How to File Your Canadian Income Taxes Online

Using NETFILE to File Your Canadian Taxes

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NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing service that allows you to send your individual income tax and benefit return directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) using the Internet and a NETFILE-certified software product.

To file your Canadian income taxes online, you first have to prepare your tax return using a commercial tax preparation desktop software package, a Web application or a product for an Apple or Android mobile device. These products must be certified for NETFILE.

When you file your taxes online, you'll get an immediate confirmation that your return has been received. If you've made arrangements for direct deposit and the Canada Revenue Agency owes you a refund on your income taxes, you should get a faster refund than if you file on paper, possibly within two weeks.

However, it's not quite as simple as hitting the send button on your email program, so leave some time to get prepared and to get comfortable with the system.

Eligibility to File Taxes Online

Although most income tax returns can be filed online, there are some restrictions. For example, you cannot use NETFILE to file a return for a year before 2013, if you are a non-resident of Canada, if your Social Insurance Number or individual tax number begins with 09 or if you went bankrupt during the preceding two years.

There are quite a few other specific restrictions, so be sure to check the full restrictions list before you begin.

Software to File Taxes Online

To file your tax return online, you must prepare your income tax form using software or a Web application certified by the CRA for the current tax year. The CRA tests and certifies software between December and March, so it is usually at least late January before a commercial tax software package or Web application is put on the approved list of certified software. Be sure the software you plan to use is certified for the current tax year. If you purchase or download your income tax software before it is certified by the CRA for use with NETFILE, you may have to download a patch from the software vendor.

Some software certified for use with NETFILE is free for individuals. Check the list of certified software and the vendor's site for specific details.

Identification for NETFILE

Your current address must be on file with the CRA before you send your income tax return by NETFILE. Here's how to change your address with the CRA. You won't be able to do it through NETFILE.

You will need to provide your Social Insurance Number and date of birth when you file.

You need to provide the location of your ".tax" file containing your tax return that you prepared using NETFILE-certified tax preparation software or Web application.

If you have concerns about the security of your personal and financial information when using NETFILE, you should check the ​NETFILE Security page from the CRA.

NETFILE Confirmation Number

As soon as you send your income tax return online, the CRA does a very quick preliminary check of your return (usually in minutes) and sends you a confirmation number telling you that your return has been received and accepted. Keep the confirmation number.

Tax Information Slips, Receipts, and Documents

Keep all the tax information slips, receipts and documents you use to prepare your income tax return. You do not need to send them to the CRA unless the agency asks to see them. Be sure to include your telephone number on your income tax return so the CRA can contact you quickly. Your notice of assessment and tax refund may be delayed if the CRA has to contact you.

Getting Help With NETFILE

For help using NETFILE, consult the CRA's Online Help. The Frequently Asked Questions may also be useful.

Remember, if you run into problems, you can still file the old-fashioned way—by getting a paper income tax package, filling in the paper form, attaching the schedules and receipts, and getting it to the post office in time to be postmarked by the deadline.