Most Canadians get a tax refund and so it pays to file your taxes. Last year, 56% of Canadians (down from 58% the year before) received a refund with the average refund being $1,765 (up from $1,735).
Low-income Canadians must file a tax return to access certain income support programs. Free tax preparation software is available at www.cra.gc.ca/netfile. Last year, 86.9% of returns were filed electronically. The number of people filing a paper return has dropped from 36% in 2012 to just 13.1% (16% last year).
In the majority of cases, Canadians file their tax returns and pay their owed taxes. In fact, 93% of individual tax files are filed and 90% of taxes are paid on time. An impressive 95% of businesses file their GST/HST returns on time.
Sadly, Canada also has an underground economy that continues to grow and exceeds $50 billion per year. Conservatives have been calling on the government to take a harder line with those who cheat the system to ensure tax fairness. When an individual or business does not fully comply with tax legislation, an unfair burden is placed on law-abiding taxpayers and businesses, and the integrity of Canada’s tax base is jeopardized. If you are aware of a case of tax evasion/avoidance, you can report this anonymously to the CRA at 1-886-809-6841.
If you need help, the Canada Revenue Agency provides service in both official languages as well as via TTY service. Their website at www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html is a valuable source of information for Canada’s 29.3 million tax filers.
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) hosts free tax preparation clinics and arranges for qualified and security-cleared volunteers to prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation. To find the clinics in Calgary, please call 1-800-267-6999.
For a full list of contact numbers for the various departments at the CRA, please visit www.lenwebber.ca/taxhelp/.