File Tax Online: How to NETFILE

As stated in my previous article, Income Tax – The Agony and the Ecstasy, many Canadians choose to prepare and submit their own tax returns, using the Income Tax and Benefit Guide and other supporting information. Increasingly, they are abandoning the paper return and opting to file electronically. This article will provide you with an overview of how to NETFILE.

A Growing Trend to File Tax Online

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, in 2012 almost 66 % of Canadians filed their returns electronically, either on their own or with the help of a tax preparer. Consequently, commencing in 2013 (for the 2012 tax year), CRA has discontinued automatic mail out of the paper tax return package in an effort to reduce waste and encourage even more Canadians to file tax online. Certainly, such an initiative is both cost effective and environmentally friendly. If necessary, you can still obtain a paper tax return package at your local post office, or request one by telephone from CRA. If you choose to file tax online, you need to know how to NETFILE.


Most Canadians can avail of the CRA service known as NETFILE, which allows individuals to electronically file their income tax online using secure computer software. There are some restrictions which are listed on the CRA website: . However, the vast majority of tax filers can use the service.

Only the income tax return for the current year can be filed online. For example, currently the return for 2012 can be filed online but a return for 2011 or prior years must be filed using a paper return. The service is currently available from Feb 11 to Nov 30, 2013 for the 2012 return.

Required Software

Income tax returns filed via NETFILE must first be prepared using a CRA certified software product. Software products for various computer operating systems are available for downloading. Visit the CRA NETFILE website for a detailed list of certified software for the 2013 NETFILE program (2012 tax return). If you are new to the online process and familiarizing yourself with how to NETFILE, you may not be aware that some products used to file tax online have free offerings based on individual tax situations or income levels. You must check the company’s website to determine if you qualify for these free offerings.

Change of Personal Information

You cannot change your personal information, such as your name, address or direct deposit information, by using NETFILE. If you are registered to use the My Account online service, you can use this service to change your address and direct deposit information, prior to using NETFILE. If you are not registered, you can change your address by calling CRA at 1 800 714 7257.


When using NETFILE, you don’t send your tax information slips, receipts, or other documents used to prepare your tax return. However, you must keep them for six years in case you are requested by CRA to provide them for review.

Other Important Information Regarding NETFILE

1. When you file your tax return online using NETFILE, you will receive a confirmation number over the Internet to advise you that it has been accepted.

2. You can use the My Account service to determine the status of your return. The status will show either Not received, Received, Assessed or Reassessed.

3. After processing is complete, you will receive a Notice of Assessment by regular mail.

4. You cannot use NETFILE to change your tax return. To make a change, wait until you receive your Notice of Assessment. Then you can use the My Account service or send a signed letter to your tax centre requesting an adjustment to your tax return.

5. For additional information regarding NETFILE to file tax online, visit the CRA website:


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