Many people assume that it’s not worth it to file a tax return if no tax is owed. And, technically, you only have to file a tax return if you actually owe tax, or if your earnings are those on which CPP contributions are paid. You also need to pay if you have withdrawn from your RRSP under the Lifelong Learning Plan or Home Buyers’ Plan (and haven’t repaid the amount), or if you got rid of capital property during this year, or claimed a capital gains reserve on last year’s tax return. And, of course, sometimes the CRA just asks you to fill out a tax return and send it in.

You might be surprised, though, to find that it is worth it, in certain circumstances, to file a tax return even if you wouldn’t normally think to. There are several advantages associated with filing a tax return — and a number of benefits you can’t actually claim unless you have properly filed your tax return. Here are some things to consider as you decide whether or not to file a tax return:

  • Receive a refund: If you don’t owe tax, might still be entitled to a refund. However, you won’t receive that refund unless you file a tax return. If you have been paying tax throughout the year, and you have overpaid, you need to file a return if you want your money. Additionally, you might have refundable credits as well. You can’t take advantage of these refunds if you don’t file a return.
  • Earned income for RRSP: Even though you don’t contribute to your RRSP right now, earned income amounts carry forward. File your return now, and carry forward.
  • Renew your GIS: Seniors renew the GIS when they file returns.
  • GST/HST credit: If you want the GST/HST credit, you need to file a return. You need to be 19 before April 1 of the following year, applying for the GST credit as early as possible can help you receive your benefits faster.
  • CCTB: You won’t receive your child tax credit unless you and your spouse file tax returns.
  • Non-capital loss: This can carry forward, so filing your tax return showing that you plan to carry forward can set you up for benefits later on.
  • Carry forward education costs: You can also use your tax return as a way to carry forward amounts from textbooks and tuition amounts.

As you can see, there are reasons to file a tax return even if you don’t owe taxes. At the very least, filing a tax return establishes the proper paper trail for making certain tax advantaged retirement and savings contributions later on down the road. Your eligibility for different benefits and programs is established by your tax return, so filling one out is encouraged for that reason. Visit our Tax Center for more tax tips and savings.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.