In the Know: Income Tax

UVic Global Community Newsletter: February 15, 2021

In the Know: Advice for international students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seekingincoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Canada's Income Tax System

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

As an international student in Canada, you may need to file a Canadian income tax return

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.

Reminder: You may also need to consult appropriate resources to confirm whether or not you have tax obligations in other countries.

Should I file an Income Tax Return?

Visit the CRA website to confirm whether or not you must file an income tax return.

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 may be able to get back all or some income tax as a refund.
  • 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 up, rolled forward, and used to reduce income tax owed to CRA in future years.
  • 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.
  • If you have children and they are currently 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.
  • If you already registered for Fair PharmaCare and you want your coverage to continue.

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

Reminder: 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.

Typically, the deadline for personal income tax returns and payments owing to the CRA for the previous tax year is April 30. However, some payment deadlines are extended. Find more information on income tax filing and payment dates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though late submissions are accepted, it is best to file before the deadline. There may be a penalty for filing after the deadline if you owe income tax to the CRA. If you file late with tax owing, a late filing penalty of 5% of the balance owed plus an additional 1% for each month late will be charged by the CRA.

If you owe taxes to the Canadian government, even if you cannot pay your full balance owing on or before April 30, you can avoid the late-filing penalty by filing your return on time.

Where can I find more information?

Information about the forms and other documents needed to file an income tax return in Canada is available on our website.

CRA has also produced a very helpful article for international students to assist with tax-filing tips.

Many community organizations are hosting free virtual tax clinics for the 2021 tax season. Volunteers may be able to complete and file your taxes for free, by videoconference, by phone or through a document drop-off arrangement.

International Students and Income Tax Session

On Friday, February 26, International Student Services and the School of Business International will host an online information session about income tax filing in Canada for international students at UVic. If you are interested in attending this session, please refer to the event page for the event description and link to join the session. There is no registration required.

Income tax issues can be complicated and confusing. We strongly recommend you to seek professional help for 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 a modest income and a simple income tax situation, you may be eligible to attend a free tax preparation clinic.

The UVic School of Business will host free tax preparation clinics online this year from March 20th-April 28th, 2021. To find out if you are eligible and to schedule an appointment you can do so here.   

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. Many companies and Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) provide this service:

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

If you still have questions after consulting above resources, contact the CRA directly.

Tip: 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.

Upcoming Events: 

February 23: IRCC Information Session: COVID-19 and International Students

February 26: International Students and Income Tax Session

March 5: Pathways to Permanent Residence Information Session with IRCC & BC PNP

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