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How Do I Submit My Tax Return in Canada?

Marc Chaput
Working on taxes at home

Tax returns can get complicated. This is especially true with all the different tax rates and deductions. This article will help you navigate how to submit your tax returns to the CRA.  

3 Main Ways to File a Canadian Tax Return

Though preparing your taxes can be daunting, it's not rocket science. In fact, there are only three ways to file your Canada tax return. Keep reading to figure out which one is right for you.

File your taxes online

Most Canadian taxpayers are eligible to file their taxes online through Netfile. You should be eligible to use the service if:

  • You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • You reside in Canada
  • This is not your first time filing a Canadian tax return.

Filing through Netfile is easy. Your tax preparation software will walk you through the steps to follow.  This involves downloading a copy of your return and then logging into Netfile with your Social Insurance Number. The site will then prompt you to upload your return.  Residents of Quebec will have an extra step to take. This is because Quebecers have to file two tax returns; one with the CRA and another with Revenu Quebec.  You just need to make sure you assign the right tax return to the right service. Luckily, this is easy to do. Your tax-prep software clearly identifies both returns.

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File your taxes by mail

You can file your taxes by mail, too. Simply mail your taxes to the address listed on your paper T1 return.  You may be required to file by mail if you are a foreign student or temporary resident of Canada. The same is true if you have filed for bankruptcy since filing last year's return.  Luckily, that doesn't mean you can't use tax preparation software to prepare your return. In fact, you can still use TurboTax, Ufile or any other certified program. Once done, simply print your return and mail it to your regional Tax Centre. If you are a resident of Quebec, you'll also need to mail a copy of your provincial return to Revenu Quebec.

Use the CRA Auto-fill service

There is a third option you can use to file your taxes. This is a secure service offered by the CRA called Auto-fill. This service lets you complete certain parts of your tax return automatically.  People with ultra-simple returns may want to use auto-fill. The government already has your basic information such as T4s and RRSP contributions. This makes it possible for the information to be filled in automatically.  To be eligible, you'll need to be registered with the CRA My Account service. You'll also need to use certified tax preparation software. A list of eligible software can be found here.

A few things to keep in mind when filing your taxes

If you are preparing a return for yourself and your spouse, you can use Netfile to submit your return. You will need to submit your spouse's return separately. You can use Efile online to file both returns electronically.  If you are submitting an amended tax return, you will need to send it through the mail.  If you are mailing a paper return, you don't need to include any supporting information such as receipts or T4 slips. Yet, do keep this information in a safe place for at least 7 years. This preps you for any future tax audits.  Finally, if you drive for work, don't forget to log your miles with MileIQ. Doing so may help you get a better refund.

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