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Ditch the pen this tax season

(NC) Smartphones are putting more technology in your pocket but more than 6.2 million Canadian taxpayers filed their taxes in 2012 via paper. As the Canada Revenue Agency continues to encourage everyone to file electronically, paper filers may be on their way to extinction.

“Taxes can be a stressful time and some people feel a sense of comfort and control preparing them the traditional way— with a pen, paper and calculator — but doing so could cost you money,” says Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst for H&R Block. “The traditional tax form relies on the user being familiar with the credits and deductions they need to claim, so it is easy to miss lines and calculations when you only do it once a year.”

The CRA's mandate is to move taxpayers to electronic filing, and it is making it easier. Last year, NETFILE did not require an access code — only your social insurance number and date of birth. “I would expect the CRA to continue to encourage people to file electronically,” Hamel explains. “It reduces costs and reduces the risk of errors. Instead of manual entry when the CRA receives a return, all the data is already entered.” There are tax software packages for people moving from paper to electronic filing.

A certified tax software program like the H&R Block Tax Software (www.hrblock.ca) provides the tools to do your own tax return simply and securely. The tax software should ask questions to ensure every deduction and credit is claimed.

Depending on your income, you may qualify to use tax software for free. No matter how you choose to file this year, Hamel suggests investing time to organize your receipts and documents to ensure tax time is less 'taxing'. “Even if you file electronically, you still need to have all the receipts and documents to support your claims,” she points out. “No matter how you file, the CRA does random reviews of returns during the summer months and may ask you for receipts.”

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