Personal Finance

When you file your tax return (from a CRA staff)

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  • Feb 5th, 2017 6:59 pm
Mar 26, 2009
8 posts

When you file your tax return (from a CRA staff)

Hi there

I work for CRA and thought I'd take a moment before the pre-tax rush season to give you all a few pointers on filing your tax return. When you deal with over 300 returns per day, you pick up a thing or two. :lol:

- Spend the extra dollar and print the return only on one side of the paper. You may not realize it but when the returns are keyed into the computer we need to have all the schedules in order and this is difficult when you've got multiple forms printed on one sheet that don't belong

- Print it out again if you can tell the ink is faded or blotchy and the return is a bar-code. We really can't do anything when pieces of your barcode are missing you know (return then will be treated as a normal return which takes a little longer)

- If a taxpayer is deceased, write it on the top of the return or highlight the date of death. It is sometimes overlooked when processing returns, although it will likely be caught later on.

- Put your name on the front, we can't process your return if the front page is blank. The return gets shipped to another area to determine who you are (even if your name is on the T4's, etc.) This slows down your processing.

- File your taxes on time. Why you are sending in consecutive returns from 2000-2008 all at once is beyond me. We'll do them of course but why you don't file on time is a good question. :lol:

- If sending in a whole whack of receipts (an inch thick or more) you can use an envelope. If you are putting them on a piece of paper to display them, tape them don't staple them because we need to tape them on as a matter of procedure.

- Make sure your return has those little boxes on the bottom of the page (171 and 172). If your return is missing those (eg. your cheap-ass printer doesn't do boxes) then your entire return gets sent to a rejection team which has to redo the entire return. Why? Well those boxes are used by keyers for special conditions and if they are missing... well, not good. Those boxes are also found below the taxpayer information on the top right of the first page. Those are used to identify certain things (eg. deceased taxpayer).

- Send in all of your bus passes (those plastic cards). Just photocopy them instead. All of those cards end up in an envelope anyways.

- Try to send in fraudulent returns. Come on, the T4 information is verified and your $5000 refund won't arrive anytime soon.

- We don't need (or want) your extra U-File summary pages and we can't throw them out. So this unnecessary paperwork gets thrown into your return forever. Send only what you need to.

- Don't worry that you can't get your missing T4 from the nasty ex-employer or the receipt from the bad landlord. This information can still be processed on our end...just drop a short note but don't feel it's the end of the road.

- Don't staple your void cheque onto the back of the return as it gets taken off anyways. Keep it loose. (not a big deal if you do though)

- You don't need to send a void cheque AND a T1DD. Only one will do as long as it has the account information on it.

- Don't, DON'T, DON'T staple every little receipt and slip to any of the schedules. We spend much of our time removing your slips (T4, RRSP, etc) because they need to go in a certain order. Don't staple pages 1 and 2 together.

- Also don't tape slips to the forms for the same reason (we need to sort them). This only applies to NON-BAR CODE returns.


- Send your return in before the April rush or towards the end of the rush. You would be surprised at the number of returns that we get "fallout" from (missing pages, papers that can't be determined whose return they belong to)

- When filling out your schedule 3, you have to put the numbers in the proper fields. When you give us two or more sets of numbers just above the boxes with the black numbers (keying fields), we wonder if we need to add them up or what, if any, of the values to use. It helps if you do the math or just enter $1.00 if you have nothing for gross. In the old days someone would manualy add up the numbers on an adding machine, today if we don't know, nobody manually tabulates it.

- If you're sending in a barcode return, order the pages so that pages 1 and 2 come first and then 3 and 4 last. This is helpful when we receive THICK returns that have huge staples. Barcodes need only the first 2 and last 2 pages in order. Everything else in between is actually contained in the bar code.

- Put important correspondance on the FRONT so that it is seen right away, especially if your return is many pages. Trust me, we have many handwritten pages (schedule 3's, etc.) and it sometimes doesn't stand out right away.

- Enter $1.00 instead of all zeros down the income tables.

- If you want to be a sweety, and make life easy for everyone... this is the order for pages. Remember barcodes don't matter... we only look at the first and last 2 pages.

Schedules first (eg. 1, 7), Ontario forms (pink and green pages), T4, T4RSP, RRSP's

- If your return is huge (and they can be) you may use a large clip to secure it. Sending it loose will not be pretty.

- Highlight the date of entry or departure if you are an immigrant. Sometimes (not all that often but it happens) this gets overlooked when these returns go to a special department.
38 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Aug 18, 2005
17386 posts
GTA West
Thanks for the info, but I think almost all of the people on this site use the Netfile option. :)

I have never filed in a method other than electronic.
Feb 11, 2004
260 posts
... or just netfile it. :D

How do you CRA workers feel about the netfile system? Must take some of the pressure off the last minute rush, but are you worried about jobs? Probably still lots of paper returns for everyone I bet.
Feb 6, 2009
205 posts
Great tips, thanks. I've always been a bit uncertain about the receipts thing.. esp. the medical ones.. the guide seems to indicate that I have to send the original receipts, and I've always felt a bit uncomfortable about that because I still need to keep some of them.

And as far as netfile goes, this year was the first year in many years that I netfiled instead of sending a paper return. I only netfiled because I found out Studiotax was free. I refuse to pay to have a software program do my taxes for me. It's bad enough that I have to pay for a postage stamp.. that's like purchasing the bullet in a chinese execution.. meanwhile it is free to write to your MP, but you have to pay to send money to the government..

So yeah, I think there's still a whole lot of people doing it on paper still.
Deal Addict
May 13, 2005
3237 posts
Stop writing a long complain and request what we have to send to CRA...

Just cross out everything you suggested and put it in the garbage...

Just need to suggest people netfile to CRA... it will solve all of your problems...
Jr. Member
Mar 22, 2009
189 posts
Why not just e-file?

Saves the bother of sending receipts at all.
Jr. Member
Nov 3, 2008
149 posts
Hi, Tristach. Thanks for posting helpful hints. I need to clarify the pages of the tax form. It is my first time filing in Canada and I am using Intuit's Quicktax which I printed out already, but still kinda confused on the order of pages. Since I've printed my own pages they are all black and white with no colour-coding of the paper. Here is how I understand it, kindly verify and correct:

Page 1-2 of T1 General 2008

Page 1 of Federal Tax Schedule 1
Page 2 of Federal Tax
Page 1 of Schedule 4
Page 1 of Schedule 4 Supplement
Page 1-3 of BC Tax BC428
Page 1 of Form T2204 (Employee Overpayment of 2008 CPP)
Page 1 of Form T1-DD(1) Direct Deposit Request - Individual
Page 1-2 of Other Income, Deductions and Credits - Worksheet
T4 Slip
T5 Slip

Page 3 of T1 (which says to attach forms in this page which is why the above forms are before this page)

Page 4 of T1


So I had the assumption that I paperclip or staple them together. However, it seems you guys don't like staples. Do I just bunch them up together and paperclip?

What about the T4 and T5 slips which are half a page only. Do I have to tape them to one whole page? I find this is a waste. Can I just clip them together as well among those pages?

Thanks for any helpful tips.
Deal Addict
Apr 13, 2006
4082 posts
Thanks for the post
Helping my sister file her first return so she does not have the option of using NetFile =)
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 9, 2007
955 posts
TheAnalyst wrote:
Mar 28th, 2009 12:37 am
Why not just e-file?

Saves the bother of sending receipts at all.
I heard that exactly for this reason you chances to be picked for audit are much higher.
Deal Addict
Dec 28, 2006
2374 posts
pshch wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2009 7:23 pm
I heard that exactly for this reason you chances to be picked for audit are much higher.
You heard a rumor that has no basis. ... d-eng.html

The selection process for reviewing returns is the same whether the return is filed on paper or electronically.

They don't have the time or personnel to audit everyone, so like any external auditor they evaluate risk and spend their time where the risk is highest.

The average T4 employee may never get audited in their lifetime. Self employed people are higher risk and therefore attract more attention. Anyone who has the potential to be operating in a high cash environment is also higher risk (think servers and people in businesses where tipping is commonplace, restaraunts etc.).

Why do you think some provinces have a tax credit available to renters? Makes it a lot easier to compare the renter's credit to the landlord's tax return.
User avatar
Apr 1, 2009
406 posts
If the government is going to loose a lot of money, then you get audited.
If you are paying the government, then you are less likely to get audited.

The accountants will only audit if they think something shady is going on...
Jan 10, 2009
242 posts
Hamilton, ON
From my experience, people get pre-assessed / reviewed if they have large claims for certain things (like medical expenses, donations, childcare expenses -- well into the thousands.)
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 9, 2007
955 posts
ghostryder wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2009 8:34 pm
You heard a rumor that has no basis. ... d-eng.html

The selection process for reviewing returns is the same whether the return is filed on paper or electronically.
Hopefully what they say is what they do ;) The difference between paper and electronic return is that no supporting documents are send with electronic form. So there are more oportunities to cheat with NetFile then with paper which definitely should be reflected in how they pick files for audit. I do not say they are lying but they do not tell that chances to get audited are the same what they say is that selection process is the same and it is not too difficult to imagine selection process which is the same for all returns but still pick more electronic returns because selection is triggered by lack of some supporting document (which is always not there for electronic one).
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 19, 2002
11944 posts
tristach wrote:
Mar 27th, 2009 9:06 pm
- Enter $1.00 instead of all zeros down the income tables..
Sorry, what does this mean? $1.00 in every line, including ones where you have no income? I are confuzed.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 26, 2004
3356 posts
Last year I completed my taxes on paper. When I was done, I found a whole bunch of other receipts. I was pissed, so I just threw them into the envelope and hoped for the best. CRA sent me a corrected tax return. If CRA will do my taxes for me, why should I bother doing them (correctly) in the first place?