New to Canada? Learn about taxes

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NARRATOR: Welcome to Canada! One of the best things about living here is the high quality of life we enjoy.

So, what makes our quality of life so great?

(Red maple leaves reveal a suburban park with a playground, a field, houses in the background and a school off to one side. A mother and father watch as their son tries to kick a soccer ball.)

Well, the fact that we all work together to support our country and community by paying the taxes we owe sure helps!

Most people who earn income pay tax on that income. Governments use that money to provide the many services and facilities we use every day.

(The camera zooms into the city where cars are seen driving down the street and pedestrians walk along the sidewalk. As a school bus drives by, it disappears behind a tree.)

Taxes pay for the support and services families, children, seniors, and many others need.

(The park re-emerges on the other side of the tree. A playground appears in the park as a senior couple walk by.)

How does the tax system work? First of all, you have to figure out if you owe any tax, and if you do, how much.

You fill out a form – called an income tax and benefit return – and send it to the Canada Revenue Agency every year. Filling out the form also tells us how much of a refund we may owe you instead.

(Zoom in on the mother and father. The park scene disappears and we are inside their living room. The mother and father both look on the computer while the boy reads a book on the couch.)

If you are a resident of Canada, you must pay income tax.

In most cases, you become a resident of Canada for tax purposes on the date you arrive and set up ties to Canada, such as having a home and a spouse living here.

If you’re a resident of Canada, you pay taxes on all of the income you earn, even if it was earned outside of Canada.

(The camera shifts to the perspective of the boy’s book. The book contains a child-like drawing of a husband, wife and boy inside their home in Canada on a map of the world. Dollar signs appear over countries outside of Canada.)

If you normally live outside of Canada, and have not established residential ties in Canada, then, you may be considered a non-resident of Canada.

If you are a non-resident, you pay taxes only on the money you earn in Canada.

(The page flips to a similar scene, except this time the family is outside of Canada. A dollar sign appears over Canada.)

When you send in a return, the Canada Revenue Agency will review it and will tell you if there are benefits you may be able to get, such as the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit.

You should fill out and send in a return every year, even if you have not earned any income.

(The mother and father are still on the computer. Zoom in to the boy on the couch. The words “GST/HST Credit” appear on the wall.)

Today, most people send in their return online because it’s fast, easy and secure.

The Canada Revenue Agency website has lots of helpful tips, information, and software packages that make it easy to fill out and send in your return.

(The scene shifts to the computer screen. The words fast, easy, and secure appear onscreen.)

For example, you will find a helpful course called Learning About Taxes. It tells you about Canada’s tax system and shows you how to fill out a simple income tax and benefit return.

The website also tells you how to sign up to get your refund or benefit money deposited directly into your bank account. It’s much faster than waiting for a cheque in the mail.

(The computer screen displays and scrolls through the CRA website. In a new window, a WiFi signal and a dollar sign appear over a bank to represent direct deposit.)

Do you need help filling out and sending in your return?

There are organizations in your community that offer Community Volunteer Income Tax Program clinics and can file your income tax return for free.

To find out if the program can help you, go to

(In a new window, the mother and father are now at a tax volunteer clinic. The tax volunteer is assisting the mother and father with filing their tax return on a computer.)

To learn more about how the Canada Revenue Agency is helping newcomers, go to

No matter how big or small your income is, we all contribute to Canada’s high quality of life.

(Zoom in on the mother and father. The volunteer clinic fades out behind them and the park dissolves in. The boy gets a good kick with the soccer ball and it zooms across the camera.)

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