How to file taxes as a Canadian immigrant, international student, and temporary foreign worker.
Filing taxes in Canada is required for most individuals and families.
Even if you are not required to file taxes, it can be helpful, so that you may be able to take advantage of certain tax credits to add to your savings. This newcomer tax guide will help navigate you through the process so you can be prepared to file by the tax deadline.
Who needs to file taxes?
Filing taxes is an obligation for both Canadian residents and newcomers including immigrants, international students, and temporary foreign workers. Generally, the due date of a personal tax return is on April 30 of the following year. For example, for calendar year 2021, the due date is April 30, 2022. You must file Canadian taxes in a number of situations. For example:
- You received a Canadian sourced income
- You owe the government money
- You want to claim a refund or benefit, such as Child Canada Benefit
Most newcomers will be able to file electronically through EFILE or mail, though there are some EFILE exclusions for some individuals and non-residents.
Tax deadlines and penalties
- Taxes are due April 30 each year.
If you owe taxes, the payment is also due at this time. If April 30 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday that year, returns will be considered filed on time if the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) receives them or they are postmarked on the first business day following April 30. This means for 2021 personal tax return, you need to file your return on or before May 2, 2022.
If you are self-employed, or you have a spouse or common-law partner who is self-employed, the filing deadline is June 15. The payment of taxes owing is due on May 2, 2022.
If you file late, you will be charged interest on any taxes you owe as well as a late-filing penalty. Even if you cannot afford to pay the taxes you owe, still file on or before April 30 and contact the CRA about payment options.
What to report and claim on your taxes
For a Canadian resident, while it is clear that all income earned from a Canadian source needs to be reported, it is also important to know what other financial earnings and tax credits need to be included in your forms. For example:
- Foreign income: If you have income from a different country, it must be reported in Canadian dollars on your Canadian tax return. If you already paid taxes on the income you received outside of Canada you might qualify for the Federal foreign tax credit.
- Moving expenses: Generally, you cannot deduct moving expenses incurred to move to Canada. You can may be able to claim moving expenses if you moved to work or to run a business at a new location, or you moved to study courses as a full-time student enrolled in a post secondary program at a university, a college or other education institution, and your new home must be at least 40 kilometers closer to your new work location or school.
- Support payments: Even if your former spouse or common-law partner does not live in Canada, you may be able to deduct support payments made.
Required documents to file taxes
You will be required to provide basic information, such as your name and address. Among others, you will also need the following information handy:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN): All newcomers to Canada need a SIN. If you have requested a SIN and are still waiting for your documentation, still file your taxes to avoid penalty charges or benefit delays.
- T4 Slips: If you are employed in Canada, you will receive a T4 slip from your employer, which outlines your total remuneration and source deductions for the year (such as Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and income tax withheld).
- Business receipts: If you are self-employed, you will need to keep business receipts and invoices to accurately report your income and claim deductions. It is important to keep these receipts in case CRA has any follow-up questions.
- Child Care Receipts: These are receipts for child care expenses incurred to have someone look after an eligible child so that you can work or study.
- Dependant’s Details: This includes basic information about your spouse, children, and/or elderly parents. You may be eligible for certain tax credits.
Find free tax help
Free tax help is available through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation. Even if you are unsure if you qualify for free help through CVITP, they can help point you in the right direction for tax questions and newcomer tax resources.
I filed my taxes: Now what?
Congratulations! You filed your taxes as a newcomer to Canada.
If you are expecting a refund, don’t be tempted to go on a shopping spree. Your tax refund is an excellent way to get ahead on financial goals, like building an emergency fund.