A colleague likes to say that it’s easy to fill out income tax forms. Just put in approximate numbers in blanks that seem to matter; there’s no need to sweat the exact figures and the math. You’ll be fine. That’s because the Canada Revenue Agency already has much of your information — submitted by employers, banks, investment houses, charities, etc. — and will helpfully make corrections for you. He seems convinced about this, but I’m not sure that he’s ever put his musings into practice.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s new Auto-fill service, rolled out this year, makes things even simpler. If you use approved tax software, Auto-fill will automatically fill in many of the blanks for you. The information includes numbers from T4 forms, investment income, registered retirement savings plan receipts, and pension income.
It’s prudent to double check the numbers, just in case a mistake was made somewhere along the way. Also, information may be incomplete. Some data providers can be tardy. When I used Auto-fill, a couple of transactions were missing.
There’s more information about Auto-fill at the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Before you can use Auto-fill, you need to sign up for “My Account” at the Canada Revenue Agency website. This involves filling in an online form that asks for, among other things, your social insurance number, your birth date, and information from a previous tax return. So, have returns handy from the last couple of years, just in case. After you fill in the form, you’ll receive a code in the mail. Type in that code as instructed to fully activate My Account and Auto-fill. You can use the ID and password from a service that you’ve already set up, such as online banking, if the Canada Revenue Agency has established a partnership with that service. Or you can use a unique ID and password.
In the online tax software that I used, I filled in information about my identity and address, and was then given the option of using Auto-fill. To activate Auto-fill, I was sent offsite to log into My Account. After the log-in, I was returned to the tax software site, where many of the blanks had been filled in with numbers transmitted from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Apart from the rigmarole of signing up, it was a good experience, seeing all those blanks automatically fill in with numbers without me having to find them and type them.
Here’s the Canada Revenue Agency’s list of approved tax software. Some of the software is free, part of an effort to sell you financial services.