How Long Does It Take To Get A Tax Return In Canada?

CRA processing times can confuse the inexperienced. Why is it taking so long? Have they found something in my files? Should I be coming up with excuses?

Fortunately, the long wait times for a tax refund have more to do with processing than anything else. So, we thought we’d provide answers to questions like “How long does it take to get a tax return in Canada?”, “ Why the delays?” and “How can I check my status?”

Strap in, and let’s begin!

tax return date point on a calendar

What Is A Tax Return?

Before we explain the varying wait times, let’s define what tax returns are.

A tax return is a form filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to calculate how much tax an individual or business owes for a given year. The CRA uses the information from tax returns to determine whether taxpayers owe taxes and, if so, how much. Therefore, taxpayers who do not file a tax return may be subject to penalties, interest charges, and even tax fraud.

The tax deadline for 2021 in Canada was April 30th. As a rule of thumb, the CRA tax deadline is usually on this date, but if that happens to fall on a weekend, it’s extended to the following business day, either May 1st or May 2nd.

What Are The Tax Return Processing Times?

The CRA processing time varies depending on the method of filing your taxes, whether it’s an individual or business filing, and the complexity of the return itself. Let’s break down the time needed for processing returns for the different ways of filing.

Filing Online Returns

Many people choose to file taxes online in Canada for free because it generally takes about two weeks to receive a CRA tax return. However, this timeline can vary depending on several factors, such as the time of year you file your taxes and whether or not you have any errors in your return.

Moreover, if you file online with a direct deposit, you will instantly receive an assessment notice and a refund in about eight business days. On the other hand, if you don’t put down a direct deposit, you’ll have to wait for a cheque from the CRA.

Overall, however, most people can expect to receive their tax refunds within two weeks because the government processes electronic returns first.

Filing Paper Returns

Another way to file your returns is on paper. After filing a paper return in Canada, it generally takes four to eight weeks to receive a tax return. However, if you are owed a refund, it may take even longer. Moreover, the CRA actively discourages filing paper returns, as they prefer electronic filing.

Additionally, if you file paper returns without a direct deposit, you must wait for the tax refund cheque. Furthermore, if you have a balance owing, it will take longer for your refund to be processed.

Filing In-Person Returns

Lastly, if you choose to file in person at a local branch, you may get “instant refunds.” However, these returns are not from the CRA and may often come with a hefty fee, so be careful.

The information we’ve provided so far is most relevant to permanent or temporary Canadian residents. For a non-resident, it might take up to sixteen weeks after the CRA has received your non-resident filed return.

How Can You Check Your Refund Status?

Luckily, you don’t have to keep guessing when you’ll receive your income tax refund because you can check your CRA refund status on their online website. There are several ways of doing this, and they depend on whether your returns are individual or corporate.

Individual Returns

If you’re waiting on individual returns, you have two options for checking the status of your refund tax in Canada: Individual Online Accounts or the My CRA App.

Individual Online Accounts

By logging into your individual online account on a web browser, you can view your returns status and the notice of assessment. Moreover, you can modify your returns, edit your information, submit documents, and make payments.

My CRA App

Alternatively, you have the same freedom to edit your information and view your status by using the My CRA app. However, this app is only available for mobile devices.

Corporate Returns

On the other hand, if you’re waiting on corporate returns, you only have one option to check your tax refund status in Canada, and that’s through your Business Account.

My Business Account

By opening your CRA business account, you can view the status of your corporate tax return, manage direct deposits, change your business address, and file objections to disputed returns.

Phone Line

Finally, both individuals and businesses can check refunds by calling CRA’s phone line. Usually, the best time to call the CRA is early mornings or late afternoons. Conversely, if you want to avoid lengthy phone wait times, don’t call during lunchtime.

When calling the CRA to check for tax information, you’ll need to provide the following details:

  • Social Insurance Number or Business Number
  • Name (individual or business)
  • Address
  • Date of birth (for individuals)
  • Details for previously assessed returns (individuals)
  • Details for most recently assessed returns (business)

Apart from checking refund status, you can also contact the CRA for general inquiries.

Why Are Tax Refunds Delayed?

tax delay reason notes on a tax form

Next, we’ll mention several reasons the CRA might delay your refunds and wrap this guide up nicely. Your returns might be late because of:

  • Changed contact information
  • Missing documents
  • Return errors on your part (like misreporting income or expenses)
  • Returns were chosen for a review
  • You’ve previously been penalized
  • Outstanding debt (like student loans or employment insurance)
  • Overpayments

Finishing Thoughts

Receiving a tax refund in Canada is typically not overly complicated or time-consuming. However, it is always important to be aware of CRA payment dates, the potential for delays, and the reasons why.

It’s essential to pay close attention to Canada’s tax return deadline to ensure you’re filing your taxes on time and significantly cutting your wait times.


When is tax season in Canada?

Tax season in Canada for 2022 started in February and will end on June 15, 2022. However, for most individuals, the deadline for tax returns is April 30th.

How to pay taxes in Canada?

You can file your taxes online, send them in by mail, or turn them in personally at a local branch.

When are Canadian taxes due in 2022?

We’ve compiled all the answers in our comprehensive guide since there are different dates Canadians need to keep track of during tax season.

How long after notice of assessment do you get a refund?

You’ll get your refund in two weeks if you file online and eight weeks if you file paper returns.

How to file Canadian taxes online?

To file your taxes online, you’ll need the NETFILE or ReFILE services, enter your eight-character Access Code, and you’re free to file up to 20 returns.


When Angela combined her deep-seated love for linguistics with her growing interest for finance and money management, she struck a gold mine. She’s scoured the internet far and wide for all things related to money and finances, including payments, budgeting and investing. Now she’s eager to share her knowledge and skills with the world, determined to make it a better place. In her free time, she loves to read a good book.

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