What Is NETFILE And How To File Your Taxes Online Using It

NETFILE and Online Tax Filing

Canadians looking for an easy and secure way to file their taxes online can take advantage of CRA’s NETFILE service.

With its various benefits, like eliminating the need for paper tax returns, submitting your taxes electronically is becoming increasingly popular amongst Canadian taxpayers. In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about how to use NETFILE and some tips on filing a successful tax return using this system.

Get ready — it’s time to enter your digital future with NETFILE!

Key Takeaways

  • NETFILE is a secure, convenient, and free online filing system offered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It makes it easier to file taxes electronically.
  • Using NETFILE requires documents such as past year’s tax return, income documents (T4 forms), receipts for deductions/credits, financial statements of eligible expenses etc.
  • You must obtain an access code from CRA to use NETFILE; the process involves creating an account with CRA through its official website.
  • Users should opt for NETFILE-certified software solutions for accuracy and compliance while gaining convenience advantages such as real-time guidance and avoiding errors.

Understanding NETFILE

NETFILE is an online filing system that allows Canadian taxpayers to file their taxes electronically with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

What is NETFILE?

An image that explains the definition of NETFILE. NETFILE is an electronic tax filing option that enables Canadian tax payers to submit their income tax and benefit returns online using NETFILE-certified software programs.

NETFILE is an electronic tax filing option the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers. It enables Canadian taxpayers to submit their income tax and benefit returns online. This method uses a NETFILE-certified software program, such as TurboTax, and then sends it directly to the CRA for processing. 

It’s convenient, fast, secure, and saves time compared to traditional tax filing methods. To use NETFILE, you must create an account with the CRA to get a unique access code when submitting your return via NETFILE’s online portal.

With this digital tax filing method, you have peace of mind knowing your information is safe and secure during each process step.

How does NETFILE work?

NETFILE is an electronic service the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides. It allows individuals to file their taxes online without hassle. The system requires approved software like TurboTax to submit the tax return electronically.

During submission, NETFILE performs various validity checks, which help ensure accuracy and helps identify any errors or omissions so that they can be rectified before submitting your taxes. Once all necessary information and any supporting documents have been gathered, taxpayers can fill out and submit their tax forms instantly using NETFILE with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device.

Using this method, taxpayers can avoid manually filling out separate federal and provincial paper returns while ensuring faster delivery of tax refunds through direct deposit.  Canadian taxpayers won’t incur any additional costs since NETFILE has no fees other than for any software used, making it both a secure and cost-effective option.

When does NETFILE open for 2024?

You can use the NETFILE and ReFILE services to file electronically from 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time on February 19, 2024, until January 24, 2025.

How do I access NETFILE CRA?

You can only use NETFILE through NETFILE-certified tax software. Meanwhile, your NETFILE Access Code, which you will need when filing, is found in your Notice of Assessment for the previous year.

You can check CRA’s website for the list of NETFILE-certified tax software for this year.

How much does NETFILE cost?

NETFILE service by CRA is free, however, some tax software has fees.

How do I register for NETFILE?

If you’re using NETFILE for the first time, sign up through the tax software you’ve chosen. Be aware, if your personal details don’t match with what the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has on file, they might not accept your tax return.

To avoid this, regularly check your CRA account and update your personal information accordingly. For literal first-time filers, make sure you’ve sent a tax return through the mail before using NETFILE. This is how the CRA gets your info. If they don’t have your past details, your NETFILE submission might not be accepted.

How long does CRA take to process NETFILE?

It could take CRA 10 business days to process your return via NETFILE.

Do I need a code to NETFILE my taxes?

Yes, you will need your Access Code if you want to file your return using NETFILE. You can find your code in your most recent Notice of Assessment.


A table that compares the differences between NETFILE and EFILE

In addition to NETFILE, you may encounter another digital tax filing tool from CRA called EFILE. These two tools have the same purpose but cater to different users.

NETFILE is for Canadian taxpayers who file their taxes independently. In contrast, the EFILE is used by professionals such as tax preparers and accountants.

EFILE has Preparer ID, EFILE number, and password unique to tax professionals. So if you are filing your taxes under your tax preparer’s name, they will likely use EFILE.

If you have any specific tax questions, look for a reliable tax accountant in Canada to prepare your taxes.

Is NETFILE and TurboTax the same?

TurboTax is one the NETFILE-certified tax software. While TurboTax being the most common one, there are other tax software to choose from with varying fees. You can check CRA’s list for more information.

READ MORE: How to Find the Best Tax Accountant Near Me

Benefits of using NETFILE for filing taxes online


NETFILE offers convenience and flexibility, allowing taxpayers to file their taxes from the comfort of their homes or offices without having to leave for a tax office.


It eliminates the need for physical stamps and mailing. It permits faster and more efficient tax filing since it’s done electronically rather than through traditional paper filing methods.


NETFILE can help taxpayers avoid errors and ensure accurate calculations. Its automated error check system helps detect common mistakes in tax returns before filing.


Taxpayers may also take advantage of various available tax credits or deductions while completing their forms with NETFILE. Certified software programs know how to best apply these benefits and make it easy for taxpayers to fill out, so they don’t miss out on any possible credits.


NETFILE is secure, confidential, and reliable since personal financial information is protected by stringent security systems established by the CRA, such as two-factor authentication requirements. It assures the safety of sensitive taxpayer data being shared during the filing process within the Canadian federal system.


NETFILE offers time savings compared to traditional paper filings enabling filers to access refunds sooner!

How to File Your Taxes Using NETFILE

Follow the steps outlined by your NETFILE-certified tax preparation software to gather the necessary documents and information, create a CRA account and obtain an access code, then fill out and submit your tax return.

Step 1: Select a NETFILE-certified tax preparation software

Picking the right tax preparation software ensures a smooth, accurate filing experience. Selecting an officially NETFILE-certified software solution for individual Canadian taxpayers is important.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) certifies certain commercial and free options that meet specific guidelines set by the CRA and pass their rigorous certification process. These designated solutions are available for federal and provincial filings under Netfile Québec from Revenu Quebec.

Popular choices include TurboTax Canada, TaxTron, UFile by UDrive Software Inc., SimpleTax, etc. Features like real-time guidance for errors or doubts make these solutions quite user-friendly.

RELATED: Useful Resources and Tools

Step 2: Gathering the necessary documents and information

Before beginning the filing process using NETFILE, it is important to understand what documents and information are required. Here’s a list of what you might need before you start:

  1. Your previous year’s returns – This may be your tax return, or it could include those filed by any dependents in the household that will be included in this year’s filing.
  2. Notice of Assessment from CRA – You will need your Notice of Assessment (NOA) if you were issued one when last year’s return was processed.
  3. Proof of income documentation such as T4 form(s) from an employer – If applicable, gather any slips related to self-employment income.
  4. Any document related to deductions or credits claimed on previous or current returns,as tuition fee receipts and/or amounts received for post secondary scholarships etc. 
  5. Financial documents displaying eligible expenses that can potentially lower taxable amounts and maximize refunds 
  6. RRSP contributions receipts 
  7. Investment statements
  8. Dividend slip with the grossed-up amount 
  9. Loan statements if taking advantage of available loan interest deduction 
  10. Relevant child care receipts or tuition fee receipts for students 
  11. Disability Tax Credit Certificate if claiming disability benefits 
  12. Directors Identification Number (DIN) 
  13. Union dues receipt 
  14. Charitable donation receipts
  15. Other applicable financial documents depending on your tax situation

Step 3: Creating a CRA account and obtaining a NETFILE Access Code

Before filing taxes electronically with NETFILE for the 2024 tax year, individuals must create a CRA account and obtain a NETFILE access code. Your access code is made up of eight characters–numbers and letters–found on the right side of your Notice of Assessment (NOA).

An example of a Notice of Assessment from the CRA that shows the NETFILE access code.

Image from Canada Revenue Website. You can find your NETFILE code at the right side of your Notice of Assessment (NOA).

This process is essential to use NETFILE for submitting personal income tax returns directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You must first register to CRA My Account to access NETFILE and obtain a NETFILE code. Here’s how.

Visit the Government of Canada website and select “Taxes”.

  1. Then click “My Account.” On the My Account page, you will be given three options: Sign-in Partner, CRA user ID, and Provincial Partner.
  1. Choose the second option: CRA user ID and password. If you already have an existing CRA account, you can click the green CRA sign-in button. If you are a new user, click the CRA Register link beside the sign-in button.
  1. Upon registration, you will be required to provide information to validate your identity, such as your SIN. Guarantee the accuracy of your information to avoid any issues with your CRA account in the future.

Once you have provided all necessary details correctly during registration, you will be prompted with an activation code via mail which would generally arrive within 5-10 business days. Make sure not to discard this letter until after submitting your return to avoid any inconvenience while retrieving it later should it become necessary.

  1. After successful activation via login credentials sent by mail, visit CRA My Account home page again, where you will be providing more specific income tax related data along with confirmations given through emails previously.

If you lose your NOA, you can download a copy from your CRA My Account

You can also get a copy of your NOA via mail.

You have to call the CRA and inquire about your concern. Be ready to prepare your:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Full name and date of birth
  • Your complete address
  • An assessed return, a notice of assessment or reassessment, other tax documents, or be signed into My Account

Step 4: Filling out and submitting your tax return using NETFILE

  1. Select a NETFILE-certified tax software that meets your needs and provides all the required features for success.
  2. Gather all necessary documents and information, including your income statement from employment, investment records, receipts for deductible expenses or charitable donations, Social Insurance Number (SIN) card, previous year’s assessment notice and payment summary if applicable.
  3. Log in to your CRA My Account to obtain a personalized access code called NETFILE Access Code (NAC). This NAC will be used when uploading your electronic return via NETFILE later.
  4. Enter information regarding yourself, such as birth date, gender etc., before filing taxes online with NETFILE. You can also add other associates associated with this particular return, like spouse’s details if applicable or dependants.
  5. Fill out relevant sections in certified software form compatible with NETFILE format following instructions given therein. Consider seeking advice from an accountant when unsure about something impacting the tax returns submission procedure.

Double check accuracy of entire filled forms ensure accurate information, from personal details to all numbers entered.

LEARN MORE: Canadian Tax Deadline 2024: What You Need to Know

What Happens After Filing Using NETFILE?

You may receive a message or notification from CRA that says they have obtained your tax return, which is already being processed. You can check the status of your return on your CRA My Account.

With NETFILE, assessment can take as short as 10 hours, compared to a 6-8 weeks turnaround time via mail.

After the assessment of your return, CRA will send your Notice of Assessment (NOA) to your My Account inbox. You are given 90 days to correct mistakes on your NOA if there are any; otherwise, the CRA will consider it accurate. You should also contact the CRA to pay for your outstanding balance if you have any to avoid penalties.

Tips for a Smooth NETFILE Experience

To ensure a hassle-free NETFILE experience, double-check the accuracy of your tax information and review for any errors or missing information before submitting it.

1. Ensuring accuracy in your tax information

One of the most important elements when filing taxes using NETFILE is accuracy. Careful checking and verification are essential to ensure your return contains all relevant and accurate information.

Take your time filling out tax forms accurately and double-checking for any typos or omissions before submitting them via NETFILE for processing by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency).

When collecting documents related to income sources, investment earnings, charitable donations, etc., keep all records organized to quickly reference the details. Utilize reliable tax preparation software such as TurboTax, which simplifies the task of organizing and filling out paperwork correctly in an efficient manner with built-in safety features that help increase accuracy further.

2. Double-checking for any errors or missing information

When submitting your tax return online, it is important to always give extra attention and review all forms and documents thoroughly. Errors in your filing could lead to a delay or rejection of your NETFILE submission by the CRA, which could result in additional fees, fines and penalties.

It’s essential to double-check for any errors or omissions to get the most accurate refund possible. Double checking includes verifying calculations manually, using a calculator when needed; making sure that all deductions are claimed; ensuring correct information was entered, such as Social Insurance Number (SIN), spouse’s SIN, address, and living condition status has been correctly declared; reviewing total income declared on both federal & provincial Forms matched with their respective sources of income slips etc. 

If certain aspects are unclear, it would be advisable to seek professional help from accredited chartered professionals to ensure accuracy when considering what deductions can be included on one’s return before filing it electronically through NETFILE.

3. Keeping track of your filing confirmation and receipt

Once you have sent your tax return to the CRA, it is important to keep track of the confirmation number and receipt related to your NETFILE experience, as these documents are essential for verifying that your return was successfully received and processed by the agency.

You should store this information in a secure location, such as an online storage service or an encrypted folder on your computer, so that you can easily access it whenever necessary. Having copies of all relevant records will also prove helpful if there are any discrepancies with your filing during an audit or other administrative process in case extra documentation needs to be produced.

Keeping track of those documents will ensure both parties get up-to-date data at all times, enabling taxpayers and government officials to ensure accurate records regarding individual taxpayer information returns.

Important Reminders When Using NETFILE

A list of important reminders when using NETFILE.
  • You can only use NETFILE for your returns for the past five years (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 or 2023). You cannot file for 2017 or older returns using NETFILE.
  • You cannot use NETFILE to change your personal information on your tax return, such as your name or address. You must change them on the CRA website.

Another tip, if you are updating your personal information, we suggest doing it weeks or months before the tax filing deadline. It gives CRA ample time for verification. 2023Subsequently, you will avoid delayed tax filing.

  • Small business owners who declare bankruptcy in 2023 or 2024 will need to file their taxes by mail instead of using NETFILE, unless they have submitted a bankruptcy proposal during that time period.
  • You cannot file a tax return for a deceased person who died in 2023 or 2024 using NETFILE.

For the complete list of NETFILE restrictions, you can visit CRA’s website


Using NETFILE is one of the easiest, safest, and eco-friendliest ways to file your taxes electronically. But remember, not everyone can use NETFILE. Make sure to check CRA’s website to learn more about NETFILE eligibility. But for more complex and challenging tax situations, you can always seek services from tax preparers and professionals.

At CPA Guide, we can help you prepare your personal and corporate taxes. We can connect you with the best CPAs across Canada. Find a CPA today with CPA Guide.


1. What is NETFILE?

NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing system which allows taxpayers to transmit their income tax and benefit returns directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) over the Internet. The CRA also offers a similar service called EFILE for people who prefer to use professional help from certified tax preparers or software companies to file their taxes online.

2. Are there any eligibility requirements for using NETFILE?

The eligible forms that can be filed through NETfile are determined by the CRA each year, so it’s important to check if your return qualifies before submitting it electronically. Certain criteria must also be met, such as only non-dependent adults aged 18 or older living within Canada can take advantage of this service and taxpayers whose total income does not exceed certain limits set annually by CRA government officials.

But you cannot use NETFILE if:

  • You are filing your first-ever income tax return to the CRA.
  • You have a missing date of birth or Social Insurance Number on file.
  • Your Social Insurance Number begins with “ 09”.
  • You went bankrupt in the past two years.
  • You are a deemed resident and don’t have to pay provincial taxes.
  • If you are filing taxes for someone who has passed away in the current or previous tax year.
  • You are an emigrant or non-resident.
  • Your address is outside Canada.
  • You are reporting Canadian-source income from Lloyds of London.

3. How do I file my taxes using NETFILE?

The return filing process using NETFILE consists of several steps: preparation with a program approved by CRA, creating personal access code for security purposes, registering yourself and your account with CRA via authorized representatives, entering all information into appropriate forms and completing the declaration before submission at the end of the document(s). As mentioned, make sure you go through all necessary steps before attempting actual transmission.

4. Does filing my taxes online save me time compared to sending physical documents?

Filing taxes online could potentially save time due to both its convenience and shorter processing period when compared to traditional methods such as mailing paper documents back and forth between agencies involved. Additionally – if there are mistakes or issues with your tax return, the resolution process can begin more quickly, potentially saving you additional costs.