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