How do I change my return?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Tax word cloud TNThere does come a time when you may have to change a tax return you’ve already filed. You may have forgotten a slip, donation, and medical receipts; or, perhaps, a slip you filed was amended, and now you have a new slip. The question is what do you do when something changes?

The first thing NOT to do is file another return. This is the surest way to confuse Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and may cause you to be audited. Wait for your notice of assessment before asking for changes to your return. You can ask for a change to a return for a tax year ending in any of the 10 previous calendar years. This year (2014), you can only ask for changes for tax year 2004 or later.

If you have used a tax preparer to file your tax return, then the best thing is to let them know what you have forgotten, and whether or not it’s worth doing the adjustment. Your tax preparer will charge you for doing any adjustments to your tax return. Sometimes for small donations, or medical receipts, the adjustment is not worth the cost of the additional charge. If you find that your tax preparer forgot to file something with your return, and you did give them the slip or receipt, they should be willing to do the adjustment for free.

You can adjust your return online using My Account, and click on ‘Change My Return’ (on the left-hand side menu under ‘Quick Links’. You must have setup My Account prior to doing this. Using the drop-down menu choose the year you wish to adjust. If you know the line you wish to adjust use the search feature. Check your tax return to see where you are adjusting. For example, if you received another T4, you want to adjust Line 101 Employment Income; plus there will be other lines to adjust for the CPP, EI and Tax that are on the T4.

You can do an adjustment the old-fashioned way, and mail (or fax) your adjustment to CRA; you would send the adjustment to your tax centre. You can use either form T1ADJ—T1 Adjustment Request, or a signed letter giving details of your request (including the years of the returns to be changed), your social insurance number, your address, and a telephone number where we can call you during the day. You must also include all supporting documents for the change, including those for the original assessment (unless you paper filed in which case CRA already has them).

Send your current year return separately from any request to change a return for another year. Don’t send them all in the same envelope or fax. If you drop them off at your local tax centre, then put each year in a separate envelope.

Processing times for online, is usually within 2 weeks, and by mail (or fax), usually within 8 weeks. It may take longer if: your request is sent in late summer or fall, your request needs more review, or CRA has to contact you or your authorized representative for more information or documentation.

When CRA’s review is done they will send you a notice of reassessment showing changes to your return or a letter explaining why CRA did not make the changes you asked for or if no changes were needed.

Remember when you change your return; it may not be in your favour, such as with a missed T4. In such a case, you may end up owing CRA and may be charged a penalty and interest for the amount owing. Sadly, most times you end up getting a Notice of (RE)Assessment in the fall, if you haven’t already adjusted the tax return for the missing T4.

Adjusting your tax return can be a daunting task, so it may be best to get the person who did the return to adjust it, or talk to a tax preparer or CRA about what you need to adjust, and why. In the end, it may not be worth the additional cost to do the adjustment.

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