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Dale Jackson

Personal Finance Columnist, Payback Time


Attention Canadian taxpayers: April 30 is the deadline to file your 2018 personal income tax returns. If you haven’t already filed, that leaves two full weeks to gather your deductions and credits and get something into the Canada Revenue Agency.

And whether you’ve already filed or not, tax season is a time of financial reckoning. Here are three golden rules from Meridian tax expert Doug Carroll to ensure future tax seasons go smoothly.

1. This is tax-filing time, not tax-planning time: There may be some small adjustments you can make, but mostly you are reporting what happened last year. For the current year, start now while last year’s info is in your hands and on your mind. You can then focus on the behaviours and actions to adjust in the coming months so that you are not feeling regret this time next year.

2. A big refund is not always good: Large registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions can result in big refunds. This often happens when contributions are not known to your employer when it withheld tax on your paycheque. If this is a regular occurrence, look into filing CRA Form T1213 to reduce your tax deductions at source, which could make more money available to you during the year, rather than effectively asking for it back at tax filing time.

3. File on time: Apart from hefty interest on overdue tax (five per cent of your balance owing plus one per cent each month), programs like the Canada Child Benefit and Old Age Security use this information to determine if and how much you will receive in the next program year, which generally runs each July to June. Don’t let your procrastination penalize you.