How Long Does It Take to Get Your Tax Refund in Canada?

The wait time depends on how you file

Man waiting for his tax refund in the mail.
••• sturti / Getty Images

Most Canadian income tax refunds are issued anywhere from two weeks to 16 weeks depending on the type of return and when you filed it, according to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). When you file your tax return on or before your due date, CRA will send a Notice of Assessment and any applicable refund within:

  • Two weeks of receiving your electronically filed return
  • Eight weeks of receiving your paper-filed return
  • 16 weeks of receiving your nonresident paper-filed return

The CRA also says refunds are faster if you choose to use direct deposit.

CRA does not start processing tax returns until mid-February, so don't expect a refund before March, even if you file before the end of January. The deadline to file returns in Canada typically falls on April 30.

Checking the Status of Your Refund/Return

You can check on the status of your return or refund with the CRA one of three ways depending on whether your return is individual or corporate (T2):

  • Individual online accounts with CRA are for individual tax returns, including sole proprietorships and partnerships. From a web browser, you can view the status of your return, your notice of assessment, modify your return, enter/edit direct deposit information, make payments, get information on your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), submit documents, update your contact information, and more.
  • The MyCRA mobile app allows you to view the status of your return, your notice of assessment, your RRSP/TFSA contribution limits, manage direct deposits, and update your contact information.
  • Business accounts with CRA are for corporate tax returns. From a browser, you can file, view, and check the status of your return. You also can manage direct deposits, address changes, and file Notices of Objection for disputed returns.

You also can check on your refund or return by calling CRA's Telerefund line at (800) 959-1956 or the Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) line at (800) 267-6999. To access your tax account information, you need to provide the following information:

  • Social insurance number (SIN) for individuals or business number for corporations
  • Individual or business name
  • Individual or business address
  • Date of birth (individuals)
  • For individuals, details from your account or a previously assessed return, notice of assessment, etc.
  • For business accounts, details from your account or your most recently assessed business return

The earliest you can expect information to be available via Telerefund or TIPS is mid-March if you filed before mid-February. Otherwise, you need to wait at least four weeks if you filed between mid-February and mid-April. If you filed after mid-April, wait at least six weeks to call.

How Returns/Refunds Can Be Delayed

The quickest way to get your tax return processed is to file it electronically. Even so, your refund can be delayed for a number of reasons, including:

  • Your contact information has changed. If the CRA needs to get in touch with you to verify some information on your return and does not have your up-to-date contact information, it will take longer to process your return.
  • Errors on your return. Misreporting income or expenses can delay your return and put you at risk of an audit by the CRA.
  • Your return was randomly chosen for an audit.
  • You have large year-over-year changes in your deduction claims.
  • If you have been previously reassessed or penalized.
  • You have a balance owing from previous years.

Adjustments to Your Refund

The CRA may keep some or all of your income tax refund if any of the following situations apply: 

  • You owe or are about to owe a balance.
  • You have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.
  • You owe other federal, provincial, or territorial government debts, such as student loans, employment insurance, and social assistance benefit overpayments, immigration loans, and training allowance overpayments.
  • You have any outstanding goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns from a sole proprietorship or partnership.