April 21, 2017 8:00 am

2 in 5 Canadians have yet to file their taxes – here’s why you don’t want to be one of them

The T1 General tax form for 2015 is shown in this recent photo. Tax season is upon us once again and the Canada Revenue Agency has implemented several new measures in an effort to help streamline the filing of income tax returns.

Canadian Press/File

A recent report by H&R Block reveals that 2 out of 5 Canadians have yet to file their taxes, even though the tax deadline (May 1) is less than two weeks away. While approximately 55 per cent of Canadians file a few weeks before the deadline, 23 per cent file at the deadline and just 19 per cent file their returns well in advance, the survey found.

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The report went on to cite several reasons why Canadians put it off. Thirty-four per cent of Canadians surveyed said they hadn’t organized all the necessary paperwork, 18 per cent said they’re in the habit of filing a week before the deadline, 17 per cent said they hadn’t received all the necessary paperwork and 11 per cent said they just did not have time.

Admittedly, virtually no one likes filing their taxes. But there are many reasons why doing it sooner rather than later is a good idea:

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READ MORE: Canadian tax deadline: 9 things you need to know 

Get your refund sooner

The most obvious reason to file your return as soon as possible is the potential to receive your refund  assuming you’re getting one — sooner. You can file your tax return as early as January.

If you’re looking to speed up the process even more, make sure you file electronically. While the majority of Canadians have switched to filing their tax returns online, there is still a segment of the population that prefers to file on paper. Because of the delays often associated with mailing in your return, it could take longer to get it mailed back to you.

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Avoid last-minute surprises

By putting off filing your return until the last minute, you run the risk of finding out about missing paperwork when it’s too late. Plan to file early and give yourself plenty of time to track down all necessary documents. If you do realize afterwards that you’re missing an important document, you can always file an amended return later.

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Stave off tax fraud

Filing early decreases your risk of becoming a victim of tax fraud. Tax season is a busy time for identity thieves, who can steal personal information such as your social insurance number to file a tax return in your name in order to get the refund you’re entitled to, according to the CRA.

File early, though, and you’re likely to beat the fraudsters to the punch, according to tax software company TurboTax.

Here are more ways to avoid tax fraud according to the CRA.

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Never miss the deadline

The biggest risk of leaving things to the last minute is that you’ll actually end up missing the deadline altogether. What if disaster strikes on the one weekend you were counting on to complete your return?

READ MORE: 7 bizarre tax questions that could actually help you with your return

Missing the deadline comes with interest, penalties, and other stresses that you don’t need.

While 86 per cent of Canadians plan to file by the April 30 deadline, 14 per cent aren’t planning on making the deadline at all, according to the H&R Block survey.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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