Overwhelmed by tax season and that looming deadline? The CRA’s answers to commonly asked questions and a list of a few local services might help you.
If you’re one of those people who dreads tax season, procrastinates and then realizes the April 30 deadline is just around the corner, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Whether you’re unsure of a few tax details, have questions you need answered before you begin, or need help with the preparation side of things, the following might help before that deadline passes.
A Few Common Questions the CRA Gets This Time of Year
According to the Canada Revenue Agency, Canadians ask a variety of different tax-related questions before April 30. Below are four of the most-asked questions the agency receives at this time of year, with answers provided by the CRA. CRA representatives add that the answers to most questions Canadians have can be found online.
Question: Do I actually need to file my taxes this year?
The Short Answer: It depends.
The More Detailed Answer From the CRA: “Doing your taxes may put money in your pocket. You need to do your taxes if you want to receive, or continue to receive, certain benefit and credit payments you may be eligible for such as the Canada child benefit, the GST/HST credit, the guaranteed income supplement and many more. You also have to do your taxes if, for example, you owe taxes, have a balance owing under the Home Buyers’ Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan, or sold your principal residence in 2017.”
Question: What should I do if my address has changed since I last filed my taxes?
The Short Answer: Change it ASAP.
The More Detailed Answer From the CRA: “If you’re registered for the CRA’s online services, you can change your address by going to My Account, by using the MyCRA and MyBenefits CRA mobile web apps, or by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.”
Question: What if my marital status has changed in the last year?
The Short Answer: The CRA needs to know.
The More Detailed Answer From the CRA: “You can change your marital status online by selecting “Change my marital status” in My Account, by selecting “Marital status” in the MyCRA mobile web app, or by selecting “Update marital status” in the MyBenefits CRA mobile web app. You can also contact the CRA by phone or fill out Form RC65, Marital Status Change and send it to your tax centre.”
Question: How do I know whether I owe or get a refund, and how do I know how much it will be?
The Short Answer: You’ll know when you’re done the filing process and can find that all in your account online.
The More Detailed Answer From the CRA: “Find the amount of your balance owing or your refund by logging into My Account or the MyCRA mobile web app. If you are getting a refund, the details will include the refund method (direct deposit or mailed cheque), the date it was sent, and the amount. You can also call the Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) at 1-800-267-6999 to ask about your refund. TIPS is available from mid-February to December 2018.”
Resource List: Local Services That Could Help You
Another common question the CRA receives this time of year is, “Where can I get help with my income tax and benefit return?”
There are organizations, businesses and volunteer programs available across the country that help individuals file taxes and most are open from February until that April 30 deadline.
In addition to accounting and bookkeeping companies like Pain Free Tax and Bookkeeping, CanWest Accounting or Island Tax and Bookkeeping, individuals that qualify can also get help from specific tax preparation clinics. Below are a few resources available in Victoria.
Fernwood Nrg Tax Help
The Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group offers drop-off style tax preparation help to the general public — individuals do not need to be Fernwood residents. However, it should be noted that this non-profit organization offers assistance specifically for individuals who earned $30,000 or less in 2017 or couples who earned $40,000 or less. This clinic is open during the week until April 30.
Individuals in all tax brackets are able to book an appointment at one of the many H&R Block locations in town to get tax-filing help from a trained tax expert. Basic tax returns begin at $79.99 before your filing fee.
Oak Bay Volunteer Services
This organization offers tax preparation assistance to residents of Oak Bay who are within the low-income bracket. Service here is by appointment only, and preparation help is offered for the 2017 tax year as well as for prior tax years.
Victoria Disability Resource Centre
This facility offers tax preparation assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities. While walk-ins can be helped on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s recommended that individuals make an appointment. Assistance is offered during the week only and only for the 2017 tax year.
To find a full list of local tax clinics or to find clinics that are beyond Victoria, visit canada.ca.