After reading countless similar posts allow me to add my own obtuse point of view on doing your taxes. This is what I have observed over the years from various friends and acquaintances and some of their tax myth and lies, about the CRA and Income Tax.
Tax Myth 1: If you don’t owe money, you don’t need to worry about getting your taxes done in time
First, how the heck do you know that you don’t owe money, if you haven’t done your taxes? If you have done your taxes, and know you don’t owe money, then why don’t you just file your taxes?
Yes, usually the CRA won’t hunt you down if they owe you money, but why do you want to loan the CRA (and thus the government) money if they owe you money?
If you are so bloody sure that you don’t owe money, then do your taxes and be done with them! Do you not do your laundry because you have enough money to buy more clothes?
Tax Myth 2: The CRA doesn’t Have the Same Powers as the IRS
This is true, and a very good thing, since the IRS scares most normal thinking human beings. If the IRS ever took an interest in me, I’d curl up in a ball and hide under my bed. Don’t mistake the CRA for a toothless Abominable Snowman. They can make your life quite miserable if they so choose (and you owe them money). I have received about 5 “we’d like to receive your receipts” letters so far, and each one caused all my sphincters to clench tightly each time I opened the letter (even though I knew I had done nothing wrong).
Simple rule of thumb for most of the world, Don’t Piss Off the Tax Folk!
Tax Myth 3: You Only Have to Scan Your Receipts
I wouldn’t do that if I were you, and you should keep all your receipts for 6 years (at least). You may be able to submit receipts for a “receipt check” on line, but they will want originals for an actual audit.
Tax Myth 4: The CRA Employs Evil Trolls and their Help Line is Mean
Far from it, this is a myth, I work near a CRA office and I have yet to see a single Troll walk into the building, and I have only had very good conversations with their help line folks. Michael James has in fact got helpful hints from the help line (if I remember correctly) so if you aren’t sure call them (but right now, yes you are going to have to wait a while on the line).
My Cousin Did My Taxes He is Liable if Anything is Wrong
Um, no, these are your taxes, and while you could try to claim incompetence as a defense for a bad return, you are in the end responsible for your own return. You have to pay extra to have TurboTax come in with you if you use their software and you are audited, but at the end of it, the buck stops at you!
Tax Myth 5 : Everyone Cheats on their Taxes, It’s Expected
What are you nuts? ’nuff said on that, don’t claim your cat or dog as a dependent, don’t claim tuition for kids that don’t exist and don’t input bogus numbers from your T-4’s, you will get caught! It might be funny to have someone post a comment how they didn’t get caught, so if you have, drop me a line.
Let’s hope these helpful hints get you thinking about your taxes.
I actually want to congratulate the tax department for having a help line that actually helps and you get answered usually in just a few minutes (they say their goal is 2 minutes and I have sometimes (not in the middle of tax season, I agree) got straight through. They have been helpful. Amazing.
I had to deal with them quickly last year over a T3 which I wasn’t expecting arrived after I’d already filed. Once I got through on the phone, they were very pleasant. I also find CRA “My Account” thing super well-designed and user friendly. (And I’m a web developer!) Have to admit (and it’s the weirdest thing in the world to admit), from filing to making a correction to checking balances, I’m surprised at how pleasant my experiences with them have been. Best Buy and Futureshop could learn a thing or two. Wait …from the taxman?! Like I said–“weird”.
Like I said, folks seem to assume that the CRA is full of Money-grubbing Trolls (which it might, who knows), but the folks who answer the phone seem very nice (in my experience)
What is your CRA badge number again 🙂
I work near them, and know some folks who work there, no Trolls on the list yet. I am sure the auditors may not be as friendly, but I can’t really say that for certain either. The CRA is most assuredly not the IRS.