Getting Started

Paying taxes is a part of responsible citizenship, and it contributes to the financial health of our economy. Our tax dollars fund these important government programs and services that contribute to our standard of living, like health care, post-education, and social programs and services (seniors benefit, employment insurance benefits, children’s benefits, GST/HST credit, Ontario Trillium Grant and the Climate Action Incentive).

Here are some fundamental points you need to know about your taxes:

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administrates income tax.
  • The tax year is from January 1 to December 31.
  • You must file your tax return for the previous year by April 30.
  • A tax return for an individual is called a T1.
  • You are assessed for federal and provincial taxes.
  • You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to file a tax return.
  • There are penalties for not filing your returns if you owe the government money for taxes. Interest will accumulate on the money you owe.
  • You might be eligible for benefits and credits based on your level of income.
  • For 2020, you could receive maximum benefits and credits totalling approximately $1,900.
  • You can start accumulating “RRSM room” based on earned income.
  • You can use this money to offset student loans, help pay for daily expenses or put it aside for emergencies.
  • You can start accumulating tuition tax credits that can be used to reduce future tax liability (and generate a refund).
  • Transfer up to $5,000 to your parent, spouse or guardian who supported you financially to provide them with a tax credit of $450 ($5,000 x 0.15%).

“For students, tax season means getting money back and accumulating future tax savings. I think that’s really exciting,” says Gina Robinson, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Student Success Centre. “Through Mac’s Money Centre, I want to empower students – it feels good to know how it all works and to take charge.”

Check out our Daily News article to learn more.

You must file a tax return when: income tax is owed to the government; a tax refund is expected from the government; applying for the GST tax refund (offsets the cost of paying GST for purchases available to low income individuals) and/or Ontario Trillium Benefit; eligible to receive the child tax credit.

International students may be required to file an income tax return in Canada since the Canadian tax system is based on residency and not citizenship. You are a resident of Canada for tax purposes if you establish significant residential ties within Canada. These include a home in Canada, bank account, health insurance and driver’s license. There are valuable tax benefits for international students that file a return.

One of the requirements to file your taxes is to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which can only be received if you are employed; however, if you don’t have a SIN, you must request an Individual Tax Number (ITN). In order to apply for your ITN, you must submit either an original or notarized copy of your documents. It is recommended that you make copies of your passport and study permit and have a professor sign these copies. It will take several weeks to process so be sure to request an ITN well before the tax deadline which is April 30. Students on exchange for less then 183 days in Canada are not required to file a tax return.


CRA’s Video Series: International Students and Income Taxes

Learn about Canadian Tax System

If you are unsure as to whether you will remain in Canada to work after you graduate be sure to claim your Tuition, Education, and Textbook amounts and carry forward the unused credits. If you gain employment in Canada after graduation, you will be able to use these credits and receive a tax refund.

Remember to claim your moving expenses to Canada if you have taxable income from scholarships, research grants, and other similar awards.