A tax return form is pictured in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you. Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you.

Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper.

The people who prefer paper to online are getting particular attention because they tend to be Canadians whose tax files are needed to send them essential benefit payments.

There are seniors who need old-age security, parents eligible for the Canada Child Benefit and first-time filers who might be eligible for a new benefit for low-income workers.

Because of that, the CRA has made changes to the paper tax booklet to further simplify language, add notes about new benefits for the 2019 tax year, and include a checklist so nothing gets missed.

Frank Vermaeten, the CRA’s assistant commissioner, said the agency wants to make sure those who prefer paper are still comfortable using it amid wider pushes to electronic filing.

“Certainly, we promote electronic filing — we see a lot of benefits for Canadians in doing that, but we also want to be sure that paper filers are served and served well,” Vermaeten said in an interview.

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings.

Even at the current rate people are shifting to digital filing and away from paper, Vermaeten said the CRA could see paper files for another 20 years.

The agency’s tax machine fired up in earnest Monday, with new staff joining call centres that run at extended hours.

About 1.6 million printed tax-return booklets are also being mailed out that include an option for some to file by phone if their incomes are largely unchanged from year to year, such as seniors.

Staff have also been hired to manage paper filers, including a team that searches for errors and corrects them.

Vermaeten said a new service will see staff input forgotten T4 slips, for instance, on paper returns filed before the deadline, to save taxpayers interest penalties.

The deadline to file taxes without penalty is the end of April, and the CRA will be processing returns through to June — just as it starts planning for tax season next year.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

taxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Suspect arrested after allegedly setting house fire in Cedar

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road on Thursday

CVRD cancels all recreation and theatre programs through end of April

Community centre and recreation programs cancelled through end of April

Ladysmith Rotary Club donates 2,000 gloves to Ladysmith Health Centre

Due to a typo, the Rotary Club ended up with 3,500 gloves. Enough to last them 10 years

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Ongoing list of Ladysmith COVID-19 cancellations and closures

Everything in Ladysmith that has been impacted by COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Most Read