Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” With tax season rapidly approaching, many of us are starting to think (or should be!) about preparing for the big day. Try these tips to help make sure your tax prep goes as smoothly as possible:
Don’t wait until the end of April to start gathering all of your tax documents and file your return. Gathering your paperwork, choosing tax preparation software, and gathering receipts can all take a surprising amount of time, so the sooner you get started, the better. It’s also a good idea to file early because if you run into problems or have questions and need to contact the CRA, it’s much easier and faster to get through in February or early March than April.
Additionally, if you’re expecting a refund, the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get it back.
If you’re filing your taxes online or filing them yourself, here’s a basic list of what you’ll need:
- All T-slips and income, including investment and dividend income, RRSP withdrawals, alimony and child support information
- Copy of last year’s return for reference
- Receipts for tax deductibles, including charitable donations, tuition and fees, and public transit
- Any self-employment income and expenses
Stay organized by keeping all your important documents in one folder or file for easy access.
Research potential rebates and credits.
Did you purchase your first home last year? Do you take public transportation? If so, you may be eligible to receive tax credits for them. The CRA offers a ton of rebates and tax credits for a number of different expenses. This is free money, so you might as well check them out and see which ones you qualify for.
Visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/getready/ for a comprehensive list of various credits and rebates.
Get professional help if needed.
If you’ve never filed taxes before, or if you need help, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Shop around for a licensed service with good reviews that ensures the maximum refund possible.
If you can’t afford the help of a professional, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program can help you prepare your taxes. This program is designed to help low and modest-income families complete their tax returns. They have clinics across the country. Visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/vlntr/menu-eng.html for more information about the program.
You can also call the CRA directly with any questions you have.
Know what to do if you owe.
If you owe taxes and you can’t afford to pay them, contact the CRA to set up a payment plan. Don’t delay doing this, as costly fees can add up.
If you’re on a payment plan or you still can’t afford the plan’s payments, you may want to contact a licensed insolvency trustee and find out what your options are. If you file bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, income taxes are either discharged or settled.
Tax season may be around the corner, but it’s nothing to fear! Follow these tax prep tips and you’ll be amazed at how painless it can be.