Filed Your Tax Return? – What to do if you Forgot Something

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

A big sigh of relief - you have filed your tax return on time!  Then you realize that in the rush to get your taxes done you forgot to claim your RRSP contribution or report self employment earnings for the year. Now you are left wondering what you should do.

Many people find the need to adjust their tax return after they have filed it and the CRA has options set up to make it as easy as possible. Most important you need to make sure that you have reported all your income as you may have to pay a penalty if you don't and it is better to report it before the CRA finds it!

If you need to make an adjustment to your tax return:

  1. Once you have filed your tax return you cannot file a new one.  You need to wait for your Notice of Assessment to arrive to make an adjustment. If you try and make changes before you are assessed it can lead to delays in processing your original return and the adjustment.
  2. You need to make any adjustments before the end of the three year limitation period usually the three years after your original notice of assessment was issued.  If you make adjustments during this period they are not usually subject to CRA discretion.  If your adjustment reduces your taxes owed or increases your refund your entitlement to this adjustment must be clear.  If you request an adjustment beyond this limitation period and it involves a refund or reduction in taxes it must be made within ten years.  Usually your adjustment will be allowed if it would have been allowed on your original return, however not all adjustments will be allowed.  Your request may be denied if the adjustments are for permissive amounts (where you did not claim an amount on purpose so that the unclaimed amount can be carried forward to use in a subsequent year such as RRSP contributions) or provincial credits that are subject to other deadlines. 
  3. You must have all receipts to support your claim, and remember you are required under the Income Tax Act to keep all your documentation for at least six years.  You may have to file this documentation with your claim, if not you should keep it handy in case you are asked to provide proof to support your claim.
  4. You can make the adjustment in a variety of ways.  You can do it yourself or through a tax professional and you can do it on-line or by mail.  If you have used certified Netfile software that includes Refile you can send adjustments through this unless you already have an assessment in progress. If you have registered for MyAccount you can make an adjustment for the previous ten calendar years through this service using the "Change my Return" option.  Keep in mind that you cannot request another adjustment until the previous one has been finalized. 
  5. If you prefer to submit your adjustment request in the mail you need to fill out a T1-Adj, T1 Adjustment Request and mail it to your local tax centre. You will need to send any supporting documents with your completed form.  
  6. Once you have asked for your adjustment you will need to wait for it to be processed which can take about two weeks online and about eight weeks by mail. You will receive either a notice of reassessment showing the approved changes or a letter explaining why the CRA did not make the changes.

Though the thought of applying for an adjustment to your tax return may feel a little daunting in fact it is pretty simple and straightforward. 

From an article by Margaret Craig-Bourdin


About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.