Repeat late filers can see penalties of 50 per cent of balance owing
TORONTO, April 25, 2012 /CNW/ - With less than a week to go to the April 30 deadline, 45 per cent of Canadian tax filers have yet to submit their returns potentially putting some at risk of paying late penalties and interest charges, says Jamie Golombek, CIBC's managing director of Tax and Estate Planning. Self-employed individuals (and their spouse or partner) have until June 15 to file, but any balance owing is due April 30.
According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), as of April 23, 14.3 million Canadians had submitted a return. That's about 55 per cent of the 25.7 million returns that were filed in Canada in 2009, a close proxy for the number of returns anticipated to be filed for 2011.
"If you don't file your return on time, penalties can add up quickly," says Mr. Golombek. "CRA imposes a penalty of five per cent of the amount owing for 2011 plus one per cent of the outstanding balance for each full month that your return is late, to a maximum of 12 months."
He notes that if you were subject to a late-filing penalty for any of the previous three years (2008, 2009 or 2010), your 2011 penalty could more than double. Repeat offenders face penalties of 10 per cent of the amount owing for 2011 plus two per cent of the outstanding balance for each full month that the return is late, to a maximum of 20 months. "This can result in a penalty of 50 per cent of your balance owing," he adds. "Non-deductible arrears interest is charged on top of the penalty, currently at the prescribed rate of five per cent per annum."
"Even if you think that you won't have any penalties for late-filing because you're expecting a refund, there are still a few good reasons to file on time. The most obvious is that the sooner you file, the sooner you get your refund. Also, you can only establish eligibility for benefits such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit by filing a tax return - again, the sooner you file, the sooner you'll be eligible to get benefits."
A less obvious reason for timely filing is that CRA may assess your return differently than you anticipate, or reassess in the future, which could leave you unexpectedly with a balance owing. This will trigger not only the onerous late-filing penalties, but also interest that applies retroactively to the original due date of the return.
A reason Canadians may submit late is because they are missing tax slips or receipts. In these cases, Mr. Golombek advises you to file a paper return and attach a note stating the payer's name and address, the type of income involved and what you are doing to get the slip. Canadians should use pay stubs or statements to estimate the amount of income to report and/or any deductions or credits.
He also advises that Canadians who owned foreign property with a total cost of more than $100,000 during any period in 2011, need to file Form T1135 "Foreign Income Verification Statement" by the due date for their T1 income tax return. "You must report the types of foreign investments you own, the total cost of those investments, their geographical locations, and the total income from the foreign investments. The penalty for failure to file Form T1135 on time, even if you reported all your foreign income, is $25 per day, to a maximum of $2,500."
Many of the 14.3 million Canadians that have already filed are getting a refund. So far, the CRA has issued refunds of $14.8 billion, with the average refund being about $1,500 per person, compared to just $5.2 billion reported as taxes owing to the government.
"Typically Canadians who expect a refund are among the first to file a tax return so they can get their money back as early as possible," says Mr. Golombek. "While many early refund recipients may feel proud of their fiscal management, remember that getting a refund is just a sign of poor tax planning. It means that you have loaned your hard-earned money to the government, interest-free, for up to 16 months."
For Canadians who have tax withheld at source by their employers, the most common reason for receiving a refund is because RRSP contributions claimed on tax returns are not taken into account by employers when calculating withholding taxes to be deducted on their paycheques.
To avoid this in the future, Mr. Golombek advises Canadians to complete and file CRA's Form T1213, "Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source". Once approved by the CRA, the Form authorizes your employer to reduce your taxes withheld at source, increasing the amount on each paycheque.
Mr. Golombek notes that Canadians are increasingly filing their taxes electronically. According to the CRA, as of April 23:
- 74 per cent of taxpayers had filed their 2011 returns electronically
- 24 per cent had submitted their return by mail, courier, or personal delivery
- 2 per cent had filed their returns by telephone
"Canadians should do whatever they can to ensure they file on time, especially if they owe the CRA money," says Mr. Golombek.
CIBC is a leading North American financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada, and has offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Press Centre on our corporate website at www.cibc.com.