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Filing your tax return?

Struggling to finish your personal income tax return by the end of April? Wishing you hadn't left all that paperwork to the last minute? Well, relax, because you've got a few more days.

This year's deadline to file your personal income tax return is midnight on May 5 – five days later than the usual Apr. 30 cutoff.

You can thank that nasty Heartbleed computer bug for the extension, after it forced the Canada Revenue Agency to shut down its E-File system earlier in April. The shutdown lasted five days and prevented individuals from filing their tax returns online, so after the CRA fixed the problem, it gave taxpayers extra time to make up for the interruption.

But many are still getting their taxes done for the old Apr. 30 deadline.

Robyn Pangman, a partner at Henderson Partners LLP in Oakville, Ont., said the new timeline hasn't changed much at her firm.

"Today's still our busiest day of the year," Pangman told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview Wednesday. "Most of our clients are still working to the April 30th deadline."

Pangman said her firm will continue to offer tax services right up to the new deadline, but she's not expecting a big rush before May 5. She said many employees will still be taking the early May vacations they booked months in advance.

But for those who do take advantage of the extended deadline, help is available.

"There are always a few stragglers," said Pangman. But Henderson Partners isn't about to cancel its annual post-tax deadline party on Wednesday.

Pangman recommended people get their taxes done in a timely manner, rather than leaving it to the last minute.

For those who are self-employed, the deadline to file a return is still midnight on June 16, but any money owed still needs to be paid before the May 5 deadline.

Even if you don’t owe money with your return, the Canadian government won’t send out benefits or credit payments until your income tax is filed. So if you’re expecting a child tax benefit or a GST cheque, you’d better file that tax return first.

Late 2013 tax returns accrue a 5 per cent penalty on the balance owing, plus a 1 per cent additional charge for each full month it remains outstanding, to a maximum of 12 months. Those late penalties double for tax returns from 2010, 2011 or 2012, to a maximum of 20 months. Compound daily interest also begins to accrue right after the filing deadline, meaning you’ll pay more for every day you’re late.

And even if you can’t pay on time, filing on time ensures that you’ll only pay what you owe, and nothing extra. The CRA will even let you set up a payment plan.

So take a bit of extra time – but not too much.

 

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