FEBRUARY 22 marks the official launch of the 2021 tax season and individuals can now file their 2020 income tax and benefit return. Filling a return is essential to ensure individuals and families continue to receive their benefits and credits.
The government says that due to the extraordinary conditions we have all faced over the last year, this tax season will be unlike any other. For the millions of Canadians accessing the government’s emergency and recovery benefits to make ends meet over the last year, the numerous essential workers who are keeping the economy afloat, and the countless people who are doing their part by limiting their interactions with others, the government says it will continue to support you.
In this spirit, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has taken steps to accommodate those who need extra assistance when filing their taxes this year. For example, the CRA is:
- Adding more call centre agents and extending call hours to give taxpayers more time to have their tax and benefit questions answered;
- Providing a targeted interest relief for Canadians who received COVID-19 related income support benefits, giving them more time and flexibility to pay if they have an amount owing;
- Expanding payment arrangement parameters to provide Canadians more time and flexibility to repay a tax debt—those who are in difficult financial situations who find themselves owing money can call a CRA agent for help, toll-free at 1-888-863-8657 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday to Friday (except holidays);
- Helping employees cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by making the deduction for home office expenses more accessible and easier to claim;
- Supporting community organizations who offer free virtual tax help to individuals with modest income and a simple tax situation through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP);
- Offering a new pilot program to offer grants to CVITP and Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program (IVATP) clinics to help them with the costs of running community tax clinics;
- Offering a Liaison Officer service that provides free personalized virtual visits by phone or videoconference to small business owners and self-employed individuals to help them understand their tax obligations.
Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, said: “Our government will continue to support Canadians through the current public health crisis. With the CRA’s commitment to putting people first, they will ensure that Canadians are treated fairly and with respect this filing season. The CRA understands that, due to COVID-19, individuals might find it stressful to do their taxes. However, filing on time will ensure you keep receiving critical benefits and credits, such as the Canada child benefit, the Climate Action Incentive, or GST credit payments.”
Bob Hamilton, Commissioner of Revenue, said: “The CRA has a dedicated and highly skilled workforce committed to serving Canadians during their time of need. We strive to be trusted, fair and helpful by putting people first. We are ensuring our efforts to sustain the tax system and the many social programs it supports do not create undue burdens or financial hardship for Canadians.”
- The T1 filing deadline for individuals is April 30 and June 15 for self-employed individuals.
- For individuals who need to speak with an agent this filing season, the CRA offers extended call centre hours from January 25 to April 30. The individual enquiries line is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, and Saturday service starts on February 27 and will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CRA telephone numbers, fax numbers and addresses are available at canada.ca/cra-contact.
- The CRA encourages filing online, as it is the fastest and most secure way to do your taxes, but will continue to support those who choose to file on paper. However, due to COVID‑19, the CRA may take 10 to 12 weeks to process paper returns this year. For this reason, paper filers should file their returns as soon as they get their tax package.
- Canadians can sign up for direct deposit and file their taxes online to get their refund faster and avoid delays.
- Resources on how to protect yourself from scams are available at canada.ca/be-scam-smart. Those who suspect that they have been the victim of identity theft or fraud, should call the CRA so they can validate their account and discuss additional security measures. If their account was compromised, they may be eligible for free credit monitoring services.