Businessman takes bag of money from another businessman.

In general, Canadians love a good tax refund — but what if that refund isn’t an unexpected “windfall,” as 63% of respondents to a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) poll see it, but poor tax planning?

Poor planning is exactly what it is, according to CIBC’s Jamie Golombek.

“A better plan is to ensure your portfolio operates as tax-efficiently as possible to keep more of your money throughout the year,” Golombek, CIBC’s managing director, tax and estate planning, said in a statement.

Golombek suggests Canadians fill out the appropriate paperwork to reduce the tax they pay every pay period (Canada Revenue Agency’s T1213 form). If they know they’ll be receiving a refund for their RRSP contributions or childcare expenses, for example, it makes more sense not to pay income tax on the amounts they’ll be deducting anyway, which eliminates the need for a refund, he said.

Additionally, many Canadians are “in the dark” about the tax implications of their investment accounts, according to CIBC’s poll. More than three-quarters of Canadians (76%) don’t know that all non-registered investments aren’t taxed the same way, and 51% don’t realize that they’re obligated to pay tax on the interest accrued in a savings account.

“If you’re not paying attention to how your investment income is taxed you could be missing out on better after-tax returns – and, your investment earnings could tip you into a higher marginal tax bracket,” Golombek and his colleague Debbie Pearl-Weinberg, CIBC’s executive director, tax and estate planning, said in a statement.

Golombek and Pearl-Weinberg’s full report, “A Portfolio Less Taxing: Understanding the Taxation of Investment Income,” is available here.