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Published March 3, 2022

What is a Notice of Assessment?

A notice of assessment is an acknowledgement that your tax return has been received by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Canadians may breathe a big sigh of relief after submitting their tax return, but that’s just the first part of the tax process. It’s only once you get your notice of assessment that you know whether the Canada Revenue Agency is done with you for the year.

What is a notice of assessment (NOA)?

A notice of assessment is what you receive from the Canada Revenue Agency after submitting your tax return. It acts as a kind of receipt to show that your tax return has been received and reviewed.

Your NOA will contain key information, including a summary of your tax return, and show you any changes the CRA may have made to your return. An NOA is a critical document because it gives you the status of your tax return and alerts you to any potential problems so you can take steps to remedy them.

What an NOA includes

In general, a notice of assessment will contain four main parts:

An account summary

An account summary is a box at the top of your assessment with a figure indicating one of three things:

  • The amount you owe the CRA (and the date by which you must pay those taxes owed if you have not paid already);
  • A zero balance (meaning you owe nothing and will be receiving nothing);
  • Or the tax refund amount you’ll receive.

Tax assessment summary

This section contains data from the main sections of your income tax return, like your income, deductions and credits. It also includes any penalties and interest the CRA added to your refund or your amount owing. If you have a balance due from a previous tax year, it will also be listed here.

Explanation of changes and other important information

Sometimes the CRA will make changes or corrections to your tax return, and this section details any adjustments. For example, the CRA may have different information about your income or eligible deductions than you submitted.

Individuals between the ages of 25 and 65 will also find their Canada Training Credit limit here, which is an amount that can be claimed in future tax years as a refundable credit for eligible tuition or training fees.

This section may also alert you as to when you can expect a notice about getting the GST/HST credit or the Canada Child Benefit.

RRSP deduction limit statement

The final section contains information about your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution room and deduction limits for the next tax year. It will also show if you made excess RRSP contributions in the tax year. If you did, you might have to pay taxes on the excess.

Additional information

If you took advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan (a program that allows you to borrow $10,000 a year, up to a total of $20,000, from your RRSP to pay for full-time training or education), there might be an additional section on your NOA. These sections would have information regarding your remaining balance, as well as your minimum repayment amount for the upcoming year.

How to get an NOA

The CRA automatically sends out your notice of assessment receiving your return. You will either get it by mail or online via your CRA account.

What to do after receiving an NOA

When you receive your notice of assessment, you should carefully review it for any errors or if the CRA has changed the information you provided.

Changes the CRA might make to your NOA

The CRA could make a variety of changes to your NOA, including your income (in case you forgot to include some income sources like investments), as well as any deductions and credits claimed on your tax return.

If you don’t agree with any changes made or believe errors appear on your NOA, you can file an official objection. Before taking this step, however, it’s best to first try contacting the CRA directly via phone to see if they can quickly resolve the matter.

If that doesn’t work and you want to file an objection, you’ll have either one year after the filing deadline for your tax return or 90 days from the date the notice of assessment was issued, whichever date is later. If you miss the deadline, you can apply for a one-year extension.

  • FAQs

    • What is a notice of assessment (NOA)?

      A notice of assessment is what you receive from the Canada Revenue Agency after submitting your tax return. It acts as a kind of receipt to show that your tax return has been received and reviewed.

    • How long should I keep an NOA?

      The CRA advises Canadians to keep all tax information and any supporting documents on file for six years as the CRA has up to six years to review your tax return.

    • What should I do if I lose my NOA?

      To get a copy of your notice of assessment, you need to go online and log into your CRA account, or you can phone the CRA to request a copy.

About the Author

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor

Sandra MacGregor has been writing about personal finance, investing and credit cards for over a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

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