T4A vs T4 – What’s the Difference?

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Tax professionals provide an amazingly valuable service for a reason – taxes are complicated. The CRA tries its best to make it approachable for most people when filing their returns. 

At the end of the day, though, the tax forms ask for information you either don’t have or don’t need, and this only makes the process more complicated.

This article will explain the difference between the two main tax slips – the T4 and the T4A – and help you to understand which one you need to fill out.

What is Form T4?

Form T4 is what most people who are employed and paid wages will know and love. This form is technically called the “Statement of Remuneration Paid.” If you have an employer who pays you in any way for performing various duties on the job, you will receive a T4 slip from that employer at the end of the tax year.

This form will show several pieces of information such as your total gross income, taxes paid during the year, any other deductions such as payments into your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance.

If you did not receive a T4 form from your employer, you can reach out to your employer’s payroll personnel, and they should be able to tell you if they sent it, whether it hasn’t been sent out yet, or why you may not have received one.

Workers in Quebec should take note that you will not receive a T4 form but will receive a similar form called the RL-1 from employers.  The RL-1 will have most of the same information, however, some of Quebec’s government programs are called by different names and have different requirements, so this form will serve as your guide to making sure the numbers match up for your situation.

If you ask for your T4 or RL-1 before the end of February, your employer may not have generated it yet because they have until the end of February to provide it to you by law.

If you are extremely anxious to find out your tax information or you lost your T4, you can always log in to your CRA My Account and find all of your pertinent information – including T4 – in the relevant sections.

How is the T4A Different from the T4?

Where the T4 is for people who worked in a full-time capacity for an employer, the T4A is provided to those who may have received income from various categories.

The T4A is called the “Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity and Other Income.”  The T4A is a last resort form for those who earned income, but the other forms don’t apply, a “catch-all” if you will.   Here is a list of some types of work or income that may require a T4A.

–          Self-Employed – some larger companies who use freelancers, contractors, or commissioned workers may provide a T4A with amounts in box 20 or 48.  If this is the case, you’ll need to fill out a T2126 as a self-employed individual as well.

–          Pension, Retirement, and Annuity – after you retire and begin to receive payouts from either a pension, retirement fund or annuity, the T4A will be provided with pertinent information in Box 16.

–          Students with RESP and Scholarship Recipients – If you received money from a Registered Education Savings Plan or scholarships, you will either receive a T4A or will need to obtain one.

–          Wage-Loss Replacement Plan – this includes any income from Short-Term Disability (STD), Long-Term Disability (LTD), or Weekly Indemnity (WI).

This list isn’t exhaustive, but these are the types of income that may be most asked about.  There are also other forms for things like Old Age Security on the T4A (OAS), CPP Benefits on the T4A(P), T4RSP for RRSP Income, and more.

If you received a T4 with income tax and/or other deductions reported, you are considered a full-time employee and should be fine with a T4.

If you received a T4 that was blank, didn’t show any deductions, or did not receive a T4 at all, then you were considered self-employed and may need to fill out form T2125, which is the “Statement of Business Activities” used by most self-employed individuals. 

Bear in mind that, if you were a full-time employee but received income from a side hustle, you may need to file both forms.  Also, if you receive more than one T4A, each one will need to be reported separately on your return.

Summary

Filing your tax returns can be complicated, but all you need to do is verify where your income came from first.  Were you a full-time employee or did you receive income from other sources where you were self-employed or retired? 

This will generally help you decide which form you need to file.  After that, you will just need to make sure that each form gets filled out and reported properly on your final tax return.

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.