Canada Revenue Agency: Is the Tax Deadline Delayed for 2021?
January 27, 2021
COVID-19 brought sudden economic disruptions in 2020 and prompted the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to issue tax alerts. The early measures to help Canadian taxpayers cope with the health crisis were the tax filing and tax payment deadlines for the income year 2019.

Instead of April 30, 2020, the tax agency moved the tax filing deadline for individuals and corporations to June 1, 2020. For tax payments, the deadline was deferred to September 1, 2020, to give Canadians more time to prepare. The CRA didn’t charge penalties and interest, including the late-filing penalty, on tax returns filed by September 1, 2020.

Tax deadline in 2021

In 2021, it appears the CRA will stick to the usual deadline. Thus, the tax filing and tax payment deadlines for the income year 2020 is April 30, 2020. If you’re self-employed or have a spouse or a common-law partner who is self-employed, you have until June 15, 2021 to file your tax return. However, you must still pay all taxes due by April 30, 2021.

File your 2020 taxes early

The CRA is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic could delay a taxpayer’s ability to file a return. The agency encourages you to file early this year to prevent delay in tax assessment or late release of refund, benefits, and other tax credits.

Also, the CRA advises taxpayers to sign up for a direct deposit. The agency has many Canadian financial institution partners that offer CRA direct deposit enrollment online. By filing your tax return online or using the CRA’s digital services, you practice social distancing and limit potential exposure to the more lethal COVID-19 variants.

Most taxpayers should have their tax slips and receipts by the end of February. Collate your information slips such as the T4, receipts, previous year’s notice of assessment, and a copy of the 2019 tax return. If you don’t have your tax slip, obtain it from your CRA My Account. You can file your return online beginning on February 22, 2021.

Profitable investment

Aside from the various tax credits, Canadians have profitable investment options in the stock market. Investing in telecom giant BCE (TSX:BCE)(NYSE:BCE) can boost family income. Canada’s largest telecommunications company pays a hefty 6.05% dividend.

BCE is also a recession-proof asset and therefore appeals to both young and old investors. In particular, millennials can start with a modest capital or use their Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution limit in 2021 to build wealth over time.

Expect BCE to be at the front and centre of the evolving modern communications system. Through the 5G technology, this $49.5 billion company would have a scalable network that can seamlessly adapt to meet shifting consumer demands, which traditional architectures can no longer address.

Many industries and geographies will benefit from the lightning-speed of 5G. Even rural areas in Canada will have access to high-speed internet that wired connections can’t provide. As an industry leader, BCE has plenty of upsides. Analysts forecast the price to climb 26%, from $54.74 to $69, in the next 12 months.

Tax extension not likely

The CRA shows no sign of extending the tax filing and tax payment deadlines like last year. It would be best to file your return early to avoid paying needless penalties and interest.

The post Canada Revenue Agency: Is the Tax Deadline Delayed for 2021? appeared first on The Motley Fool Canada.

Christopher Liew, CFA

‎Tue‎, ‎January‎ ‎26‎, ‎2021‎ ‎9‎:‎42‎ ‎AM·3 min read
Watchdog sees taxpayer complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season
January 25, 2021

Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep spike in complaints compared to one year ago, delivering an early warning about how complicated returns should be handled this year.

François Boileau says the number of complaints from taxpayers about the Canada Revenue Agency was up 93 per cent in December from the same month in 2019.

Urgent requests, for people in dire financial straits, are up 120 per cent since the start of the pandemic, he says.

Mr. Boileau says the statistics paint a portrait of the difficult circumstances some Canadians find themselves in as a result of COVID-19, and the need for the agency to improve services for the coming tax season.

He says too many Canadians still spend hours trying to get through to a call centre agent.

Mr. Boileau adds that delays are especially frustrating for people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year and are now trying to sort out whether they have to repay some of the aid.

Just a few weeks ago, the CRA sent out letters to 441,000 people questioning their eligibility for the CERB, and warning they may owe back some of the payments. The Liberals have promised leniency for people who will have problems paying the money back, but have yet to say what options will be available.

Mr. Boileau noted that some callers continue to complain about waiting five hours or more to speak with an agent.

He says he is worried the CRA won’t be able to meet response-time standards as the calendar ticks closer to what will likely be a complicated tax season due to the pandemic.

“I hope it [won’t] be,” Mr. Boileau says. “They are preparing for it. They know what’s going on and they’re taking all the necessary steps.

While the pandemic has been a focus of Mr. Boileau in his first few months as ombudsperson, his office continues to work away on a review of how the CRA has handled the processing of Canada Child Benefit payments.

Mr. Boileau’s predecessor, Sherra Profit, launched the review of the CCB in late 2019 after three years of flagging overly stringent eligibility rules that prevented payments to some of Canada’s most vulnerable families.

In some cases, newcomer families to Canada haven’t receive child benefits because they can’t get needed documents, such as a note from a school or family doctor. In other situations, women fleeing domestic violence have felt like they need to get their partner’s signatures on forms and other information about custody – despite the government promising that wouldn’t be the case.

Mr. Boileau says some of these situations add complications for the CRA, which has to take time to sort things out.

“It takes time and time is of the essence with the CCB,” he says.

“It’s really touching the lives of citizens, taxpayers that are in a vulnerable state of mind.”

Mr. Boileau says his officials are currently reviewing answers from the agency to some additional questions, although there is no firm timeline on when the review will be complete.

The office of the federal Auditor-General is doing its own review of the CCB, which it expects to publish this year. According to the Auditor-General’s website, the review will focus on whether recipients were eligible for the benefits, and that payments are made in a timely and accurate manner.

Working from home this year? You may be eligible for a new tax deduction
January 03, 2021

TORONTO -- With more Canadians working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has simplified how employees can claim home office expenses on their personal income tax return for 2020.

The CRA announced on Tuesday that those who worked from home more than 50 per cent of the time over at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction.

The agency says the use of a shorter qualifying period will ensure that more Canadians can benefit from the deduction.

"The Government of Canada remains committed to helping Canadians cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by making the home expenses deduction more accessible, and easier to claim," Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier said in a press release.

According to the CRA, a "new temporary flat rate method" will allow eligible Canadians to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked from home because of COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400.

Under this new method, the CRA says Canadians will not have to get certain tax forms signed by their employers to be eligible.

To simplify the claims process for Canadians, the CRA says it has made amendments to its work-from-home tax forms (Form T2200S and Form T777S) and has launched a calculator to assist with the calculation of eligible home office expenses. A list of all eligible home office expenses is available online.

"The temporary flat rate method and the new user-friendly calculator will make it easier for more Canadians to claim the deductions and is one more demonstration of the CRA’s commitment to ensuring our tax system meets the needs of Canadians," Lebouthillier said in the release.

The CRA notes that the new rules to the home office expenses deduction is only applicable to the 2020 tax year.

As well, the agency says employees with larger claims for home office expenses can still use the existing detailed method to claim a deduction if preferred.

The CRA reported that 174,210 Canadians applied for the work-space-in-the-home deduction for the 2018 tax year, which accounted for $271,866,000 or an average of $1,561 per person.

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 2.4 million Canadians who do not normally work from home were doing so in October.

Published Tuesday, December 15, 2020 2:16PM EST