Tax Returns & Refunds: Here’s When You Can Expect Them

When you file your income tax and benefit return in Canada, it takes about two to eight weeks to receive a response from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The lead time between when you submit your tax return, and when you get your refund can depend on the filing method you use and how you elect to receive your refund.

When you submit your income tax and benefit return online via the electronic filing method, you can expect to get a reply from the CRA in about two weeks.

On the other hand, this timeline can increase to about eight weeks if you send your tax return in paper form, through the mail.

You should note that these timelines are only applicable when your file your returns within the deadline.

Filing your returns after the deadline can result in delayed processing time and receipt of the Notice of Assessment. 

You can elect to receive your tax refund through a direct deposit.

To receive tax return money directly into your bank account, you will need to sign up for a direct deposit.

The different ways you can sign up for direct deposit are:

  • Through your financial institution
  • Online, through your CRA My Account profile
  • Online, through the CRA mobile web app
  • By phone, call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281

Many financial institutions allow you to set up a direct deposit for payments that you receive from the Canadian government, including your tax return.

If you want to set up a direct deposit by phone, you will need to provide your banking information and personal details such as your social insurance number (SIN), address, and date of birth.

You may also be required to provide information about your recent tax returns or any other payments received from the Canada Revenue Agency.

If you do not elect to receive your tax return through a direct deposit, you can receive it through a cheque sent to your mailing address.

The CRA recommends the direct deposit method for receiving tax refunds as it’s easier and faster.

Checking the Status of Your Tax Return

You can check the status of your tax return online by signing into your CRA My Account or through the CRA mobile web app. The status of your return can either be:

  • assessed, when the assessment is completed;
  • in process, when the CRA is in the process of assessing your return;
  • received, when the CRA has received your return, but has not assessed it; or
  • not received, when the CRA has not received your return or has not updated your profile to reflect the received tax return.

You can also contact the CRA by phone to confirm the status of your tax return.

If your tax return assessment includes errors, you do not have to file the return again.

Instead, you can request an adjustment from the CRA using the Form T1-ADJ, T1 Adjustment Request.

T1 General Canada Tax Return Form

Delays in the Processing of Your Tax Return

Sometimes, your tax return may be delayed due to several reasons identified by the CRA when the return that you have submitted is reviewed.

For example, if you file your return after the specified deadline, this could result in a delayed processing time.

Common reasons why you may experience delays in the processing time for your tax return include:

  • If the refund amount is very low, $2 or less;
  • If your return has errors or is missing required information;
  • If you owe the CRA tax money;
  • If you have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act;
  • If you have outstanding government debt relating to employment insurance, benefit overpayments, or student loans;
  • If you have a business with outstanding GST or HST returns.

The CRA sends a Notice of Assessment after reviewing and evaluating your tax return.

If you are experiencing unusual delays with your tax return, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency to get more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I expect my Canadian tax return?
  • How do I know if CRA has received my tax return?

Adeola is a Chartered Accountant and business finance professional. She is very passionate about financial literacy and education. When she’s not crunching numbers, she loves spending time with family.