A tax return form is pictured in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you. Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you.

Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper.

The people who prefer paper to online are getting particular attention because they tend to be Canadians whose tax files are needed to send them essential benefit payments.

There are seniors who need old-age security, parents eligible for the Canada Child Benefit and first-time filers who might be eligible for a new benefit for low-income workers.

Because of that, the CRA has made changes to the paper tax booklet to further simplify language, add notes about new benefits for the 2019 tax year, and include a checklist so nothing gets missed.

Frank Vermaeten, the CRA’s assistant commissioner, said the agency wants to make sure those who prefer paper are still comfortable using it amid wider pushes to electronic filing.

“Certainly, we promote electronic filing — we see a lot of benefits for Canadians in doing that, but we also want to be sure that paper filers are served and served well,” Vermaeten said in an interview.

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings.

Even at the current rate people are shifting to digital filing and away from paper, Vermaeten said the CRA could see paper files for another 20 years.

The agency’s tax machine fired up in earnest Monday, with new staff joining call centres that run at extended hours.

About 1.6 million printed tax-return booklets are also being mailed out that include an option for some to file by phone if their incomes are largely unchanged from year to year, such as seniors.

Staff have also been hired to manage paper filers, including a team that searches for errors and corrects them.

Vermaeten said a new service will see staff input forgotten T4 slips, for instance, on paper returns filed before the deadline, to save taxpayers interest penalties.

The deadline to file taxes without penalty is the end of April, and the CRA will be processing returns through to June — just as it starts planning for tax season next year.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

taxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tour de Delta cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

This year would have been the event’s 20th anniversary

‘Shocking decision’: Surrey soccer club won’t offer refunds to 350 teams for cancelled tourney

Registration fees would top $171K for Surrey Mayor’s Cup, postponed due to COVID-19

‘We must each do our part to protect each other from COVID-19’

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon discusses steps government is taking to reduce burden on B.C. residents

Surrey brewery distilling hand sanitizer in effort to fight pandemic

Central City Brewers is producing it in bulk and ‘more convenient’ sizes

Surrey hospital staff fed by Delta restaurant with opening date delayed due to COVID-19

Happy Singh Eats will be ‘an Indian McDonald’s in terms of the price points,’ rep says

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

UFV student nurses offering respite to frontline nurses, care aides

Website helping to match volunteers with those who need help with daily errands

Most Read