Luisa Rollenhagen is a journalist and investor who writes about financial planning for Wealthsimple. She is a past winner of the David James Burrell Prize for journalistic achievement and her work has been published in GQ Magazine and BuzzFeed. Luisa earned her M.A. in Journalism at New York University and is now based in Berlin, Germany.
Doing your taxes is like going to the dentist: No one wants to do it, but putting it off will have some pretty unpleasant consequences later on. Fortunately, the Canada Revenue Service (CRA) does have a system to make tax season a tiny bit less painful: The notice of assessment.
What is a notice of assessment
In plain terms, a notice of assessment is an annual statement sent by the CRA that simply tells you how much income tax you owe and how much you can expect as a tax refund, what income tax you already paid, and any tax credits, among other things.
The notice of assessment (NOA) is calculated based off of the information you’ve submitted on your tax returns. You can expect your NOA to show up about two weeks after you filed your return, if you file electronically. If you paper-filed your return, expect your NOA in about about 8 weeks.
But what happens if you see something egregious on your NOA that you know can’t be right? Then you have 90 days to formally object or make amendments to any of the information on the document. Another reason why NOAs are important to keep track of? They will tell you if you happen to be the subject of an audit from CRA. If you don’t agree with the reasons for an audit, you have 90 days to make a formal objection.Easy, fast, and even fun. SimpleTax is CRA-certified tax software that you’ll actually want to use. And you only pay what you want, no catch — get started.
Information on a notice of assessment
In addition to all that handy information on what you actually owe, as well as refund amounts, tax credits, and previously paid income tax, an NOA can also give you a lot of information that’ll be useful a bit down the line. The NOA is particularly helpful if you have a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), since it tells you the maximum contributions you can make toward your RRSP for the following year. And as you might recall, one of the most important things to keep in mind when contributing to your RRSP is knowing how much you contribution room you still have available so you don’t accidentally over-contribute and get hit with a penalty. And if you participated in the Home Buyer’s Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan and withdrew from your RRSP for those purposes, then your NOA will also tell you when future repayments are due, and how much.
How to get your notice of assessment
After you’ve filed your tax return, your NOA can take between two and eight weeks before it’s sent to you (depending on whether you filed electronically or the old-fashioned way). You’ll either receive your NOA via snail mail, or via the CRA’s Online Mail service, which you can register for when you file your tax return electronically through CRA’s “My Account” tab.
If you’ve somehow misplaced your NOA or are suddenly panicking on whether you even received one to begin with, you can always easily access a copy of your NOA online In order to do that, you simply sign into your CRA account online.
Once you’re signed in, click on “View mail” to see any NOAs issued to you after February 9th, 2015. There you also have the option to download any NOA you want as a PDF.
Getting your tax refund
Now that you’ve gotten your NOA and you (hopefully) haven’t received any nformation about any surprise payments that you owe, it’s time for the fun part of tax season: Getting your refund. Your refund is usually sent with your NOA in two weeks time if you file online, and in eight weeks time if you file on paper. Keep in mind that this only goes for filing inside of Canada. Returns may take up to 16 weeks if you live outside Canada and file a non-resident personal income tax return. You can find more information on your tax refund here.