A tax return form is pictured in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you. Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

A tax return form is pictured in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you. Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

The Canada Revenue Agency is sending an unlikely message to kick off tax season: Paper-filers, we have not forgotten you.

Despite a years-long push to have more people file taxes online because it’s generally faster and easier, many Canadians still prefer putting pen, or pencil, to paper.

The people who prefer paper to online are getting particular attention because they tend to be Canadians whose tax files are needed to send them essential benefit payments.

There are seniors who need old-age security, parents eligible for the Canada Child Benefit and first-time filers who might be eligible for a new benefit for low-income workers.

Because of that, the CRA has made changes to the paper tax booklet to further simplify language, add notes about new benefits for the 2019 tax year, and include a checklist so nothing gets missed.

Frank Vermaeten, the CRA’s assistant commissioner, said the agency wants to make sure those who prefer paper are still comfortable using it amid wider pushes to electronic filing.

“Certainly, we promote electronic filing — we see a lot of benefits for Canadians in doing that, but we also want to be sure that paper filers are served and served well,” Vermaeten said in an interview.

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings.

Even at the current rate people are shifting to digital filing and away from paper, Vermaeten said the CRA could see paper files for another 20 years.

The agency’s tax machine fired up in earnest Monday, with new staff joining call centres that run at extended hours.

About 1.6 million printed tax-return booklets are also being mailed out that include an option for some to file by phone if their incomes are largely unchanged from year to year, such as seniors.

Staff have also been hired to manage paper filers, including a team that searches for errors and corrects them.

Vermaeten said a new service will see staff input forgotten T4 slips, for instance, on paper returns filed before the deadline, to save taxpayers interest penalties.

The deadline to file taxes without penalty is the end of April, and the CRA will be processing returns through to June — just as it starts planning for tax season next year.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

taxes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Victoria for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

(Courtesy Saanich Police Dept.)
Police hope boot search will help find missing Saanich man

Sean Hart is known to walk for miles, with or without his boots

A Colwood couple has set up over 140 Christmas inflatable decorations around their property at 555 Girdou Rd. The home is lit with Christmas music playing from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Colwood house decorated to the nines with Christmas inflatables

Display on Girou Road open to spectators from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday

Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. (Don Descoteau/News Staff) 
Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. But thanks to a new program from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, many downtown businesses will soon be able to provide free delivery for customers across the region. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Downtown Victoria businesses offered free delivery for regional customers

DVBA launches ‘Downtown Delivers’ program Dec. 7

Victoria police seized drugs, knives, two firearms and ammunition off a man early Nov. 4. (Victoria Police Department)
VicPD makes early morning drug and weapons seizure

Officers seize drugs, knives, two firearms and ammunition

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

Most Read