Program you need to know about: File My Return

Program you need to know about: File My Return

According to the Government of Canada’s 2023 budget, up to 12 per cent of Canadians currently do not file their tax returns, and the majority of non-filers have low income, such that they pay little to no income tax and likely wouldn’t have an amount owing.

The biggest problem with a low-income individual not filing a tax return even though there is no amount owing is that they may be missing out on valuable benefits and support to which they are entitled, such as the Canada Child Benefit or the Guaranteed Income Supplement. That’s because the government determines eligibility based on the tax return filed. So when a return doesn’t get filed, the government can’t determine whether they’re eligible and cuts those benefits off.

One of the reasons low-income individuals don’t file their returns is that they find the process difficult. Collecting documents, navigating a tax program, and figuring out how to send in the return often seems overly burdensome when they consider they likely don’t owe any tax anyway.

There are many not-for-profit organizations that assist low-income individuals with filing their tax return for free. However, this usually requires the individual to visit the organization in person and bring all of the relevant documents with them. For some who are disabled or work long hours or have to care for others at home, this isn’t easy. Therefore, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been piloting a new service to help such people file their returns.

The service, File My Return, is free and simple, allowing eligible Canadians to auto-file their tax return over the phone after answering a series of short questions. Canadians with simple tax situations and lower or fixed income receive an invitation letter from the CRA to use File My Return. The 2023 budget announced that the federal government will increase the number of eligible Canadians for File My Return to two million by 2025—almost triple the number who were able to access this program in 2022.

In addition, the budget stated that the CRA has held consultations with stakeholders and community organizations and intends to present a plan in 2024 to expand this service even further. The budget also stated that the government will continue to explore other avenues, including potential legislative changes, to ensure vulnerable Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitled. In the meantime, we recommend that people open their mail from CRA and, if they receive an invitation to participate in File My Return, they consider trying this avenue to get their taxes filed quickly and easily so that they can receive all of the benefits for which they’re eligible.

Charla Smith & Company is a Calgary-based Licensed Insolvency Trustee, serving the southern Alberta region. We regularly help individuals with low income navigate their options for dealing with financial distress, particularly when they have overwhelming debt. Contact us if you'd like a free consultation to discuss your debt.

Disclaimer: This publication provides general information and should be seen as broad guidance only. The information contained herein cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon this information without obtaining specific professional advice relating to your particular circumstances. Charla Smith & Company Ltd. does not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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Licensed Insolvency Trustees (or LITs) are the only people who can provide bankruptcy or Consumer Proposals as an option for dealing with your debt. They are uniquely qualified to provide these services and give you advice about your debt. For more information, see our blog post: What is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee?

Reach out to us. You can make an inquiry directly from our website by clicking here, or you can call or text us at 1-403-899-3890. We will respond quickly, and work with you to find a good time for the meeting.

Canada Revenue Agency is a creditor you want to avoid owing money to. They have special powers to collect tax debt, which can mess with your life. 

That said, if you can't afford to pay the tax debt, you risk being unable to pay the loan you take out to pay it. The loan lender may not have the same special collection powers the CRA has, but if you don't pay it back they can eventually make your life miserable, too.

Generally speaking, if you can get more favorable terms from a lender (lower interest rate or longer payment term) that will allow you to be able to afford to pay off the debt, you should consider this option. Otherwise, you may need to discuss other options with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Beyond providing the option of a formal insolvency filing (which does in fact deal with tax debt, despite what you may have heard), they can talk to you about budgeting and other considerations that may help you get your finances under control.


With our experience and our caring approach, we will help you find the best option for debt relief based on your unique situation - from advice on talking to your creditors to a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, and everything in between. We are here to lift the burden caused by overwhelming debt. 

Contact us today at 1-403-899-3890‌ for a FREE, no-commitment meeting, and let us guide you to regaining your financial footing.

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