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

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Hesco baskets were first used outside the Cache Creek fire hall in 2020 (pictured), and have once again been put in place as a pre-emptive measure to safeguard the hall against possible flooding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek taking pre-emptive measures to prevent flooding

Sand and sandbags will soon be available for all residents who need them

Clinton council has approved a request to allow limited youth sports activity at Reg Conn Park and Elliott Park. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Clinton council okays use of playing fields for youth sports

Clinton Minor Sports Association gets green light for use of Reg Conn and Elliott Parks

The proposed site of the new Loon lake fire hall, on the site of the former provincial park. (Photo credit: TNRD)
Construction of new Loon Lake fire hall delayed because of cost

Lowest tender more than double the estimated cost of the project

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
WATCH: B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
UPDATED: Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

Most Read