You’ve gathered your paperwork, crunched the numbers, completed your return, and filed your taxes. If you’re entitled to a refund, the time between when you file and when you receive your refund depends on a number of factors.
How You Submitted Your Return
To receive your refund more quickly, submit your return online.
According to the Canada Revenue Agency, more than two-thirds of Canadians now file their returns electronically. If you Netfile your return, the average processing time is 10 business days. Paper filers can tack on another four to six weeks to that time.
Once your return has been received by CRA, you can track the process in your CRA My Account. The welcome page lists the date your return was received, the expected date your refund will be sent to you, as well as the amount of your refund.
Snail Mail or Direct Deposit
Another way to decrease the wait time for your refund is to sign up for direct deposit.
Instead of mailing out your refund cheque, CRA will deposit the refund directly into your chosen bank account. If you are enrolled in direct deposit you can expect to receive your refund about 3-5 days quicker than through regular mail out.
The simplest way to begin direct deposit is to log into your CRA My Account. From here you can start direct deposit as well as update your banking information if you have recently changed accounts. If you aren’t a CRA My Account holder, you can also sign up by mailing the request form to CRA. Processing times for direct deposit requests vary so it’s a good idea to register before you submit your return.
Your refund may be delayed if you have an amount owed to a government agency.
You could owe money if you were overpaid certain benefits such as Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the GST/HST Credit, or have a balance due from a previous year’s tax return. If you have outstanding debts with certain Provincial Government Agencies, you could have a “lien or set-off” placed against your tax refund. These could be anything from traffic fines, Family Maintenance Enforcement Programs, medical programs, etc.
The time it takes CRA to apply part or all of your refund to your outstanding balance can add a few days to your wait time. If you do owe another CRA department or have a Provincial debt, you should be able to find this information in your CRA My Account as well, or by contacting them directly at the General Enquiries number: 1-800-959-8281.
The Little Details
Refund delays may also be caused by small, often overlooked details.
Relocation is a good example. If you’ve moved since last year’s filing and haven’t updated your address with CRA, you’ll have a hard time Netfiling. This is because your address on file with CRA and the address on your return must be an exact match. If they don’t match, your return will be declined when it’s time to submit. Even a small detail such as an incorrect apartment number can lead to delays in filing.
To ensure your info is correct, log into your CRA My Account and update your personal details. The changes made online are applied instantly. If you aren’t a CRA My Account holder, you may also update your address via phone or mail. More information on changing your address can be found in this TurboTax link: Notifying Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of a Change of Address.
By filing electronically, signing up for direct deposit, and ensuring your personal information is up to date, you can receive your refund in as little as eight days.
Jennifer is the Social Care Manager for TurboTax Canada. When she’s not helping customers on Facebook, Twitter, and TurboTax’s community forum AnswerXchange, Jennifer is busy researching the latest tax changes.
Jennifer has been preparing tax returns for over 30 years and enjoys holding tax seminars for seniors in her hometown of St. Vincent’s, Newfoundland.