Tax Filing Tips for Newcomers to Canada

Welcome to Canada!

We don’t have to tell you what makes Canada great as you have already put a lot of effort into making your move and starting a new life with your family and loved ones.

People have been immigrating to Canada for years and that’s what makes us such a wonderfully diverse and unique society. There’s lots to do and so much to discover, but one of the best ways to dive right into the culture is trying out some truly Canadian specialties such as maple syrup toffee, beaver tails and poutine!

As a new immigrant, your first year is undoubtedly the hardest as you are adapting to your new environment and learning new aspects of life. Filing taxes is right up there on the list of strange concepts for many – but don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.

If you’ve recently relocated here, you might be slightly confused about how we file tax returns compared to other countries. Let’s go over some quick FAQs for newcomers to Canada.

Canada’s tax system is regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency, also called the CRA. The deadline for filing your personal tax return is April 30, while the deadline for self-employed individuals is later in mid-June.

1. Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

If you are considered to be a resident of Canada, you must file a tax return for either the entire tax year or part of the tax year you’ve lived in Canada. Even if you are considered a deemed resident of Canada, you may be required to file a return. Also, under certain circumstances, non-resident Canadians might have tax obligations too.

2. If I Don’t Have to File, Why Should I?

On top of the convenience of having your information set up with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for future filings, one advantage of filing is that you may be entitled to other benefits. These could include the Goods and Services Tax and Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit, as well as the Canada child benefit and other tax credits specific to the province or territory where you live. The majority of benefits programs in Canada are income based, so your eligibility is determined by your annual tax return.

3. What’s My Residency Status?

Although the CRA publishes guidelines for determining your residency for tax purposes, these determinations are generally made on a case by case basis. Each individuals’ situation is different, so it would be best to contact the CRA directly to understand your residency status for tax purposes.

4. What Information Do I Need to File my return?

Generally speaking, you’ll have to provide basic personal information such as your full legal name, your address, and all income from previous year, in addition to the following:

Make sure to have applied and received your social insurance number (SIN) which is used to identify you and your dependents for income tax and benefits.

If you are already employed in Canada, you’d need the information from the T-Slip you received from your employer if you just arrived you would need to include information from your employment before arrive to Canada.

If you started a business in Canada, then you’ll need to provide business information including income and expenses.

If you had income from outside Canada since the day you relocated, you will need those numbers as well.

If you have dependants, you’ll have to provide all of their details too.

Credits and deductions you can claim depend on your own individual tax situation. For example, if you have childcare expenses, you may be eligible to claim those on your return. If you incurred medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your children, you may be able to claim those as well.

If you’re bringing any kind of assets to Canada, you would need to include details and market value on the day you arrive. Your capital gains or losses will be calculated based on this amount, if and when you sell them.

5. How Do I File my return?

As a new Canadian, you will most likely have to print and mail your first return rather than sending it electronically through NETFILE. The great news is that you can still use tax preparation software like TurboTax Standard to prepare your return. All you have to do is answer simple questions about your life and the software will do all the heavy lifting for you, such as checking over 400 possible credits and deductions for you automatically. TurboTax lets you prepare your return confidently and accurately. It’s no wonder millions of Canadians trust it, year after year.