Filing an income tax and benefit return on time makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • Taxpayers receiving COVID-19 recovery benefits, such as the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), avoid having their recovery benefit payments paused while the CRA validates eligibility.
  • It enables you to continue receiving benefits and credits such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), the goods and services tax/harmonized sales taxes (GST/HST) credit, the Canada child benefit (CCB), and benefits under the related provincial and territorial programs.
  • It ensures that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is using the most accurate information to calculate those benefit and credit amounts.

As this tax-filing season draws to a close, the CRA understands that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are making it hard for some taxpayers to file their returns and meet their tax obligations on time. You may have questions about filing, important deadlines, payment obligations, interest relief, and/or late filing penalties. The CRA is here to help.

Please also recall that it is required that you file your return in order to qualify for the interest relief provisions announced earlier this year.

What support is available during tax season?

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program in Quebec offer tax clinics where eligible taxpayers can get their tax returns completed by volunteers. You may be able to use this program to have your returns filed for free. Again this year, many organizations are hosting clinics virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. Those who need help this year are encouraged to seek a CVITP clinic through the national directory.

This year the CRA will be launching the Individual Tax Filing Assistance project to help Canadians receive the benefit and credit payments – like the Canada child benefit and the GST/HST credit. We know the pandemic has made it harder for many Canadians to do their taxes like they normally would. Beginning in April, CRA agents will be calling select people who qualify for a free tax clinic but have not yet filed their 2019 and/or 2020 tax returns to help them file. Agents will be able to help some taxpayers find virtual tax clinics, online certified tax software, and services offered over the phone. In certain situations, agents may also help people do their outstanding tax returns.

The CRA offers a free, virtual Liaison Officer service to owners of small businesses and self-employed individuals to help them understand their business tax obligations.

NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing service that allows individuals to do their taxes online and send the return directly to the CRA. NETFILE-certified tax software is quick, easy and secure and offers helpful services such as Auto-fill my return. Individuals receive immediate confirmation from the CRA that the tax return was received and refunds may be processed in as little as 2 weeks using direct deposit.

ReFILE is an online service that lets individuals send online adjustments for income tax and benefit returns with certified NETFILE software. Taxpayers can use ReFILE to send adjustments for 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017 returns. ReFILE is quick, cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and simple.

Change my return is a secure My Account service that allows individuals to request a change to their Income Tax and Benefit return once they’ve received their Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment. The online format follows the format of the T1 General Income Tax and Benefit paper return.

Has the deadline to file taxes been extended?

No. The deadline for most individuals to file and pay their 2020 Income tax and benefit return is April 30, 2021. The deadline for self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners to file their 2020 income tax and benefit return is June 15, 2021, however any balance owing must be paid by April 30. Filing on time means individuals will receive any refund they are owed in a timely manner and they will avoid a late-filing penalty if they have an amount owing.

Further, as mentioned above, filing a tax return by the deadline will ensure that the CRA is using the most accurate information to calculate benefit and credit amounts and that benefits payments are not interrupted.

It is also important to file on time if you receive COVID-19 recovery benefits. It avoids having recovery benefit payments paused while we validate eligibility. The CRA uses information from both your 2019 and 2020 returns to confirm your eligibility to receive these benefits. The CRA is committed to having validation and security measures in place, to ensure that we deliver benefit payments only to people who are entitled to receive them.

The CRA encourages taxpayers to file by April 30, 2021, even if they have not received all of their tax slips. Individuals can find these tax slips on My Account. Pay stubs or statements can be used to calculate income and any related deductions and credits to be claimed. If the income reported does not match the slips received, Change my return enables taxpayers to make online adjustments. Copies of all documents should be kept in case the CRA asks to see them later.

Individuals who file their tax return on paper should consider filing as early as possible, even before the filing deadline, as paper returns take longer to process, and they could face additional delays this year because of COVID-19.

What interest relief is available to individuals who owe on their 2020 taxes?

For those who received COVID-19 benefits, meet all the eligibility criteria and file their 2020 tax return, the CRA will automatically apply interest relief on 2020 taxes owing. This means that if taxpayers meet the criteria, they will not have to pay interest on any amount owing from 2020 taxes until April 30, 2022.

Interest relief only applies to the 2020 taxes owing and not to any other debts with the CRA.

What if a you have a tax debt?

The CRA understands that the pandemic period was and is challenging for many and so, we are here to help taxpayers with the process.

Individuals with tax debt can pay:

  • By installments through My Account for individuals;
  • By calling the CRA’s TeleArrangement service at 1-866-256-1147;
  • By calling the CRA’s debt management call centre at 1-888-862-8657.

If an individual cannot pay their balance owing on or before April 30, 2021, and they have reasonably tried to get the necessary funds to pay their tax debt by borrowing or rearranging their financial affairs, the CRA may accept a payment arrangement.

Information regarding tax debt and collections at the CRA is available for constituents online.

Individuals may also find additional information on taxpayer relief provisions online.

To learn more: