Tax Refunds and Postal Strikes

Are you anxiously awaiting your tax refund during the postal strike? You are not alone. To be effective, strikes are timed to pressure management for a speedy resolution by disrupting the masses. The current postal strike is no exception, occurring in the midst of one of the most significant financial transactions of the year for millions of individual Canadians, and at a time of fragile recovery for many businesses.

According to the CRA website, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers agreed that during the current lock-out, they would deliver certain Government of Canada cheques on the 20th of the month. This includes the Canada Child Tax Benefit, Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan and Guaranteed Income Supplement. However, those cheques may be late.

Tax refunds for neither individuals nor businesses, Universal Child Care Benefits for parents of young children, Goods and Services/HST tax credit cheques, and Employment Insurance cheques for families struggling with unemployment did not make the “go” list at all.

The average tax refund has been hovering around $1500 over the past several years; more than many people add to their TFSAs or RRSPs annually. That lump sum—often resulting from an over-deduction of tax on wages–will pay off expensive credit cards, pay down mortgage balances, and pay for the costs of annual family camping trips; inflated this year because of the cost of gas. For some, it will help to pay for summer or fall tuition, or, on a more basic level, non-discretionary items like rent or food. For others it is the only significant savings opportunity of the year.

If this concerns you, you may wish to consider changing the way you file your returns and apply for social benefits. You might consider electronic tax filing and electronic deposits for everything from tax refunds to GST Credits, Child Tax Benefits, Employment Insurance Benefits and Old Age Security payments in the future.

Unfortunately, that alternative won’t help those who count on tax refunds, or social benefits like the UCCB, GST or EI, if they don’t qualify to open bank accounts to which electronic payments can be made.

It’s Your Money. Your Life. It’s important that you are in control of your money so that you can make wise choices. File earlier next year, and consider using tax software, electronic filing and deposit, or the services of a qualified tax professional to get your tax refund faster. That professional can also help you with audit problems, late filed returns and the recovery a taxes and social benefits because of errors or omissions. And please do respond to the Knowledge Bureau Report Poll on issues like these. It’s important to have a voice.

Evelyn Jacks is President of the national financial education institute, Knowledge Bureau and best-selling author of 46 books on tax preparation, planning and wealth management, including Master Your Taxes. She was a member of the Federal Task Force on Financial Literacy.

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