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Filing Your Own Taxes In Canada? Here Are 3 Key Tips From A Specialist

A guide for the confused.

Contributing Writer
Filing Your Own Taxes In Canada? Here Are 3 Key Tips From A Specialist

Tax season is here, and you've decided this is the year where you're going to file your own taxes in Canada but you're confused as hell. Or maybe you do your own every year and it's still always a major headache.

What can you deduct? TFSA or RRSP? Does working from home still mean anything? There are many questions.

Listen, you're not alone — doing your taxes yourself can be extremely frustrating, which is why software companies like UFile exist, to help make our lives a little bit easier during this hectic season.

MTL Blog spoke with the national tax specialist for UFile, Gerasimos Vittoratos, about things to keep in mind while filing your own taxes.

You can read Vittoratos' tips below.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Tip #1: Get organized

"Whether you're a full-fledged tax expert, tax specialist, or whether you're doing this for yourself, I always tell people to get organized, and to basically make sure that they have all the documents that they need," the national tax specialist said.

Vittoratos advised us to create a pile for all papers tax-related at the beginning of the year.

"January 1st, you create a folder. Anything you suspect is related to your tax return, stick it right in." Then, you'll have everything in the same place when you finally need it.

Vittoratos said the main mistake people make when filing their own tax return is "missed amounts — amounts that they don't have, slips that they don't have, receipts that they don't have." This goes for anyone, even the highest accountant.

"And the reason why I mention that, especially for the pile, is that for example, our slips, we get them only at a certain period of the year. So we're aware. You know, from February till about the first two weeks of March, I'm getting all my slips. I'm getting my employment slip. I'm getting my investment slip, T4s, T5s, everything. But other slips — or receipts in this case — that are related to your tax return, you get them throughout the year."

Tip #2: Have your tax return from the previous year nearby

The second tip Vittoratos provided is to keep a copy of your previous year's return handy once you start filling out your return from this year.

"Most of us work with two screens now. One screen, have your previous year; the other screen, have your current year. And the reason why I say that is, for one, you avoid omissions, which again is the number one mistake that happens on tax returns," he said.

The second reason is that unless you've made a major life change, like going from a student to a worker, then your tax return is likely to look pretty similar from one year to the next.

"Have it next to you, so that way you know that you're not missing anything, that you're not going to miss any information. You can flag it right away. And you're not going to flag it at the end of your production. You'll flag it while you are producing. It's much more frustrating at the end where you think you're done and now you check your previous year's return, like, 'Oh man, I'm missing this.'"

Having it nearby will allow you to spot mistakes as they happen, not all at the end.

Tip #3: Be aware of credits you can apply for

"Every year when the budget comes out, the government always puts goodies in the budget, especially before an election," Vittoratos explained.

And what exactly is a "goodie?" Basically, a credit that you can apply for to allow you to get money back on your tax return, like Canada's work-from-home credit.

If you don't know about it yet, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is offering a tax credit to people who worked from home during the 2021 tax year. This work from home credit is a flat rate method, where you can claim a deduction of $2/day that you worked at home last year "due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Eligible Canadian employees can now claim up to $500 for working from home in 2021, for a maximum of 250 working days, which is up $100 from last year.

Vittoratos stressed being "aware of what the government announces as changes when the budget comes out because you could be getting money right away. You could actually benefit from that right away."

And who doesn't want free money, right?

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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