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indicatorAdvice for Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 and your taxes, what individual taxpayers need to know

By ATB Wealth 24 April 2020 5 min read

Person doing their taxes online at home

In response to coronavirus, the Government of Canada announced a tax extension for individuals and self-employed individuals. While you may have been relieved by the extra time, it could be in your best interest to file your taxes sooner, rather than waiting until the new deadline. This is especially true for those who rely on certain provincial and federal benefits.

For those who have all of their required files and documentation already on-hand, filing your taxes earlier means you also get any refunds you may be owed earlier. This could mean money in your pocket to help manage expenses, grow your emergency fund or be contributed towards a savings goal. If, on the other hand, you owe money to the Government of Canada, filing now won’t impact your immediate cash flow. All individuals, including those that are self-employed, have until September 1, 2020 to make payment.

Below we address questions you may have this tax season and whether filing sooner may be of benefit for you.

What are the new due dates?

Individuals

2019 Tax Year New extended deadline Old deadline
Filing deadline June 1, 2020 April 30, 2020
Payment deadline September 1, 2020 April 30, 2020

Self-employed and their spouse or common law partner

2019 Tax Year New extended deadline Old deadline
Filing deadline June 15, 2020 (no change) June 15, 2020
Payment deadline September 1, 2020 April 30, 2020

 

If you pay tax by instalments, you now have until September 1, 2020 to pay your June 2020 quarterly personal tax instalment. Make sure you pay any amount you owe by September 1, 2020. After this date, the CRA will charge interest on any amount you owe until your balance is paid.

Should I file now or wait until the deadline to file?

If you anticipate receiving a refund, you are recommended to file as soon as you have received all of your slips and have all your supporting documents ready.

Additionally, certain government benefits (outlined below) use your previous years’ return to determine ongoing eligibility. To ensure that the determination of your benefits is not delayed for the July 2020 - June 2021 benefit period, we recommend you file as soon as possible if you receive the following benefits:

  • Canada Child Benefit (CCB). It’s important to note the federal government has also announced that eligible families are entitled to receive a one-time increase to the CCB payment, up to $300 extra per child, as part of their regular May 2020 payment. To be eligible for the increase, you and your spouse/partner must have filed your 2018 returns. If you're late in filing your 2018 taxes, you should file as soon as possible. You may be eligible for retroactive benefits and credits.
  • GST Credit or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  • Alberta seniors financial assistance programs. Refer to 'How your benefit is determined' to learn more.

It’s also important to note that individuals resident in Alberta as of December 31, 2019, are now eligible to claim the Climate Action Incentive payment. In order to receive the payment, you need to file a return. Only one person per family, (you or your spouse/common-law partner) can claim the payment. If you have a balance owing, the payment will be used to reduce the amount. The maximum you can claim depends on your province of residence as well as your personal situation:

Claim Amount (Alberta)
Basic Amount $444
Spouse or common-law partner amount $222
Qualified dependant amount $111
Single parent's qualified dependant amount $222

What if I am missing slips?

Most of your tax slips (such as T4’s) and receipts should have been mailed out to you by the end of February. The exception would be for T3 (Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations) and T5013 slips (Partnership Information Return), which are not required to be sent out until the end of March.

If you think you are missing slips and your employer/payer or administrator is closed, or hard to contact as they are operating on reduced hours as a result of COVID-19, you have another option. Go to your My Account for Individuals - Canada.ca, where you will have access to all of the tax slips that have been completed on your behalf. Both individuals and registered tax preparers can download tax slips.

If you do not have a My Account, we recommend that you begin the registration process immediately. Before gaining access to your My Account, the CRA will either mail you a CRA security code (which can take up to 10 business days) or require you to call in (make sure to have your past tax returns on-hand).

How will I get my taxes done when businesses are closed and I use a tax preparer?

The province of Alberta has deemed professional services such as lawyers and accountants, as well as businesses that provide financial services including: accounting, bookkeeping, payment processing, and payroll and benefits division of any employer, as essential services. However, due to social distancing, you may have to find an alternate method to get documents to your preparer and have meetings. Many are using services such as dropbox and digital file sharing to share documents securely online. Meetings may take place over the phone or via an online meeting application. If you want to file your taxes soon, you should reach out to your tax preparer to begin the process.

Additionally, the CRA is now recognizing electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a “temporary administrative measure.” This will apply to the authorization of CRA Form T183, which is the form that is usually signed in-person by Canadians every year to authorize tax preparers to EFILE tax returns.

If you are considering doing your taxes yourself, it is important to note that in order to use the Auto-fill my return feature you are required to have a tax software that uses the CRA's NETFILE web service. Auto-fill my return is a secured service that allows Canadians to “automatically fill in parts of a 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 income tax and benefit return with information that the CRA has available at the time of filing the return.”

Do I have to file a return?

Refer to CRA, 'Do you have to file a return?' to determine if you need to file a 2019 return. If you have no taxable income, you still need to file a return to begin receiving, or continue to be eligible for, certain benefits such as the GIS, CCB and GST credits.

No matter when you plan on filing your taxes, make sure you sign up for direct deposit on My Account to ensure that you get your refund as soon, and securely, as possible. If you don’t know how to set up direct deposit, check out this step-by-step guide.

Need help?

Our Client Care team will be happy to assist.