Finding tax answers without spending hours on the phone

As tax season approaches for Canadians, the number of questions we have about changes that occurred in rules and regulations and how they impact our individual circumstances increase.

Many of my clients express frustration when they are put on hold if they call Canada Revenue Agency and have to wait several minutes or longer for a response.

A big thing people want to know for sure is when their refund is going to be deposited, or the status of whether their tax returns have been reviewed yet.

An excellent way to avoid all the phone calls and get direct access to what is going on with your account is to signed up for My Account on the Canada Revenue Agency website (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/).

You can get a lot of questions answered once you are into My Account.

For example, you can find out if your return has been processed, you can review your history of interactions with the agency, you can access all your T-4 slips, and find out the limits for your TFSA and RRSP. You can access your tax returns for the last nine years as well if you are trying to get into some serious tax planning.

If you filed your returns yourself or had someone do them for you, and then you discovered one thing that you missed, you can log in and adjust it. You can update your direct deposit information, or your address or marital status.

If you think it would be useful to use My Account, line it up now because it takes a little bit of time to get it up and working as you get confirmations and passwords.

If you are one of the growing number of Canadians who do all your work from your mobile device, you can even download MyCRAmobile app (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-mobile-apps.html).

If you go to the Canada Revenue Agency website, there is an excellent video there that explains precisely how to set up My Account as well.

This does not mean that you will never have to hold the phone again. But it does eliminate a lot of the most common phone calls and really allows you to study your own taxation situation over the years so that you can plan better for the future.

It is a highly useful tool that most Canadians never thoroughly explore. It can give you answers you need and make you a better tax planner by accessing your own information and determining how you could do better.

Certified professional bookkeeper and certified tax specialist Elena Ivanova is managing director of Piligrim Accounting Inc., a national accounting and tax preparation service based in Richmond Hill, Ont. You can reach her at elena@piligrim-accounting.com.

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