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Everything you need to know about tax season in Canada 2020, including what's changed this year, new deductions, filing deadlines, how to file your taxes, and more.

April in Canada means two things: winter is nearly over and income tax returns will be due soon. While the arrival of spring is more pleasant than the arrival of tax season, this guide will give you all the information you need — including what’s new and what has been updated for this year’s return — to make filing your taxes as stress-free as possible.

What’s New for Taxes in Canada 2020

The federal government regularly adds, removes or changes eligible deductions, credits and benefits that can save you money on your annual tax return. This year is no exception, with the following brand-new items you should be aware of:

  • Canada Pension Plan Enhancement deduction: Working Canadians had to pay a little bit more in CPP premiums in 2019 (an extra 0.15% for those who are employed, or 0.3% for self-employed), which are referred to as “enhanced” contributions. To slightly offset this added financial burden, you get to claim a deduction for these enhanced contributions, which could lower your taxable income by up to $80.85 for employed, and up to $161.70 for self-employed.

  • Canada Training credit: At the end of 2019, eligible workers between the ages of 25 and 65 will begin accumulating an annual sum of $250, up to a lifetime maximum of $5,000, in a Canada Training credit account, which can later be claimed by those who paid tuition or training fees. Starting next tax year, filers can claim a refundable tax credit equal to their Canada Training Credit account balance, or up to half of their eligible tuition/training fees, whichever is less.

What’s Changed for Taxes in Canada 2020

Similarly, take note of the following credits and tax-related programs that have been revised on this year’s return:

  • Cannabis and the Medical Expenses credit: In addition to the usual out-of-pocket medical expenses (e.g., prescriptions, dental care, uninsured tests, health insurance premiums, etc.) that were already eligible for this tax credit, you can now also claim the cost of some cannabis products, if they were prescribed by a physician for medical reasons.

  • Climate Action Incentive credit: Last year, residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario were already eligible to receive this credit meant to offset the cost of the carbon tax and is determined by family size. This year, residents of Alberta join the club, while those living in New Brunswick lose the incentive altogether.

  • Canada Workers Benefit: This refundable tax credit for low-income working Canadians used to be called the Working Income Tax Benefit. Aside from the new name, it also differs in that the maximum credit is increasing to $1,355 from $1,059 for individuals (and to $2,335 from $1,922 for families). The income threshold where benefits begin to be reduced is rising to $12,820 from $12,015 for individuals (and to $17,025 from $16,593 for families).

  • Home Buyers’ Plan increase: The maximum amount you can withdraw from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) under the Home Buyers’ Plan increased to $35,000 from $25,000 for withdrawals made after March 19, 2019.

How to File Taxes in Canada

There are several ways for Canadians to file their taxes:

  • Mail in a paper copy: If you filed your taxes on paper last year, the CRA should have automatically mailed you the 2019 income tax package in February. Otherwise, you can view and download forms from the CRA website.

  • File Online: The CRA calls its online filing for individuals NETFILE (as opposed to EFILE, which is the service that tax preparers use). To send in your return via NETFILE, choose a certified desktop, online, or mobile software product to prepare your return and follow the prompts to submit it to the CRA. Aside from the convenience of filing online, using tax software such as TurboTax allows you to maximize your tax savings. It asks you a series of questions to determine which of the more than 400 deductions and credits you may be eligible for. Read our TurboTax review for all the info.

  • File by Phone – Canadians with low or fixed incomes, and whose tax situation doesn’t change much each year, are invited by letter to use the CRA’s automated phone service, File My Return.

Save up to 15% on TurboTax!

Frequently Asked Questions 

On February 24, 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) started accepting electronic returns for the 2019 tax year on Feb. 24, 2020. As soon as you have all the necessary paperwork from employers, banks and investment firms and the like (T4s, T4As, T5s, T3s and RRSP receipts), you can go ahead and file your return.
Because of the coronavirus crisis, the revised deadline to file taxes for most Canadians is June 1, 2020. Those who are self-employed still have until June 15, 2020, to file their returns. Either way, everyone who owes the government money have until August 31, 2020 to pay any 2019 income tax amounts owed.
If you notice a mistake on a return that you’ve already filed, wait until you receive your Notice of Assessment from CRA and then file an adjustment request online, or by mail using Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request. For paper adjustments, also include all the necessary supporting documents, including receipts, slips and schedules. Also, consult our article on The Biggest Mistakes Canadians Make on Their Taxes – and How to Fix Them.
A simple way to avoid tax mistakes is to use excellent online tax filing software like TurboTax. Just answer a series of questions accurately, and the system does all the hard work of putting together your return. You can also use the handy TurboTax Live Assist and Review. The virtual service lets you ask questions and get advice about your taxes from a real tax expert — from the comfort of your computer. The software even reviews your return line-by-line to make sure nothing is overlooked. And more good news: Young and Thrifty readers can now save 15% off any paid TurboTax package.
There is certainly no shortage of ways to remit your tax payment to the CRA. You can use your online banking service, pay by credit card, PayPal or Interac e-Transfer, set up a pre-authorized debit, use a third-party service provider, pay in person at bank or post office, or send a cheque by mail. If you pay your taxes by credit card, consider getting one of the best cash back credit cards or one of the best travel rewards credit cards so you can earn back a little something on the spend.
If you owe money on your taxes and do not file by the deadline, you’ll get dinged financially in two ways. First, you’ll pay a 5% late-filing penalty and an extra 1% for every month after that (up to 12 months). Second, CRA will charge you compound daily interest on your unpaid balance starting the day after your taxes were due. If you file on time but are late with your payment, you’ll pay interest charges but avoid the late-filing penalty.
Generally, you are required to file a return if you owe income taxes, or if the CRA asks you to file. There are a few other situations in which you’re obligated to file a return (e.g., if you’re repaying amounts you borrowed from your RRSP for the Home Buyers’ Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan). But even if it’s not a must, you should file anyway so you can collect a tax refund, and apply for various benefit programs, such as the GST/HST tax credit and Canada Child Benefit.

The Final Word

Tax time doesn’t have to be painful. There are plenty of resources online to help you through it as well as reliable online tax filing software like TurboTax to make it easier. Just schedule some time to get it done before the deadline. Late filers risk being hit with penalties. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on something you want? And if you’re getting a refund, get those funds as soon as possible so you can do what you like with them. In either case, file on time!

Lastly, don’t forget to review our handy guide on How to Get More Money Back from your Tax Return! It could put a little more change in your pocket.

Article comments

emma says:

your not saying when the earliest date is? you just say the earliest date is and then say nothing and just say the latest date. i hate people that a dishonest and just try to get people to read their page.

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Emma,

I’m sorry you’re frustrated, but we are not being dishonest. At the time of writing in February 2019, the earliest filing date was not yet available to the public.

Paulo Baptista says:

How do I obtain printable tax forms 2019 in Canada

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Paulo,

You can pick up printed tax forms at any Canada Post store.

Dave MacGowan says:

Apparently, printed tax forms are no longer available at Canada Post locations. I also went to a Service Canada location and they gave me a phone number to request printed income tax forms.

Paulo Baptista says:

How do I get printable 2019 tax forms

Winston says:

Can I claim fees a financial planner charges?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Winston,

In order for the fees to be deductible, they must be paid for advice on buying or selling a specific share or security by the taxpayer or for the administration or the management of the shares or securities of the taxpayer. The fees must be paid to a person whose principal business is advising others whether to buy or sell specific shares or whose principal business includes the administration or management of shares or securities.

Fees paid on a fee-based investment account would therefore generally be tax-deductible.

Fees paid to a fee-only, advice-only, fee-for-service financial planner are generally not deductible. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, “fees paid for other types of advice such as general financial counselling or planning are not within the provisions.”

Karen A Casey says:

Canadians pay the same basic tax as in Denmark and get absolutely nothing for their money except putting it in the hands of a bunch of crooks! Canada’s Tax system is a joke and the so-called rebates they hand out for the made-up taxes that they pocket are even worse, they’re a joke! I’m about as low income as one can get in Canada without actually living on the streets and this January 2020, I got a whopping $100 in rebates, explain how the taxes keep going up and our rebates keep going down, I got less this year than I EVER had, what a farce! Canada has one of the worst tax systems in the world and Canadian’s receive absolutely NOTHING for the money our ‘legal’ crooks in Ottawa take from them. But; own a Big Oil company or SNL Lavalin and you pay NADA in taxes! Our entire government and taxation system needs to be reformed and it’s time Canadian’s had a REAL Tax Revolt! I mean, how long are you going to allow these Federal crooks to rob us blind! If you won the lottery would you stay in Canada? Odds are you’d run as fast as you could! Time for a Major Canadian Tax revolt, and spreading the word is my new mission against these abusive governments on ALL levels, Federally, Provincially, Municipally (Calgarians are already there, just watch!) How stupid are we as Canadian’s?

Philip Rosen says:

Although you are right to insist on filing early, be careful not to file too early i.e. before you have received all your tax slips…the T3s and T5013s come through very late. Your broker (T3s and T5013s are related to share dividends) should give you a calendar so that you can know in advance when to expect them. If you have already filed then you have to submit adjustments and your taxes start to look like a dog’s dinner!

zoey zane says:

What are the softwares other than Turbotax?

Alex Ruttan says:

SimpleTax. it only costs you whatever you donate!

Ivan CG says:

I dont live in Canada anymore and I closed my bank account from there. Is there a way to file the tax and get the refund send (check) to another country by mail?

Simon lee says:

Can a person claimd the parents as dependents living in the same household who have no income and who are not infirm?

Mister Mister says:

Don’t invest in RRSP’s. Because if you happen to need that money for some unforeseen reason, the bank withholds 20%!!! And the interest earned on them sucks too. It’s better to invest your money or use TFSA’s.

Kate says:

You have to file taxes whether you’ve made money or not or you owe money or not. Not filing your taxes could mean you miss out on low income benefits, or could make it difficult for when you are applying for things like a loan, etc (if you don’t have a Notice of Assessment).
Everyone should file their taxes every year regardless of how much money you make, even if you make $0.
Also, even if you have a job and your taxes are deducted from your pay cheque so you think you don’t owe taxes, you should still file your taxes because you may have deductions or you may have been paying too much tax and be owed a refund.
You don’t get a refund if you don’t file your taxes.
Also if you worked two jobs and both are deducting CPP and EI, you may have over paid one of them and be owed a refund for that.

Laura says:

Great point about contributing to your RRSP. It seems like there is a lot of presure to maximize your RRSP. However, especially for people first starting their career it doesn’t make sense because of your tax rate. If you think you will make more in the future (most professional careers follow that path) reconsider contributing to your RRSP initially.

If you are in the first few years of your career consider fully funding your TFSA before begining your RRSP.