How to have a stress-free tax season – Canada
The arrival of spring should be a time for celebration, but for many Canadians, this time of the year brings anxiety as they prepare for tax season. Approximately 25 million Canadians¹ will file individual tax returns this year and some of them will leave it till the last few weeks before the April 30 deadline. Many people are overwhelmed by preparing tax returns and some are so fearful that they avoid it altogether.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these simple tips for reducing stress in 2015 tax season and years to come.
Avoid fear of filing – People fail to file tax returns due to procrastination, lost documents or a fear that they will owe money. While these concerns are understandable, you can’t get your financial house in order unless you know where you stand. There could be a refund waiting for you and even if you owe money, there are payment options open to you. Regardless of the outcome, filing your taxes on time will shorten your to-do list and help you plan for the future.
Start as early as possible – The deadline for filing individual tax returns is April 30 so set aside some time in the weeks before to organize your paperwork, make sure you have all the necessary forms, learn about any changes that may affect you and get copies of any missing documents. Finally, schedule at least a half-day in your calendar when you know you can complete the return without interruption.
Get your documents in order – Make a list of everything you need to complete your tax return including T4 forms, charitable receipts, investment income statements, childcare invoices, etc. Then, prepare one document with any other important information you’ll need to complete the form, such as social insurance numbers, etc.
Use the right forms – Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has stopped mailing out tax packages but you can access the correct forms on their website . If you don’t have access to a computer and the Internet, you can pick up a package at Canada Post or Service Canada or call 1 800 959 8281.
Double-check your information – It’s not surprising that some people make mistakes with math calculations but many tax returns are rejected because people forget to sign their names or have typos in their personal information. The information on your tax return must match what the CRA has on file for you. Once you have completed the return, set it aside for a day or two and then review it with fresh eyes or have someone else proofread it. Copy everything before you send it off.
Consider filing electronically – It has never been easier to file your taxes online and there are many benefits of using this option. Not only is it faster and more convenient, but you will also receive a confirmation within minutes of filing and if there are errors, you will receive instructions on what you need to fix. And, most importantly, if you’re eligible for a refund, you will receive it earlier. For more details, visit http://netfile.gc.ca/stpbystp-eng.html
Get help – Working with a professional can ease your tax preparation burden but, depending on your circumstances, it may not be affordable or even necessary to go this route. The CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. And to help keep finances in order throughout the year, Foresters™ members can connect with Everyday Money for help with financial questions about budgeting, saving and dealing with debt. Visit Grant & Benefits section at MyForesters.com for more information.
Preparing and filing your income tax return can be time-consuming, but it’s also a valuable opportunity to review a year’s worth of finances and make informed financial decisions for the following year.