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

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

Steven Manchur, who lives near the proposed site of supportive housing in Central Saanich on Prosser Road, said the province has misinformed the public about the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich residents protest supportive housing project

BC Housing rejects claim that project will lead to more crime

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read