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Income tax in Canada

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

Do I have to file a return?

Visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to confirm whether or not you must file an income tax return. You should also confirm whether or not you have tax obligations in other countries.

Your tax obligations are based on your residency status. Your residency status for income tax purposes is not the same as your residency status for immigration purposes.

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

  1. If you received employment income in Canada, and income tax was deducted from your paycheques, you may be able to get back some of the income tax as a refund.
  2. You can claim credits associated with being a student and paying tuition in Canada.
    • 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, rolled forward and used to reduce income tax owed to the CRA in future years
  3. You might qualify for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit and associated provincial credits.
    • if you qualify, you will receive a payment four times per year
  4. If you have children who currently live in Canada, you might qualify for the Canada child benefit (CCB) and associated provincial benefits.
    • if you qualify, you will receive a payment every month
  5. If you already registered for Fair PharmaCare and you want your coverage to continue.
  6. If you want to establish a history of filing income tax returns in Canada.
    • this may be beneficial if you decide to apply for permanent resident status or citizenship

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they may also need to file a return.

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.

What documents do I need?

The income tax forms you need will depend on your residency status and the province or territory you live in during the tax year.

The most common documents* for international students include:

*additional documents may be required

Note: If you are filing multiple years of tax returns, you need to use forms for each specific tax year.

Indvidual Tax Number

You should only apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) if you are not eligible for a Social Insurance Number.

You will need a T1261 form to apply for an ITN even if you are a resident for income tax purposes.

  • you will also need certified copies of your passport and study permit

There are two options for submitting this application:

  • mail it to the address on the back of the T1261 form
  • include it in the same envelope with your income tax return

You may also be able to take your original documents to a Service Canada Centre to be certified.

Income tax slips

Most income tax documents needed to prepare an income tax return for the previous tax year are ready by February 28.

The most common income tax slips for international students include:

  • T2202 slips for tuition and education amounts - you should receive a slip from each Canadian post-secondary institution you attended during the tax year
  • T4 slips for employment income - you should receive a slip from each Canadian employer you worked for during the tax year
  • T4A slips for other income - you should receive a slip from each Canadian funding organization who gave you a scholarship, bursary, fellowship or research grant during the tax year
  • T3, T5 and T5013 slips for investment and trust income - you should receive a slip from each Canadian financial institution you received more than $50 of investment or trust income from during the tax year

You can print your UVic slips from Online Tools > Finances.

Other documents

TD1 form

When you start a new job in Canada, your employer will ask you to complete TD1 forms. These forms help determine the amount of income tax to deduct from your paycheques.

Any deducted income tax will be sent to the CRA. You may be able to get some of your deducted income tax back by filing an income tax return.

Your employer may also deduct Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from your paycheques. These deductions are non-returnable.

Notice of Assessment (NOA) or Reassessment

If you have never filed an income tax return, you will not have a NOA or Reassessment.

If you have filed an income tax return, you should have received a NOA or Reassessment from the CRA.

If you no longer have the NOA or Reassessment from the last time you filed an income tax return, follow the CRA's instructions.

How do I file a return?

You need to submit income tax forms and related documents to the CRA.

Filing your taxes

You may be able to file your income taxes online

If you are not eligible to file online, you must send all forms and related documents by mail to the appropriate Tax Centre.

Note: If you need to file income taxes for multiple years, send all forms and related documents by mail in one envelope to the Tax Centre. Include a cover letter to ensure the earliest tax year is processed first.


The income tax year is from January 1 to December 31. The deadline for most individuals to file their income tax return for the previous tax year is on or before April 30 of the following year.

  • for example, your 2022 personal income tax return is due on April 30, 2023

If you have an amount owing, you must submit payment to the CRA before April 30.

Late submissions are accepted, but there may be a penalty for filing after the deadline. There may also be a cut-off for credits and benefits if you wait too long.

I've filed my taxes, now what?

It can take 6-8 weeks for the CRA to process your income tax return. 

My Account is a secure portal that lets you view or change your income tax return, check your benefit and credit payments, set up direct deposit, track your refund and receive important messages.

Once your return has been processed, you will receive a NOA or Reassessment.

  • if you are a resident for income tax purposes, and it is your first time filing an income tax return in Canada, send your applications for credits and benefits to the appropriate Tax Centre

Note: Keep copies of everything for seven years, and keep CRA informed every time your mailing address changes.

Need help?

The CRA has an online video series about taxes for international students.

If you have a modest income and a simple income tax situation, you may be eligible to attend a free tax preparation clinic:

If you are not able or eligible to attend a tax preparation clinic, you may wish to pay a tax professional to prepare your income tax return. 

  • H&R Block
  • Liberty Tax Service
  • Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) are recommended for complicated situations (self-employment, world income, foreign property, etc.)

You can also contact the CRA directly.

Note: Always identify yourself as an international student to CRA staff, tax preparation clinic volunteers and tax professionals. Make sure the person assisting you is familiar with income tax obligations for international students.