How to Send Your Tax Return By Mail
According to statistics provided by the Government of Canada, only 5% of Canadians filed a paper income tax return for the 2019 tax year. But while mail-in returns are becoming increasingly rare, some people still prefer the more traditional income tax filing method. If you’re wondering how to mail a paper tax return, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll cover the basics and let you know why it’s not likely your best option.
Paper Return vs. Online Filing
The CRA still makes it possible to mail your return. But there are drawbacks to doing so. Perhaps the biggest one is the delay in processing. I’ll touch on this more a bit later, but when you mail your return, it can take up to 12 weeks before you receive your refund if you’re getting one. Also, filing your taxes with pen and paper is time-consuming and can result in needless errors.
The alternative is to file your taxes online, through a professional tax preparer or on your own, by using a tax software program. Both of these methods are preferred versus paper filing. Not only is tax software more accurate, but it’s designed to optimize your return, and find tax savings. Tax software allows you to transfer your return electronically to the CRA, and you can receive your refund in as little as one week.
Information Slips You Need to Include In Your Return
When you file your taxes online, you are not required to attach any receipts, scheduled, or information slips with your return. However, you do need to keep copies on hand in case the CRA requests them at a later date.
If you’re sending a paper tax return by mail, you will need to attach the applicable documentation. Here is a list of what you may need to include:
- Income slips: T4, T4A, T3, T4RSP, T4RIF, etc.
- Schedule 2, 5, etc.
- Tuition Enrollment Certificate: T2202
- Provincial claim forms
- RRSP Contribution receipts
- Charitable donation slip
- Child care expenses
- Other expense receipts for self-employment
While not all of these documents are likely to apply to your situation, you can see that it’s a long list.
Steps Before Mailing Your Return
When you’re filing a paper return, you don’t have the benefit of a tax software program to check your return for errors or omissions. That’s why it’s increasingly important that you review your return carefully to make sure it’s accurate.
Once you’ve done that, make sure you’ve included all of the necessary schedules and information slips. Remember to keep copies for your own records. Also, remember to sign your income tax return. Once that’s done, you’re ready to mail your completed return to the CRA.
Where to Mail Your Income Tax Return
If you’re a Canadian resident, you can mail your income tax return to the following addresses, dependent on where you live:
Residents of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, or the Northwest Territories; Ontario residents who live in Hamilton, Kitchener, Waterloo, London, Thunder Bay, or Windsor, mail to:
Winnipeg Tax Centre
Post Office Box 14001
Winnipeg MB R3C 3M3
Residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, or Nunavut; Ontario residents residing in Barrie, Belleville, Kingston, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, or Toronto; Quebec residents residing in Montréal, Outaouais, or Sherbrooke, mail to:
Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 5C2
Quebec: All areas other than Montréal, Outaouais or Sherbrooke, mail to:
Jonquière Tax Centre
2251 René-Lévesque Boulevard
Jonquière QC G7S 5J2
Beware of Delays Caused By COVID-19
It will always take longer to get your refund if you send your tax return by mail, but COVID-19 has caused additional processing delays. At the time of this writing, the CRA estimates that paper return processing may take up to 12 weeks. The hold-ups do not apply to online filing via NETFILE or Efile, so I highly recommend going that route if you have the option.
Alternatives to Sending Your Tax Return By Mail
The easiest way to file your tax return is to do it online. If you use a professional tax preparation service, such as H&R Block, they will be able to Efile your return directly to the government. This way, you can get your refund in about a week. You also have peace of mind knowing that your tax return will be optimized and checked for accuracy.
Filing Your Own Taxes with NETFILE
Another popular option is to file your own return using online tax return software from the comfort of your own home. These programs guide you through the process step-by-step, making life easy. When you’re finished, you can send your return to the government using NETFILE, providing the program you’re using is certified by the CRA.
Our top choice for free tax software is Wealthsimple Tax, while TurboTax is our top paid option. If your return is fairly straightforward, you can easily get it by using free tax software. If you’re self-employed, own an investment property, or hold foreign assets, you may be better off with a more premium tax software version.