I distinctly remember the first time I had to file my taxes online by myself.
I’d been graduated from university for almost a year at that point, and was working full-time. My mom, who rightly saw that I was (almost) a fully-functioning adult, was like, “Here are all your tax documents, and also my accountant isn’t going to file your taxes for you this year.”
I went straight to Google, since that’s how I make all of my important life choices (literally, it’s how I chose my robo-advisor and everything) and typed in “how do I file my taxes online in Canada”.
Out of all of the results, I picked one called SimpleTax, because it seemed like a reassuring name for a tax company.
You’re going to make this simple for me? Cool, I’m in, let’s do this thing.
So we did that thing.
And I had such a great, simple, easy experience that I’ve been filing my taxes with them ever since. Bonus: all of those past returns are literally at my fingertips thanks to their account history. I can download them anytime, which is so much easier than unearthing my tax shoebox.
Which no, I don’t recommend as a filing system.
To pay the easy-tax-filing forward, I’ve got everything you’ll need to know to file your taxes online in Canada right here. Because dear every millennial who’s currently freaking out about filing their taxes for the first time: it’s not that hard, I promise.
Step One: Recognize that you actually have pretty simple taxes
If you’re a millennial (like me!) and have a full-time job (like me!) and your financial life isn’t incredibly complicated?
Your taxes are going to be so easy.
Trust me on this, if you’re not full-time self-employed, if you don’t have a bonkers amount of taxable investment income, and if you have no dependents? You have all of the skills and knowledge you need to manage to file your own taxes.
Step Two: Find all of your documents.
Now, take this advice with a grain of salt, because I am the human who gets 80% through filing her taxes and is like “Aw h*ck, I totally don’t have ___________.”
There’s always something.
However, if you want to be extra-prepared, and knock out your taxes as fast as you can, you’ll want to get all of your key documents together ahead of time. Since I’m not a tax expert, I’ll leave making those lists to the tax pros, and you can consult this excellent PDF from Simpletax that lists everything you could possibly need to file your taxes.
And again, if your tax situation is pretty straightforward, you won’t even need half of those.
Step Three: Actually file your taxes online.
If you’ve ever seen a tax form, you know that—try as they might—they’re not especially intuitive or simple to use. That’s where Simpletax really shines. The interface is basically what you’d expect of a slick startup, except for taxes.
They walk you through everything, and all you need to do to find the forms you need to fill out? Search for them.
Seriously, this little search box is the tax assistant you’ve always wanted. From T5s to reporting your side hustle income, Simpletax has got you covered.
Bonus: You can autocomplete most of your return using Auto-fill. If you have an online account with the CRA (you should, it’s deeply helpful) you can automatically fill in anything on this list of tax documents with a blue star beside it. So if you only need to claim those things, Simpletax has you set up to pull it all in from the CRA in like…. seconds. Literally seconds.
Step Four: Sign up for MyAccount on the CRA website.
If you want to make life easier for both current-you and future-you, signing up for MyAccount with the CRA is an amazing idea. It lets you do stuff like get your tax return direct-deposited into your bank account, and find important details about your taxes online for the next time you file.
Since I feel like everyone who reads this is all about the online tools, you should all probably go sign up ASAP. I mean, what else do we pay taxes for if not excellent online government services, right?
And I guess the in-person stuff is nice too. Love ya, healthcare.
Step Five: Pour yourself a drink, ’cause you’re done.
What?! Yeah. That’s literally it.
I remember the first time I managed to file my taxes by myself, and I’m not joking when I say I ran into my roommate’s room and made him high-five me. It’s one of those things that feels intimidating before you do it, but once you dive in, you realize it’s well within your skill level to file a tax return—which in turn makes you feel like a total money champion.
These days, and yes this is the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said, doing my taxes is actually something I look forward to every year. It’s a great way to take a look back on your money from the past year, and it’s basically just a puzzle with numbers. Who doesn’t love puzzles, right?
All of those warm, puzzle-loving feelings are channelled into my Simpletax account every year, so if you’re staring down tax season without an easy way to file? I got you fam. Well, Simpletax has got you, anyways, so what are you waiting for?
PS. If you’re wondering, this post is not sponsored or affiliated with SimpleTax in any way. I’ve worked with them in the past, but my enduring love for them is pure—I’m going on seven years of filing using their software, which is longer than I’ve run this blog.