Josee Cabral is seen in her office in Chateauguay, Que. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Josee Cabral is seen in her office in Chateauguay, Que. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Watch the details to help avoid financial headaches when filing your tax return

Small, easily avoidable mistakes could end up costing you if you’re not careful

The devil is in the details and your income tax return is no exception.

As the filing deadline at the end of the month approaches, experts say paying attention to the details when it comes to your taxes can help avoid headaches down the road.

Small, easily avoidable mistakes could end up costing you if you’re not careful.

Josee Cabral, a senior tax specialist at H&R Block, says the government extended tax deadlines last year because of the pandemic, but people need to know the filing deadline is back to normal.

“A lot of people this year, they think there will also be an extension, so they’re running late on filing their taxes, but there will not be an extension,” Cabral says.

“Unless there’s a major shut down again like we had last year in the month of March, the due date this year is April 30 like every other year.”

Cabral says even if you don’t have the cash ready to pay your outstanding tax bill, you should file your return on time otherwise you will have to pay an added late filing penalty.

The 2020 tax year for many Canadians will be different than previous years, with many suffering a drop in income due to the pandemic and millions having received emergency benefits on which they may now owe taxes.

For those lucky enough to have continued to work from home, Cabral says it will be key for them to understand how best to claim their work-from-home deductions, whether it is the special flat rate or itemized method.

Cabral says other common mistakes are missing out on credits and deductions on things such as moving expenses, interest on student loans, donations and medical expenses that can help reduce your tax bill.

“People forget to enter their medical expenses,” she says. “A lot of people say, ‘I don’t have enough’, but if you don’t enter them you’ll never know if you’re capable of getting a credit out of it.”

Cabral says your pharmacy will have a record of your prescription drug spending for the year and that you can ask for it before you start your taxes.

“They print out everything you bought in one year and they put it on one piece of paper. You don’t have to keep all those little slips every single time you go to the pharmacy and the dentist does the same thing too,” she says.

It isn’t just things related to your income and the deductions that you need to pay attention to.

In an age when many Canadians file their tax return electronically, accidentally using an old mailing address might not seem like a big deal, but it can lead to real problems if Canada Revenue Agency needs to follow up.

CRA spokesperson Paul Murphy says if the agency asks for supporting documentation for things like medical expenses or charitable donation receipts and your address is not up to date you might not receive the letter and you may end up having your tax return reassessed.

“We give you a time limit to respond and if you don’t respond on time, we may just assess your return based on the information on file,” he says.

Murphy says you also don’t want your notice of assessment — which includes your RRSP contribution limit and income information you might need if you’re applying for a mortgage — being sent to the wrong address.

Outdated banking information for direct deposit can also create problems if you’re expecting money back.

Murphy says if you’ve signed up for direct deposit, CRA will keep that information on file and continue to use it until you tell them not to or change it. So if you’ve changed banks, it is important to make sure CRA knows to use your new account.

“Sometimes people they go without filing sometimes for a period of time and they forget that they signed up for this service and they file their tax return and (a refund) gets deposited into a bank account that’s been closed,” he says.

“You can get your money eventually, but it takes some time and you probably don’t want that to happen.”

Cabral says the key to avoiding many of the common mistakes and maximizing your tax return is to be organized.

“Not being organized is one of the biggest common mistakes that people do,” she says.

“Have a file, have a folder that you keep for your year’s taxes and throughout the year whenever you receive something put it in that folder.”

Craig Wong, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirustaxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Cases continue to climb in B.C amid a third wave of COVID-19. (Omar Marques/AP photo)
Physicians of Golden warn of third wave

Cases continue to climb provincially

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 20 centimetres of snow on the Coquihalla Highway Friday, April 9, 2021. (File photo)
Snowfall warning in effect for Coquihalla Highway

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 20 cm of snow to fall on the Coquihalla Friday

The Peach is adhering to the mandatory mask protocols put in place by the Provincial Health Officer on Nov. 19. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Interior Health doesn’t echo B.C.’s daily COVID record

80 new cases reported Thursday, April 8, compared to 91 the day prior

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Sun Peaks is tracking rising COVID-19 cases. (Kamloops This Week Photo)
Sun Peaks sees spike in COVID-19 cases at end of ski season

On April 9, there were 15 positive cases confirmed.

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Most Read