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Medical residents: 3 questions you may have about filing your tax return

Income tax time can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time filing your own return. The answers to these frequently asked questions can help you get it right.

  1. When is the tax filing deadline? What happens if I miss the deadline?

As a medical resident on salary, your deadline is the same as for all other Canadians who are not self-employed: April 30. If this date falls on a weekend, the deadline moves to the following Monday.

Tax refund: If you expect a tax refund or you don’t think you owe any taxes, there are no consequences to filing your income tax return after the April 30 deadline. However, it still makes sense to file early (or before the deadline, at least) because you’ll receive your refund sooner (if you’re eligible for one) and have it available to pay off debt, invest or spend however you want to.

Taxes owing: If you expect to owe taxes, it’s important to meet the deadline. Build in a buffer to allow for unexpected delays. If you do miss the deadline, you will be charged a late filing penalty of 5% of what you owe, and an additional 1% for every month you are late. Even if you can’t pay your taxes in full by the deadline, you can reduce the amount owing to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by filing your return by April 30.

  1. What if I forget to claim certain tax credits and deductions?

While your goal should be to claim all your tax credits and deductions when you file, there’s always a chance you’ll miss something. The good news is that the CRA will let you amend your tax returns for any of the previous 10 calendar years.

So if you missed claiming your medical school tuition fees in 2016, for example, you can still go back and get that expense added to your filing for that year. Look for the T1-ADJ form on the CRA website, and use it to submit your amended filing and supporting documentation.

  1. What if I can’t find my tax slips?

As tax season rolls around, many people start to worry about gathering together all the information required to file their return. While these concerns are understandable, the reality is that they are largely unnecessary.

With the CRA’s Auto-fill my return service, you can use CRA-certified tax software and have the CRA automatically complete parts of your income tax return, using information the CRA has received from all the places that have issued you a tax slip; namely, your T4 from your employer, or any bank or financial institution’s T3 or T5 tax slips. Auto-fill can provide information from more than 15 different tax forms.

To be eligible for Auto-fill, you will need to be registered for a CRA My Account and use a  CRA-certified tax software package to complete your return. The good news here is that you’re not required to buy expensive tax software — several free or pay-what-you-want software packages are also on the list of certified software.