NETFILE for the win
There’s not much we don’t do online, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has gone digital too. We love a new pen as much as the next guy, but most of us use a computer to file our taxes, and the CRA is all about encouraging us to file online.
What is NETFILE?
NETFILE is the online filing system that allows you to send your tax return directly to the CRA. You can file online using a software product like H&R Block’s online tax software, or any software as long as it’s NETFILE Certified. To make online filing as easy as possible, they’ve even streamlined the security process to no longer require an access code, so you can get going on your taxes even faster.
Millions of Canadians already use NETFILE to file their own tax returns. The CRA wants as many people as possible to join the online filing party, but it’s good to make sure you meet all their requirements before giving NETFILE a go. Here are a few things that might mean you’ll be filing the old-fashioned way:
- Date of birth: If it’s your first time ever filing a return with the CRA, they might not have your complete date of birth on record, so you wouldn’t be able to use NETFILE.
- Bankruptcy: If things got a bit messy and you declared bankruptcy in 2015 or 2016, you’ll need to file a hard copy return, and won’t be able to use NETFILE.
- Non-residents: Living life in a faraway land or even just south of the border? Stock up on stamps, because if you aren’t in Canada, you can’t use NETFILE. And, if you have income from a business established outside your province or territory of residence, that prevents you from using NETFILE, too.
- Employment income outside of Canada: If you’re paid by an international organization, like a cruise ship, you can’t file your return electronically and will need to mail it in.
- Kids: If people sometimes mistake your family outings for a class field trip, and you are claiming more than 22 kids as dependents, you can’t file using NETFILE.
- Late returns: As of today, NETFILE only accepts 2013, 2014 and 2015 tax returns. If you’re trying to catch up on any earlier returns, snail mail is the way to go.
There are a few other restrictions when it comes to using NETFILE and some are based on the provincial credits being claimed. Confirm whether these apply to you here before making your decision on how to file.
What NETFILE can’t do
There’s so much that NETFILE can help us do, but it’s really a tool designed to help us file online. Here are some things that are outside of NETFILE’s power:
Amended Returns: If you’re making any adjustments to a return you’ve already filed, you can’t put this through using NETFILE. You’ll need to contact the CRA directly.
Personal information: The NETFILE system can’t be used to change your personal information with the CRA. If you need to update your address, contact the CRA directly or login via My Account to make any updates your file.
Ready to make the switch?
If you are still filing via good ol’ pen and paper, the time has probably come to at least look into filing online. Reducing paper waste and not having to send in all of your receipts are just some benefits. The biggest plus? Using NETFILE usually results in a speedy processing time, so you will get your refund even faster.