Paying taxes is probably the least favourite adulthood milestone of most individuals.
Even though it’s not fun, paying taxes has become significantly easier and more affordable, thanks to technology provided by the CRA.
You can start by learning how to register for CRA My Account. It allows you to file your taxes online quickly, among several other things.
What Is CRA My Account?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the premier financial agency of the country with the primary duty to manage taxation. The agency collects, validates, and processes taxes from all individuals, businesses, and other taxable entities. It’s also responsible for all the benefit payments paid for using the taxes collected from Canadian individuals and businesses.
The CRA has created My Account, a secure online portal that allows individuals to manage their tax affairs and access their tax and benefit information. It replaced the obsolete paper filing system, and in fact, in 2020, almost 91.9% of Canadian taxpayers have filed their taxes online. About 57.6% of the total tax filers in the country have also filed their taxes using the CRA My Account.
The CRA offers three different accounts:
- My Account: Aimed at individual taxpayers
- My Business Account: Created for business owners, partners, etc.
- Represent a Client: This account is for accounting or taxation professionals who file taxes or review taxation information on someone else’s behalf.
My Account is the most extensively used CRA registration account because even if you have to calculate and file taxes for a business or your clients, everyone needs a CRA My Account as a starting point. Therefore, you must know how to register for a CRA My Account.
How To Register For CRA My Account
If you are trying to register for a CRA My Account, you will have to visit the CRA page on Canada.ca.
You need to click the green button that says: Sign in to a CRA account, and you’ll be greeted with three options. From the three different CRA login services, you have to choose My Account.
Once you are through that, you have three options to log in or register for the CRA My Account.
- Option 1: Use One of CRA’s 17 sign-in partners.
- Option 2: Use a CRA user ID and password.
- Option 3: Use a BC services card. We won’t discuss this option in detail because BC’s adult population only makes up about 11.3% of the total population, so it might not be relevant for about nine out of ten readers.
Option 2: Using a CRA User ID and Password
I will first discuss Option 2 before Option 1, not because I dislike the order of numerals but because registering for a CRA My Account by first creating a CRA user ID and password is the “purer” way of doing this. And once you know about that, the other option will be a breeze.
There are four things you’ll need before you can register for a CRA My Account:
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is essentially your key to taxation information. For non-residents who don’t have a SIN yet, you will need a Temporary Tax Number (TTN) or an Individual Tax Number (ITN).
- Your Date Of Birth (DOB). You don’t need to prove your DOB via a birth certificate or any other legal document; the CRA only needs to know your exact DOB. So, even if you are used to hiding your actual age from your friends, be truthful to the CRA.
- The postal code or ZIP code of your current residence, regardless of whether you own your home or rent it.
- Your last year’s and current year’s tax return information. Don’t worry if you don’t have it or haven’t filed your taxes yet; there is a way around it.
Armed with that information, you need to press the CRA Register link, right next to the Login button.
1. After you click on the CRA register link, you’ll be moved out of the Canada.ca website and to a secure CRA tab where you need to enter your SIN. If you don’t have a SIN, input your TTN or ITN in the small field dedicated to the SIN.
2. Once you’ve provided the requisite number, you will move on to the second phase, where you’ll need to provide the remaining pieces of information you had on hand: Postal Code/ZIP code, DOB, and one piece of information from your tax filing.
3. If you already filed taxes before—or someone else filed them on your behalf—and you have the requisite information at hand, enter it in the relevant field and according to the stated format. If you are required to put in the dollar amount, don’t try to insert the dollar symbol. On the other hand, if you haven’t filed your taxes yet, simply enter 0 in that field and click Next.
4. Create your login ID and password. Although using a user ID and password that you already used is a common practice, you need to create a unique user ID and password for your CRA My Account. This way, even if your other online accounts’ credentials are compromised, they can’t be used to access your CRA My Account. Once you are done, copy-paste or write down your CRA credentials.
5. After creating your ID and password, you will be asked to create security questions and answers. Don’t use questions that can be answered by searching your social media or is common knowledge. Create unique questions and answers and remember the exact format of your answer. This information will be vital in recovering your account if you ever forget your login ID and password.
6. Once you have completed the steps above, you’ll be prompted for the security code, which you will receive by mail (not email). It will arrive in five to 10 days, with an expiry date, so you have to enter it before it becomes invalid. Until then, you will only have limited access to your CRA My Account. Visually impaired individuals can ask for the code to be delivered in a format they can read or hear.
Individuals expecting to receive emergency payments like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) might not need to wait for their security code to arrive. If you can contact the CRA, you might be able to get the cheque sent to your residence directly.
It’s important to note that people who have recently moved to a new place have to verify their current information with the CRA. If you can’t find the option to update your address on the website, you need to call the CRA to sort out your information.
You can follow more or less the same steps to register with the MyCRA Mobile Application.
Option 1: CRA’s Sign-In Partners
This is by far the easiest way to register for a CRA My Account, and it has one major benefit over Option 2: you don’t have to create and remember a separate login ID and password. For this registration method, you need to have an account with one of CRA’s sign-in partners. These partners currently include all of the Big Six banks, some credit unions, and online banks.
Once you click the button marked Sign-In Partner Login/Register, you will be directed to the second page, where you have to choose the bank or financial institution you have an account with.
Clicking on the financial institution you have an account with will lead you to a login window of that financial institution, so each one would be different. However, the system is secure, and you can rest assured that at that moment, two different layers of digital security are in place, i.e., CRA’s security systems and the financial institute’s you are logging in with.
But that just gets you through the door to your CRA My Account. You will still need to provide the information from your previous tax filings, your DOB, and your postal code or ZIP code.
You can easily open and register for a CRA My Account using these simple steps.
Why Register For A CRA My Account?
Now that we’ve gone through the “what” and “how” of it, you need to know why you should open a CRA My Account in the first place. There are other benefits of CRA My Account that you might find compelling:
- You can update your information with the CRA using the CRA My Account. It means you won’t have to spend agonizing minutes stranded on hold, waiting for your call to connect so you can update your information.
- You’ll have access to all your tax information and documents, including forms like T4 (statement of remuneration paid) and T5 (statement of investment income). While they may not be exciting reads, you might need the information. You can print these out as well.
- You can modify your tax return online, with certain exceptions, such as you can’t change a return that hasn’t been assessed yet).
- You can track how much contribution room you’ve left in your TFSA and RRSP. This can prevent you from over-contribution and resulting penalties.
- You can apply for and check the status of certain benefit payments, including Child Care Benefits (CCB), goods and services tax (GST) or harmonized sales tax (HST) credit, and disability tax credit.
- You can submit documents to the CRA and receive important emails from the agency. You can also set up direct deposits and payment plans.
Your CRA My Account offers you these benefits and many more. Simply put, every Canadian taxpayer should know how to register for CRA My Account and know the details about how it works.
CRA My Account FAQs
1. CRA My Account Locked Out – What To Do?
If you are locked out of your CRA My Account, you need to contact the CRA through the online form or by calling them on the helpline. A CRA representative will help you regain access to your account.
2. Is My Service Canada Account The Same As My CRA Account?
A link in your CRA My Account allows you to access your Service Canada account without logging in directly or registering separately. So, yes, your CRA My Account can be considered your My Service Account as well.
3. Do I Need CRA My Account To File My Taxes?
Yes and no. Yes, you need a CRA My Account to file your taxes electronically, but you don’t need it to file your taxes manually.
Learning how to register for a CRA My Account is quite easy. The system is designed to be intuitive and helpful, and if you have the required information on hand, you can open a CRA My Account within a few minutes.
I hope this guide answers any questions you might have about this process. But if you have any other questions or want me to add something to the information already provided, leave a comment below.