Transcript - Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System, Segment: Your first income tax and benefit return

Host: Welcome to the segment called Your first income tax and benefit return, part of the CRA's Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System video.

This segment mentions links where you can get more information. You can find them in the Related links for this video.

With me is Frank Stewart. Welcome Frank.

Subject matter expert: Thank you Kathleen.

Host: Does a newcomer have to report or file an income tax and benefit return even if they did not live in Canada all year?

Subject matter expert: Possibly. Even if you lived in Canada for only part of the year, you may have to file a return if you owe tax, or if you want to claim a refund.

Host: Since I arrived in Canada, I've had no income. Do I still have to file a return?

Subject matter expert: Individuals who have no income don't have to file a return. However, you must file a return if you want to apply for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, which we call the GST/HST credit for short, or if you or your spouse wants to start or continue receiving the Canada child tax benefit and related provincial or territorial benefits.

For more information, go to the CRA webpage on the need to file a return.

Host: Which tax and benefit package should a newcomer use?

Subject matter expert: As a newcomer to Canada, use the general income tax and benefit package for the province or territory where you resided on December 31st of the tax year.

Since tax rates and credits are not the same in every province and territory, it's important to use the correct forms package for your province or territory.

Newcomers should also consult Pamphlet T4055, Newcomers to Canada, which helps you to fill out your first return, and contains an envelope addressed to the International and Ottawa Tax Services Office.

The electronic filing options, EFILE and NETFILE, are also available for newcomers to Canada.

If you lived in the province of Quebec, you must also file a separate provincial tax return with Revenu Québec. You can get information about this at www.revenuquebec.ca.

Host: Where can I get a general income tax and benefit return?

Subject matter expert: The general income tax and benefit return is available on the CRA website. You can get the return online, or you can use the online order form to have a printed copy mailed to you.

You can also get the general income tax and benefit package in person at postal outlets and from Service Canada offices between February and early May.

Or, starting early February of each year, you can have a printed copy of the general income tax and benefit package mailed to you by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.

You can get the addresses for Service Canada offices at www.servicecanada.gc.ca.

Host: Frank, now that I have the form, what information do I need to include on my first income tax return?

Subject matter expert: Kathleen, all taxpayers must fill in the entire identification section on the first page of the return. It's important that you fill in this section accurately and in its entirety.

Enter your name as it appears on your social insurance number documentation as well as your current address with the postal code and the province or territory of residence on December 31st.

As a newcomer, you must enter the date you became a resident of Canada for income tax purposes, since this is your first income tax return.

On your next returns, you won't need to fill in the date of entry section.

Host: I notice that I have to enter my social insurance number and date of birth.

Subject matter expert: Yes, It's very important to write the correct social insurance number, also called a SIN for short. Remember it's a distinct identifying number specific to each person.

You must always put your SIN, your temporary tax number, or your identification tax number, on your tax return. Your date of birth and the language of choice are other elements used to fill in your identification.

If you have asked for a SIN but have not yet received it, and the deadline for filing your return is near, file it without a SIN to avoid the late-filing penalty and interest charges. Include a note to explain that you have asked for a SIN and that you're waiting to receive it.

Host: The tax return also asks for your marital status, the name of your spouse or common-law partner, and his or her SIN and their income. Why does the CRA need this information?

Subject matter expert: The CRA needs the information about your spouse or common-law partner to calculate the benefits and tax credits that are based on your family situation.

For the CRA to calculate your benefits, both you and your spouse or common-law partner must generally file an income tax and benefit return every year, even if you have no income to report.

If either you or your spouse or common-law partner has not filed a return, you have to file one so that the CRA can send you certain benefits and credits.

For more information, go to the CRA webpage on completing a return.

Host: What is the section called "Elections Canada" on the tax return for?

Subject matter expert: This section is only for Canadian citizens. The National Register of Electors contains the name, sex, date of birth, address, and unique identifier of eligible electors and is used to produce electoral lists and to communicate with electors for federal elections or referendums.

Elections Canada will only use the information you provide for purposes permitted under the Canada Elections Act.

Host: Why is this information on the return?

Subject matter expert: This is a simple and efficient method of keeping the electoral lists up to date, based on an individual's annual return.

There are two questions in this section. Question A asks, "Are you a Canadian citizen?" If you are a Canadian citizen, tick the "Yes" box next to the question. If you're not a Canadian citizen, tick the "No" box.

Question B is only for those who answered "Yes" to the first question. If you ticked the "Yes" box next to question A and you would like to authorize the CRA to give your name, address, date of birth, and Canadian citizenship status to Elections Canada, tick the "Yes" box next to question B. If you don't fill in this section, you still maintain your right to vote, but you'll have to take other steps to be added to the electoral list.

For more information on the Elections Canada section of your return, go to the CRA webpage on that topic.

Host: I've finished the first page. What's the next step in filling out my return?

Subject matter expert: You're now ready to report income and claim deductions and tax credits on the appropriate lines.

The CRA video called Preparing Your Income Tax and Benefit Return can explain how to fill out your return, but keep in mind that the information in this video is an overview for all individuals filling out their first income tax and benefit return.

Host: Thank you Frank.

This concludes the segment called Your first income tax and benefit return, part of the CRA's Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System video.

Thank you for watching.

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