Taxpayers intend to file early but few do, leaving their money with Ottawa
TORONTO, April 25, 2014 /CNW/ - The Heartbleed online security bug has revealed two character issues that are costing Canadian taxpayers money. When it comes to taxes, Canadians are wonderful at procrastination but horrible at admitting it.
"Every year, more Canadians wait until the last moment to file their tax returns, which means the government gets the benefit of their money longer," said Richard Brown, president of H&R Block Canada. "This year, with the five-day filing extension due to the Heartbleed bug, many are going to let Ottawa hold onto their money even longer."
The increasing tendency of Canadians to put off or delay filing their taxes may also put last-minute filers in a bind. Many small tax preparation businesses typically close their doors by May 1. For some taxpayers, that may mean looking for help in the first week of May since the filing deadline was extended to May 5 because of Heartbleed.
"H&R Block offices will be open with extended hours during the extension but anyone who uses someone other than H&R Block may find they are on their own as some preparers may not be accepting clients after April 30," Brown said.
In addition, the CRA also indicates on its website there may be delays in GST/HST credits, Canada child tax benefit payments, and old age security benefits for those who file after the original April 30 deadline.
As modern life gets more complicated, more taxpayers are delaying what many consider to be an unpleasant chore - filing their taxes. In recent years, according to Canada Revenue Agency statistics, almost one in four taxpayers waited until the final week to file. Estimates this year show that could reach one in three who wait until the final days to file.
But that's not what Canadians tell themselves. More than three quarters said in a recent survey they planned to file before April 22. That's not happening, according to CRA statistics. The survey was conducted by Leger for H&R Block Canada.
Besides delayed access to their own money - via their tax refund - last-minute filing may mean taxpayers are leaving money on the table. For example, of those surveyed, 77 per cent plan to claim a tax credit on their return. Charitable donations, medical expenses and RRSPs top the list. But only four per cent said they will claim the $500 Children's Art Credit.
"Tutoring, art classes, swimming lessons and the interest on your student loan are all credits," said Brown. "Don't pay more tax than you need to just because you find preparing your tax return to be confusing or intimidating."
Besides giving Ottawa an interest-free loan, by delaying their return filing many taxpayers also are adding to their own interest expenses. Almost four in 10 of those surveyed said they will use their tax refund - which is typically more than $1,500 - to pay down debt, thus reducing their own interest expense.
"The federal government is happy to have you wait until the very last minute to pay your taxes because it gets to use your money interest free," said Mr. Brown. "But the tax experts at H&R Block Canada are available to help maximize your refund in as short a time as possible."
About H&R Block Canada
In 2014, H&R Block Canada celebrates 50 years of preparing tax returns in Canada as the leading tax preparation firm in the country. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, the company serves Canadian taxpayers in more than 1,100 offices across the country. H&R Block Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of H&R Block, Inc., a diversified company with subsidiaries providing a wide range of financial products and services. Additional information about H&R Block Canada is available at 1-800-HRBLOCK, or visit www.hrblock.ca, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HRBlockCanada for more tax tips.
SOURCE: H&R Block Canada Inc.
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