Everything you need to know about NETFILE.
April 13, 2022
There’s not much we don’t do online, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has gone digital too. Here’s what you should know about NETFILE, the CRA’s electronic tax-filing service.
- What is NETFILE?
- Why should I use NETFILE?
- What’s the NETFILE Access Code (NAC) and where do I find mine?
- Why can’t I NETFILE my return?
- What happens after I NETFILE my return?
What is NETFILE?
NETFILE is the online filing system that allows you to send your tax return directly to the CRA. It allows you to submit your return securely and easily over the Internet using a NETFILE-certified software product (like H&R Block’s Do It Yourself tax software).
If you’re wondering if you can electronically file your Québec return, the answer is yes! Québec residents can take advantage of the NetFile Québec service. Like NETFILE, NetFile Québec provides a safe and secure platform through which taxpayers can submit their return to the government. You’ll need to NETFILE your federal return and Québec return separately.
Keep in mind, you can't change your or your spouse’s mailing address using NETFILE when you file your or your spouse's federal tax return. If you’re a Québec resident, you can update your mailing address when you NETFILE your return if you have your previous year’s notice of assessment (NOA) number. To change the mailing address you have on file with the CRA, you can follow the instructions on the H&R Block Online Help Centre.
Why should I use NETFILE?
Millions of Canadians NETFILE their returns. It’s fast, easy, and secure. Some advantages of NETFILE (and NetFile Québec) include:
Secure and confidential
During the NETFILE process, the CRA takes significant precautions to ensure that your data remains secure. Plus, NETFILE only accepts one return per person. This means someone can’t fraudulently file a second return under your name, which helps protect you from tax identity theft.
When you NETFILE, your return is processed faster than a paper return. Many Canadians can receive their refund in as soon as 8 business days.
Once you NETFILE your return, the CRA will send you a confirmation that your return has been received (usually within a few seconds). We recommend keeping this confirmation number for your records.
Since a CRA representative won’t need to re-enter your information, there’s less chance of an error being made in your return.
Keep your slips at home
When you NETFILE your return, you won’t need to mail in any of your slips or supporting documents unless the CRA specifically asks to see them.
What’s the NETFILE Access Code (NAC) and where do I find mine?
What’s the NETFILE Access Code (NAC)?
Your NETFILE Access Code (NAC) is an 8-character code that’s used as an added security measure by the CRA to verify your identity when you NETFILE your return.
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 2021 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 do I find my NAC?
If you’re viewing your NOA in your CRA My Account or using the Express NOA service in H&R Block’s Do It Yourself Tax Software, your NAC is labelled Access code and can be found under the Notice details box.
Why can’t I NETFILE my return?
There are some situations where NETFILE might not be an option for you. Here are the most common reasons:
Filing a tax return from more than 5 years ago
You can only NETFILE returns for the past 5 tax years. This means you can NETFILE your 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 tax returns, but not returns from 2016 or earlier.
You’ve declared bankruptcy in 2021 or 2022
If you’ve declared bankruptcy in 2021 or 2022, you can’t NETFILE your return, and you’ll need to file your return by mail instead.
If you have submitted a proposal for bankruptcy in 2021 or 2022, you can still NETFILE your return until your proposal has been accepted by your creditors. If your proposal is accepted after you NETFILE, any refund you would have received this year will go towards paying your creditors. You can withdraw your proposal for bankruptcy if you want to make sure you receive any refund you’re owed.
You’re filing for a person who passed away in 2021 or 2022
If you’re filing for a person who passed away in 2021 or 2022, you won’t be able to NETFILE their return.
For more information on filing a return for someone who passed away, check out this blog.
You’re a non-resident or deemed resident of Canada
NETFILE is only available to Canadian residents. This means if you’re considered a non-resident or a deemed resident of Canada (someone who has significant ties in Canada, such as owning a home or having a spouse in Canada, but doesn’t pay provincial or territorial tax), you can’t NETFILE your return. To learn more about your residency status, visit CRA website.
You have employment income from an international organization
If you’re paid by an organization from outside of Canada, like the United Nations, you can’t file your
return electronically and will need to file by mail instead.
You have more than 22 dependants
If you’re claiming more than 22 dependants, you can’t NETFILE your return.
There are a few other restrictions when it comes to using NETFILE and some are based on the provincial credits you’re claiming. Check your eligibility for NETFILE on the CRA website before deciding how to file.
What happens after I NETFILE my return?
I NETFILE’d my return, what happens next?
After you’ve received your confirmation number, the CRA might contact you for clarification or to verify some information. Otherwise, the CRA will issue your NOA once your return is processed. If you’re registered for My Account, you can find out the status of your return there.
Keep in mind, if this is your first year filing a tax return, you won’t be able to use the services typically available through the CRA My Account service. This is because the CRA requires that you file at least one tax return before you can register.
How do I make changes to my NETFILE'd return?
To make any changes after you NETFILE your return, you have to wait for your NOA from the CRA. Once you receive your NOA, you can use the ReFile feature in H&R Block’s Do It Yourself tax software to adjust and re-file a return you filed via NETFILE. You can also change a filed return through the CRA’s My Account (if you’re registered).
If you don’t have access to your CRA My Account or don’t want to use the ReFile feature, you'll need to complete and file the T1 Adjustment Request form or submit a signed letter with details of the changes you are requesting (including year of return to be changed, social insurance number, address, and phone number). You must mail all supporting documents for the change to your designated tax centre, including those for the original assessment, unless already sent. To find your designated tax centre, visit the CRA and Revenu Québec websites:
- Designated tax centres for federal returns (CRA website)
- Designated tax centres for Québec returns (Revenu Québec website)
Keep in mind, online changes to your return usually take 2 weeks and mailed change requests can take much longer.
Ready to make the switch to NETFILE, but not sure where to start? 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.