I Am Not The Tax Man

As we all know, it’s tax season. That wonderful time of year when we all have to admit to how much we made and then we get to complain that we have to pay too much or that we didn’t get a big enough refund or things just didn’t go the way we were expecting. It’s also the time of year when all of my friends ask me for advice. Or better yet, they ask me the dreaded question: “Can you do my taxes?”
The answer to that, my friends, is a firm “No“. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not being a dick. I’m telling you, straight up, that I can not prepare your taxes. I work at a tax office, but I don’t do taxes. What I can do for you is give you information. So here are some questions that I am asked every day. I’ve even answered them. Lucky you.

Do I have to file my taxes every year?
Yes. Canadian tax law dictates that you are responsible for reporting your income and deductions every year. Failing to do so could result in penalties and interest on any money you owe to the Canada Revenue Agency.

When do I have to file my taxes?
The deadline this year is April 30th. It is almost always April 30th, unless that date falls on a Saturday or Sunday. In that case, the dealine is pushed back to the next business day.

I don’t know anything about taxes – what do I do?
Do what everyone else does – pay someone to do them for you. Some companies offer instant refunds and deduct the fees right out of your cheque. Some are even willing to accommodate with different payment options if money is tight. Do some research to find out who is willing to offer what.

I heard there is no refund this year because the government is doing monthly payments – is that true?
No. Kind of. Let me explain. In previous years, if you were eligible to claim rent, you most likely received a refund based on that particular tax credit. This year, the Ontario government has done away with this rent-based tax credit, which means that there is no longer a refund generated by the rent you claim. Instead the government has implemented the Ontario Trillium Benefit. If you’ve claimed rent in the past, then you are most likely eligible for this benefit, which means you’ll receive a monthly cheque starting in July of this year (it’ll look just like a GST cheque). But don’t forget – you have to file your taxes in order to receive it. And just because you can’t claim your rent, doesn’t mean that you won’t get a refund. And if you didn’t claim rent last year, this likely will not affect you in the slightest.

If I don’t file my taxes, will I still get my GST cheque?
No. If you do not file your taxes, then the Canada Revenue Agency will not have information to calculate what you are entitled to. This goes for any of those other tax credits, including GST, HST, Ontario Sales Tax, and a great many other benefits that you might be entitled to.

I lost my T4 – can I get a new one?
Yep. If you call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281. You’ll have to provide some personal info, such as your social insurance number, date of birth and a promise to hand over your first-born child, but they’re who you want to call for any missing tax papers.

Now that you’re super informed, go file your taxes. Go. Now. Before you owe more money.

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