Ok, I know the CRA doesn’t really need a hype woman, but pals, I have to put this out there: their online accounts are amazing.
And that’s coming from someone who avoided getting back into mine for a long time.
Let me explain.
I had a CRA account once upon a time! In the good old days, before I was all too concerned about money, I registered for an account, and It Was Good.
This was before the days of password managers (at least, it was before the days that I used them) and so over the course of a year when I didn’t check my account, I forgot all my information. But, true to form, I still thought I could figure out what I had used for my password…
…so I got locked out of the system for too many attempts, and got flagged as a hacker. To reset my account, they mailed me a code!
…that went to my mom’s house, which was still my permanent address since I was in school. Which I then didn’t go home to pick up in the required time window.
And from that day forward, I kid you not, I had resigned myself to not having online access to my CRA My Account.
Then I decided it was time
This year, for a few reasons, I decided that no matter what it took (not much tbh) I was going to get access to my CRA account again. So one Friday morning, at the strike of 9AM and their phone lines opening, I called them up.
Not only was my account still locked from my “I’ll totally figure out my password!” hacker days, my address was actually still listed as my mom’s place—which is why all my reset attempts failed, because I was giving them the wrong postal code.
They worked with me to verify that I’m me (praise be to SimpleTax for making my old tax returns so dang easy to find while on the call, to help me pass the security questions related to my 2016 return) and were able to fix everything that I had studiously avoided fixing for so long.
And then I arrived in the promised land. Two things in particular were so helpful that I can’t believe I went without them for so long.
Checking my contribution room
You know, I think I’m pretty good at saving. There was that time I saved half my income, and even though I’m not quite hitting that goal anymore, I still save what I would consider A Lot of Money.
Yeah, my RRSP contribution room and my TFSA contribution room are on the floor laughing at how pitiful my savings attempts are.
Which I kind of knew in theory, but there’s nothing like seeing it in black and white on the CRA website.
I have how much more room until my TFSA is maxed out?!
Now, this is not bad news. I’m happy that I have more room to contribute to those accounts, and it’s a great goal to aim for.
Whether you’re just getting started saving for retirement, or you’re a total pro who needs to make sure you don’t overcontribute to one of the accounts, being able to see your contribution room clearly and easily is a major, major perk.
(But pro tip: it resets at the beginning of the year, so if you’re checking mid-year and you’ve already contributed, the numbers you see don’t take your current-year contributions into account.)
Autofilling my return
As a devoted SimpleTax user, I’ve scrolled past the “Autofill my return” button so many times, because duh, I didn’t know my CRA login information. I like filing my taxes, and putting in the numbers, so it was no big deal at the time.
Until this year.
When I tried “Autofill my return” for the first time.
You know all of those tax forms that you get, like your T4 from your employer, and maybe a T5 from EQ Bank because you earned hundreds of dollars in interest on your savings? They also get filed directly with the CRA, because… you know, I don’t know why exactly, but that’s what happens.
So when you go to file your taxes in SimpleTax, you can pull in all of the information the CRA already has about your taxes with a few simple clicks.
Once you’ve got your basic personal info in, you’ll see the option to autofill your return by connecting with your CRA My Account. (And if you, like me, have used and loved SimpleTax before, you can also add all the sections you used last year to make things even easier.)
When you click Auto-fill my return, a popup will show up that takes you over to the CRA login window, to authenticate that you are who you say you are. We don’t want someone else filing your taxes, after all.
Once you’ve logged in and remembered your password (high five!) the CRA window will pop you back over to SimpleTax and you’ll see a list of available tax information you can auto-fill into your tax return.
(I blurred out my specifics, because I’m pretty sure that’s all you’d need to steal my identity.)
It’s literally that easy.
And if you’re on the fence about filing taxes on your own?
I wrote a whole post last year on how to file your taxes online in Canada, plus a video that sure, makes me cringe when I rewatch it, but the tech screenshots for SimpleTax are still useful af! So I’ll keep it around until I update it. (It just goes to show you, the basics of filing your taxes are pretty timeless—and easy enough to cover in a ten-minute video.)
Once you’re all set with your CRA My Account (hypeeeee) and SimpleTax, filing your taxes will be even easier than you think it’ll be.