It’s income tax time again! Learn important rules before it’s too late, especially if it's the first time you're filing taxes.
Income tax returns are forms you fill out and send to the Quebec and federal governments. In the forms, you state the money you earned in the year and give other financial information.
Who has to file tax returns? Are the Quebec and federal rules the same? What's the deadline? What happens if you’re late or make a mistake?
Quebec and Federal Returns: Are the rules the same?
Most of the basic rules are the same, such as the deadline for filing and your duty to declare your income. But some rules are different, for example, the rules on deductions and tax credits. Deductions are amounts you can deduct from your income. Tax credits are amounts you can deduct from tax you have to pay. You can learn more by visiting the websites of Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency.
Who Must File Income Tax Returns
Here are examples of people who must file tax returns:
- anyone who earned income in 2016 and owes taxes
- anyone who has to make payments to the government for public programs, such as the Quebec drug insurance plan
Also, liquidators of estates (executors) have to file taxes for the people who died. In some cases, they must also file returns for income earned by the estate.
Benefits of Filing Your Returns
Even if you didn’t earn any income, or you think you don’t have to pay any income tax, it is still a good idea to file your taxes.
For example, you can get some government benefits only if you file. This is the case for these benefits:
- the guaranteed income supplement for seniors
- child assistance benefits
Also, you can postpone using some tax credits until a year when you have more income. This is the case for tuition fees.
Deadline and Possible Fines
As a general rule, April 30 is the deadline for filing your taxes.
This year April 30 is a Sunday, so you have until the following Monday (May 1st) to file your taxes.
If you file after the deadline, you might have to pay a fine (penalty). The fine is 5% of the income tax you owe plus 1% for each month that passes until you file your returns, up to a maximum of 12 months.
Employer Must Give You Your Tax Slips
Your employer must give you your T4 and Relevé 1 slips by the end of February.
Paying for Mistakes
If you make a mistake, the government can claim the amount of tax you really owe. You might also have to pay a fine if you made the mistake on purpose.
You have a duty to report the correct amounts. This is true even if an accountant or specialist prepared the returns for you.
Did You Know?
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program helps people on limited incomes file their taxes. The Program also hosts free tax preparation clinics.