“I don’t need to. My mom’s accountant always does my taxes for me! “
– This Guy
Well, guess what? Your mom’s accountant doesn’t give a bag of duck manure about your financial situation. Do you know what he cares about? He cares about the groceries in his fridge and whether or not he can turn them into dinner. He cares about how he is going to pick up Marty from soccer and Annabelle from piano when Jennifer is at an overnight accountant’s retreat in Montreal until Wednesday. He cares about the Canucks, his stock market portfolio, his fantasy basketball team, and House of Cards. He cares about his taxes. He doesn’t care about you.
Not, at least, as much as you do.
Do you own taxes. It’s not that a professional accountant will do a poor job, it’s just that they can’t possibly be as invested as you should be in making sure it’s done right.
Now, fine, if you have a very complicated tax situation, such as if you own your own large business or have a multitude of registered investments, it may be better to seek professional help. For the rest of us, it’s easy.
Start by registering with the CRA. Just create a new account. That will give you access to least year’s Notice of Assessment, which you’ll need. Download it.
Next, collect your T4 (statement of employment income). It should come in the mail form your employer. If you’ve made money in mutual funds, you’ll have a T3, or in stocks, a T5. They’ll come in the mail from your bank.
If you have other income, I hope you’ve kept your receipts. Also receipts from charitable donations, professional or union dues, tuition and textbooks, etc will be important. Now log into one of these free or inexpensive tax software programs and get started.
I use UFile because it’s free if you’re still in school. SimpleTax is a “pay what you feel” model. I know that TurboTax gets good reviews, but I’ve never tried it.
Now, do your taxes.
If you think you don’t know how, you’re wrong. The tax software will start with an “interview” that gathers up all important information about you. Are you in school? Do you have a job or are you self employed? Do you have a disability? A dependant? How many? Once you’ve finished this section, the tax software with then only present you with the tabs that you need to fill out, specific to your tax situation. Then just fill in the blanks. They are numbered. It’s simple. When you’re finished, hit submit. You’re done.
I have one job and I’m in school. I also have some investments. My taxes take me about 15 minutes each year. My wife is self employed, so hers take about a half an hour because we have to add up receipts for gas and electricity and other items from her home office.
But seriously, an hour tops. And we’re doing it right. How do I know? I’ve been audited, and no errors in my accounting have been found. I always get a nice refund. Tax software also protects you from making grave errors, and it does this all live as your working.
When you do your own taxes, you’re also likely to become much better at tax planning. You begin to see how you can improve your tax situation each year and begin make it so you’re paying less and less tax through careful planning. This is probably the greatest benefit of doing your own taxes – becoming informed.
You’ll be fine.
No one cares as much as you. No one will be as careful as you.
Will they, Kanye?