Paper Filing: A Right or a Problem of the Past?

Tammy Sigurdur

If your clients are looking for paper copies of this year’s tax forms at the post office, they may be out of luck. Despite many locations posting advanced notice that they would be providing a limited number of paper forms this year, it is particularly concerning that some locations ran out early in the tax season. Some argue that the most vulnerable Canadians may be the most affected by these shortages.

Walter Harder, a Knowledge Bureau Master Instructor and course author, reported that his post office in BC no longer had paper copies of the tax forms and guides as of mid-March The problem is likely to affect low-income households and individuals, and seniors who may not own a computer or be proficient with technology, or those in remote areas who have spotty or no access to the internet.  

Although anyone is able to request tax forms via telephone, many Canadians are not aware of this option.

As someone who works in the tax and financial services, there are a few ways that you can help:

  • Have paper copies of this year’s tax forms in your office to distribute to those who may want or need them.
  • Direct people who cannot pay for tax services to a community volunteer income tax program. CRA works with community organizations to connect volunteers with eligible low-income individuals with simple tax situations who need help preparing their tax returns.
  • Volunteer for a community volunteer tax program or at a tax clinic. Many tax experts choose to volunteer their services to help new and low-income Canadians at tax time. This service helps to ensure not only the preservation of a fair and just taxation system, but it also helps vulnerable Canadians ensure that they are claiming all available tax credits and programs available to them.

The bottom line is that no matter how you want to file your tax return, resources (including tax forms and guides) should be available and accessible to every Canadian. At least, according to a recent Knowledge Bureau poll on the matter, where 89% of tax pros who responded endorsed continuing the paper filing option even despite limited use by Canadians. Professional advisors can play an important role in helping those people who can’t otherwise obtain the forms they need to file their returns. This help will be appreciated and may result in new business growth by referrals down the line.

Additional educational resources: To learn more about the changes to Canada’s taxation system, take a deeper dive into the 2019 federal budget at the Spring CE Summits, taking place in Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto this May and June. Register before May 15.

New provisions proposed in the federal budget will be discussed that have the potential to help lower-income Canadians, including automatic enrolment CPP enrolment for seniors 70 and older, and the Canada Training Benefit (and associated EI support) that can help provide vulnerable Canadians with the training they need to access better job opportunities.

Or, learn more about Canada’s taxation system online. The DFA- Tax Services Specialist™ Designation program provides thorough training through comprehensive income courses that cover all aspects of personal income tax filing and planning from basic to complex scenarios.

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