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Canada Tax Preparation Checklist

Written by Stephen Hoenig
Reviewed by Victor Ko
When tax season rolls around, it can be hard to figure out what you need in order to file your taxes. The papers that you need are based on your financial situation and employment situation, so they differ for everyone.
Table of Contents

    For many, all you need to do your taxes is your T4. However, if you have more than one job, invest, or are self-employed, then your tax situation becomes a little more complex. This is also the case if you work from home, have a rental property that earns rental income or have recently bought or sold your home. Let’s take a look at what you need in order to start filing your taxes today. 

    Documents Needed for Taxes

    Whether you’re filing your taxes yourself or having an accountant or tax professional do so for you, you’re still going to require the same documentation. These documents have all of the information you need to file your taxes correctly; however, which ones you use are based on your individual circumstances. However, the first step is to provide your personal information. 

    Personal Information

    The first things that you need before you start to file your taxes are:

    • Social insurance number
    • Date of birth
    • Net income amounts for anyone you’re claiming as a dependent
    • The total amount of installment payments made to the CRA
    • Last year’s Notice of Assessment
    • Netfile account numbers if you have them

    You don’t only need this information for yourself, though. You also need that information from your family members and any other dependents that you have. Once you have this information together, you can begin filing your taxes as well as the taxes for those in your family. 

    The easiest way to keep all of this information together is to put it in a file folder to be ready for when you file taxes. Along with your required personal information, though, you should also collect any other forms that will be needed. Whether you go in person for professional advice or use online services, you should still have copies of these documents. 

    Employment Slips

    If you’re employed, then it’s likely all you will receive is a T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid. If you live in Quebec, then you should receive an RL1 Employment and Other Income Only. 

    If you’re self-employed, then the forms that you could receive are:

    • T2125, T4002 Self-Employed Business, Professional, Commission, Farming, and Fishing Income
    • T5013 Statement of Partnership Income

    Investment Information

    If you have any investments, it’s important that you claim these on your tax returns. Depending on the types of investments you have, you may be able to get a tax deduction, or you could end up owing on your interest income. The types of investment forms you could receive include:

    • T5 Statement of Investment Income
    • T3 Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations
    • T5008 Statement of Securities Transactions

    While you should receive these forms for most types of securities investments, you won’t receive them for crypto investments. These types of investments you still have to claim, but they aren’t as regulated as traditional ones. However, if you don’t receive these forms for your traditional investments, you can contact your financial advisor. They can provide you with the information that you need. 


    If you’re retired, have a retirement pension, or have cash amounts you have taken out of your RRSP contributions, then you can receive any of the following forms. 

    • T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income
    • T4A(P) Statement of Canada Pension Plan Benefits
    • T4A (OAS) Statement of Old Age Security
    • T4RSP Statement of RSP Income
    • T4RIF Statement of Income from a Registered Retirement Income Fund

    Even if you aren’t retired, you can claim any amounts you’ve deposited into your RRSP as a tax deduction. In order to save more money, you can also carry forward amounts from previous years that are unused. 

    Other Forms

    If, at any point during the tax year, you receive income other than employment income, then you can receive these documents. There are also other documents you could receive or claims that can save you additional money on your taxes. 

    • T4E Statement of Employment Insurance and Other Benefits
    • T5007 Statement of Benefits - Workers Compensation or Social Assistance Benefits
    • T4A COVID-19 Benefits Received
    • T4F HSA First Home Savings Account Statement
    • Automobil/Travel Documents
    • Capital gains/losses records
    • T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate
    • Northern residents deductions

    Tax Deduction Information 

    Once you’ve entered or collected all of the information needed to claim your annual income, then you can start thinking about deductions you could make to save money on your tax bill. What you’re allowed to claim depends on your individual circumstances as well as your income. 

    Employment Expenses

    If you’re employed, there are circumstances where you can write off certain amounts that were pertinent to you earning your income but not paid for by your employer. The documents and receipts that you would need to do so include:

    • T2200 Employment Expenses (Signed by Your Employer)
    • In-home office expenses
    • Tool expenses
    • Union dues 
    • Labor Mobility Deduction for Tradespeople

    If you receive self-employment income, though, you won’t receive this information. You need to keep all of your receipts and calculate anything related to your business expenses, including miles driven and payments to other businesses you may have worked with. You’ll even need to factor in any insurance reimbursements you may have received. 

    Other Expenses You Can Deduct

    Anything else you’re able to deduct is based on your family situation and circumstances. These will vary from person to person. 

    If you have a family, you can deduct these expenses on your return:

    • Childcare
    • Adoption
    • Support payments made

    If you’re a homeowner or landlord, you can deduct:

    • Cost Capital Allowance
    • Home accessibility expenses
    • Moving expenses

    Students can claim:

    • Tuition slips
    • Student loan interest amounts

    Depending on what you spent for the tax year, you can also claim:

    • Medical expenses
    • Charitable donations
    • Political contributions
    • Facility care expenses
    • Personal attendant expenses
    • Exams for professional certification

    Teachers can also claim receipts for any classroom or school supplies that they purchase. 

    What if You Can’t Find or Don’t Receive Your Slips

    When it comes time to file your  T1 annual income tax and benefit return, you may notice that you haven’t received some of the documents that you need in order to do so. For any documents that have been filed with the government (any of the T forms), you can actually request these from those you should have received, or you can access them online through your MyCRA Account.

    Whether you’re filing on your own or with an accountant, the easiest way to file your tax return is to download all of your official tax slips directly from your MyCRA account. That said, you do have to be signed up for one to do so. Also, this won’t include the other deductions you wish to submit. Those will have to be entered separately. 

    How to File on Your Own Using My Account

    If you’re choosing to file your own taxes, then any tax software that you’re choosing to use should allow you to download your tax information directly from your MyCRA Account into the software. It will provide the software with all of your important tax information, including your RRSP deduction limits, any tax forms you have to submit, and your annual taxable income.

    Once you have done this, you can add any deductions and expenses that you wish to claim. Once that’s completed, then you cannot file your annual return directly from the software. The best part is when you go to file your tax return next year, all of your previous information is saved, making it even easier to file your return. 

    Filing with an Accountant or Tax Professional

    If you’re using an accountant or tax professional to file your return, you can also do so using My Account. All you need to do is sign a form stating that the tax professional you chose is able to file your taxes on your behalf and allow them to access your account. This gives them access to all of your important tax information, and then you can supply them with the other required information needed to get the largest return you can or to reduce your tax liability as much as possible. 

    Canada Tax Forms You Need if You Don’t Have My Account

    While My Account makes it easy for you to find all of your information for the current tax year, not everyone uses it. If you don’t use My Account, then that’s okay. It can be difficult to sign up for, and if you’re running out of time to file your taxes, you might not be able to sign up on time. So, here’s a breakdown of the different forms you could receive and why you receive them. 

    1. T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid: This form breaks down your entire employment income, how much you paid in taxes, what you paid in union dues and ei, and what your total net income was. If you have more than one job, then you should receive more than one of them. 
    2.  T2125, T4002 Self-Employed Business, Professional, Commission, Farming, and Fishing Income: This form isn’t a form you receive but a form you fill out in order to report your small business income and expenses. This form won’t be found on your My Account; you will need to put in the information yourself. 
    3. T5013 Statement of Partnership Income: This form is used if you’re a partner in a business. It allocates the net losses, profits, and anything else financial pertaining to the business between partners. 
    4. T5 Statement of Investment Income: This form will show any interest, dividends and foreign income you earned in the year. You should receive a separate statement for each investment. 
    5. T3 Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations: This form will be received if you have investment income from non-mutual funds in non-registered accounts. You’ll also get this if you have income that’s allocated to you by a trust as a beneficiary. 
    6. T5008 Statement of Securities Transactions: This statement is received if you sold any securities or they were sold on your behalf. These could be bonds, publicly traded shares, T-bills, mutual fund units, debt obligations or other securities. 
    7. T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income: This form is given for certain income sources, including pensions, superannuations, annuities, lump-sum payments, COVID-19 support payments and repayments, self-employed commissions, RESPs, AIPs, grants, scholarships, RDSPs and medical travel assistance. 
    8. T4A(P) Statement of Canada Pension Plan Benefits: You’ll receive this statement if you receive money from CPP or QPP (Quebec Pension Plan). It includes the full amount you received and how much tax was deducted. 
    9. T4A (OAS) Statement of Old Age Security: This statement is given to those who received Old Age Security for the benefit year. 
    10. T4RSP Statement of RSP Income: If you received income from your RRSP or withdrew funds, this includes the full amount as well as how much tax you paid on it. 
    11. T4RIF Statement of Income from a Registered Retirement Income Fund: If you have an RRIF and received money at all during the benefit year, then you’ll receive this statement. It includes how much you received and the taxes you paid. 
    12. T4E Statement of Employment Insurance and Other Benefits: If you received employment insurance for any reason, then you’ll get this statement. This includes COVID-19 benefits, work-sharing benefits, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, and tuition assistance. 
    13. T5007 Statement of Benefits - Workers Compensation or Social Assistance Benefits: If you received workers' compensation or social assistance benefits throughout the year, then you’ll need to file this form on your tax return. 
    14. T4A COVID-19 Benefits Received: This showed you how much you received from COVID-19 benefits such as CERB or CRB. 
    15. T4F HSA First Home Savings Account Statement: This form shows how much you’ve put into your FHSA for the benefit year and allows you to claim it on your tax return. While it’s optional, it can save you money on your tax bill. 
    16. T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate: This certificate allows you to save money on your annual tax bill. While the government will have a copy, you do have to select that you have the disability tax credit when you file your return. 

    While there could be more forms that you need based on where you live in Canada, these are the majority that you should look for when you’re going to file your tax return. 

    How to Sign Up for My Account with the CRA

    If you want to sign up for your CRA My Account to verify that you have all of the correct information, then you can do so. All you need to do is go online and select how you want to sign in. You can sign in through provincial services if you’re in Alberta or BC, through your financial institution, or by creating a GI Key. 

    Once you’ve done that, you’ll have partial access to your My Account. In order to get full access to your account, you need to do one of two things. You can either go through Interac verification to prove you are who you say you are, or you can request a code directly from the CRA. If you choose Interac verification, you should have access to your account on the same day. If you choose to get a code from the CRA, it can take 5 to 10 business days to receive since they send these in the mail. However, once you receive the code, you can log in and enter it to gain full access to your account. 

    Not only is this a great service for filing your tax returns, but you can also see your TFSA contribution room and RRSP limits. You also have access to all your previous notices of assessments, can see your total cost if you owe taxes, and can even pay your amounts owing. 

    What if You File Your Taxes Wrong?

    If you file your taxes incorrectly, there’s no need to fret. You can either refile your taxes through the program that you filed through, or you can do so through your My Account. However, it is recommended that you wait until your tax return has been assessed before you refile. 

    If you’re looking to refile your return through your My Account, you can do so for up to the last 10 previous years. It’s a pretty simple process, actually. Once you've logged on, you can select the return that you’re looking for. From there, you can select to change your return, and it will be sent directly to the CRA for processing. It should only take a few days from there before your return is updated. 

    Do You Need to File Your Taxes?

    Even if you don’t owe any money to the federal government from your employment income, it’s still important that you file your taxes. Not only could you be missing out on tax refunds, but If you don’t file, you’re unable to receive any amounts you may be entitled to from government benefits, such as child tax amounts. You don’t even need to apply for most of these government benefits. You should just start receiving them through cheque or direct deposit as long as you qualify. 

    When it comes to getting mortgages or other bank loans, it’s also important that you’ve filed your taxes. This is because, after you file, you’ll receive a notice of assessment. This official document shows your total annual gross and net incomes for previous years, which helps lenders determine if you’re eligible to receive funds. 

    Final Thoughts

    Filing your annual tax return can be an overwhelming process. There are a lot of forms that you need to keep track of, and there are plenty of deductions that you can claim. You may not even be aware of some of these dedications that you’re eligible for. That’s why it’s important that you do your homework before you file. Here are some key takeaways when it comes to tax filing during tax time.

    If you’re filing yourself, it’s important that you gather all of the documents that you need to file before you begin. From there, you enter your mandatory information automatically or upload it using your My CRA Account. After that, you can go through and enter any dedications that you would like to claim. 

    If you’re filing through a tax professional, they can access your tax documents through your My Account to verify all of your information is correct. They can help you to make sure that all of your deductions are correct and offer professional advice to get you the maximum refund or reduce your tax bill, saving you more money. 

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