How and when to file your 2023 tax return - Akler Browning LLP

February 28, 2024by Akmin

Each year, the Canada Revenue Agency publishes a statistical summary of the tax filing patterns of Canadians during the previous filing season. The final statistics for 2023 show that the vast majority of Canadian individual income tax returns – just over 92%, or just under 30 million returns – were filed by electronic means, using one or the other of the CRA’s web-based filing methods. About 2.5 million returns – or just under 8% – were paper-filed.

Clearly, electronic filing is the overwhelming choice of Canadian taxpayers, and those who choose electronic filing this year have two choices – NETFILE and E-FILE. The first of those – NETFILE (used last year by just under 33% of tax filers) – involves preparing one’s return using software approved by the CRA and filing that return on the CRA’s website, using the CRA’s NETFILE service. The second method – E-FILE – involves having a third party file one’s return online. Almost always, the E-FILE service provider also prepares the return which they are filing. And it seems that most Canadians want to have little to do with the preparation of their own returns, as last year just under 60% of all the individual income tax returns filed came in by E-FILE.

The majority of Canadians who would rather have someone else deal with the intricacies of the Canadian tax system on their behalf can find information about E-FILE on the CRA website at That site will also provide a listing (searchable by postal code) of authorized E-FILE service providers across Canada; the listing can be found at

Those who are able and willing to prepare their own tax returns and file online can use the CRA’s NETFILE service (which will be available as of Monday, February 19, 2024, at 6 a.m. Eastern Time); information on that service can be found at While there are some kinds of returns which cannot be filed using NETFILE (for instance, a return for a non-resident of Canada, or for someone who declared bankruptcy in 2022 or 2023), the vast majority of Canadians who wish to do so will be able to NETFILE their return.

At one time, it was necessary to obtain and provide an access code in order to NETFILE. While such a code is no longer a requirement, the CRA has provided tax filers with a taxpayer-specific code which can be included with the return for 2023. That eight-character alpha-numeric code is found (in very small type) in the top right-hand corner of the first page of the 2023 Notice of Assessment, just under the “Date Issued” line for that Notice of Assessment. Including the code with your return is not mandatory; however, the taxpayer will be able to use information from the 2023 return when confirming their identity with the CRA only if the code was provided on that return.

A return can be filed using NETFILE only where it is prepared using tax return preparation software which has been approved by the CRA. While such software can be found for sale just about everywhere at this time of year, approved software which can be used free of charge, or for a nominal charge, is also available. A listing of free and commercial software products which are approved for use in preparing individual returns for 2023 is maintained on the CRA website at That listing will be updated and added to once the NETFILE service for 2023 returns is open, and throughout the tax filing season.

The CRA will automatically send (by regular mail) a hard copy of the 2023 tax return package to anyone who paper-filed a return for 2022. However, for the first time this year, that tax return package will not include a line-by-line guide on how to complete the return. Taxpayers who wish to have a paper copy of that line-by-line guide sent to them by mail can order a copy of the guide (or of the entire tax return package of forms and guide) on the CRA website at Finally, taxpayers can download and print a hard copy of the return and guide from the CRA website at

A minority of taxpayers will have the option of filing their returns using a touch-tone telephone. That option, called SimpleFile by Phone (which until this year was called “File my Return”), will be available to eligible lower-income Canadians whose returns are relatively simple and whose tax situation remains relatively unchanged from year to year. For such taxpayers, it is important to file, even if there is no income to report, so that they receive the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. This automated telephone filing option is, however, available only to taxpayers who are advised by the CRA of their eligibility for the SimpleFile by Phone service; emails and letters advising those individuals of their eligibility are being sent out by the CRA in February 2024. Information on SimpleFile by Phone can be found on the CRA website at SimpleFile by Phone automated phone service –

Finally, taxpayers who are not comfortable preparing their own returns, but for whom the cost of engaging a third party to do so is a financial hardship, have another option. During tax filing season, there are a number of community tax clinics staffed by volunteers at which taxpayers can have their returns prepared free of charge. A searchable listing of the available clinics (which is updated regularly throughout the filing season) and their method of operation (walk-in, appointment, virtual, etc.) this tax season can be found on the CRA website at

While there are a number of filing options available to Canadian taxpayers, there’s no element of choice when it comes to the filing and payment deadlines for tax returns for 2023. The deadline for payment of any balance of taxes owed for 2023 is Tuesday April 30, 2024. There are no exceptions to this deadline and, absent very unusual circumstances, no extensions are possible.

For the majority of Canadians, the tax return for 2023 must also be filed on or before Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Self-employed taxpayers and their spouses, however, have until Monday, June 17, 2024 to file their returns for 2023. (While the filing deadline for self-employed taxpayers and their spouses is normally June 15,this year that date falls on a Saturday and so the filing deadline for self-employed taxpayers and their spouses is extended to Monday June 17, 2024.)  It’s important to note that, regardless of the applicable tax return filing deadline, all Canadian individual taxpayers must pay any balance of tax owed for the 2023 tax year on or before Tuesday April 30, 2024.

A summary of filing and payment due dates for returns for the 2023 tax year can be found on the CRA website at

The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.