Tia's Advice: Income Tax

UVic Global Community Newsletter: March 13, 2017

Tia's Advice is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes International Student Advising information and a list of Important Dates for undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students, incoming exchange students and incoming visiting students.

Canadian income tax system

To file an income tax return means to submit income tax forms and related documents to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Your ability to file an income tax return and your tax obligations are based on your residency status, which is based on the residential ties you have with Canada.

Your residency status for income tax purposes is not the same as your residency status for immigration purposes.

You should also confirm whether or not you have tax obligations in other countries.

Should I file an income tax return?

You must file an income tax return if you received more than $3,500 of employment income, if you owe income tax to CRA or if CRA sends you a request to file.

Even if you are not required to file an income tax return, you might want to for the following reasons:

  • If you received employment income in Canada, and income tax was deducted from your paycheques, you can probably get back all or most of the income tax as a refund.
  • You can claim credits for your tuition, education and textbook expenses. You may not be able to use these credits yet, but you must claim them in the year you earn them. Unused credits can be saved up, rolled forward and used to reduce income tax owed to CRA in future years.
  • You might qualify for the GST/HST Credit and associated provincial credits. If you qualify, you will receive a payment four times per year.
  • If you have children and they are currently in Canada, you might qualify for the Child Tax Benefit (CTB) and associated provincial benefits. If you qualify, you will receive a payment every month.
  • If you already registered for Fair PharmaCare and you want your coverage to continue.
  • If you want to establish a history of filing income tax returns in Canada, which will probably be beneficial if you decide to apply for permanent resident status and eventually citizenship.

You may be eligible for credits and benefits, even if you have no income to report, but you must file an income tax return to claim them.

When should I file my income tax return?

Each tax year is from January 1 to December 31.

Most income tax slips needed to prepare an income tax return for the previous tax year will be ready by February 28, and the deadline for filing is April 30.

Late submissions are accepted, but it is best to file before the deadline. There may be a penalty for filing after the deadline if you owe income tax to CRA. There may also be a cut-off for credits and benefits if you wait too long to file.

Income tax information session

On March 9, International Student Services (ISS) hosted an information session for international students at UVic.

Richard Games, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and alumnus of UVic, provided an overview of the Canadian income tax system and answered questions posed by participants.

Here are Richard's presentation slides.

Always refer directly to the CRA website for the most up-to-date information and instructions.

Where can I find more information?

Information about the income tax forms and other documents you need to file a Canadian income tax return is available on our website.

CRA has also produced a very helpful online video series for international students.

If you still have questions after consulting our website and the CRA website, contact CRA directly:

  • 1-800-959-8281 for questions about your income tax return
  • 1-800-959-1953 for questions about the GST/HST Credit and associated provincial credits
  • 1-800-387-1193 for questions about the CTB and associated provincial benefits

Income tax issues can be complicated and confusing. We strongly recommend getting help with preparing and filing your first income tax return so you don't miss out on refunds, credits and benefits.

Who can help me?

If you have modest income and a simple income tax situation, you may be eligible to attend a free Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinic. Please note that not all clinics provide services for international students.

The UVic School of Business is hosting free Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics on campus from March 10, 2017 to April 1, 2017. View the schedule and contact if you have questions.

If you are not able or eligible to attend a Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinic, you may wish to pay a tax professional to prepare your income tax return:

  • H&R Block and Liberty Tax Service are tax preparation companies with locations across Canada.
  • Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) are recommended for complicated income tax situations (self-employment, world income, foreign property, etc.)

Always identify yourself as an international student to CRA staff, volunteers and tax professionals. Make sure the person assisting you is familiar with income tax obligations associated with your residency status for income tax purposes and the specifics of your situation.

Important Dates

March 17: St. Patrick's Day.

March 20: Course registration for summer session begins. Check your registration date and time on UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Registration tab.

April 1: April Fool's Day.

April 4: Spring term classes end for all Faculties.

April 7: Spring term exams begin for all Faculties.

April 14: Good Friday. This is a statutory holiday, so classes will be cancelled and UVic services will be closed.

April 17: Easter Monday. This is a statutory holiday, so classes will be cancelled and UVic services will be closed.

April 24: U-Pass privileges begin for summer session.

April 25: Spring term exams end for all Faculties.

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