Corporation Tax Filing Requirements in Canada: A Concise Overview

A cityscape with a lot of money and pie charts illustrating the Corporation Tax Filing Requirements in Canada.

Corporation Tax Filing Requirements in Canada: A Concise Overview

Sebastien Prost, CPA

In Canada, corporations are required to comply with specific tax filing regulations set forth by the government. All resident corporations, including non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations, must file a corporation income tax (T2) return annually, even if there is no tax payable. This is a crucial aspect of maintaining corporate transparency and ensuring compliance with tax laws in the country.

The process of completing a T2 Corporation Income Tax Return varies based on the size and activities of the corporation. For instance, corporations with an annual gross revenue exceeding $1 million are required to file their T2 return electronically, with a few exceptions such as insurance corporations and non-resident corporations. Moreover, corporations must submit their T2 return no later than six months after the end of each tax year, accompanied by financial statements or General Index of Financial Information (GIFI) and necessary schedules.

Navigating the complexities of corporate tax filing in Canada requires a thorough understanding of tax rates, regulations, and exemptions that may apply to the specific corporation. Keeping up-to-date with relevant tax information and maintaining accurate financial records are essential for ensuring a seamless and compliant tax filing process for all Canadian corporations.

Overview of Corporate Tax System in Canada

In Canada, the corporate tax system is designed for various types of resident corporations, including non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations. Corporations are required to file a corporation income tax (T2) return every tax year, even if there is no tax payable.

The federal government, along with some provincial governments, levy the corporate income tax. A corporation’s tax rate depends on its taxable income and the region where it operates. Here is a summary of the factors that determine corporate tax rates:

  • Federal and provincial/territorial rates: Canada has a two-tier system, where both federal and provincial tax rates apply.
  • Small business deductions: Eligible small businesses can avail of this deduction, lowering their effective tax rates.
  • General corporate rate: Corporations not eligible for the small business deduction pay taxes at the general corporate rate.

As part of GST/HST reporting, Canadian corporations also have specified reporting periods in which they must file their returns. Failure to file corporate income tax returns or paying late can result in penalties.

Criteria for Corporate Tax Filing

In Canada, corporate tax filing requirements apply to a wide range of corporations. Regardless of the tax payable status, resident corporations must file a T2 income tax return every tax year. This includes non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations. However, specific entities such as tax-exempt Crown corporations, Hutterite colonies, and registered charities are exempt from these requirements.

Non-resident corporations may also need to file a T2 return, particularly if they have any income from Canadian sources. It’s crucial for these corporations to understand their filing obligations to avoid penalties and complications.

Here is a summary table of the corporations with filing requirements:

Corporation Type
Resident Corporations
Must file a T2 return for every tax year
Non-resident Corporations
May need to file a T2 return if there’s income from Canadian sources


Understanding and adhering to eligibility criteria for corporate tax filing in Canada is crucial for all corporations, both resident and non-resident. By identifying which criteria apply to a corporation, one can effectively fulfill their tax obligations and avoid potential penalties, ensuring smooth operations and compliance with Canadian tax laws.

Required Documentation for Tax Filing

Financial Statements

Financial statements are essential in the corporate tax filing process in Canada. They provide a comprehensive overview of a corporation’s financial transactions and performance throughout the tax year. These statements consist of the balance sheet, which details a corporation’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity; the income statement, which outlines revenues and expenses; and the statement of retained earnings, which shows how much earnings a company has accumulated and retained within the company since its creation. It is crucial to attach complete financial statements or the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI) to support your corporation income tax return.

Corporate Tax Return Form

The central document required for tax filing is the T2 Corporation Income Tax Return form. All resident corporations in Canada must file a T2 return, even if there is no tax payable. This includes non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations.

Canadian corporations have two options for filing their T2 return:

  1. T2 Corporation Income Tax Return: It is the standard return used by most corporations.
  2. T2 Short Return: Suitable for select corporations that meet specific eligibility criteria.

Mandatory electronic filing applies to most corporations, thus facilitating a more streamlined tax filing process.

Information Slips and Receipts

During the tax filing process, corporations in Canada might need various information slips and receipts that serve as evidence for their claimed deductions and credits. Some examples of required documents include:

  • T4A-NR: Payments to Non-Residents for Services Provided in Canada
  • T5: Statement of Investment Income
  • T5013: Statement of Partnership Income

Additionally, corporations should gather and organize all records of their business transactions, such as invoices and expense receipts. Such documentation helps in verifying accuracy and ensuring appropriate tax treatment.

Overall, it is crucial to prepare and maintain accurate records and supporting documents to ensure smooth tax filing and meet the filing requirements for Canadian corporations.

Corporate Tax Filing Deadlines

In Canada, the corporate tax filing deadlines vary based on the corporation’s tax year-end date. Generally, if the corporation’s tax year ends on the last day of a month, the deadline to file the return is the last day of the sixth month after the end of the tax year. However, if the last day of the tax year is not the last day of a month, the return is due on the same day of the sixth month after the end of the tax year.

For example, corporations with a December 31 tax year-end should file their income tax return by June 30 of the following year.

Annual return filings are also important for corporations in Canada. The deadline for filing an annual return is within 60 days following a corporation’s anniversary date, which is the date the corporation was incorporated, amalgamated, or continued under the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA).

In summary, businesses should be mindful of the following deadlines:

  • Corporate Income Tax Return: Last day of the sixth month after the tax year-end
  • Annual Return: Within 60 days following the corporation’s anniversary date

Complying with these deadlines helps corporations stay in good standing with the CRA and avoid potential penalties or interest charges. Proper planning and timely filing are essential for a smooth tax filing experience.

Online Filing Procedures

Canada Revenue Agency E-Filing Options

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers efficient and secure electronic filing options for businesses to file their corporate income tax returns. These options ensure faster processing and immediate confirmation of receipt. All resident corporations with annual gross revenue of more than $1 million must file their T2 Corporation Income Tax Return electronically, while exceptions may apply for those exempt from tax payable under section 149 of the Income Tax Act.


Netfile is an online filing option available to businesses for filing their corporate income tax returns. This service is accessible through the CRA certified tax preparation software and allows for the filing of corporation income tax returns for 2002 and following years. The main advantages of using Netfile include:

  • Immediate confirmation: You will receive legal proof that CRA has received your return.
  • Faster processing: Your Notice of Assessment will be received more quickly than a paper-filed return.

Before using Netfile, ensure that the corporation is eligible to use the service and have the required paperwork ready.


Another online filing option is EFILE, which is mainly used by tax professionals. The CRA offers EFILE as a secure and efficient method for electronically filing tax returns on behalf of their clients. To use the EFILE service, tax professionals must first register with the CRA and obtain an EFILE number and password.

In summary, both Netfile and EFILE are convenient and secure online filing options provided by the Canada Revenue Agency. These online services simplify the process of corporate tax filing by offering immediate confirmation, faster processing times, and easy accessibility.

Payment Methods for Corporate Taxes

When it comes to paying corporate taxes in Canada, businesses have several options to ensure timely payment and avoid any penalties. In this section, we will discuss three common methods for making corporation tax payments to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): electronic payments, cheque payments, and wire transfers.

Electronic Payments

Electronic payment methods offer a convenient and efficient way to pay corporate taxes. The CRA accepts payments through various online platforms:

  1. Online banking: Many Canadian financial institutions support online banking as a method for making tax payments. Simply log in to your financial institution’s online banking platform and follow the instructions for making a payment to the CRA.
  2. CRA’s My Payment service: Businesses can use the My Payment service to make direct debit payments for corporation income tax, GST/HST, payroll source deductions, and other tax obligations. This service requires a valid Canadian bank account from a participating institution.

Cheque Payments

Corporations can also pay their taxes by mailing a cheque. The cheque should be made payable to the “Receiver General for Canada” and include the corporation’s Business Number (BN) on the memo line. It’s important to note that the CRA does not accept post-dated cheques.

To ensure accurate processing, corporations should mail their cheque along with a remittance voucher, which can be ordered through the CRA’s website or generated in the CRA’s online services. Mail the cheque and voucher to the appropriate processing center, as indicated on the voucher.

Wire Transfers

Wire transfers are typically used by non-resident corporations or those with special payment needs. To make a wire transfer, corporations should visa the CRA’s website for details or contact the CRA’s Non-Resident Withholding Tax Services office for payment details and instructions.

By understanding the various payment methods available, businesses can choose the most suitable option for their corporate tax payment needs and ensure they remain compliant with Canada’s tax regulations.

Penalties and Interest for Late Filing

Canadian corporations must file their income tax returns on time to avoid penalties and interest charges. The penalties for late filing primarily depend on the amount of unpaid tax and the duration of the delay.

The standard penalty for filing a T2 tax return late is 5% of the unpaid tax due on the filing deadline. On top of that, an additional 1% of the unpaid tax is charged for each complete month the return is late, up to a maximum of 12 months.

Interest charges also apply to late payments. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) charges arrears interest on any unpaid tax and instalment interest on late or insufficient instalment payments made throughout the year. If the instalment interest exceeds $1,000, the CRA may charge an instalment penalty.

Here are some key points to remember regarding penalties and interest for late filing:

  • Standard late-filing penalty: 5% of the unpaid tax, plus 1% for each complete month the return is late (up to 12 months)
  • Arrears interest: Charged on unpaid tax at the end of a tax year
  • Instalment interest: Charged on late or insufficient installment payments
  • Instalment penalty: May be assessed if instalment interest exceeds $1,000

It is essential for corporations to be aware of these penalties and interest charges to avoid potential financial consequences. By filing their income tax returns accurately and on time, corporations can maintain good standing with the CRA and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Record Keeping Requirements

In Canada, corporations are required to maintain accurate and organized accounting and financial records. These records are essential for fulfilling tax obligations, calculating credits, and ensuring compliance with government regulations.

Canadian corporations must retain their accounting records for a period of six years after the end of the financial period to which the records pertain. The types of records that need to be kept include:

  • Ledgers
  • Journals
  • Books
  • Bank statements
  • Financial statements
  • Statements of accounts
  • Income tax returns
  • Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) returns

These records must be kept organized and be available in either English or French, or a combination of these two languages. It is crucial to ensure that records are reliable, complete, and supported by relevant documents. Electronic records should also meet specific requirements laid out by the CRA.

Additionally, corporations must maintain certain corporate records at their registered office or another designated location within Canada. Shareholders and creditors can request access to these records, which include:

  1. Articles of amendment
  2. Amended articles of incorporation
  3. Restated articles of incorporation

In summary, staying compliant with record-keeping requirements is an essential part of a corporation’s tax filing process in Canada. By maintaining organized, accurate, and easily-accessible records in accordance with government guidelines, corporations can successfully navigate the complex world of tax filing and corporate obligations.

Tax Deductions and Credits Available

In this section, we will discuss the tax deductions and credits available to corporations in Canada, which can help reduce their tax liabilities.

Business Expense Deductions

Corporations in Canada can claim a wide array of business expenses as deductions on their corporate tax returns. Some common deductible expenses include:

  • Business start-up costs: Initial costs incurred while setting up the business.
  • Business tax, fees, licenses, and dues: Payments made to various government authorities.
  • Business-use-of-home expenses: Expenses related to using a portion of your home for business purposes.
  • Capital cost allowance: Depreciation of certain capital assets.
  • Delivery, freight and express: Costs associated with shipping and receiving goods.
  • Fuel costs: Costs incurred for fuel (excluding motor vehicles).
  • Insurance: Premium payments for business-related insurance policies.
  • Interest and bank charges: Interest payments and fees associated with business loans.
  • Loan fees: Additional costs related to obtaining and maintaining business loans, deductible over five years.

It’s essential for corporations to maintain proper records of these expenses to support their claims and be aware of any specific rules and limitations imposed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Investment Tax Credits

In addition to tax deductions, corporations may be eligible for investment tax credits that can further reduce their tax liabilities. Two of the most significant investment tax credits in Canada are:

  1. Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit: This credit is designed to encourage businesses to engage in scientific research and experimental development by offering a tax incentive. Eligible expenditures include salaries and wages, materials, equipment, and overhead costs associated with qualifying SR&ED projects.
  2. Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC): This credit is intended to support the Canadian film and video production industry by providing financial assistance to eligible Canadian production companies. The CPTC covers up to 25% of qualified labour costs incurred during the making of a film or video production.

To claim these investment tax credits, corporations must ensure they meet specific eligibility criteria and complete appropriate tax forms and documentation as required by the CRA.

By being aware of available tax deductions and credits, corporations in Canada can reduce their tax liabilities and maximize their financial resources for further growth and development.

Handling Corporate Tax Audits and Reviews

In Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for conducting audits and reviews of businesses to ensure compliance with tax laws and obligations. During an audit, the CRA closely examines a company’s books and records to confirm whether they are fulfilling their tax obligations and following tax laws correctly.

Audit Process:

  1. Selection: Businesses may be selected for an audit based on factors such as the risk of non-compliance or random selection.
  2. Preparation: Prior to the audit, be sure to have all relevant documentation and records organized, as the CRA will require access to these.
  3. Examination: The CRA will thoroughly examine the provided records and may ask for additional documentation if required.
  4. Findings: Once the examination is complete, the CRA will communicate their findings, which could result in changes to the company’s tax return, refunds, or additional taxes owed.

It is crucial for businesses to maintain accurate and organized financial records, as this information will be needed in the event of an audit or review. Good record-keeping ensures that businesses have all the necessary documentation to support their income, expenses, and deductions while also helping to prepare for potential reviews or audits.

In some cases, the CRA may review the company’s business systems to ensure that they meet the agency’s record-keeping requirements. Such reviews can provide the CRA with valuable insights into the configuration, flow of information, and overall functionality of the systems.

Throughout the audit or review process, it is important for businesses to be cooperative and transparent with the CRA. This includes providing all requested information and documentation in a timely manner. Should businesses disagree with the audit findings, they have the right to formally object and should consult with a tax professional for further guidance.

By understanding and meeting their tax obligations, Canadian businesses can reduce the likelihood of potential audits or reviews and ensure their ongoing compliance with the tax laws and regulations.

Amending Corporate Tax Returns

Amending a corporate tax return is sometimes necessary if there are errors or omissions in the initial filing. In Canada, corporations may request for reassessment of their T2 return, but certain steps must be followed.

To initiate a reassessment, the corporation must send a letter to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) explaining the reasons for the requested amendment. It is important to clearly identify the following information in this letter:

  • Name of the corporation
  • Corporation’s business number (BN)
  • Corporation’s tax year
  • Any relevant details

The letter should be accompanied by any relevant supporting documents, such as:

  • Revised financial statements or the General Index of Financial Information (GIFI)
  • Revised schedules

There are time limits for requesting a reassessment, which may vary depending on the type of corporation and the nature of the reassessment. Reassessments may result from various circumstances such as a request from the corporation itself, a court order, or as part of the CRA’s standard assessment process.

It is important for corporations to be aware of the various filing requirements and deadlines in order to maintain compliance with Canadian tax laws. This includes filing annual income and capital tax returns, holding annual shareholder meetings, and meeting other relevant deadlines and obligations

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deadline for filing a corporation’s income tax return in Canada?

In Canada, a corporation must file its T2 income tax return within six months after the end of its tax year. The filing period will vary depending on the corporation’s year-end date.

What are the penalties for late corporate tax filings in Canada?

If a corporation in Canada files its income tax return late, it may be subject to penalties. Penalties amount to 5% of the unpaid tax due, plus an additional 1% of the unpaid tax for each month the return is late, up to a maximum of 12 months.

Can a corporation file a nil tax return if it has no taxable income?

Yes, a corporation can file a nil tax return even if it has no taxable income. If an organization produces no taxable income but wants to maintain its corporate status, it’s best to file a nil tax return.

Is it mandatory for all corporations in Canada to file a T2 return, regardless of revenue?

It is mandatory for all resident corporations in Canada, including non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations, to file a T2 return every tax year, even if there is no tax payable.

What are the options for software or services to aid in corporate tax preparation in Canada?

Several software options and services are available to assist in corporate tax preparation in Canada. Many of these services offer features such as Corporation Internet Filing and provide a secure, paperless, and fast method to complete and file a T2 return. Confirmation is generally received within minutes, and processing time is reduced, resulting in faster refunds.

How is the corporate tax rate determined for businesses operating in Canada?

The corporate tax rate for businesses operating in Canada is determined by combining both federal and provincial tax rates. The federal tax rate is set at 15% (9% for eligible small businesses). The provincial tax rates vary and depend on the province in which the corporation operates. Corporations can also benefit from certain tax credits, which may lower their overall corporate tax rate.


Sebastien Prost, CPA

Written by Sebastien Prost, CPA

Seb Prost, a CPA with over 10 years of experience in taxation and accounting, offers a unique blend of insights from his time at the CRA and his experience in public practice. Originally from QC and now based in Nelson, BC, he specializes in guiding Canadian startups, SaaS companies and other online businesses for all of their accounting and taxation needs.

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