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

(Natalia Cuevas-Huaico - Kelowna Capital News)
Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other ventilation measures

Hikers are still able to climb to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, but the paved road to the upper parking lot will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon and all day on Sundays. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland park partially closed to vehicle traffic

Giant’s Head Mountain Park gates will be closed to cars until noon

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Young cyclists from Quebec have not been riding single file on Naramata’s narrow and windy roads, causing the ire of locals worried for their safety and theirs. (Dan Moskaluk)
Quebec cyclists bad road behaviour causing stir in Penticton

The young cycling group illegally riding two-abreast on Naramata’s narrow roads

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

Most Read