Report on Income Tax Return Module of the Canadian Financial Diaries

August 2019

The Canadian Financial Diaries seeks to understand the financial dynamics of low and moderate-income Canadians. Meeting with participants weekly for one year to monitor and record their financial diaries during Phase I of this project, this mixed methodology research reveals many layers of financial decision-making. In this report, we assess participants’ ideas on their understanding and use of tax returns.

We asked Financial Diaries participants to talk about preparing their tax return and their understanding of the Notice of Assessment (NOA). We wanted to know how participants filed their taxes and their experiences completing tax returns and receiving a refund (if applicable). This module was created by the field research team in consultation with Jennifer Robson of the academic team.

The report is available here.

This qualitative survey identified that participants currently use two methods for filing taxes: a free CRA-approved web-based platform and free services offered offered through the Community Financial Counselling Services called the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program at the Norquay Building. Participants were generally pleased with the service they received from the volunteer program and with the time period in which they receive a return. In terms of the NOA, participants had varied levels of understanding, some confusion and minimal frustration in understanding this document.

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