If you are expecting a tax return, you might be wondering how soon you can get it and what are the key 2020 tax return dates. Let’s answer this question and more as we deep dive into everything you need to know about the 2020 tax return dates. 

What is the deadline to file taxes in 2021? 

Every person in Canada must file their own income tax and benefit returns each year and this year’s due date is Friday, April 30 2021. If you're self-employed, the deadline is June 15. 

But just because the due date is in April – there’s no reason to procrastinate and delay getting your refund.

The earliest date that the Canada Revenue Agency will start accepting electronically filed tax returns in 2021 is February 22.

Keep in mind that some tax slips are not due until March, so it’s entirely possible that you might not have all the necessary information by February 22. Plus, it can take until mid-March for tax slips and other info the CRA requires to become available in their system in order to use the autofill sections on your online tax software.

COVID-19 benefit repayments

If you received a COVID-19 benefit payment that you were not eligible to receive, the CRA encourages you to repay it by December 31, 2020. This will ensure that any benefits and credits that you are entitled to get calculated accurately.

When can you expect your tax refund? 

Government administrators are generally not known for their lightning-quick speed when it comes to processing documents, but when it comes to tax returns it’s quicker than you think. 

Canada Revenue Agency will not guarantee a timeline, but they do have stated “goals” of getting your due money, as long as you file before or at the deadline.

  • If you file online, it’s the CRA’s goal to deliver your return within 2 weeks.
  • If you file by paper return, it’s the CRA’s goal to deliver your return within 8 weeks. However, it could take longer due to COVID-19.

Of course, if for some reason they want to take a closer look at how you reported your income tax, in other words, “getting audited,” it can take much longer. There’s also a 16-week wait time if you’re filing from outside the country. 

The documents you'll need to get your tax return

Tax season can be stressful because you’re somewhat at the mercy of others to deliver documents to you in a prompt manner. Entities like your employer, bank or financial institution, charities, political parties must deliver tax documents that enable you to fill out your income tax return.

The deadline for your employer to send out tax forms, such as a T4 information slip, is the last day of February. If the last day of February falls on a weekend, as it does in 2021, the first weekday of March will be the deadline (March 1, 2021). Most employers will have this available prior to the end of the month, meaning you can get a jump on filing that return sooner than later.

What to do if you don’t receive your T4

If for some reason March comes around and you still haven’t received your T4 from your employer, you do have options. First off, if any employer lags on their duties, they can face penalties, so it’s definitely in their best interest to get you the forms in time. However, if you’re not getting results, you might be able to obtain the forms yourself through a My Account at the CRA website, where hopefully the form has been submitted directly by your employer. 

Often if a T4 doesn’t show up on time, it’s because an employer doesn’t have your most current contact info. Visit your HR department or give them a call to ensure your contact info is up to date.

How to file your taxes

If you filed your 2019 taxes on paper, the CRA will mail you the 2020 income tax paperwork by February 19th, 2021. You can download and order forms and publications as of January 18 at canada.ca/taxes-general-package.

From February 5 you can call the CRA to order forms and publications. The contact number is 1-855-330-3305. 

The various ways you can file your taxes electronically are too numerous to mention. Don’t be overwhelmed, though, because we’ve done the research for you when it comes to free tax software

Of course, you can reference the CRA website for online help. Just make sure whichever tax software you choose, it qualifies for Netfile, the online tax filing system in Canada. There are plenty of resources available if you need guidance.

If you’re looking for a challenge, and want to do your taxes the old fashioned way (hard copy paper version), paper T1 returns can be filed to the following addresses.  

Important tax filing deadlines to know

As we stated earlier, the due date for filing your taxes this year are:

  • On or before April 30th, 2021 
  • On or before June 15th, 2021 for the self-employed

It's important to get ahead of these deadlines because the CRA will impose interest and penalties on any amount owed after these dates. If for some reason, you don’t think you can make these deadlines because of circumstances beyond your control, the CRA might waive any late-filing penalties or applicable interest in the case you owe a balance. Some exceptional circumstances include: 

  • Serious illness, accident, death of a family member, emotional or mental distress
  • Financial hardship or inability to pay 
  • Natural or human-made disaster
  • Civil disturbance or disruption of service (ie. postal strike)

If you’re filing late for no good reason other than you have a case of “procrastinitis,” then you could face a late-filing penalty of 5% on any balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each month your return is late to a maximum of 12 months. 

For those expecting a refund, your penalty will be missing a nice chunk of change deposited in your account in a timely manner.

What if your refund is less than you expected?

It can be a gut-punch when you file for a certain amount for your tax refund, and it comes back less than expected. The most common reason for this is a miscalculation on your part. Maybe you missed a decimal somewhere or forgot to include a particular tax slip. However, it could be another reason like a balance owing from a previous year or an outstanding debt you owe to a government agency. Examples of this would be a student loan in arrears, EI benefit overpayments, and immigration loans. 

If you think you’ve been wronged by the CRA, and they have made a mistake, you can dispute your tax return. Step one would be to call the agency at 1-800-959-8281.

How to receive your tax refund

If you haven’t already, sign up for direct deposit immediately so that your refund gets put straight into your bank account as soon as possible. This will save you time if you’re receiving other government payments like GST refunds or Canada Child Benefit.

In the scenario where nothing shows up in your bank account after the expected two-week time frame from filing, you can check the status of your income tax refund at the government’s My Account website. You will need the following info: 

  • Social insurance number 
  • Date of birth
  • Amount entered as total income on line 150 of your income tax return from the previous year. 

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