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Top Things to Know about a Notice of Assessment in Canada

Written by Jessica Steer
A notice of assessment is an annual statement of income that you should receive every year as long as you file your annual income tax statement. It basically summarizes what you earned in the previous tax year and helps to prove your income. While for some people a T4 can do the same thing, for someone who is self-employed and doesn't get a T4, notice of assessment can be essential for things like getting a loan or even a mortgage.
Table of Contents

    Receiving a Notice of Assessment

    How long it takes you to receive your notice of assessment after filing your income taxes really depends on when and how you file. If you Netfile your taxes and are waiting for a paper copy, chances are it could take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to receive it, sometimes even longer.

    If you have a MyCRA account and are signed up for emails, you could receive your NOA immediately though the CRA’s Express NOA service. The only two requirements for this service are to have a MyCRA account and to file your taxes with a Netfile certified service. If you do receive the electronic mail, however, you will not receive a paper copy as well. You can always find your NOA’s on your MyService account as well if you need a copy and are unable to find them.

    When do NOA’s typically come out?

    There really is no typical time for NOA’s, it is all based on when you file your taxes. That being said, you are able to file your taxes usually anywhere from February until the end of April so that is when the majority of NOA’s are sent out. However, you will still get sent a notice of assessment even if you file your taxes late.

    What a Notice of Assessment looks like

    Essentially your notice of assessment is broken into different sections. It is basically an overview of the income tax return you filed but in an official government document instead of just the Netfile report. It may have some changes though, depending on if they deemed your taxes to be filed correctly or not.

    1. Account Summary: This is the section that shows how much you owe or how much of a tax return you should receive. This section will also show any remaining balance owing that you may have from previous years. If you file multiple tax returns all at the same time, it will all be put onto the same NOA as well.
    2. Tax Assessment Summary: The next part is a tax assessment summary. This section shows the breakdown of your tax return and/or what was used to calculate the balance of any taxes owed. This is where you will be able to see if any changes were made to your return as well as any penalties or interest on overdue amounts on your tax bill.
    3. Explanation of Changes: This section will go over any changes that were made on your return. They make these changes based on what information that was provided to them when you filed as well as any tax records that they already had on file.
    4. RRSP Deduction Limit Statement: This will show you the maximum contributions you are allowed to deduct in RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) contributions for the next tax year. A breakdown of how this number was calculated is also provided. Below that will be your unused RRSP contributions. This includes unused contributions from previous years. It will also show if you went over your deduction limit and if you need to pay any tax on that amount.
    5. Home Buyers Plan Statement: If you participated in the home buyers plan then this goes over how much you have contributed, how much you have left to contribute as well as the minimum repayment amount required for the next year.
    6. Lifelong Learning Plan Statement: If you participated in the lifelong learning plan then your statement will also be included on your NOA. It also goes over how much has been paid as well as the minimum amount required for the next year.

    Here is an example of a tax return:

    Language of your NOA

    As you can see above, the NOA samples are in English , but you can also get your NOA in French if you prefer. When you file your taxes, you can select which language you prefer to get your tax return in or you can contact the CRA directly.

    Definition of the NOA according to the CRA

    According to the CRA’s definition, your notice of assessment is an overview of your tax return that the Canada Revenue Agency sends out every year once you have filed your taxes. It includes the date they went over return as well as what your return should be or what you owe.

    Numbers on your NOA

    The numbers that you see at the top of your notice of assessments will be different depending on where you live. If you live in Quebec, Revenu Quebec will put an 11 digit number on your notice of assessment that you need to enter after you have received it. If you live in other provinces, you won’t have this 11 digit number.

    Another number you may find on your notice of assessment is your Access ID number. This number allows you to register and sign up for your MyCRA account. This account allows you access to your tax information whenever you need it without having to call the Canada Revenue Agency directly. It also allows you to access your T4’s online when filing your tax return and provides access to any EI (Employment Insurance) updates and information.

    Receiving your Refund after your NOA

    When it comes to your tax refund, there is no allotted amount of time that you may receive it in. It all depends on whether you receive it via direct deposit to your financial institution or via cheque. If you receive it via direct deposit, chances are that you will get your refund faster. Sometimes you can receive it in as little as a couple of days after filing. It all depends on how many people file at the same time as you and whether you Netfile your taxes or file through the mail.

    With Netfile it can take as little as 2 weeks to receive your NOA so you will receive a check at the same time or a direct deposit earlier. If you file through the mail it could take up to 8 weeks to receive your NOA with a cheque attached and at least a few weeks to receive your direct deposit.

    Differences Between a Tax Return and a Notice of Assessment

    Your tax return is also known as a T1 general. This is the compiled information of everything you have earned or can claim for the tax year. Your T1 general will have an amount you will receive as a return or an amount owing.

    Your notice of assessment also has this information but it is an official government document. While most of the time your T1 general will be the same as your NOA unless the CRA catches mistakes or some changes that need to be made before they finalize your return.

    Basically your T1 general and notice of assessment are the same thing but your T1 general isn’t an official document so it is the NOA that is used. It needs to be verified by the CRA first, which is what the NOA is.

    Is a Notice of Assessment Needed to File your Taxes?

    In short, the answer is no. You don’t need a notice of assessment to file your taxes. A notice of assessment is what you receive once your taxes are filed. In order to file your taxes you need a T4 from your job as well as the proper documentation from things like your EI payments, RRSPs and any other income you may have earned throughout the year. Keep in mind though that you don’t need to claim your TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account), just your RRSP.

    The great thing is, these documents will automatically be sent to you, usually in February of every year. These tax documents are then used to create your T1 general.

    Overview of Your Notice of Assessment

    Your notice of assessment is an official government document that you will receive every year once you file your taxes. No matter what you make in a year, you will receive this document. Even if you receive no income, a notice of assessment is needed to receive government benefits that the Canada Revenue Agency offers to those with low income or meet other requirements. Overall, your notice of assessment is what can prove your income for things like personal loans, mortgages, vehicle loans and other things related to your personal finance situation that require some sort of proof of income. They also allow for things like the Home Buyers Plan which allows you to use your RRSP as a down payment for a home. You can pay it back with your RRSP contributions through your taxes. No matter what it is income related, chances are a notice of assessment will be needed, or at least some form of proof of income..

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