Top 10 Things You Need to Do Before Filing Your Taxes

This post is sponsored by UFile. All views and opinions expressed represent my own.

Tax season is officially upon us, and I am so happy to be joining forces with UFile to share helpful tips and advice on how to get your taxes done the easiest way possible.

Throughout the next few months I’ll be sharing posts specifically tailored for tax season, so to kick things off here are the top 10 things you need to do before filing your taxes.

1. Get All of Your Documents Organized

The key to making tax season a breeze is by staying organized. If you have all of your documents scattered around your house, it can get overwhelming and you may want to delay doing your taxes because of it (causing you more stress down the line).

Luckily I’ve whipped up this handy Tax Preparation Checklist that tells you exactly what documents you need to get your taxes started.

2. Scan All of Your Documents

This may seem a bit time-consuming if you have a lot of documents to scan, however this is a great way to digitally archive everything and to make things more searchable.

Wouldn’t you rather type in a few keywords into your computer to find the document you want instead of riffling through a pile of receipts, bills and forms?

3. Open an Online CRA Account

Having an online CRA account will make doing your taxes so much easier. If you can’t find last year’s Notice of Assessment, need to change your last name because you got married or forget how much room you have left in your RRSP, your account will have all the answers for you.

Visit the CRA’s website to find out how to open your account.

4. Take Note of What Tax Credits You’re Eligible For

The tax rules change every year and so does what tax credits are available. You may already know about the big ones like charitable donations and public transit, but many people forget about medical expenses as tax credits. Did you know you might be able to claim your new eye glasses? Did you know that if you’re celiac you can claim gluten-free products?

There’s actually a lot of medical expenses you can claim that you may not be aware of. Take a look at this in-depth list on the CRA’s website.

5. Be Aware of What Tax Credits You Can Carry Over

There are a number of tax credits you can carry forward to a future year. For instance, if you have tuition credits to claim but only need to use a portion to pay off the taxes you owe, you can carry those credits over to a future year.

You can also transfer credits to your spouse/common-law partner or your or your spouse/common-law partner’s parent or grandparent. For more information on tuition credit carry-overs and transfers, click here.

6. Optimize Your Taxes by Filing at the Same Time As Your Partner

You can do this either by using the same tax accountant or by using the feature on UFile itself (it’s as easy as clicking a check box).

By filing at the same time as your spouse/common-law partner, you’ll be able to help each other out in terms of tax credits and deductions so you can get the most money back in your tax returns.

7. Read the Tax Software Guide

ufile-cover-artBefore filing online with tax software like UFile, it’s recommended to read the user guide before diving in. UFile isn’t just a program that let’s you file your taxes yourself, it’s also designed to teach you how to get the best outcome by filing your taxes smarter.

But to get the best results, you need to read the guide and be an informed tax filer first.

8. Find a Promo Code

Before filing your taxes with any online tax software, do a quick Google search to see if there are any promo codes you can use to bring the cost down.

When I was fresh out of university and about to file online for the first time with UFile, I did just that and ended up saving 15% (which made a big difference at the time).

9. Find Out Which Tax Deadline You Need to File By

That’s right, if you thought there was just one deadline for your taxes, you were wrong. The first deadline is April 30. This is the deadline by which you need to file your taxes and pay any money you owe on your taxes if you are not self-employed (i.e. you are an employee at a company).

If you do not file by that date, you will be charged a penalty fee and if you do not pay your taxes by that deadline you will be charged interest. The second deadline is June 15. This is the filing deadline for anyone who is self-employed (and their spouse/common-law partner).

However, and this is key to remember, if you are self-employed and owe money on your taxes, you still need to pay that amount by April 30 or you will be charged interest.

10. Make a Plan for the Money You Get Back from the Government

Many people see their tax return as free money they can do whatever they want with. The thing is, it’s not free money. Your tax return is your money that you’re getting back from the government because you overpaid on your taxes.

Instead of buying something you don’t need or booking a vacation to Mexico, make the smarter choice by investing it or paying down your debt.

Showing 14 comments
  • Rob

    Ah yes, tax prep time. I remember it well!

    Many (many many) moons ago, when I was your age, Jess, and married and living in Montreal, I used to prepare tax returns – manually (no tax software available back in those days). Not only did I prepare my own tax return but I also prepared them for my wife, as well as for both of her parents. And – since we lived in Quebec – I had to prepare TWO returns for each of us – one federal and one provincial. Talk about annual drudgery! 🙂

    Time passed. Today I don’t prepare anything since my wife and I have “outsourced” the prep of our annual taxes to our daughter (who uses her tax software and some great “what-if” scenarios to great effect). Karma does exist! 🙂

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      I cannot imagine trying to do my taxes manually Rob! That does not sound pleasant.

  • kevin kwan

    Thank you for your advice.

    I am still waiting for my T4s. I really don’t want to do it until the last minute. However, I had many part time job last year.

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Same here, though if I remember last year I didn’t get mine til later in February. You should get yours not later than the end of February, but if you don’t, make sure to follow up with your employer. I’ve had to do that in the past.

  • Peter

    Maybe some of the changes from last year to this year, specifically amounts. Like the increase to the Children’s fitness credit or the increase in child care expense deduction limit. I would be interested in anything like that.

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Absolutely, those are key things to be aware of since there are lots of changes year to year. Highly recommend some of the links to the CRA’s website.

  • Dan

    I’m not able to use the uFile promo code you’ve provided – is there any fine print?

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Hey Dan, are you getting an error or what message are you getting so I can look into this for you?

      • Andrea B

        Promo code does not work : “The discount voucher code is not valid.”

        • Jessica Moorhouse

          Thanks Andrea, I’ll get in touch with my rep from UFile and find a promo code that works for you. 🙂

          • RickB

            Great advice here! I’m getting the same error with the voucher code. I’ve even sent an email to UFile well over one week ago with no reply.

  • Anna

    Thank you for the tips Jessica. I’m kind of new in the country and still don’t really know all this tax stuff. However, last time I did it with UFile and it did a great job, even though I don’t really know what should I fulfill except T4 or my studies paper. Not a student anymore.
    I missed my UFile promo code and the one you mentioned is not working, showing “The discount voucher code is not valid.” Would be great if youhave a chance to provide with another one.

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Thanks Anna, I’ve asked for a new promo code to share so I’ll email you when I get it 🙂

      • Anna

        Thank you!

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