If you’ve just opened your your mailbox (or e-mail inbox) and have a notification from the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Account (or that beige envelope), don’t be intimidated. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of paperwork sent by the CRA.
Notice of Assessment
When your tax return is processed by CRA, they issue a statement that outlines your tax assessment summary (key line numbers and reported amounts such as line 15000, your total income, and line 43700 total income tax deducted) as well as other important info. This statement is called a Notice of Assessment (NOA). If you filed your return electronically via NETFILE, you can expect to receive your NOA in about two weeks. If you paper-filed your return, expect your NOA in about 8 weeks.
Along with those line numbers and amounts, your NOA also contains info you’ll need to know in future years. Unused amounts for capital losses, tuition, etc. are listed on your NOA along with your RRSP and TFSA deduction limits and future repayments due for the Home Buyers Plan and Lifelong Learning Plan. If you’re a CRA My Account holder, these amounts can also be found in the online portal. You might also find a request for installment payments for your personal income taxes for the current tax year.
If you discover an error on your Notice of Assessment, no need to worry. You can submit an adjustment request to have the error fixed. For example, if you realized after you filed your return that you forgot to include your child care expenses, an adjustment request is the way to go.
The Notice of Assessment also carries along with it a very important deadline. If you do not agree with the information on your Notice of Assessment, you have 90 days from the date it’s issued to appeal the information with the CRA under their complaints and disputes section, File an Objection.
Notice of Reassessment
If changes are made to your original tax return (either by you via an adjustment or by CRA), the updated figures appear on a Notice of Reassessment. Similar to a NOA, a Notice of Reassessment includes the tax summary but the changes for certain line numbers and amounts have been made are highlighted.
If you notice an error on your Notice of Reassessment, contact CRA directly again, as noted above under NOA.
Request for Information
Commonly mistaken for an audit, a Request for Information from the CRA is exactly what the name implies. The agency would like to see proof of something that appeared on your return. Common information requests are for tuition receipts, medical expenses, and home office expense claims. As we file our income taxes without having to provided documentation, it is quite common for the CRA to request to see documents where you have a significant change from previous years or just a high claim amount; medical expenses for example if you had a year with a severe medical situation and significant costs.
Respond to the request in a timely manner; do not ignore these requests. If you’re a CRA My Account holder, submitting your scanned receipts is easy via the online portal. If you haven’t registered for a CRA My Account, submit your receipts to CRA either by mail, or by fax to the person who has requested the information. Make sure to keep copies for your files, and it’s always wise to let the person at the CRA know that you have sent the documents and maintain communication with them while the situation is being resolved.
It is not common for a Taxpayer to be audited immediately upon filing your tax return unless there is something going on which has been a pattern, or if the information on the return is obviously far from accurate. Regardless, the first step is to respond to the request. Ignoring the request won’t make it go away. In fact, if you do not make attempts to contact the auditor, it is extremely likely that they will deny your claim, assess you a balance outstanding and send you to Collections to collect that balance. At that point, getting in touch with the auditor can be very difficult. It is always best to start the conversation with the auditor and work with them to resolve the discrepancy quickly.
To learn more about the audit process, check out CRA’s webpage What you should know about audits.
References & Resources