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How to Register CRA Online Accounts

Running a successful small business means learning to wear several hats. As an entrepreneur, your job includes everything from visionary to marketer to bookkeeper. 

When it comes to taking charge of your taxes, learning how to register Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) online accounts can help make tax reporting a little less painful. In this article, we’ll be going over everything that business owners need to know about using the CRA online services registration process.

Let’s start by looking at some commonly asked questions that you might have about registering CRA online accounts.

What is CRA My Account?

The CRA My Account for individuals is a secure online portal offered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) specifically designed for individual taxpayers in Canada. 

This platform provides a user-friendly way to manage various aspects of personal taxation with ease, including:

  • Personal Tax Information – View detailed personal tax and benefit information, including your tax return status, assessment notices, and RRSP limits.
  • Track Your Refund – Easily check the status of your income tax refund, including the amount and expected date of arrival.
  • Manage Payments – Set up a payment plan, make payments for overdue taxes or future installments, and view your payment history and balances owing.
  • Update Personal Details – Quickly change your address, phone number, marital status, and more, ensuring the CRA has your most current information.
  • Direct Deposit Enrollment – Enroll in or update your direct deposit information to receive tax refunds and benefits directly in your bank account.
  • Access Important Documents – Obtain tax slips such as T4s and T5s, view previous tax returns and notices of assessment, and access official CRA correspondence.
  • Submit Documents Electronically – Conveniently upload documents requested by the CRA, making compliance easier and faster.
  • Authorize a Representative – Authorize someone, like an accountant, to manage your tax matters through their own CRA account.
  • View Benefits and Credits – Check your eligibility and view details for various benefits and credits like the GST/HST credit or the Canada Child Benefit.

CRA My Account is a comprehensive platform that offers a range of services to simplify and enhance the way you manage your personal tax affairs. 

It’s particularly valuable for staying organized, making informed decisions about your taxes, and ensuring you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to.

What are the Benefits to Signing up for a CRA Online Account?

Having a CRA online account goes beyond basic tax management; it’s about streamlining and simplifying your interactions with the Canada Revenue Agency. 

Let’s dive into how this account becomes a game-changer for taxpayers:

  • Partially Automate Tax Filing – If you’re registered with My Account, you can also use Auto-fill my return when you file online using certified tax software.
  • Convenience at Your Fingertips – Access your tax details anytime, anywhere. No need to dig through piles of paperwork or wait on hold. Whether you’re at home or on the go, your tax information is just a click away.
  • Stay Informed in Real-Time – Track your tax return and refund status as it happens. This feature takes the guesswork out of when you’ll receive your refund or what’s happening with your return.
  • Easy Updates and Changes – Moved to a new place? Changed your banking details? Update your personal information swiftly online, without the hassle of paperwork or waiting for confirmation.
  • Direct Deposit for Faster Refunds – Enroll in direct deposit to get your tax refunds and credits straight into your bank account. It’s faster, secure, and environmentally friendly.
  • Digital Document Access – Access important tax documents like T4s anytime. It’s secure, paperless, and you don’t have to wait for mail delivery.
  • Simplified Document Submission – Need to send documents to the CRA? Upload them directly through your account. It’s faster and more reliable than mailing.
  • Empower Your Tax Professional – If you work with an accountant, you can authorize them to access your account. This makes it easier for them to manage your taxes and gives you more time to focus on other things.
  • Government Programs, Benefits, and Credits – Easily view and manage your eligibility for various tax credits and benefits, ensuring you don’t miss out on any entitlements.

By signing up for a CRA online account, you’re not just keeping up with your taxes; you’re taking control of them. It’s about making tax management less of a chore and more of a breeze.

Is CRA My Account the Same as CRA My Business Account?

Understanding the difference between “CRA My Account” and “CRA My Business Account” is important for effectively using the Canada Revenue Agency’s online services. 

The login process and the user interface are very similar for both accounts so it’s easy to confuse the two of them. However, the context for which you’ll use each account is different.  

To clear up any confusion, here’s a quick breakdown:

CRA My Account: For Individuals

This is the personal online account service for individual taxpayers. 

It’s designed for personal tax management, offering features like tracking your tax refund, updating personal information, managing tax credits and benefits, and accessing your personal tax history. It’s tailored to the needs of individual taxpayers managing their own tax affairs.

The CRA My Account for Individuals uses your social insurance number as your unique identifier, whereas the CRA My Business Account uses a “business number” as the unique identifier.

CRA My Business Account: For Business Owners 

As the name suggests, this is a separate service specifically for business owners and managers. 

It caters to the needs of businesses, providing access to corporate tax information, GST/HST, payroll, and other business-related tax matters. This account allows businesses to manage their taxes, update business information, and handle tasks such as filing returns or viewing account balances.

Social Insurance Number vs Business Number

When signing up and using the CRA’s online services, the way you’re identified differs between individual and business accounts. For the “CRA My Account for Individuals”, your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is the key. This is your personal identifier and unique to you as an individual taxpayer. It’s used to track your personal income, tax filings, and benefit eligibility.

On the other hand, the “CRA My Business Account” operates differently. Here, the unique identifier is a Business Number (BN). This number is specific to your business entity and is used by the CRA to process and keep track of business taxes, payroll deductions, and any GST/HST accounts associated with your business.

This distinction is important because it separates your personal tax obligations from your business-related ones, ensuring that your individual and business tax affairs are managed appropriately and independently of each other.

Is a CRA business number the same as a GST number?

There is often confusion around what a business number is compared to what a GST number is. However, once it’s explained in simple terms, there’s really not much to it. So, here’s the simple explanation:

The Foundation – Business Number (BN) 

When you register your business with the CRA, you are assigned a unique Business Number or “BN”. This nine-digit identifier is like the backbone for all your business dealings with the CRA. It’s essentially your business’ tax ID.

Adding the GST/HST Layer

Once you have your BN and decide to register for GST/HST, this doesn’t mean getting a completely new number. Instead, the CRA simply adds to  your existing BN. You’ll receive a 15-digit number where the first nine digits are your original BN, and the last six digits represent your GST/HST account.

Understanding the Structure

Your complete GST/HST account number will look similar to this: 123456789 RT0001.

In this example, the “123456789” is your BN, and “RT0001” is the specific code for your GST/HST account. 

This is also the case for other CRA accounts like a payroll account number. Each account will have a unique suffix but the same BN. Using payroll as the example, your payroll number will look something like “123456789 RP 0001”, with“RP0001” denoting the payroll account for your business.

Why This Matters

This system streamlines your tax affairs. You don’t have to juggle multiple numbers for different tax purposes. Whether it’s for GST/HST, payroll, or corporate taxes, it all ties back to your single BN. This makes it easier for you and the CRA to manage and track your business’s tax responsibilities.

How Do I Get a CRA Business Number?

There are many benefits to registering your business. Thankfully, registering for a CRA business number is a straightforward process.

And if you’re wondering “when do I need a business number?”, don’t worry. You can check out our short article explaining exactly when you might need a BN.

With that out of the way, here is how you can get a CRA business number:

Start with Business Registration Online (BRO)

The easiest and most efficient way to register for a CRA business number is through Business Registration Online. This business registry service guides you through the process and can handle multiple types of program accounts in one go.

Choose the Relevant Program Account

Depending on your business needs, you can start with just a business number, or you can also register for one or more of the following program accounts:

    • GST/HST Program Account (RT) – For managing Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax.
    • Payroll Deductions Program Account (RP) – If you have employees and need to manage payroll deductions.
    • Import-Export Program Account (RM) – Essential for businesses involved in international trade.
    • Corporation Income Tax Program Account (RC) – For corporate tax filings.
    • Registered Charity Program Account (RR) – For charitable organizations.
    • Information Returns Program Account (RZ) – To manage various information returns.
    • Luxury Tax Program Account (LT) – For businesses involved with luxury goods in Canada, either through manufacturing, importing, or selling.
    • Underused Housing Tax Program Account (RU) – For managing taxes on underused residential properties in Canada.

If online registration isn’t an option for you, the CRA also accepts registrations via mail, fax, or phone. These methods may take longer than the online process, but they are equally valid for obtaining your business number.

Each registration method will ask for specific details about your business such as your business’ address, owner information, or incorporation number, so it’s helpful to have all relevant information on hand before starting. 

How do I get a CRA security code?

Obtaining a CRA security code is a critical step in accessing your CRA online account, whether for personal or business tax matters. 

After you’ve successfully registered for a CRA online account (either My Account for individuals or My Business Account for businesses), the next step is to obtain your CRA security code. This code is essential for accessing your account.

The CRA will mail you a physical letter containing your unique security code. Keep an eye on the expiry date of this code, as it’s only valid for a limited period.

Once you receive the letter, log in to your CRA online account as usual. You’ll be prompted to enter the security code. This step is crucial for verifying your identity and activating full access to your account.

CRA My Account for Individuals

Sole proprietors and taxpayers in general will benefit from signing up with CRA My Account. 

This account lets you manage your personal tax information online, summarizing your account balance for amounts owed, as well as your TFSA and RRSP contribution limits. 

You can also change your personal information (e.g. marital status, home address), view government benefits and credits, and file a GST/HST rebate.

How to set up CRA My Account online

Here is a step-by-step example of how to register for a CRA My Account for Individuals.

Step 1 – Ensure You Have the Necessary Information

Firstly, you will need to have some information on hand to complete the process:

  • Your social insurance number
  • Your current postal code
  • A copy of your most recent personal tax return
  • Your email address

Once you have that information on-hand, your first step is to navigate to the CRA My Account Page.

Step 2 – Choose a Sign-in Method

There are then two options you can use to register.

  1. Log in using a sign-in partner (an existing login for a financial institution)
  2. Create a new CRA user ID and log in using that

Step 3 – Validate Your Identity

You will then be prompted to validate your identity.  This is done by entering your social insurance number, postal code, date of birth and tax information from a previous tax return.

The tax information CRA requests can vary, so it’s important to have your previous year’s tax return on-hand.

You may also be prompted to enter a second line item from your prior year’s tax return. Again, the line item will vary depending on what information exists on your tax return.

Step 4 – CRA Security Code

CRA will send you a security code by mail. It can take up to 10 business days to receive this code in the mail.

Next up, CRA will prompt you to confirm your address.

If your address on file is incorrect, you can call CRA at 1-800-959-8281 to speak with an agent and update it.

Step 5 – Create a CRA User ID and Password 

Next, if you choose to create a CRA login, you’ll be asked to create a CRA user iD and password.  If you choose to use a sign-in partner, you’ll be taken to step 6 below.

Create a user ID and password ensuring you meet the requirements for character numbers and types.

Step 6 – Create Your Security Questions and Answers

After creating a user ID and password, you’ll be prompted to create five security questions that you can answer to confirm your login.

Ensure your security questions are unique and not easily guessed.

Step 7 – Enroll in Multi-factor Authentication

You’ll then enroll in mandatory Multi-factor authentication by selecting your preferred method (telephone or passcode grid).  For more information on this step, visit CRA’s multi-factor authentication page.

Step 8 – Security Code Letter

The CRA will mail a security code letter to your home address, which can take between 5-10 business days to arrive.

Once you have this security code, log in to your new account and choose the “Enter or request your security code” option to finalize setting up your CRA account.

CRA My Business Account

The CRA My Business Account is an online service offered by the Canada Revenue Agency for business owners and managers. 

This platform is tailored to meet the unique needs of businesses in managing their tax affairs efficiently. Its features include:

  • Comprehensive Tax Management – Handle various business tax responsibilities, including GST/HST, payroll, and corporate income taxes, all in one place.
  • Real-Time Account Updates – Stay informed with up-to-date account balances, transaction histories, and the status of your business tax filings.
  • Efficient Document Handling – Access and manage important business tax documents, submit required paperwork electronically, and view your correspondence with the CRA.
  • Payment and Refund Tracking – Easily monitor your payments made to the CRA and track any refunds or credits owed to your business.
  • Manage Business Information – Update your business address, phone number, and other key information, ensuring the CRA has your most current details.
  • Delegate Access – Authorize for chosen representatives, such as accountants or employees, to access certain parts of your account, facilitating better management of tax-related tasks.
  • Customizable Alerts and Notifications – Set up alerts for important deadlines or changes in your account to stay on top of your business’s tax obligations.
  • Interactive Tools and Calculators – Utilize built-in tools for various calculations and estimations, aiding in accurate tax planning and decision-making.
  • Access to Various Program Accounts – Manage specific tax-related activities like import/export, excise duties, and other specialized business tax accounts.

The government of Canada is slowly modernizing its tax services and the CRA My Business Account is a great resource for Canadians. It’s another tool that can help support the financial management and compliance of your business. 

How to set up CRA My Business Account online

Most of the steps to set up your CRA My Business Account are the same as for the CRA My Account for Individuals. 

The main difference is that you will start the registration process at the CRA My Business page instead of the My Account for Individuals page.

You will then follow the same steps as listed above. 

Once you’ve set up your CRA login, you’ll enter your business number to connect your login with your business account.

What if I am representing a client?

If you’re a tax professional, representing clients in their dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency can be a significant part of your role. Here’s how the CRA’s Represent a Client service facilitates this:

CRA Represent a Client Account

This service is a gateway for tax professionals to access essential information for clients, both for personal and business taxes. 

It’s a secure online platform where you can manage multiple clients’ tax matters efficiently.

Setting Up a Represent a Client Account

As a tax professional, you’ll need your own account on this service. 

To get started, you must first register for a CRA user ID and password. During the registration process, you’ll receive a representative identifier (RepID). 

This RepID is unique to you and will be used to associate you with your clients in the CRA system.

The setup steps to obtain a RepID are

  1. Navigate to Represent a Client.
  2. Create a CRA user ID and password or sign in with a Sign-In Partner using the same steps as listed above in the “CRA My Account” setup section of this article.
  3. Register your own business with this service using your Business Number and receive a representative identifier (RepID) or a Group ID.

Client Authorization Process

To access a client’s CRA account, they must first authorize you. This is done through your clients’ CRA My Business account. 

The steps your clients must take include:

  1. Log in to their My Business Account
  2. Click the “Profile” link at the top right of their screen
  3. Then choose “Manage authorized representatives” where they will be able to enter your RepID, Group ID or BN
  4. Next they must choose a level of authorization and an optional expiry date if they would like your authorization to expire on a specific date.
  5. The last step is for them to choose which program accounts they would like to provide access to.  They can choose a single account or all accounts.

Once they’ve done this, you will be able to access their information through your Represent a Client portal and speak to CRA on their behalf. 

Accessing Vital Information

Once authorized, you can access various information depending on the level of authorization given. This includes viewing their tax return status, accessing tax slips, managing tax payments and credits, and retrieving vital documents and correspondence from the CRA.

Streamlining Tax Filing and Client Management

With this access, you can also streamline the tax filing process for your clients. You will be able to gather necessary documents, file returns, check on refund statuses, and manage other tax-related tasks more efficiently. 

The Represent a Client service is a powerful tool for tax professionals. It simplifies client management, enhances the efficiency of tax filing processes, and ensures that you can provide timely and effective support to your clients in managing their CRA obligations.