02/26/2018 00:01 EST | Updated 02/26/2018 00:01 EST

Cure Your Procrastination This Tax Season

Andrew Rich

As tax season rolls around again, you may want to bury your head in the sand. You're not alone: In 2015 the CRA noted that by the last week of April, about half of Canadians had not yet filed their taxes. But from penalties to missed benefits, there are plenty of reasons to conquer your procrastinating ways. And if you're expecting a refund, it can quite literally pay to be ahead of the curve.

The good news is, you don't have to face tax time alone. In partnership with H&R Block, here are five tips to keep you on top of your tax game in 2018.

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Be fashionably early, or at least be on time

Circle April 30, 2018 on your calendar — it's the absolute last day you'll want to file your return. You can file in person, online or even by mail. If you owe taxes, missing this deadline could incur some serious penalties, meaning you'll owe the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) even more money. Starting May 1, the penalty for procrastinating comes in at 5 per cent of your outstanding balance, and then an additional 1 per cent for every month you're late thereafter, up to 12 months. And that's not including interest! In order to save yourself money, it's best to pay on time.

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Get into a routine to avoid a rush

Let's be real: Trying to root through a year's worth of financial info in one fell swoop would be madness; getting into the routine of updating your records regularly just makes sense. Breaking your workload into smaller chunks is a great way to overcome procrastination.

For instance, if you run a small business, consider carving out time at the end of each week to go over receipts and expenditures you could reasonably write-off. It's a good idea to scan or photocopy everything in case there's a chance you'll lose a receipt.

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Don't get in your own way

If you're expecting a refund, you want to get that cash back as soon as possible, right? Though filing your tax return late might not incur any penalties, the government isn't going to rush your return to the front of the line either. Any monthly or quarterly tax credit payments on benefits you may be entitled to, such as GST/HST credits or the Canada Child Benefit could be interrupted if your return isn't filed on time. Pushing off the paperwork until after April 30 is just penalizing your pocketbook.

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Learn (and then earn!) from your mistakes

While no one wants to make a costly mistake on their tax return, a little human error isn't the end of the world, and can actually be fixed. Once you've received your initial assessment, you'll need to put all the extra information into a T1-ADJ form and wait for an updated assessment. If you're confused or overwhelmed about the error, don't feel you have to tackle it alone: H&R Block Tax Experts are truly that – experts. If there are any issues with a return you filed, you can visit an office and get the help you need instead of managing multiple forms.

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Ask for help, even when filing online

As online tax software becomes increasingly more sophisticated, many people take a DIY approach to filing their returns. But not all of us are tax aficionados, so having a second set of eyes on your paperwork can fill in the gaps. Speaking with a professional is a simple and convenient way to make sure you're maximizing your claim. Expert Review is a service from H&R Block where a tax expert reviews your return to answer any questions and make suggestions to further improve your refund or decrease what you owe.

With more than 50 years of experience, the team at H&R Block is ready to help answer your toughest income tax questions at any of their 1,100 locations nationwide.