In the News, Tips and Advice ˙ Apr 12, 2018

Many have yet to file taxes with weeks remaining

Many have yet to file taxes with weeks remaining

With lots to do and limited time to fit everything in, it's virtually impossible not to procrastinate on certain agenda items on the all-important to-do lists. And one thing that nearly half of all Canadians are leaving to the last minute is filing their tax returns, or so a recent survey suggests.

Nearly 45 percent of adults who work for a living have yet to submit their tax documents to the federal government, according to a newly released poll conducted by H&R Block Canada. Of the approximately 1,500 randomly selected Canadians who participated in the survey - performed April 1 and 2 - this means that roughly 1 in 2 has mere weeks left before the April 30 deadline. In some provinces, most respondents hadn't yet finished their taxes, led by British Columbia (51 percent).

Given the share is slightly less than half, this means a majority already have filed or may be in the process. Indeed, 45 percent of adults consider themselves "eager beavers," as the poll put it, meaning they filed well before the April 30 due date. And around 4 in 10 are so-called "just in timers," taking care of the perennial income-related task in April. Eleven percent say they're procrastinators, leaving taxes to the very last minute - sometimes literally.

Lisa Gittens, senior tax professional at H&R Block Canada, noted why it behooves people to get it done and over with sooner rather than later.

"You don't get bonus points for filing well in advance of the deadline but you can get your refund earlier," Gittens explained. "If you delay filing until the last minute, you are more likely to make mistakes. Filing early means you'll have more time to track down documents and ensure you don't miss any credits and deductions you're eligible for."

Most getting a $1,000+ refund
Some individuals wind up owing the Canada Revenue Agency money when they complete the tax return process, but for the most part, they're typically due a refund - a rather sizeable one, at that. So far this year, the average for those getting their refunds back via check was approximately $1,440, according to the CRA's estimates. Filers refunded by direct deposit got back an average of nearly $1,700. Roughly three-quarters of refunds sent to those who have filed through April 9 has been by direct deposit, with the remaining 24 percent by check.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its speed, the vast majority of filers send their income tax specifics via the internet. Between Feb. 12 and April 9, around 90 percent e-filed their returns, based on the CRA's breakdown of individual tax return statistics for 2018.

Some ineligible for extensions
Although the last day of April is the final day for individual filers, the CRA does grant extensions. However, there are some important caveats to this rule. For starters, those who need more time must make a formal request, which can be done through the CRA's website. Additionally, people who owe money are ineligible, so extensions aren't guaranteed.

Diane Lebouthillier, minister of national revenue, stressed professionals are standing by to assist those with the process.

"Our government is working tirelessly to improve the Agency's services so that filing income tax returns is easy, quick and secure," Lebouthillier explained.