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The annual tradition of gathering your paperwork and remitting your financial information to the government kicks off on February 21, with a deadline of April 30.
Depending on your situation, there will be different paperwork that you need. If you’re self-employed, a caretaker, or a student, your documents differ from a pensioner or full-time employee. One document, however, gets issued to every tax-paying Canadian is a Notice of Assessment (NOA). In this article, we detail everything you need to know about this important document.
What Is A Notice Of Assessment (NOA)?
A Notice of Assessment is the government’s evaluation of your income tax return. After you file your taxes each year, the Canada Revenue Agency sends you an NOA. It proves that the government assessed your return and calculated any discrepancies. The documents state whether you are entitled to a credit or if you owe the government money.
In some cases, you may be entitled to an extra benefit, or should have received more for a benefit you already get. In other situations, you can discover that you owe money from underpaying for a program, such as GST/HST. The NOA also dictates your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) deductible limit for the preceding year. It’s an essential document that is best to file away carefully with the rest of your tax records.
Breakdown Of Your Notice Of Assessment (NOA)
Any government document can feel overwhelming. These notices are full of detailed personal information, technical phrases, and carry the weight of officiality. The good news is that the documents are straightforward once you grow familiar with the layout. There are three main sections on your NOA, plus two additional sections that may appear on certain NOAs:
The account summary portion of your notice displays the final results of your assessment, whether it was a reassessment or an original. It could be a balance owing, net-zero, or a credit on your account. If you filed multiple returns concurrently, the NOA will show the status of those assessments as well. Since Revenue Canada completes the assessments concurrently, all your NOA results get itemized in your account summary.
Tax Assessment Summary
The tax assessment summary provides basic information that the CRA used to complete its calculations. This portion of the NOA is important because it’s used by various agencies to confirm your identity. Among the organizations that rely on lines 15000 and 43700 of your tax return are national and provincial student loan services and banks. These numbers represent your total income and total deductible income. These numbers serve as the key metrics for the CRA’s assessments.
This part of the document is also how you can check for any changes. Compare the numbers on your return versus the notice to determine if there were any changes. The section details any interest or penalty assessed based on your amount owing or refunds. Anything owing from a prior assessment also appears in this section.
What is line 10100 (or 101) on your tax return?
Explanation Of Changes And Other Important Information
The next section in your Notice of Assessment is so named because it offers clarifying information as to any changes the CRA made. The purpose of this portion is to provide any necessary information, such as ways to dispute any changes or rectify any information. Recipients get a full 90 days from the date on the notice to make any disputes. It supplies information on how to add new information and submit for a reassessment.
RRSP Deduction Limit Statement
The final section on your NOA is the RRSP deduction limit statement. It contains all the information relevant to your registered retirement savings for the previous year. Carefully attending to this information ensures that you don’t incur any penalties and that you can make the most of all your different accounts. This section diverges into the following sections:
- Deduction Limit: This refers to the amount you can deduct for the following year. The statement includes the calculation for the deduction cap, a metric determined by your tax returns and other information on file.
- Contribution Room: The amount of money you can contribute during the following year is called your available contribution room. Your contribution space is your deduction limit, less any unused contributions from previous years. The unused contribution portions are on your NOA for ease of reference.
- Excess Contribution: This happens when you contribute more than your allowable deductions, meaning you over-contributed to the account. In many cases, you may owe tax on this overage. By monitoring your contribution statements on your notices, you can avoid penalties for overcontributions.
Home Buyers’ Plan Statement
In some situations, this section will succeed your RRSP details. It relates to participants in the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). This portion of the notice indicates any balance left to repay and your minimum repayment amount for the following year. The minimum repayment is a part of the balance for repayment, so those paying less than the minimum must include the difference as RRSP income in their tax return.
Lifelong Learning Plan statement
Participants of the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) have this section on their Notice of Assessment. It indicates any balance owing and the minimum payment required for the following year. As with the HBP, if you pay less than the required minimum, you must note this as income from your RRSP.
Where Can You Find Your NOA Statement?
A Notice of Assessment proves that Revenue Canada went through your tax return and made it official. The government keeps these records on file. To obtain your Notice of Assessments, there are two main approaches you can take:
The Canada Revenue Agency has migrated most of its services to an online portal called the CRA My Account. It allows you to authenticate your identity and log in using partnered financial institutions (including most major banks). Within this system, you can access any Notice of Assessment issued from 2004 onward (if you use a PC). The mobile application gives access to NOAs issued after 2015. If you are waiting for a Notice of Assessment, you can subscribe to the email alerts that inform you when the NOA arrives in your inbox.
If time is not the issue, or if you require a statement from prior to 2004, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency directly. You can phone the service or visit a Service Canada location in person. They place an order for the specific Notice of Assessment. It enters a queue, then an agent prints and mails it to the address Revenue Canada has on file.
When Will You Get Your Notice Of Assessment?
Waiting for documents can be stressful, even with the digital age adding efficiency. A clear understanding of how long you’ll wait is important. To this end, the Canada Revenue Agency established a set of standards for service. While they don’t guarantee that the documents will reach you within this term, it serves as a guideline for what to expect. The standards are as follows:
Per the CRA standards, if your T1 individual income tax return was submitted electronically, then you can expect a Notice of Assessment within a period of two weeks. The standard applies only to returns filed on time and does not take into account extenuating circumstances on the government’s end, nor for complex filing situations such as multiple tax year returns. The CRA attempts to meet the two-week mark at least 95% of the time.
If you filed your income tax on paper, prior to the due date, then you can expect a Notice of Assessment within a period of eight weeks. This timer starts once the government receives your return, rather than the day you sent it through the post. Since the service standard was established in 2018-2019, the official site includes a caveat for COVID-19, increasing the expectation to 10 to 12 weeks.
Are you having your taxes audited by the government?
Checking The Status Of Your Notice Of Assessment
If you’ve waited longer than the two-week period noted on the CRA website, then there are a couple of steps to take. First, navigate to your portal on the CRA MyAccount and check for your Notice of Assessment. The portal includes all of your mail, copies of essential information, and is a quick and easy way to interact with Revenue Canada (without waiting on hold).
What If You Don’t Agree With Changes On Your NOA?
If you don’t agree with the changes on your Notice of Assessment, then there are several things you can do. The first is to provide any extra documentation that would change the circumstances leading to that assessment. For instance, if you can substantiate a deduction that you originally claimed and was later assessed as incorrect, the CRA can conduct a reassessment.
In situations where you have nothing new to add, yet still believe that the CRA is incorrect in its findings, then you can file an objection or dispute. This applies to two specific situations:
- You believe that the CRA misinterpreted the facts.
- You believe that the CRA misapplied the law.
To register your dispute, follow the decision tree and once you decide to register an objection formally, you can do so here. If the CRA agrees with your dispute, wholly or in part, then they will correct the error and send you a reassessment. The deadline for an income tax objection is one year after the return filing date. For Notices of Assessments, you have 90 days from the date on your assessment to file an objection. To ensure that you don’t miss a notice, you can sign up for emails from the CRA when it’s delivered to your digital mailbox.
How long should you keep your Notice of Assessment?
Why can’t I find my Notice of Assessment?
How long after I received my Notice of Assessment will I get my refund?
Notices of Assessments comprise personally identifying financial information. They serve an important role in household accounting and provide proof of your tax filings. Due to the sensitive nature of these documents, keep them in a private, secure place. If you use the online service or have digital backups, protect the files with a strong password.
You can use your Notices of Assessment as proof of tax filings when getting loans, as substantiating documentation when you vote, and for many other purposes. Provided you keep track of your NOAs, you can ensure that the government has accurate records, that you pay the correct amount of taxes, and always have your information up to date.
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