Missed the tax deadline? Get to work and file as soon as you can, experts say

OTTAWA – The deadline to file your income tax return for most Canadians has come and gone.

So, if you haven’t already filed your tax return, tax experts say, you’d best get working and file as soon as possible.

EY tax partner Ryan Ball said he’s heard all manner of excuses from late filers.

“We get various different reasons from ‘I forgot’ to ‘I didn’t feel like it,’ to ‘I couldn’t get the information,’ to ‘I didn’t think I was going to owe,'” he said.

The deadline to file your tax return for most Canadians was Monday. However, those that were self-employed last year or who have a spouse who was self-employed have until June 15 to file their return.

But even if you fall into that category, Monday was the deadline to pay any money you may owe on your taxes. If you or your spouse were self-employed last year, but you haven’t fully paid your taxes, you won’t have to pay the late-filing penalty, but you will be charged interest on the amount you owe.

Senior tax analyst Caroline Battista of H&R Block says it’s important to file, even if you don’t think you owe any money, because you may be due more than just your tax return.

GST/HST credits are based on your income as well as your RRSP contribution room and Ottawa’s new child benefit which will replace the universal child care benefit and the Canada child tax benefit later this year.

Battista also says filing your tax return isn’t just about your taxes.

“If you’re hoping to buy a home this year and looking to get a mortgage, that’s what the bank or financial institution is going to be looking for to show your income,” she said.

“In some provinces, what you pay for your provincial medical is also linked to your tax return. There are so many reasons to stay up to date and to keep filing on time.”

And if you owe money on your tax return, the urgency to file your return is even greater because the amount you owe is only going to grow the longer you delay.

The Canada Revenue Agency charges a penalty of five per cent of the balance owing plus one per cent for each full month you’re late in filing your return.

And if being late is something that you’ve done before, it could be even more. If CRA charged you the late-filing penalty on your return for 2012, 2013, or 2014, the amount doubles.

The penalty on for the amount owed on your 2015 tax return may be 10 per cent, plus two per cent for each full month you are late.

Ball noted that CRA does have some leeway and may waive some or part of the interest and penalties for those who file late due to certain extraordinary circumstances such as medical emergencies or because of something CRA has done.

But, he said, those types of exemptions are limited.

“Those types of applications do take time and expense to do, so they’d have to be in a fairly significant penalty to warrant the effort,” he said.