The methods of filing taxes have come a long way in 20 years. Most people appreciate the effectiveness of being able to prepare and submit their tax returns to the government in a quick and efficient way.

This article will help you to understand when to file your taxes, the deadline to file your taxes, what NETFILE is, how it works, who it’s designed for, and why you should consider this secure filing method so you can fast-track the processing of your 2023 income tax return and check one more thing off your tax checklist

When does NETFILE open for 2024?

For the 2023 tax year, the 2024 NETFILE opening date is February 19, 2024. It’s usually available 21 hours a day, 7 days per week, from 6 AM to 3 AM ET. It’ll be open until January 24, 2025. 

What is NETFILE?

Implemented in 2001 by the CRA, NETFILE is an electronic tax filing service giving taxpayers a quick alternative to the older methods of filing taxes, such as printing and mailing, to their closest tax centers across the country. As useful as this service is, not everyone can use it. This will be explained further down.

Why use NETFILE? 

It is a quicker way to file, and receive your refund, if any. It takes less time to process than standard paper filing. Which is generally about 2 weeks through NETFILE whereas paper filing can take up to 8 weeks to process and issue your Notice of Assessment with a refund or amount owing.

NETFILE allows you to use various approved software, (such as TurboTax) to submit your return directly to the CRA online. The list of approved softwares can be found here. All information submitted through the system is encrypted for your protection, with the CRA being held responsible for securing your personal data.

When is the due date to file my tax return?

You must file your return before midnight on April 30 of each fiscal year. For self-employed tax returns, you have until June 17. However, any taxes owed should be paid on or before April 30, after which interest will be applied to the balance owing by the CRA starting May 1st.

Is NETFILE safe to use?

The security surrounding your confidential tax information is extremely important to the CRA, and to TurboTax, so the CRA has ensured that NETFILE uses top-line encryption software, and security procedures to protect your information at all times.

The CRA assumes responsibility for the safety and security of your data once you have filed your tax return through NETFILE. They also point out that they perform “a number of identification and tax-related validations” to prevent fraud and that their secure procedures include only sending the Notice of Assessment and/or refund to the address or bank account that the CRA has on file — information that only you, the taxpayer, or your legal representative can change.

As of fiscal 2020, they have implemented another layer of security called the NETFILE Access Code (NAC). Review this link to learn more.

For safety, security, ease, accuracy, and expertise at tax-filing time, consider our TurboTax software and NETFILE.

How do I know if my tax return has been filed?

One additional, and important feature of NETFILE is the confirmation process. Once your personal income tax return has been filed, your return is uploaded to the CRA through NETFILE, as you will receive a confirmation number which is your proof that your tax return was filed and received by the CRA.

This confirmation number is important for two reasons. The first being, that you know your return was submitted and received by the CRA, and secondly, if there are ever any questions from the CRA around the filing of your return, like the date it was filed, you have the proof.

You will successfully NETFILE your tax return when you receive a confirmation number at the end of the process. If you don’t receive a confirmation number, your tax return hasn’t been transmitted to the CRA through NETFILE.

For Québec residents, you have an extra step to take, you also have to file your provincial return electronically to Revenu Québec. Review this link (in French only) to understand the process. You will find more English information from Revenu Québec here.

TurboTax FAQs

What happens after filing taxes with NETFILE?

Once your taxes are filed through NETFILE — you can check the status of your return by logging into your MyAccount with the CRA. For Québec residents, you will log into your provincial RQ My Account.  You may see the changes right away or it can take up to 48 hours for the processed return to appear. The advantage here is that your refund will be processed within 10 days if you have a direct deposit with the CRA. Those in Québec can register for Direct Deposit with RQ here. But if you opted to have it sent by mail, you are looking at a 6–8 week turnaround for the refund cheque to be sent out to you.

Once that return is processed, the CRA will send you your Notice of Assessment (NOA) into your My Account mailbox. If you disagree with anything on that notice, you have 90 days from the date the NOA was issued to let the CRA know. Otherwise, they’ll accept the NOA as being accurate. Revenu Québec holds the same rules as the CRA on the matter, learn more here.

If the information on your NOA looks good, and it’s a refund, then sit back and wait for your refund. If, on the other hand, there’s a balance owing to the CRA, then you should contact the CRA before the 90 days run out to make arrangements to pay. Otherwise, there are penalties and interest that must be paid. Learn the penalties for residents of Québec here.

Restricted Returns

The CRA doesn’t have the ability to accept tax returns for tax years prior to 2018 over NETFILE, and they won’t accept tax returns prepared on someone else’s behalf over NETFILE. This impacts executors who prepare final tax returns for deceased persons and authorized representatives, who’ll be preparing your return for you — which will have to be submitted through E-file instead.

When Do You Need to Paper File?

NETFILE isn’t available for everyone. Some individuals who want to file their returns themselves have to mail a paper copy of their return instead of NETFILE.

You cannot NETFILE if:

  • The CRA doesn’t have your date of birth or Social Insurance Number on file.
  • You went bankrupt in the past 2 years.
  • You are a deemed resident and don’t have to pay provincial taxes.
  • You are filing for a deceased person who died in the tax year or the prior year.
  • You are an emigrant or non-resident.
  • Your address is outside Canada.
  • You have a Canadian-source income from Lloyds of London.

These aren’t the only restrictions. Review the “other” restriction list here to determine if you are required to paper file. You can download the Income Tax and Benefit Return copy for your province, fill it in, print it, and mail it to CRA.

Although you may not be able to NETFILE your return for the above reasons, you can still use TurboTax software to prepare and file your tax return to the CRA & RQ. You will have to print and mail it to your nearest tax center, listed here. For those sending in their provincial return by mail in Québec, review this link for RQ address. 


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