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 will deduct income tax from your wages and send this money to the CRA. In order to deduct the proper amount of income tax from your wages, your employer will ask you to complete the form TD–1. Employers will deduct an amount from each pay cheque for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI).

You are responsible for determining your income tax status and paying the correct amount of tax. You can get help through the UBC Tax Assistance Clinic held at International House in late February and early March.

What you need to file a tax return

To file a Canadian tax return, you need either:

  • a Social Insurance Number (SIN),
  • OR an Individual Tax Number (ITN)

As soon as you get a SIN or ITN, enter it in your 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 an on-campus job offer (with a valid study permit)

Go to Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Individual Tax Number (ITN)

If you are not eligible for a SIN, 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 Term 1.

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

Go to Individual Taxt Number (ITN)

Additional supporting documents when filing your taxes

T2202A – Tuition fees paid for the tax year. You can download your T2202A from the Student Service Centre.

T4 – Employment income and deductions. You should receive your T4 from your employer.

T4A – Scholarships and bursaries.

General Tax Forms – Available online and at all Canada Post offices

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

NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing option allowing you to file your income tax directly to the Canada Revenue Agency online. Tax returns filed via NETFILE must first be prepared using a NETFILE-certified product you can find on their website.

By paper

Find the forms you need to submit your tax return by paper.

Mailing your tax return

When you submit your first tax return, you should send your return to 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 Canada Revenue Agency, Tax Centre, 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.

You must file a tax return if you:

  • Owe income tax to the government (for example, 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) so want to carry-forward (i.e. save for future years) Tuition Payment and Education Credits to reduce the tax you owe in future years.

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

Get help filing your taxes

Contact International Student Development

International Student Development

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:
 

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
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