Filing taxes in Canada

Income tax in Canada

In Canada, income tax is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The Canadian income tax year is from January 1 to December 31. If you owe income tax, you must pay it by April 30 for the previous calendar year. Late submissions are accepted, but there may be a penalty.

If you are employed in Canada, your employer must withhold and remit to the CRA statutory deductions from your wages. These statutatory deductions include: income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI). In order to deduct the proper amount of income tax from your wages, your employer will ask you to complete both the TD-1 (federal) and the TD1-BC forms. Employers will deduct an amount from each pay cheque for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI).

You are responsible for determining your tax filing obligations and income tax status in Canada. You can get help through the UBC Tax Assistance Clinic held in the UBC Life Building in late February and early March.

What you need to file a tax return

To file a Canadian tax return, you need one of the following:

  • A Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • An Individual Tax Number (ITN)

As soon as you get a SIN or ITN, enter it in your Student Service Centre (SSC) account so that UBC can provide the government with accurate information for your taxes. 

If you have either of these numbers but it expired and you are not currently employed, you can use the expired number for filing taxes.

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

To apply for a SIN, you must have a work permit or a study permit which includes a condition to work on and/or off campus.

Learn about SIN

Individual Tax Number (ITN)

If you are not eligible for a SIN, you can apply for an ITN. This is especially important for students who receive scholarships, as UBC will require you to provide an ITN at the end of Winter Term 1.

Do not apply for an ITN past February as approval can take one month or more. You can send your ITN application together with the tax return to the same address specified on your ITN form.

Learn about ITN

Additional supporting documents

You may also need the following documents when filing your taxes.

  • T2202
    These forms show the tuition fees you paid for the tax year. You can download your T2202 from the Student Service Centre (SSC).
  • T4
    This form highlights your employment income and deductions. You should receive your T4 from your employer.
  • T4A
    The T4A is available for students who have received a scholarship or bursary in the tax year.

Apply for tax deductions

You may be eligible to deduct certain expenses from your tax payments. Moving expenses such as transportation and storage of personal effects, travel, and temporary accommodation may be considered eligible deductions. Save your receipts for the cost of relocating to Canada. However, you cannot deduct moving expenses if your only income at the new location is scholarship, fellowship, or bursary income that is entirely exempt from tax under the current legislation.

You may also deduct childcare expenses, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions, and union dues.

How to file your taxes

Online

You can file your income tax directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) online through the electronic tax-filing software NETFILE. Tax returns filed via NETFILE must first be prepared using a NETFILE-certified product you can find on their website.

By paper

If you are submitting your tax return by paper, find the forms you need on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Mailing your tax return

When you submit your first tax return, you should send your return to the International Tax Services Office, Returns Processing Division, 2204 Walkley Road, Ottawa, ON, K1A 1A8.

If this is not your first year to file a tax return, you may be eligible to apply online, or send it to the local office at the Canada Revenue Agency Tax Centre, located at 9755 King George Highway, Surrey, BC, V3T 5E1.

Do international students file taxes?

Most international students “file a tax return” (submit an income tax form to the government) to receive tax credits (money from governments or the chance to lower taxes later). International students may have to pay Canadian income tax on income earned from teaching and/or research assistantships, other employment, and investment and business income. Generally, students also have to report income they receive from outside of Canada.

The Canadian tax system is based on residency, not citizenship. Students from countries that have a tax treaty with Canada may not have to pay Canadian income tax and may be able to request that their employer stop withholding tax from their Canadian employment income with permission from CRA.

Determine if you must file a return

You must file a return if you:

  • Owe income tax to the government (e.g., you earn significant income in Canada)
  • Are asked by the CRA to file a return

Even if you don’t owe any tax, you should file a tax return if you:

  • Expect an income tax refund from the government

  • Are applying for the GST/HST credit (which provides cash payments to low- and middle-income taxpayers, to help offset the costs of paying GST/HST on taxable purchases)

  • Are eligible to receive the child tax credit (for low- and middle-income taxpayers with children)

  • Might earn more income in Canada later (e.g., co-op) and want to carry forward (i.e. save for future years) Tuition Payment and Education Credits to reduce the tax you owe in future years.

Learn more about if you have to file a return.

You do not need to pay taxes on your income from scholarships, fellowships, or bursaries, but you must provide UBC with your ITN or SIN when UBC requests it for tax purposes.

Get help filing your taxes

International Student Advisors are not tax experts and cannot provide any tax assistance. Please use the resources below to guide you through filing your taxes. If you have questions about how to file a tax return, please contact Canada Revenue Agency directly.

International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC's Vancouver campus.

View the guide

If you have questions

If you're an undergraduate student, please contact your Enrolment Services Advisor directly. To find your advisor’s contact information, log into your Student Service Centre (SSC) and select “UBC Contacts” under Personal Info.

Graduate, postgraduate, and all other students can contact an Enrolment Services Advisor by calling 604 822 9836 or submitting a question through the online form.