How Do You Fill Out Your Income Tax Forms?

I was on the mysunlife.ca website recently and they were running a poll on how people complete their annual income tax forms. Some of the results were a surprise to me. If you want to, you can visit the site and enter your vote on how you fill out your income tax forms.

I decided to select “I do it myself, on paper.” That’s because I always calculate our taxes on paper first. Until last year, I also

submitted the returns on paper by mail. Starting last year, though, I started using NETFILE. In 2013 I used StudioTax 2012 and GenuTax Standard 2012 to submit our income tax returns. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do this year.


Do Only Dinosaurs Complete Their Income Tax Forms By Hand?

If so, there are a lot of us Curmudgeonlyasaurs! According to the SunLife results for April 9, 2014, 611 of 5439 respondents (11.23%) still do their math with a calculator and a pencil.

Another 414 people have a family member do their taxes. It doesn’t specify HOW that family member does them. So there may be a few more pencil pushers there.

How Many People Have Been Intimidated Into Using a Tax Preparation Service?

It was a bit disheartening to see that 805 or 5439 people use a tax-preparation service. That doesn’t seem like a great option to me.

  • If you have a low income and find the forms too complex, there are volunteer groups who help fill out returns in most communities.
  • If your taxes are very complicated, you’d do better with an accountant than a tax-prep service because a tax accountant will be more familiar with strategies to save the most, in my not-at-all humble opinion.

People may also be using these services to get an immediate cash or cheque payment of their tax refund. That’s also a shame because the Canada Revenue Agency usually issues refunds within 2 weeks of receiving a NETFILEd return. By waiting the two weeks, a person wouldn’t have to share their refund with the tax prep agency.

How Many People Sensibly Are Using a Tax Accountant?

Speaking of Accountants, 1288 of 5439 people used an accountant or advisor to file their taxes. Hopefully these people all had relatively complex tax returns.

Isn’t Anyone Using StudioTax or GenuTax to File a Tax Return?

Of course there are people using tax software. In my opinion too many of them are BUYING their tax software, but even so.

These people fall under the ambiguously titled “I file my own return electronically.” I think that is meant to say “I use a computer program to calculate my taxes and then I personally NETFILE my return.” It doesn’t actually say that, though. Technically, if you used a tax-prep service, a family member, or an accountant to calculate your taxes, you could still file your own return electronically.

Don’t Forget to PAY Your Taxes On Time!

No matter how you calculate your tax return, be sure you pay your taxes by April 30. The government will be only too happy to start charging you interest. Actually, given the virus problem at the CRA website, you may have an extra day or two to pay this year. I’m not sure. I know they’ve extended the time to file by a day or two, but that may or may not change when you have to actually pay.

The current quote on the CRA website says “The Minister of National Revenue has confirmed that interest and penalties will not be applied to individual taxpayers filing their 2013 tax returns after April 30, 2014 for a period equal to the length of this service interruption.”

I’m playing it safe and paying by April 30.

As an aside, one of my dearest relatives says she thinks the CRA opens all the envelopes and cashes all the cheques long before they start looking at the returns. Do you agree? Has your cheque cleared the same day you put it in the mail?


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How do you complete and file your income tax returns? Do you write it out, sign it, paperclip on your receipts and mail it late on April 30? Has your tax payment cheque ever cleared your bank the same day you dropped the envelope in the mail? Please share your views with a comment.

4 thoughts on “How Do You Fill Out Your Income Tax Forms?

  1. I used to use paper forms when I got them in the mail, do all the calculations myself, and then enter into StudioTax, mainly as a double check.

    They got rid of the paper forms, and I don’t want to waste ink printing .. so only software now. My paranoia is unsated.

    • If you wanted the paper forms you can order them online for free and they will mail them promptly. I get a set mailed out because I like browsing through the guides, especially the business income guide, for any changes.

      Either way works though!

  2. We used to do them by hand up until last year, when I managed to find all forms and e-file for free… Not sure how I managed that actually, but I think the post office gave me a paid package for free, when they ran out of paper copies. this year we bought Turbo tax Premium ed., because of all the fancy investments we… I mean, I have. this year was the first year we were ahead of the game, and had refund back mid March :). I do not like using the software though as I have noticed the wizards skip key things I manage to claim, so I still do the manual method as a double check to ensure I’m getting what I know I am entitled to. – Cheers.

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