How Long Does It Take to Get Your Tax Refund in Canada?

How Long It Takes Partly Depends on How You File Your Canadian Tax Return

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How long does it take to get your tax refund. sturti / Getty Images

Question: How long does it take to get your tax refund after you file Canadian income tax?

Answer:

How long it takes to get your Canadian tax refund depends on when and how you filed your Canadian income tax return.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) advises that they usually process paper tax returns in four to six weeks. Canadian income tax returns that are filed electronically are processed faster, often within as few as eight business days.

However, realistically, you can't expect a Canadian tax refund before March at the earliest, even if you filed your tax return in January, because the Canada Revenue Agency doesn't start processing income tax returns until mid-February.

Checking the Status of Your Tax Refund/Return

There are several ways to check on the status of your return/refund with the CRA. You can check it online in one of three ways depending on whether your return is individual or corporate (T2) :

  • My Account - usable for individual tax returns (which includes sole proprietorships). From a web browser you can view the status of your return, your notice of assessment, modify your return, enter/edit direct deposit information, make payments, get information on your RRSP and TFSA accounts, submit documents, update your contact information, and more.
  • From a mobile device using the MyCRA application (for individual tax returns). MyCRA allows you to view the status of your return and your notice of assessment, your RRSP/TFSA contribution limits, manage direct deposits, and update your contact information.
  • My Business Account (for corporate tax returns) - From a browser you can file, view, and check the status of your return. You can also manage direct deposits, address changes, and file Notices of Objection for disputed returns.

You can also check on your refund/return by calling the CRA's Telerefund line at 1-800-959-1956 or the Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) line at 1-800-267-6999.

Note that to access your tax account information you need to be prepared have to provide the following information to properly identify yourself or your business:

  • Social insurance number (SIN) for individuals or business number for corporations
  • Individual or business name
  • Individual or business address
  • Date of birth (individuals)
  • For individuals, details from your account or a previous assessed return, notice of assessment, etc.
  • For business accounts, details from your account or your most recently assessed business return

Note that the earliest you can expect information to be available via Telerefund or TIPS is mid-March (if you filed before mid-February). Otherwise you need to wait at least four weeks if you filed between mid-February and mid-April. If you filed after mid-April wait at least six weeks to call.

How Your Return/Refund Can Be Delayed

The quickest way to get your tax return processed is to file it electronically. Even so, however, your refund can be delayed for a number of different reasons, including:

  • your contact information has changed. If the CRA needs to get in touch with you to verify some information on your return and does not have your up-to-date contact information it will take longer to process your return.
  • errors on your return. Misreporting income or expenses can delay your return and put you at risk of an audit by the CRA.
  • your return has been selected for review. The CRA may select your return for a review for several reasons, including:
    • your return was randomly chosen
    • you have large year-over-year changes in your deduction claims
    • your tax history (for example if you have if you have been previously reassessed, or penalized).
    During a review the CRA may request documentation in support of your claims.
  • your return is in error and instead of a refund you have a balance owing or you have a balance owing from previous years.

Will You Get the Refund You Expect?

Also, be aware that the Canada Revenue Agency may keep some or all of your income tax refund if any of the following situations apply: 

  • you owe or are about to owe a balance
  • you have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act
  • you owe other federal, provincial, or territorial government debts, such as student loans, employment insurance and social assistance benefit overpayments, immigration loans, and training allowance overpayments
  • you have any outstanding GST/HST returns from a sole proprietorship or partnership
  • you have a refund of $2 or less (CRA)

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