Friday, 3 February 2012

Preparing to File 2011 Tax Return - Guide for the Canadian Investor

The annual RRSP ad campaigns now in full swing should be the reminder to Canadian investors to start getting ready for filing their 2011 income tax return. There can be a multitude of slips and receipts to assemble, not to mention older records to dig up and preliminary calculations to do in order to be ready in time for filing on or before the deadline of April 30 set by the tax collector, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA in our table below). We therefore present a calendar checklist that shows what type of documents to expect when and from whom, along with key dates.

2011 throughout Investment interest expense on funds borrowed to invest appears on statements from broker for margin, or bank for loan


January mid CRA pdf tax forms for printing available for download at

February start T3 slips for mutual funds mailed directly by Mutual fund companies, NOT brokers, even when fund is held in a brokerage account. Online list and links to companies at

13 CRA online filing service NetFile starts accepting 2011 tax returns – certified software list at
Web software packages reviewed and rated by CanadianFinancialDIY – see last year's results at

continual CRA issues tax refunds, often within days, if return is filed electronically

mid ETF providers publish tax breakdown on their website. ETF providers in Canada list and links at
Note that broker sends out official T3/T5 receipts for ETFs but investor must track own adjusted cost base – see
Income Trusts, which often distribute Return of Capital, have same tracking challenge

mid T4A Educational Assistance Payment slips from RESP sent to beneficiaries by brokers or financial institution where RESP is held

mid T4A and T5 slips for registered or non-registered annuity payouts mailed by insurance companies

end Brokers mailout tax package with T5 slips, T4A, T4RSP, T4RIF, T4LIF, T4LIRA withdrawal slips. Part of package is detail of Trading Activity an essential for calculating capital gains. Prior year statements may be required to establish the adjusted cost base of an investment if buy and sell dates in different years.
Bond, GIC, CSB, term deposit, interest on cash deposits less than $50 may not show on a T5 but still must be reported; refer to transaction statements to find the amounts
T-Bill and Stripped bond returns need the trading activity to calculate the interest to be reported (redemption/sale amount – pruchase cost) since T5 does NOT show it, even when over $50 e.g.

end RRSP contribution receipts - brokers & mutual fund companies issue 2011 tax receipts for contributions during Jan 2012

29 RRSP – last day for making contribution for 2011 tax year

March end Brokers mailout T5s for Split Corps

end T3 trust slips mailed by brokers; laggard REITs, Income Trusts, Royalty Trusts and Limited Partnerships often responsible – see

end T3 or T5 slips for mutual funds mailed directly by Mutual fund companies, NOT brokers, even when fund is held in a brokerage account

end RRSP contribution receipts - brokers & mutual fund companies issue 2011 tax receipts for contributions during Feb 2012
April 30 CRA – last day to file 2011 return and pay amounts owing to avoid penalties

June 15 CRA – last day to file 2011 return for self-employed though amounts owing deadline is still April 30

September 29 CRA – last day for online filing service NetFile to accept 2011 tax returns

Note that apart from rigid CRA dates, our list of timings is approximate - there can be weeks or more of variation amongst companies that issue the slips and receipts. If in doubt check the website or phone the company involved but don't leave it to the last few days before April 30. It is likely to be hard to get a response in time to file.
In addition to the above calendar, we also refer blog readers to previous posts that can help with preparing taxes: Tax Resources and the 2011 Investor Calendar's many links to Tax Topic Resources. These posts include links to general tax websites that cover other personal tax items that we have ignored here in our focus on investing.

One special note: Preparing and filing electronically makes much sense. Not only does any refund come much faster but the best of the software packages really help ensure you do not miss or mis-report anything and they may even find deductions or optimizations that save you money.

Though we cannot really go so far as to say you should enjoy the experience of preparing your 2011 return, hopefully we have provided enough information to make the task, in true Canadian parlance, "not unpleasant".

Disclaimer: this post is my opinion only and should not be construed as investment or tax advice. Readers should be aware that the above comparisons are not an investment or tax recommendation. They rest on other sources, whose accuracy is not guaranteed and the article may not interpret such results correctly. Do your homework before making any decisions and consider consulting a professional advisor.

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