Almost half of Canadians taking advantage of tax deadline extension, survey finds

National Post


It seems that millions of Canadians are taking advantage of the extended June 1, 2020 deadline to file their 2019 personal tax returns. The normal April 30 deadline, which passed Thursday, was formally extended last month as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-employed taxpayers and their spouse or partner still have until June 15, 2020 to file.

A new survey commissioned by H&R Block Canada reveals that 45 per cent of Canadians have yet to file their tax returns. This is consistent with the Canada Revenue Agency’s filing statistics which show that, as of April 27, 2020, the CRA had received nearly 15.5 million personal tax returns for the 2019 tax year, well shy of the 28.4 million total returns filed for the 2018 tax year.

The survey found that 10 per cent of Canadians still aren’t aware the deadline has changed, with 1-in-3 of this group having not yet filed. Of all Canadians who have yet to file, 50 per cent plan to do so after the original deadline but before the new one. While this approach will allow you to avoid penalties for late-filing, H&R Block Canada’s senior expert Lisa Gittens advises to file as soon as possible.“

It’s great that the government has postponed the tax filing deadline for those who need it, but if people need access to their refund, credits and benefits, the sooner they file, the sooner they’ll be able to take advantage of those supports,” said Gittens.

The CRA data show that, to date, approximately 92.1 per cent of returns have been filed electronically. Nearly 85 per cent of the 14.1 million returns processed so far had either no balance owing or a refund, with the average refund being $1,800.

The CRA is continuing to process returns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is encouraging Canadians to file their returns electronically. The CRA recently acknowledged that it is experiencing “significant delays in processing paper income tax and benefit returns.” As a result, the CRA is advising that if you’ve already filed a 2019 paper return that has not yet been processed, you can file it again online using NETFILE certified tax software. Note that this does not include certain returns that the software says must be paper-filed or returns that are excluded from electronic filing.

Finally, a reminder that if you owe money on your 2019 tax return, you have until Sept. 1, 2020 to pay, which is four months later than the usual April 30 deadline. And, if you pay tax by instalments, you now have until Sept. 1, 2020 to pay your June 2020 quarterly personal tax instalment.