For most of us, tax season may now be a distance memory and our biggest tax concern is how to spend that refund: paying down debt, setting aside a little extra for retirement or perhaps investing in that new 4K flat-screen TV?
But what if you suddenly realize you need to make a change to your return, perhaps as a result of an errant donation slip that just turned up? Luckily, it’s very easy to do and does not involve filing an amended return. Just be sure to wait until you receive your notice of assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency before requesting the change.
The fastest way to adjust your return is online using the “My Account” feature on the CRA website and choosing the “Change My Return” option. You simply enter and submit any changes to the return you are correcting.
You can also adjust your tax return by completing and mailing Form T1-ADJ “T1 Adjustment Request” (which is available online) to your Tax Centre office, or simply send a signed letter to the CRA providing the details of your request, your social insurance number, address and daytime telephone number and the tax year you wish to change.
For paper adjustments, the CRA also requests that you mail in any supporting documents for the changes you want to make, in addition to supporting documents for your original claim, if you haven’t submitted them previously. For example, if you’re amending your return for a forgotten donation slip, you have to submit all your charitable donation receipts to support your claim, rather than just the amended slip.
The CRA aims to process your online request within two weeks, whereas a request received by mail could take up to eight weeks to process. The CRA also warns taxpayers that these processing times may be longer if your request is sent in spring or early summer, needs more review or the CRA needs to contact you for more information or documentation.
Once the CRA’s review is complete, the taxman will send you a “notice of reassessment” showing any changes made to your return or a letter explaining why it did not make the changes you requested.
You can ask the CRA to change your return for any of the 10 previous calendar year: So, a request made in 2016 must relate to the 2006 or a later tax year to be considered.
But the idea of needing to change your tax return as the result of discovering a missing T-slip or donation receipt could one day become a thing of the past if the trend towards automatic tax return filing progresses further.
You’ll recall that this tax season saw the introduction of the “Auto-fill my return” service, which allowed Canadians to automatically complete certain parts of their tax return when they file online using certified tax preparation software that includes the service. The auto-fill program draws from information the CRA already has on file related to T3, T4 and T5 slips, RRSPs, as well as various other amounts.
At a conference held in Toronto this week to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Canadian Income Tax Act, a panel discussed the future of tax administration, envisioning a day when the CRA could get most tax information electronically. For example, perhaps charities could electronically file copies of their donation receipts with the CRA, removing the need for taxpayers to manually enter each receipt into the tax software.