Why haven’t you received your refund for 2015?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Tax dollar signsYou’re all excited because you’re getting a refund this year, and it’s a big one. However, it’s now May and you haven’t had anything drop into your account or received a cheque yet. The reasons you haven’t received your refund vary, and sometimes it’s just time.

If you file your return electronically (EFILE and NETFILE), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) generally takes as little as eight business days to process it. If you file your return on paper, CRA generally takes four to six weeks to process it. CRA may take longer to process your return if they select it for a more detailed review. If you choose to use direct deposit, you could get your refund faster. Cheques can take four to six weeks to arrive in your mailbox, after your return is processed.

CRA may keep some or all of your refund if you:

  • owe or are about to owe a balance
  • have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act
  • owe other federal, provincial, or territorial government debts, such as student loans, employment insurance and social assistance benefit overpayments, immigration loans, and training allowance overpayments
  • have any outstanding GST/HST returns from a sole proprietorship or partnership
  • have a refund of $2 or less

If you owe CRA for prior years, or for your GST/HST return, they take the money first, and then you have to prove whether or not you actually do owe it. Ensure that you actually owe the monies, you can ask the CRA for a statement of account, and this will show you returns processed, payments received, and any reassessments.

The same goes for over federal, provincial or territorial programs where you owe money. CRA takes the money first and you have to prove whether or not you actually owe it. Again, find out what program the money is going to and talk to them about that debt. For British Columbians, the program most likely to take your refund is Medical Services Premiums (MSP). MSP has an agreement with CRA to take your refund if you owe them money.

If you know you don’t owe money, and your refund still hasn’t arrived, it could be your return is under review, and you just haven’t received the notice yet. Why is your return under review? The most common things are something is quite different from your last years’ return, or you have high amounts for donations or medical expenses, or some other deduction. This doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, it’s just a larger amount than usual, and CRA wants to make sure it’s correct.

You can check the status of your refund via My Account or MyCRA mobile app, call the Telerefund line at 1-800-959-1956, or the main individual tax enquiry line at 1-800-959-8281. You will need to have personal information available when you call, such as your social insurance number, address, date of birth, etc.

If you filed your return:

  • before mid-February, wait until mid-March to call
  • between mid-February and April 15, wait 4 weeks to call
  • after April 15, wait 6 weeks to call

Your refund is on its way, and it’s just a matter of time. CRA is super busy this time of year, and they do process about 28 million returns each year, and just over 10% were reviewed. That’s a lot of time and effort, so please be patient.

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