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COVID-19’s Effect On Canadian Tax Season 2019
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At this time of year, Canadians are typically busy getting all their financial documents together and ready to be submitted to their accountants and tax specialists in preparation for tax season. The typical deadline for filing your taxes is April 30, but this year is a little different.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted just about every aspect of life for Canadians and others around the world, and that includes tax season. Schools and businesses have closed down. People are being asked to stay home. Stock markets are crashing. It’s an unprecedented time that is affecting global economies and putting the lives of billions of people at risk.
Thankfully, the Canadian government has stepped in to help people not only stay physically safe but also to help ease the financial burden that COVID-19 – as this virus is officially named – has inflicted. All three levels of government are playing their part in implementing different measures to help Canadians deal with this threat, and one of the many ways that the federal government is doing their part is by pushing the tax deadline out.
Tax Filing Date Change
Rather than having to adhere to the typical tax deadline of April 30, Canadians are being given a little more time to file their taxes. Here are the new deadlines for various entities.
The return filing due date for individuals (not trusts) will be deferred to June 1, 2020. That said, individuals who will be receiving benefits under the Canada Child Benefit or the GSTC are encouraged not to put off filing their taxes to make sure that their entitlements for the following tax year will be appropriately and accurately determined.
Self-employed: The tax return date for self-employed individuals has remained unchanged and must be submitted by June 15, 2020.
Corporations: The due date for filing corporate income tax returns has not been changed for the most part. However, those who would have to file their return between March 18 and June 1, 2020, can now apply by June 1st.
The return tax filing date for Trusts has been deferred until May 1, 2020, for trusts with a taxation year ending December 31, 2019.
Trusts who would have to file their tax return in April or May, now have till June 1st to do so.
Similar to the tax deferral date for individuals in other provinces across Canada, the deadline for filing income tax returns for individuals in Quebec is June 1, 2020.
Date Change For Income Tax Owed/Payments
In addition to having more time to file their taxes, Canadians will also have more time to apply any taxes owed.
All taxpayers will have a lot more time to pay any taxes owed. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is deferring the payment of income taxes until after August 31, 2020, for any amounts owed between today and before September 2020.
The CRA will allow all businesses to defer the payment of income taxes until after August 31, 2020, for amounts owed between today and before September 2020, much like for individuals. This deferment includes tax balances due and instalments according to Part I of the Income Tax Act. Businesses will not have to worry about being penalized with interest on the amounts owed during this time frame.
Individuals and individuals in business in Quebec will have extra time to pay any balances due, as the deadline for payment for taxes owed for the 2019 taxation year is pushed out to July 31, 2020. Anyone required to pay tax instalments will have until July 31, 2020, to make their payments.
Ways to File Your Taxes
Considering the fact that we are all encouraged to practise “social distancing” throughout this pandemic, individuals and businesses are encouraged to seek other ways to file their taxes rather than having to meet face-to-face with their tax specialists. Here are some ways to file your taxes without having to sacrifice your personal space.
You can file your taxes electronically through a variety of software platforms that work on desktops and mobile devices, many of which are free to use. Visit the CRA’s website for a list of these online tools.
If you completed your tax filing on paper for the 2018-2019 taxation year, you should have been automatically mailed the 2019 Income tax package by February 17, 2020. You can view or download these forms by visiting the CRA website or calling the CRA directly at 1-855-330-3305.
File my Return
Eligible individuals with low or fixed incomes will have received an invitation letter from the CRA in the mail by mid-February regarding the use of File My Return, an automated phone service that allows you to complete and file your return over the phone free of charge.
Ways to File Your Taxes in Quebec
Quebecers have a variety of options when it comes to filing their tax returns as well.
Revenu Québec NetFile
Revenu Québec has authorized various commercial software platforms for individuals to complete their own income tax returns and file them online. No paper copies of the return are required.
For those filing with a tax specialist the traditional way, documents can be dropped off or sent electronically to their offices and taxpayers can sign off on their returns via an electronic signature, which is currently being recognized and accepted as an in-person signature.
Individuals in certain situations may have to file their tax returns by mail, including those with the following restrictions:
- General Restrictions
- Income Restrictions
- Tax Credit Restrictions
- Tax Form Restrictions
Businesses and Tax Audits
The CRA sometimes requires a tax audit of businesses, which is an assessment of tax returns to verify that the income and deductions reported are accurate. But dates surrounding tax audits are a little different for 2020. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, small- or medium-sized businesses will not be contacted by the CRA regarding any post-assessment GST/HST or tax audits for four weeks.
What About Your Benefits and Tax Refunds?
Up until now, we’ve been discussing the obligations of individuals and businesses who owe money to the government in the form of tax payments. But there are many individuals who may be eligible for a tax refund after filing their taxes. The question is, will there be a delay in receiving monies owed this year as a result of the current situation?
While individuals and businesses are being given more leeway in the form of deferred tax filing deadlines, those who expect a tax refund are still encouraged to file their taxes sooner rather than later in order to make sure they receive their refunds in a timely manner and to ensure that their benefits and entitlements for the following tax year are properly determined.
In Quebec, the same applies. Individuals who expect a tax refund are encouraged to file their tax returns quickly to obtain their anticipated tax refunds. Revenu Québec will also make sure that the payments to those who receive money from social programs are made on July 1, regardless of the deferral of the tax return filing deadlines.
Where Can You Get Help?
Filing your taxes can be confusing enough, but with the current climate we all find ourselves in, the situation can be even more daunting. And certain groups may find they need some assistance, particularly when it comes to ensuring that they get the benefits and entitlements that they deserve and are entitled to.
The government offers an Outreach Program, which is a no-cost consultation offered to organizations that help educate them and answer any benefit or credit questions, as well as provide information that details the various payments and how to receive them.
Organizations that help people in the following categories may find the Outreach Program helpful:
- People with disabilities
- Indigenous peoples
- Newcomers to Canada
- People who are part of the shelter community
- Low-income Canadians
Learn more by visiting the CRA’s Outreach Program website.
When is the 2019 tax season deadline?
Will there be a delay in receiving my tax refund this year?
Will I have to file my taxes for 2020?
As of the time of this writing, the coronavirus pandemic is in its early stages. There’s no telling how long this situation will last and whether or not it will worsen. While every effort is being made to control the spread of the virus, only time will tell where things will go in the near future. As such, anything can change, including decisions made by the CRA regarding tax filings. Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in this field by staying tuned to the news and checking back on the CRA and Revenu Québec websites.
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