Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019
Preparing my annual tax return is not one of my favourite things to do—and likely not yours either.
In the past, I left this chore to the last minute. And that made it even less fun—scurrying around in a mad panic to gather all the information slips, tax certificates and charitable donation receipts, while trying to figure out what's new in the tax guide. I'm sure many of you can relate.
With age and maturity, I've become less of a procrastinator and reaped the benefits of preparing my taxes earlier. I've been able to avoid the stress of the last-minute rush, plan my finances better and even find some deductions I didn't know I qualified for.
With the rules and regulations changing every year, it takes some time to review and digest the information in the Tax Guide and determine which deductions, benefits and carry-forward opportunities you qualify for. By not taking the time up front to give this document an in-depth read, I was missing some important deduction opportunities.
But that's not all I was missing. Back when I was a salaried employee, I was usually in a position to receive a refund. As a last-minute filer, I was denying myself the chance to get that money earlier and put it to good use. How silly is that?
Here's the thing. I'm still not quite as good as I could be with my early filing. Although I prepare my draft hard copy of my tax return early enough (I'm an old-fashioned type who files by mail), I typically hold on to it until a few days before the deadline when I do the “final" copy.
That's because I always have this faint hope that I might discover yet another deduction I'm entitled to before April 30 or—on the flip-side—something I neglected to calculate earlier. Either way, I figured that by waiting until the final week before completing the final draft of my return, I'd have enough time to either find that extra deduction or correct that mistake.
If you're thinking of doing the same, the earliest date to file electronically is February 25, 2019. (If you're self-employed, you can file as late as June 15 but you still have to pay your taxes in full by April 30.) Or, if you prefer the low-tech way, you can pick up the tax package at any Canada Post outlet across Canada starting early February. Just be sure to have all your slips, certificates and receipts before you file.
How nice it'll be to have it well behind me and sail through the end of April while the late starters are drowning in a sea of paperwork!