A Guide to Pre and Post-Tax Season Financial Planning

Kandice Martinez
February 23, 2024

Now that tax season is over, it’s time to shift our focus to post-tax season financial planning. Filing your taxes is just the first step in managing your financial situation effectively. There are several important actions you should take after filing your taxes to ensure that you are making the most of your money. In this guide, we will walk you through the crucial steps to take and provide tips to help you navigate the post-tax season landscape.

Essential Steps for Filing Your Taxes

Navigating the Tax Filing Process

Start by gathering all the necessary documents, such as your T4 slips, receipts, and any other relevant financial records. Keeping your documents organized can make the process much smoother.

Next, choose the appropriate method for filing your taxes. You can either file them online using tax software or seek the assistance of a professional tax preparer.

Once you’ve completed your tax return, make sure to review it for any errors or omissions. Double-checking your return will help avoid any potential issues down the line.

After reviewing your tax return, take a moment to explore some lesser-known deductions and credits that you may be eligible for. For example, did you know that you can claim a deduction for medical expenses that exceed a certain threshold? Or that you may be eligible for the Canada Workers Benefit (CWB), which provides tax relief for low-income individuals and families?

By taking advantage of these deductions and credits, you can potentially reduce your tax liability and increase your refund.

Tracking Your Tax Return: How to Check Your Status

After filing your taxes, it’s natural to wonder about the status of your tax return. Thankfully, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides an online tool that allows you to track your tax return.

Simply log in to your CRA account and navigate to the “My Account” section. From there, you can view the status of your return, including whether it has been received and processed. Monitoring your return’s progress will help ease any concerns you may have.

In addition to tracking your tax return, it’s important to understand how long it typically takes for the CRA to process your return. Generally, if you filed electronically, you can expect to receive your refund within two weeks. However, if you filed a paper return, it may take up to eight weeks for the CRA to process it.

Organising Your Tax Documents for Future Reference

Now that your taxes are filed, it’s time to think about organising your tax documents for future reference.

Consider creating a dedicated folder or filing system to store all your tax-related documents. This will make it easier to locate them next year when it’s time to file your taxes again. Additionally, organising your documents will ensure you have the necessary paperwork if you get audited by the CRA.

As you organise your tax documents, take a moment to review your financial goals and consider how your tax return can help you achieve them. Whether it’s saving for a down payment on a house, starting a business, or funding your child’s education, your tax refund or tax savings can be a valuable tool in reaching your financial aspirations.

Settling Your Tax Debt: Payment Options and Strategies

If you have a tax debt this year, it’s crucial to address it promptly to avoid any potential penalties or interest charges. The CRA offers several payment options to help you settle your tax debt:

  1. Pay in full: If possible, paying your entire tax debt upfront is the best option. This will prevent any additional interest charges from accruing.
  2. Instalment payments: If you are unable to pay in full, the CRA allows you to set up a payment plan. This will allow you to pay off your tax debt in smaller, manageable instalments. You may also want to consider future quarterly remittances.
  3. Apply for tax relief: In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for tax relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). These programs provide financial assistance to individuals and businesses facing financial hardship.
  4. If you are concerned about your ability to repay your tax debt you may need help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). An experienced LIT can discuss additional options that may be available to you.

Consult with a tax professional to determine the best approach for settling your tax debt and to explore any available options for relief.

Maximising Your Tax Refund: Smart Saving and Spending Tips

If you are fortunate enough to receive a tax refund, it’s important to use it wisely. Here are some smart saving and spending tips to help you make the most of your tax refund:

  • Create an emergency fund: Consider using a portion of your tax refund to establish or strengthen your emergency fund. Having a financial safety net can provide peace of mind and protect you from unexpected expenses.
  • Invest in your future: Take advantage of the extra funds by investing in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). By investing in these tax-efficient vehicles, you can grow your money over time and secure your financial future.
  • Pay off high-interest debt: If you have any outstanding high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, consider using your tax refund to pay it off. This will save you money on interest payments and help improve your overall financial health.
  • Support a cause: Consider donating a portion of your tax refund to a charitable organisation or cause that you are passionate about. Not only will you be making a positive impact, but you may also be eligible for a tax credit, further maximising the value of your refund.

Planning for a Successful Tax Year Ahead

While post-tax season planning is essential, it’s also important to start thinking about the upcoming tax year. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

post-tax season financial planning

Key Considerations for the Upcoming Tax Season

Review your financial goals: Take some time to reflect on your financial goals and plan accordingly. Whether it’s saving for a down payment on a house or starting a business, aligning your finances with your goals is crucial.

Organise your receipts: Start a habit of organising your receipts and financial records throughout the year. This will make next year’s tax filing process much more manageable and reduce the risk of missing out on eligible deductions and credits.

Consider professional advice: If you find the tax filing process overwhelming or have complex financial situations, it may be beneficial to seek the guidance of a professional tax advisor or financial planner. They can provide valuable insights and ensure you maximise your tax deductions.

Stay informed about tax law changes: Tax laws can change from year to year, so it’s important to stay up to date with any relevant updates. This will help you adapt your financial strategies and take advantage of any new deductions or credits.

By following these post-tax season financial planning steps and preparing for the year ahead, you can gain control over your finances and make informed decisions. Remember, it’s never too early to start planning for your future and taking steps towards financial security.