CRA Notice of Assessment: what is it?

Posted on 14 May 2023

Written by Alan Spergel

You have likely discovered this page if you have recently submitted your tax return and are unsure of what a CRA Notice of Assessment is. Perhaps you have received one in the mail and do not know what to do with it. In short, a CRA Notice of Assessment is an acknowledgement that your tax return has been received by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). While for most Canadians, filing your tax return is a huge relief once you have managed to get it done, there are often further steps in the process. It is only when you have finally received your CRA Notice of Assessment that you know whether or not you are well and truly done with the CRA for the year. In this article, we share all you need to know about a CRA Notice of Assessment, what it is useful for, and what you need to do with it.

What is a CRA Notice of Assessment?

A Notice of Assessment is the formal notification you receive from the CRA when you have submitted your tax return. In essence, it is a receipt to indicate that you have submitted your tax return, and that it has been both received and reviewed. A Notice of Assessment will typically contain the following information:

  • A summary of your tax return
  • Any changes the CRA has made to your tax return
  • The status of your tax return
  • Any potential problems

It is an invaluable document because you can quickly see the progress of your tax return, and understand any potential issues so you can try to fix them as soon as possible.

What is included in a Notice of Assessment?

A Notice of Assessment includes a few key sections:

Account summary

At the top of your Notice of Assessment, you will find the account summary. It will indicate one of the following:

  • the overall amount you owe to the CRA (and the deadline for doing so);
  • a zero balance (when you owe nothing); or
  • the tax refund you will receive

Tax assessment summary

This section of your Notice of Assessment contains key information around your income tax return, including your income, deductions, and credits. You will also discover in this section any penalties or interest you owe the CRA. These will be added to your tax refund or amount owed. Should you have a balance owed from a previous tax year, this too will be listed in the tax assessment summary.

Explanation of changes

If any changes or corrections have been made to your tax return by the CRA, these will be outlined in the explanation of changes. This could occur when the CRA has different information on your income or deductions than those you submitted. If you are eligible for the Canada Training Credit limit, GST/HST credit, or the Canada Child Benefit, you will also find these listed in this section.

RRSP deduction limit statement

This section features information on your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions and deduction limits for the following tax year. If you made excess RRSP contributions, you will likely need to pay additional tax on the excess.

Additional information

If you have a Home Buyers’ Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan, you may discover a section on your Notice of Assessment for additional information. This will outline your remaining balance, as well as any minimum repayment required for the year.

How do you get a CRA Notice of Assessment?

You will automatically receive a CRA Notice of Assessment via mail or online when you submit your tax return. Once you receive it, you should review it carefully to see if there are any errors or if your information has been changed by the CRA at all. This could include your income, deductions, or credits you may have claimed. If there is anything on your Notice of Assessment that you do not agree with, you may file an objection. It is always best to first try and resolve the issue directly with the CRA, however – it is often much quicker. The CRA advises that you keep hold of your Notice of Assessment, any tax information, and supporting documents for six years.

If you have questions about your CRA Notice of Assessment, or are worried about the amount of tax debt that you owe, book a free consultation with an experienced Licensed Insolvency Trustee at Spergel. We can help to review your financial situation and your tax debt, and advise you on a suitable pathway to debt relief. Reach out today – you owe it to yourself.

Alan Spergel

Alan Spergel

Alan Spergel is the founder and President of Spergel. A leader in our industry, he is also a former chair of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) and has served on Canada's Superintendent of Bankruptcy Management Board. He actively supports multiple charities, ensuring that Spergel gives back to our communities and has recently been appointed as Chairman of the Board of the Humber River Hospital Foundation. Outside of the boardroom, you can find Alan playing golf, tennis, or skiing and enjoying quality time with his grandchildren.

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