Rights and responsibilities - Segment 5


Host: Welcome to the segment called Rights and responsibilities, part of the CRA's Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System video.

This segment mentions webpages where you can get more information. You can find links to these webpages on the Related links page for this video.

With me is Frank Stewart. Welcome Frank.

Subject matter expert: Thank you, Kathleen.

Host: Frank, in the segment called The Canadian tax system, I found out that when a newcomer is a resident for tax and benefit purposes, they have a right to benefits but they also have to report their income from all sources both inside and outside Canada.

It seems the system is based on the responsibility of each person to report their income and to calculate whether they owe tax or receive a refund.

Subject matter expert: Exactly, Kathleen. The Canadian tax system is based on a concept called self-assessment.

This means that it's your responsibility to figure out if you have to pay income tax and, if you do, to pay the correct amount of taxes every year according to the law.

Host: How does the Canadian government, through the CRA, make sure that people are following the rules of self-assessment?

Subject matter expert: The CRA uses many review programs to make sure people follow the rules.

Under some of them, the CRA reviews deductions and credits that individuals claim on their income tax and benefit returns, and checks to see that various income amounts have been reported correctly. The CRA also reviews benefit and credit amounts for such things as the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, also known as the GST/HST credit.

The CRA has the authority to examine your tax records to make sure that you have complied with the tax law. If an authorized officer of the CRA contacts you with questions or asks to see your tax records, you have to provide reasonable help and answer questions about your tax situation.

Host: Can you tell me what I need so I can report income and calculate the tax owing for my first income tax and benefit return?

Subject matter expert: When you receive income from Canadian sources, the employer or payer will issue an information slip. This slip shows the total of all your earnings and deductions with the employer or payer.

Your name, address, and social insurance number also have to be on the slip.

You'll use this information to complete your tax return.

If you're self-employed, you'll need to keep track of the income and expenses of your business and include those amounts on your return. Because no taxes are withheld from self-employment income, you might need to pay your taxes in quarterly instalments, which means four times a year.

For more information, go to the CRA webpages about instalments. If you received income from outside Canada while you were a resident of Canada, you must report that income in Canadian dollars on your return.+

If you received income from outside Canada while you were a resident of Canada, you must report that income in Canadian dollars on your return.

Host: What happens if I already paid tax on income from another country? Do I pay again on my Canadian return?

Subject matter expert: Canada has agreements, commonly referred to as tax treaties, with various countries. These tax treaties are designed to avoid double taxation for people who would otherwise have to pay tax in two countries on the same income. Generally, tax treaties determine how much each country can tax your income.

To find out how to report the income you received, go to the CRA's webpage on newcomers. You can also call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 from Canada or the U.S. or 613-940-8495 from outside Canada or the U.S. The CRA accepts collect calls by automated response.

Host: I've determined that I need to file a return. Which form do I use?

Subject matter expert: Newcomers must use the general income tax and benefit return and the forms package for the province or territory where they resided on December 31st of the tax year.

Also, see Pamphlet T4055, Newcomers to Canada, which introduces you to the Canadian tax system and helps you fill out your first income tax and benefit return as a resident of Canada.

Host: When do I need to report or file my return?

Subject matter expert: A tax year ends on December 31st. Tax returns and any amounts you owe must be received by the CRA on or before April 30th of the following year.

However, if you or your spouse, or common-law partner, is self-employed, your return must be filed on or before June 15th. Keep in mind, though, that any balance due must still be received by April 30th.

Host: Where do I send my return?

Subject matter expert: You can file electronically with EFILE or NETFILE.

You can also send your paper return to the International and Ottawa Tax Services Office. To get their mailing address, go to the CRA webpage that lists all of the tax services offices and select International and Ottawa Tax Services Office.

Host: What information do I have to keep up to date with the CRA?

Subject matter expert: You have to tell the CRA about changes to your address, marital status, and the number of family members living with you.

Host: How do I do that?

Subject matter expert: Once your first income tax and benefit return has been filed and processed, you can update your information using My Account. For more information, go to the My Account for individuals webpage. You can also update your information by calling the individual enquiries Income Tax Enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.

Host: What if I need help to prepare my return?

Subject matter expert: You can get help from the CRA website. Go to the video gallery on the site and select the tax information video called Preparing Your Income Tax and Benefit Return.

Host: Frank, I've checked out the video you mentioned but I'm still having trouble doing my return. And I can't afford to hire someone to do it for me. What can I do?

Subject matter expert: Well, Kathleen, the CRA offers a volunteer-based program that might be helpful.

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program works with community volunteer organizations across the country to help prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals.

Tax preparation clinics are set up by local community organizations. Volunteers are trained by the CRA and dedicate their time preparing returns.

Host: That sounds great. How do I know if I'm eligible for this program?

Subject matter expert: You can take advantage of the program if you have modest income, a simple tax situation, and are unable to prepare your return by yourself.

Host: What do you mean when you say “a simple tax situation?”

Subject matter expert: This generally refers to the complexity of your return. The volunteers don't handle returns for bankrupt individuals, the deceased, or individuals who have capital gains or losses, employment expenses, or business or rental income and expenses.

Host: Can you tell me when and where these clinics are held?

Subject matter expert: Volunteer tax preparation clinics are generally offered every year between February and April in various locations across Canada. Some tax clinics operate year-round. For more information, go to the CRA webpage about the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.

Host: Is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program available in all the provinces and territories?

Subject matter expert: Yes, it is. However, Quebec runs its own program called the Volunteer Program, which is jointly administered by the CRA and Revenu Québec. For information about the Quebec Volunteer Program, go to revenuquebec.ca/benevole or go to the CRA webpage about the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program .

Host: What happens after I send my return to the CRA?

Subject matter expert: The CRA will process your return and send you a notice of assessment. The notice confirms the information you provided on the return, and shows the final results of the calculations.

Host: Will I receive any other papers from the CRA after I file my return?

Subject matter expert: If you're entitled to get certain benefits, you'll receive a notice by mail showing the amount you can expect to receive. You should keep the notices for your records.

You might also get a notice from the CRA about the GST/HST credit, credits and benefits for families with children or dependants, or some of the provincial and territorial benefits, if you've applied for them.

Host: How do I apply for these?

Subject matter expert: If you are a new resident of Canada, you will need to apply for the GST/HST credit, by completing Form RC151, GST/HST Credit Application for Individuals Who Become Residents of Canada, in the year that you became a resident of Canada.
To apply for all child benefit programs for any eligible children under 18, you will have to register your children by completing Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application.
You may also want to visit the CRA webpage about provincial and territorial programs to see if you qualify for certain benefits depending on the province where you live.

Host: OK. Let’s assume that I have received my notice of assessment and my benefit notice. How long do I need to keep all of my records?

Subject matter expert:You need to keep a copy of your income tax and benefit return and all the supporting documents for at least six years after the end of the tax year they relate to. However, if you file a return late, you must keep your records for six years from the date you file that return.

For more information, go to the CRA webpage about how long you should keep your income tax records and see Information Circular IC78-10R5, Books and Records Retention/Destruction.

Host: Can I do anything if I disagree with my notice of assessment?

Subject matter expert:You can contact the CRA to find out what changes were made to your return and why. Keep a written record of your correspondence with the CRA, including the names of the officers that you speak to and what you discussed. You might need to provide additional or missing information that affects your return. If, after you've spoken with the CRA, you still don't agree with the assessment, then you have the right to file a formal objection.

Filing an objection is the first step in the process of resolving a dispute.

For more information, go to the CRA webpage on objections and appeals.

Host: Do I have rights as a taxpayer?

Subject matter expert: Yes you do, and they are protected when dealing with the CRA through the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The CRA's Guide RC17, Taxpayer Bill of Rights Guide: Understanding your rights as a taxpayer, outlines the fair treatment you're entitled to receive when you deal with the CRA. You have other rights that are defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in other laws.

Some of the rights in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights include:

  • service in either official language;
  • fair, professional, and courteous treatment;
  • privacy and confidentiality;
  • the right to a formal review and the right to appeal; and
  • paying only what you owe according to the law.

To find out more, go to the CRA webpage on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Host: Thank you Frank.

This concludes the segment called Rights and responsibilities, part of the CRA's Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System video.

Thank you for watching.

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