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When Can You Start Filing Your 2023 Taxes in Canada?

Written by Jessica Steer
Most Canadians believe there are four seasons in a year, but that’s not entirely accurate. There are actually five seasons – winter, summer, spring, fall, and tax season! Now, whether you enjoy tax season depends on whether you are expecting to pay more tax or get a hefty tax return. Let’s be real – after paying tax on virtually everything it’s nice to get something back once a year.
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    If you are expecting a refund, you might be wondering how soon you can file your 2021 tax return. Here are some key dates to be aware of.

    What is the deadline to file taxes in 2024?

    Every person in Canada must file their own income tax and benefit returns each year. This year, every Canadian must file and pay their taxes by April 30, 2024. If you're self-employed, the deadline is June 15.

    But just because the due date is in April – there’s no reason to procrastinate and delay getting your refund.

    The earliest date that the Canada Revenue Agency will start accepting electronically filed tax returns is February 21.

    Keep in mind that some tax slips are not due until March, so it’s entirely possible that you might not have all the necessary information by February 20. Plus, it can take until mid-March for tax slips and other info the CRA requires to become available in their system in order to use the autofill sections on your online tax software.

    RRSP contributions

    Contrary to popular belief, the last day you can claim RRSP contributions on your 2023 taxes is not December 31, 2023. The deadline to make your final contribution for 2023 is actually February 29, 2024. Contributions made to your RRSP after this date cannot be claimed on your 2023 taxes and will instead be eligible for the 2024 tax year.

    When can you expect your tax refund?

    Government administrators are generally not known for their lightning-quick speed when it comes to processing documents, but when it comes to tax returns it’s quicker than you think.

    Canada Revenue Agency will not guarantee a timeline, but they do have stated “goals” of getting your due money, as long as you file before or at the deadline.

    • If you file online, it’s the CRA’s goal to deliver your return within 2 weeks.
    • If you file by paper return, it’s the CRA’s goal to deliver your return within 8 weeks.

    Of course, if for some reason they want to take a closer look at how you reported your income tax, in other words, “getting audited,” it can take much longer. There’s also a 16-week wait time if you’re filing from outside the country.

    The documents you'll need to get your tax return

    Tax season can be stressful because you’re somewhat at the mercy of others to deliver documents to you in a prompt manner. Entities like your employer, bank or financial institution, charities, political parties must deliver tax documents that enable you to fill out your income tax return.

    The deadline for your employer to send out tax forms, such as a T4 information slip, is the last day of February. Most employers will have this available prior to the end of the month, meaning you can get a jump on filing that return sooner than later.

    What to do if you don’t receive your T4

    If for some reason March comes around and you still haven’t received your T4 from your employer, you do have options. First off, if any employer lags on their duties, they can face penalties, so it’s definitely in their best interest to get you the forms in time. However, if you’re not getting results, you might be able to obtain the forms yourself through a My Account at the CRA website, where hopefully the form has been submitted directly by your employer.

    Often if a T4 doesn’t show up on time, it’s because an employer doesn’t have your most current contact info. Visit your HR department or give them a call to ensure your contact info is up to date.

    How to file your taxes

    If you filed your 2022 taxes on paper, the CRA will mail you the 2023 income tax paperwork by February 20. You can download and order forms and publications as of January 18, 2024 at You can also call the Canada Revenue Agency to order forms and publications. The contact number is 1-855-330-3305.

    The various ways you can file your taxes electronically are too numerous to mention. Don’t be overwhelmed, though, because we’ve done the research for you when it comes to free tax software.

    Of course, you can reference the CRA website for online help. Just make sure whichever tax software you choose, it qualifies for Netfile, the online tax filing system in Canada. There are plenty of resources available if you need guidance.

    If you’re looking for a challenge, and want to do your taxes the old fashioned way (hard copy paper version), paper T1 returns can be filed to the following addresses.

    Important tax filing deadlines to know

    As we stated earlier, the due date for filing your taxes this year are:

    • On or before April 30, 2024
    • On or before June 15 for the self-employed

    It's important to get ahead of these deadlines because the CRA will impose interest and penalties on any amount owed after these dates. If for some reason, you don’t think you can make these deadlines because of circumstances beyond your control, the CRA might waive any late-filing penalties or applicable interest in the case you owe a balance. Some exceptional circumstances include:

    • Serious illness, accident, death of a family member, emotional or mental distress
    • Financial hardship or inability to pay
    • Natural or human-made disaster
    • Civil disturbance or disruption of service (ie. postal strike)

    If you’re filing late for no good reason other than you have a case of “procrastinitis,” then you could face a late-filing penalty of 5% on any balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each month your return is late to a maximum of 12 months.

    For those expecting a refund, your penalty will be missing a nice chunk of change deposited in your account in a timely manner.

    What if your refund is less than you expected?

    It can be a gut-punch when you file for a certain amount for your tax refund, and it comes back less than expected. The most common reason for this is a miscalculation on your part. Maybe you missed a decimal somewhere or forgot to include a particular tax slip. However, it could be another reason like a balance owing from a previous year or an outstanding debt you owe to a government agency. Examples of this would be a student loan in arrears, EI benefit overpayments, and immigration loans.

    If you think you’ve been wronged by the CRA, and they have made a mistake, you can dispute your tax return. Step one would be to call the agency at 1-800-959-8281.

    How to receive your tax refund

    If you haven’t already, sign up for direct deposit immediately so that your refund gets put straight into your bank account as soon as possible. This will save you time if you’re receiving other government payments like GST refunds or Canada Child Benefit.

    In the scenario where nothing shows up in your bank account after the expected two-week time frame from filing, you can check the status of your income tax refund at the government’s My Account website. You will need the following info:

    • Social insurance number
    • Date of birth
    • Amount entered as total income on line 150 of your income tax return from the previous year.

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