All you need to know about your Notice of Assessment (NOA).

April 9, 2021

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You’ve organized your paperwork, done all your calculations and filed your taxes on time. Many Canadians believe that the moment they file their tax return is the moment they allow themselves to stop thinking about taxes for another year. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, a tax return, once filed, can be assessed a number of times by either the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Revenu Québec to make sure it’s accurate. Before you file your papers away, make sure you’ve received your Notice of Assessment (NOA).

What is my NOA and why do I need it?

Whether an Expert filed your taxes for you at H&R Block or if you did them yourself and filed them online, you’ll always receive a NOA from the CRA (or Revenu Québec) once they’ve finished reviewing your return. Your NOA provides a summary of the income you earned during the year, the credits and deductions you claimed, and most importantly, it will indicate how much additional tax you have to pay (if any), or your refund amount. If the government’s numbers are different from the ones you came up with when you filed, any changes that were made on their end will be explained here.

Your NOA is full of important information, and we’ve broken down everything you need to know about it before you can officially call your taxes done for the year.

When will I get my NOA?

If signed up for online mail through your CRA My Account, you can get your NOA delivered to you immediately after filing your return through the CRA’s Express NOA service.

If you’re receiving a paper copy of your NOA, it will usually arrive 1 to 2 weeks after your return has been assessed. If you haven’t signed up for direct deposit and you’re getting a refund, your NOA will be attached to your refund cheque. Otherwise, it will arrive separately.

If you’re a resident of Québec, you’ll receive your NOA from Revenu Québec within 2 weeks if you filed your return online, or within 28 days if you filed your return by mail. If you registered to receive your NOA online, you can access it through your Revenu Québec My Account for individuals. Otherwise, you’ll receive a paper copy of your NOA in the mail.

It looks like the CRA or Revenu Québec made changes to my return. Do I need to do anything?

Even if you double-checked all of your numbers, mistakes can happen. For example, if you forgot to claim the Canada Employment Amount, the CRA will add it to your return. If you claimed something you shouldn’t have, your NOA will show the change, and include an explanation.

The CRA and Revenu Québec don’t require any action from you when they make changes, and they’ll tell you if there are penalties or interest as a result of anything that’s changed.

The changes on my NOA don’t make sense to me.

NOA’s are computer-generated, so they might contain standard explanations that aren’t easy to understand. You can always give the CRA (or Revenu Québec) a call to make sure you understand any changes that have been made, and agree that they are correct.

Is the date I receive my NOA important?

The date on your NOA is used to establish the deadline for objecting to any changes the CRA (or Revenu Québec) has made. It also sets the beginning of the three-year period during which the CRA can reassess your return. After this three-year period has expired, there are a limited number of situations in which they can still reassess you, but the most important is if you committed fraud or were negligent in the preparation of your return.

This year’s NOA can help you next year.

Your NOA is handy when preparing your next tax return, so keep it somewhere you can easily find it again. It contains both your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution limit for the year, and your Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) limit. Even though you don’t report your TFSA on your income tax form, the contribution limit for the year is included in the summary report of your NOA from the CRA.

Carry forward amounts are also included on your NOA from the CRA. This includes your carried over capital losses, your unused tuition and education credits, as well as your Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) balance and repayment information. Overall, this will be helpful information to know for next year’s return.

Beginning in 2020, you can enter your NETFILE Access Code (NAC) when you file your federal return online. This is an 8-character code that’s used as an added security measure to verify your identity. It can be found on the right side of your NOA from the previous tax year.

Entering your NAC isn’t mandatory; you’ll still be able to NETFILE without it. However, if you don’t enter it, you won’t be able to use any information from your 2020 tax return to confirm your identity with the CRA in the future (for example, if you need to call the CRA, or sign up for your CRA My Account). You’ll need to use other information to authenticate your identity.

You don’t need your NAC to file Québec returns. The NAC also doesn’t apply to you if you’re filing your tax return for the first time.

Where should I keep my NOA?

Wherever you have your paperwork for safekeeping – whether that’s a tax envelope, folder or drawer, or even a whole closet – your previous year’s NOA should be filed there, because you might need it for something other than your taxes. If you’re applying for a mortgage or loan, your financial institution will probably ask for a copy of your NOA to prove income. Some social programs might also request a copy of your NOA to check your annual income for the previous year.

I lost my NOA. What should I do?

If you’ve searched high and low but can’t seem to track down your NOA, there are a couple of ways to get a copy of your NOA that was issued by the CRA:

  1. Log into your CRA My Account (registration required) to view and print your NOA or notice of reassessment issued after February 9, 2015. For years prior to that, you’ll be able to see detailed summaries of your notice of assessment or reassessment; or
  2. Use the MyCRA app to view your NOA or notice of reassessment for the current year and up to three prior years.

For an NOA or notice of reassessment issued by Revenu Québec, log into your My Account for individuals (registration required) to view and print a copy (back to 2004).

Ready to file? Get help from the largest network of reliable Tax Experts by choosing one of four convenient ways to file: File in an Office, Drop-off at an Office, Remote Tax Expert, or Do It Yourself Tax Software.

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