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What Happens if You Make a Mistake on Your Taxes in Canada

It happens all the time to individuals and business owners when filing their taxes. There are so many fields and boxes to fill out and so many different locations that require you to enter information that it’s too easy to enter it on the wrong line or to forget to include something in their return.

This is the reason why if you make a simple mistake, the CRA will correct it for you and reassess your return  – which may even result in a refund.

However, there are individuals who constantly neglect their tax duties on purpose, and they get no help. Whether you are an individual with multiple tax obligations or a business owner, sleep better at night and focus on more lucrative tasks when you partner with the best tax accountant in Toronto. You’ll never have to worry about missing a deadline or a deduction.

What Should I do When I Realize I Made a Mistake on My Return?

The best thing to do the moment you realize your mistake is to make a note for yourself so that you don’t forget to request a change to your return. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do after you submit your claim. If this is your first mistake, it is unlikely that you will have to undergo a tax audit.

Do not file another return; you must wait until you receive your Notice of Assessment before you can request a change to your return. You can make change requests to your returns going back as far as 10 years; however, you can only request one change per request, i.e., you can not send in a request for multiple changes.

Requesting a Change to Your Return

When you receive your Notice of Assessment, you can make a request to change your return by one of three methods, using your CRA MyAccount online portal, using ReFile if you filed your return electronically or by mail.

A man staring at his laptop in shock

Using MyAccount

If you have registered with MyAccount, you are able to access your tax and CRA info as well as make changes to your account.

One of the services available through your MyAccount portal is “Change my return” (CMR).CMR was recently updated to be more interactive. When you enter Change my return, it may ask you questions or make statements if it detects errors, and you will not be able to proceed until they are resolved.

You are not able to use Change my return to request changes for:

  • Unassessed tax returns
  • A tax return that was subject to 8 reassessments in the same tax year
  • A bankruptcy return
  • A return filed prior to a bankruptcy return
  • Carryback amounts
  • A return filed for an international or non-resident client even if they are deemed to be Canadian Residents, newcomers to Canada or an individual filer who left Canada during the year.
  • An elected split-pension amount
  • A return that has income from a business with a permanent establishment outside of your province or territory of residence (you are required to file a Form T22033, Provincial and Territorial Taxes for Multiple Jurisdictions)
  • A return filed the CRA under subsection 152(7)

You must request a change of return by mail for any of the above situations.

Using ReFile

You can use ReFile to request a change to an assessed return that was filed electronically within the last four years through NETFILE  and EFILE; however, there are exceptions. You can learn more about ReFile at their website.

If you request a change to a return online, you are asked to keep copies of all your paperwork and supporting documents in case you are asked to provide them by the CRA.

The processing time for an online request can take two weeks and up to eight weeks for requests sent by mail. If you are owed a refund, it should be included in your reassessment. Processing times can take longer for more complicated requests.

What Happens if You Make a Mistake that Will Result in CRA Penalty?

For situations where you make a mistake or omission that would result in a penalty,  the CRA created the  CRA voluntary disclosure Program (VDP). The VDP gives taxpayers a chance to fix mistakes they made on a previously filed return or to file a tax they should have in a previous year but didn’t.

The VDP has two streams; one is for income tax disclosures. The other is for GST issues.

VDP Under the Income Tax Stream

Income tax applications to the VDP are processed under two tracks:

  • the general program
  • the limited program

How Does Someone Make the General Program?

The decision on which track an application will fall is made on a case-by-case basis.

The General program

The general program is intended for taxpayers who want to fix their mistakes and, as such, is more lenient. For example, if , like late tax filing for example, If an application is accepted into this track, the taxpayer is not at risk of penalty or prosecution. In fact, they may even be granted a temporary, partial interest relief.

The Limited program

The general program is used for taxpayers who intentionally refused to pay their tax obligations and limits the relief available for them.

A taxpayer is accepted to this program will not be referred for criminal prosecution, or fined with gross negligence penalties, but may be charged other penalties if applicable. People in this track do receive interest relief.

The CRA considers the following factors when assessing whether a person should be accepted into the limited program:

  • Did the applicant make efforts to avoid detection through offshore vehicles.
  • The amount of money involved
  • The amount of time involved.
  • The sophistication of the taxpayer

The existence of one or more of these factors does not automatically disqualify the taxpayer from the program.

GST/HST stream

Similar to the income tax stream. GST registrants and taxpayers Registrants and other taxpayers required to report GST/HST, apply to this stream of the VDP. This program provides taxpayers the opportunity to voluntarily correct inaccurate or incomplete GST information, or disclose any information that should have been reported initially but was not.

Applications under this stream of the VDP have processed in one of three categories: (1) the wash transactions program, where one party may have reported, and another has not; (2) the general program; and (3) the limited program, similar to the income tax limited program. The determination of which category the application will be processed is based on a case-by-case assessment

Executors and Powers of Attorney

If you are acting under a Power of Attorney or as an executor and notice that taxes have not been reported properly, you can apply on behalf of the grantor or deceased to the CRA’s VDP. limited program.


Pro Tip


The Small Business Deduction gives businesses a tax deduction on the first $500,000 of income. This saves an eligible corporation around up to $50,000 in income taxes. There are a number of conditions that have to be met to be eligible for this deduction.


Sam Faris reduced the significant unreported income based on net worth audit to be nil. Sam’s approach in fighting these types of complex audits is unique and sophisticated. He found countless mistakes made by the auditor which were rectified when Sam appealed the audit decision. Instead of owing significant amount of taxes, Sam reduced it to zero. I highly recommend to hire Sam for this type of audits and any CRA problem.”

E.M., Ottawa