefits.
3. Figure out your relationship status.
Your marital status is a key piece of information when figuring out how you prepare your taxes for the year (individually or with your spouse or common-law partner) and the benefits you’re entitled to. Your marital status indicates whether you’re single, married, divorced, separated, widowed, or in a common-law relationship.
If you’re legally married or in a common-law relationship, you can choose to prepare your return on your own or together with your spouse. Check out these articles from the H&R Block Online Help Centre to see how you can pool, split, or transfer certain tax credits and deductions with your spouse to boost your refund or lower the tax you owe.
4. Take advantage of the help available.
With nearly 60 years of experience preparing and filing all sorts of Canadian taxes, H&R Block has tax solutions that will fit your needs and gives you access to the largest network of reliable Tax Experts. By filing with H&R Block, you can be sure you’ll get the most out of your return, with our Maximum Refund Guarantee.
H&R Block offers reduced rates for students and new Canadians, as well as free tax filing in partnership with select organizations for low-income families. You can also use H&R Block’s online tax software to prepare your 2020 return for free, with the option to upgrade anytime you need extra support!
Check out this blog to learn how to file your taxes, your way, with more information on our 4 convenient ways to file: File in an Office, Drop-off at an Office, Upload from Home, or Do It Yourself Tax Software.
5. Next year, create an account for online access to your tax information.
After you’ve filed your first return in Canada, you’ll be able to create a CRA My Account (and Revenu Québec My Account for Individuals, if you’re a resident of Québec). Through your account, you’ll be able to check the status of your refund, access tax slips from previous years, set up direct deposits for your benefits, and receive secure messages from the CRA or Revenu Québec.
You can also use your account to verify the information that the CRA and Revenu Québec (if applicable) have on file for you. If there was a change in your name, marital status, and/or address during the year, make sure you tell the CRA and Revenu Québec before you file your return.
Although you can’t use these services as a first-time filer, you can look forward to taking advantage of them when you prepare your return next year!