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Tax Prep Checklist: What documents do I need to file?

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It’s that time of year again – to gather the necessary documents to find out how much you owe, or ideally – how big your tax refund will be.

Having all of the relevant information organized and ready will make doing your taxes faster and less painful and if you have an accountant, cheaper as they’ll spend fewer hours digging through your files.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or sending them on to your accountant, the following is a checklist of all the forms and documentation that you may need to gather in order to file your taxes with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

Auto-fill my return

If you are registered for CRA’s My Account, any NETFILE or EFILE-certified tax return software can automatically retrieve the forms and t-slips the CRA already has on file via their auto-fill my return service and use them to populate your return.

“(AF)” (auto-fill) is next to each document listed below that can be retrieved using the auto-fill service.

Personal information

ItemDocumentation
Previous year’s tax status
NETFILE access code
Notice of Assessment or re-assessment from CRA
Tax installment payments summary
RRSP deduction limit and unused amounts (AF)
CRA correspondence
CRA My Account
Last year’s tax returnTax software, accountant
Your (and spouse’s) information Full name, Social Insurance Number (SIN), date of birth
Dependent(s) informationFull name, Social Insurance Number (SIN), date of birth
Contact informationNew address, email address, phone number
Sell or purchase a principal residenceDate of sale, proceeds/amount of sale/purchase, address
Marital status changeDate of marriage, separation or divorce
Status of your dependentsUniversity tuition slips, disability records

Income

All of the documents that provide proof of the money you received in the previous calendar year.

Employment

Employment income
Bonus or supplementary pay
T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid – box 14 (AF) from employer
Commission income
Severance pay
COVID-19 Benefits received (CERB, CRB, CRCB, CESB)
Registered disability savings plan (RDSP) income
Annuity income
Patronage allocation – co-op/UFA
T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income (AF) from employer, trustee
Tips, gratuities and other incomeYour tracking document/records
Employment insurance benefits
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
T4E Statement of Employment Insurance and Other Benefits (AF) from My Service Canada Account
Social assistance and worker’s compensation (non-taxable)T5007 Statement of Benefits – Workers Compensation or Social Assistance benefits – box 11, 10 (AF) in the mail from a provincial board or agency
Canada Worker’s Benefit (CWB)RC210 Canada workers benefit advance payments statement (AF) from CRA My Account
Defined Profit-Sharing Plan (DPSP)T4PS Statement of Employee Profit-Sharing Plan Allocations and Payments from employer
Alimony/child support paymentsAgreement, amount received

Self-employment

Business income (sole proprietorship)
Professional income
Income Statement (Profit & Loss) to complete T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities
Partnership income (limited or non-active)Must complete T5013 Statement of Partnership Income (AF)
Dividend income
Interest income
Royalty income
Other income
T5 Statement of Investment Income (AF) from bank, broker
Contract income from contractor or governmentT5018, Statement of Contract Payments or T1204, Government Services Contract Payments (AF)

Investments, savings & rental

Capital gains upon sale or deemed sale of taxable investments including shares, bonds, real estate other than primary residence or other assets, employee stock optionsT3/T5 slips, T5008 Statement of Securities Transactions (AF) slips from broker, trading summary, realized gain/loss report, adjusted cost base (ACB) report
Bank account interest
Dividends income
T5 Statement of Investment Income (AF) from bank, broker
Rental incomeStatement of rental income to complete T776 Statement of Real Estate Rentals
Income from a trust or mutual fundT3 Statement of Trust Income Allocations and Designations from trustee
Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) repaymentRepayment details from CRA My Account (AF) for the completion of Schedule 7
Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) repaymentRepayment details from CRA My Account (AF) for the completion of Schedule 7
Ownership of a foreign corporationT1134 Information Return Relating To Controlled and Non-Controlled Foreign Affiliates
Ownership of foreign assets/property >$100,000T1135 Foreign Income Verification Statement

Retirement

Pension and annuity income
Retirement allowance
Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) withdrawals
Other pension or annuity income
T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income (AF)
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
Disability benefits
T4A(P) Statement of Canada Pension Plan Benefits (AF)
Old Age Security (OAS) pensionT4A(OAS) Statement of Old Age Security (AF)
Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) income/withdrawalsT4RSP Statement of RRSP Income (AF)
Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)T4RIF Statement of income from a Registered Retirement Income Fund (AF)

Tax deductions, credits and expenses

All of the documents that provide proof of the money you received in the previous calendar year. Eligible expenses (deductions) and credits help reduce your taxable income and therefore lower your tax bill (or increase your tax refund).

Taking the time to find these can be worth it: spending an hour or two going through your records, while boring, could increase your tax refund by hundreds of dollars. If you don’t file, you may miss out on certain credits that you qualify for such as the Canada workers benefit (CWB) and some are not paid retroactively if you file in a later year.

Charitable donationsReceipts for eligible donations
Political party donations (Federal or Provincial)Receipts for eligible donations
Medical expenses for you, spouse and dependents not covered by your health planReceipts for eligible expenses
Dental expenses for you, spouse and dependents not covered by your health planReceipts for eligible expenses
Vision expenses for you, spouse and dependents not covered by your health planReceipts for eligible expenses
Disability creditT2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate signed by a doctor
Moving expensesReceipts for eligible expenses
Legal expenses for CRA audits, to collect salary/wages, pension or retiring allowance, make child support payments non-taxableReceipts for eligible expenses

Families

Child care expensesReceipts for eligible expenses
Adoption expensesReceipts for eligible expenses
Caregiver of family member with an impairment creditSigned statement from medical practitioner
Alimony/child support paymentsReceipts from recipient, bank/agency statements

Employment

Home office (work from home) expensesT2200S Declaration of Conditions of Employment for Working at Home Due to COVID-19, completed and signed by employer if using the detailed method – see employment expenses
Employment expenses
Accounting fees (commission employees)
T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment, completed and signed by employer – see employment expenses
Tools expensesReceipts for eligible tools and T2200 completed and signed by employer
Professional or union dues
Employment insurance premiums
CPP or QPP contributions
T4 (AF) and receipts for other eligible dues

Self-employment

Business-use-of-home and carReceipts for eligible expenses and vehicle travel logbook

Investments, savings & rental

RRSP contributionsContribution receipts from broker, deduction limit and unused amounts (AF) from CRA My Account
Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) contributionsContribution receipt slip (AF)
Capital losses upon sale or deemed sale of taxable investments including: shares, bonds, real estate other than primary residence or other assets, employee stock optionsT3/T5 slips, broker statements, T5008 Statement of Securities Transactions (AF) – up to 500 slips
Investment advice and management fees (taxable accounts) and interest expensesReceipts and statements for eligible expenses
Rental expensesRental lossReceipts for eligible expenses to complete T776
Tax shelterT5003 Statement of Tax Shelter Information or T5013 to complete T5004
Flow-through shares (FTS) in taxable accountsT101 Statement of Resource Expenses (PBC), T5013 (partnership)
Invested in petroleum, natural gas, mining, or certain clean energy generationT5, T101, or T5013 to complete  T1229

Education & students

Tuition fees, carry forward amounts
Canada training credit (CTC)
T2202 Tuition and Enrolment Certificate (AF) or TL11A (outside Canada), TL11C (commute to US), TL11D from institution
Exam fees for professional designations/certificationReceipt for eligible exams
Student loan interest paidStatements (AF)

Other

Digital news subscription expensesReceipts for eligible subscriptions
School supplies expenses (teaching supplies)Receipts for eligible supplies
Home accessibility expensesReceipts for eligible expenses
Volunteer firefighter or search and rescue volunteerMembership to eligible organization

US slips

Employment incomeW-2
US Income Subject to Withholding1042-S
Dividend income1099-DIV
Retirement income (Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans)1099-R
Investment income1099-INT
Other miscellaneous income1099-MISC
Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, CreditsK-1 (1065)

Provincial and territorial tax and credits for individuals

In addition to federal income tax credits and deductions listed above, you may also be eligible for credits and deductions specific to your province. The CRA provides a list of these by province.

How long should I keep my income tax records?

Keep tax records and supporting documents for 6 years.

In case your return is selected for review (audit), the CRA asks that you keep your tax returns and supporting documents (T-slips, forms, receipts, bank statements, notice of assessments etc.) for 6 years from the end of the tax year they relate to in order to provide proof of the tax credits and deductions you claimed.

Where to get help with your taxes

If you are on a low income or re not able to complete your own simple income tax return: The CRA and the ARQ train community volunteers to help people complete their simple personal income tax return for free through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.

If you are a small business owner or self-employed: Get free tax help to better understand your tax obligations by booking a virtual visit with a Liaison Officer.

Contact the CRA: Call the CRA and you’ll now be given the option to request a callback if wait times are too long.

Manage your taxes online

Registering for My Account or the MyCRA mobile web app enables you to:

  • Change your address, phone number, or other personal information 
  • Sign up for direct deposit to get your refund sooner
  • Get email notifications/reminders
  • Documents for past years (notice of assessment, RRSP/TFSA contributions)

Over to you

We’re interested to know – how do you file your tax return and how long does it take you every year? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About the author

Alex Wideman
Alex Wideman is a consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and the editor-in-chief of Cansumer. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Queen's University. He is passionate about helping others save time and money and has been creating consumer-focused online resources for over 10 years. More about Cansumer Read more

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