Webinar - Newcomers to Canada
Please note: The content of this presentation is accurate as of the date it was aired on March 8, 2023. For the most recent information on these topics, go to Benefits, credits, and taxes for newcomers - Canada.ca.
Benefits and credits for newcomers to Canada
Adedamola: Hello, and welcome to the Canada Revenue Agency's webinar for newcomers to Canada.
My name is Adedamola and I'll be your host for this session.
I'll talk about the benefits and credits you can receive and the services we offer to help you with your taxes.
[Individual sitting in a chair with a laptop and another individual leaning over behind them with their arms around them.]
Adedamola: Given that we are meeting virtually, I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.
I also want to acknowledge the lands on which you are gathered from coast to coast and invite you to take a moment of silence to have a thought for the territory in which you find yourself.
[Indigenous symbols of an eagle, whale, instrument, leaf, boat, and infinity shape.]
Now, let's get started!
Adedamola: During this presentation, I will cover:
- Canada's tax system
- Residency status for income tax purposes
- The underground economy
- Benefits and credits you may be eligible for, including the Canada Child Benefit
- The different ways to do your taxes
- The digital services offered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
- And how to protect yourself from scams
Please note that for the rest of the presentation, I'll be calling the Canada Revenue Agency "the CRA."
Why do we pay taxes
Adedamola: Let's start with why we pay taxes and how the tax money that is collected gets spent.
Taxes are mandatory payments made to a government. This means that it is not a choice but an obligation. Many public services, programs, and benefits are made possible through taxes. The government collects taxes to pay for things such as airports, education, emergency services, health care, libraries, roads, and social programs.
The taxes we pay in Canada also help put money into the pockets of students, families, newcomers, seniors, and people with disabilities. This money is distributed through benefit and credit payments.
It also funds social programs such as income support and Old Age Security to help members of our community.
Taxes can be municipal, provincial, territorial, or federal. Today, we'll be focusing on federal income tax.
[Collage of 6 pictures: a bridge, an individual teaching swimming to four children; a doctor speaking to a patient, a firetruck, children playing in a playground, and two sanitation workers putting garbage bags into a truck.]
Canada's tax system
Adedamola: Canada's tax system is based on a self-assessment principle. This means that every taxpayer is responsible for completing their own tax return. If you are a taxpayer, you are responsible for:
- submitting your tax return by the deadline (generally April 30 every year)
- giving accurate and complete information to CRA to process your tax return
- reporting your income from all sources
- paying your balance owing, if you have one
- and notifying the CRA of any changes to your personal information as soon as possible, such as your address or marital status
It's important to note that your immigration status and your yearly tax return help the CRA determine your eligibility for benefit and credit payments as well as the amounts you receive. Some examples of benefits and credits are the Canada Child Benefit and Goods and services/Harmonized sales tax, or GST/HST, credit. I'll go over the different benefits and credits in detail shortly.
Do you have to complete an income tax return?
Adedamola: As a newcomer to Canada, you are probably wondering whether you need to complete a tax return.
Generally, you must complete a tax return if you:
- have to pay tax for the year; or,
- the CRA sent you a request asking you to do your taxes.
There are benefits to doing your taxes. You should do your taxes every year if you:
- want to receive a tax refund that you are entitled to, or
- want to begin or continue to receive benefits and credits that you may be eligible for, such as the Canada child benefit.
Remember, the deadline to do and pay your taxes is generally April 30 every year.
The key to receiving your benefits and credits, which are calculated based on your income, is doing your taxes…. on time! We know it can be a bit scary for some. But it's so important! Remember to do your taxes even if you didn't earn any income in the year.
Throughout today's webinar, we will be displaying web addresses on the screen. We invite you to take note of them, and visit the addresses to learn more about each of the topics we will cover today. For example, information that may be of interest to you is available at canada.ca/new-to-canada.
[An individual writing on a notepad with a calculator, laptop, and pair of glasses sitting next to them on the table.]
Residency status for income tax purposes
Adedamola: Keep in mind that your residency status for tax purposes determines your income tax return filing requirements in Canada.
You don't have to do a tax return during the year you become a resident of Canada. However, you will have to do your taxes for the year you became a resident by April 30 of the next year.
This first tax return will report the income you received from the date you became a resident of Canada until December 31st of that same year.
For example, if you become a resident in February 2023, you won't have to do taxes in 2023. But you will have to file taxes in 2024 by the deadline of April 30. These taxes will be for the period you were a resident in 2023 – so February to December 31st.
For more information on whether you need to file a tax return or not, visit canada.ca/new-to-canada.
Residential ties for income tax purposes
Adedamola: You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you have significant residential ties in Canada. And usually, you create these ties on the date you arrive.
Residential ties may include:
- a home in Canada, for example, if you own or rent a home in Canada for personal use,
- a spouse or common-law partner or dependants who move to Canada to live with you,
- personal property, such as a car or furniture, or
- social ties to Canada, such as memberships to recreational or religious organizations.
Other residential ties that may be relevant to determine your residency status include, but are not limited to, a Canadian driver's licence, Canadian bank accounts or credit cards, and health insurance with a Canadian province or territory.
[An individual carrying a laptop is standing in front of a large building with glass windows.]
Residency in Canada for tax purposes
Adedamola: For income tax purposes, you are only considered a newcomer for your first tax year in Canada.
Depending on your residential ties and the duration of your stay in Canada, you are considered to be one of the following types of residents for income tax purposes:
- a resident if you have significant residential ties with Canada, regardless of the number of days spent in Canada
- a deemed resident if you do not have significant residential ties with Canada, but
- you stay in Canada for 183 days or more in a calendar year
- and, you are not considered a resident of your home country under the terms of a tax treaty between Canada and that country
- a non-resident if you stay in Canada for less than 183 days during the year and you do not have significant residential ties with Canada
- a deemed non-resident, meaning you have significant residential ties with Canada but are considered a resident of another country with which Canada has a tax treaty.
Please note that your residency status for income tax purposes is different from your immigration status.
If you would like the CRA's opinion on your residency status, fill out and send Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status. The appropriate addresses are listed on the form.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Adedamola: To work in Canada and receive benefits and services from the government, you will need a social insurance number, also called a SIN.
A SIN is a 9-digit identification number that is unique to you. You are the only person who is supposed to use it, and you are responsible for keeping it safe.
You will need to give your SIN to your employer when you start a job and to your bank when you open an account.
You also need to provide your SIN to government agencies or departments to access a benefit or service, such as when filing your income tax and benefit return.
SINs are issued by Service Canada. To find a Service Canada office near you visit canada.ca/service-canada-office or call 1-800-622-6232 and for more information on applying for a SIN, visit canada.ca/social-insurance-number or call 1-866-274-6627.
What to do if you do not meet the eligibility criteria for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
Adedamola: If you or your spouse don't meet Service Canada's eligibility criteria for a SIN, you can still file an income tax and benefit return and apply for some benefits and credits with the CRA.
To do so, send us your tax return and/or benefit and credit application with a note explaining why you or your spouse cannot get a SIN.
Along with the note, include a photocopy of any document that proves your or your spouse's or common-law partner's identity.
For example, this could be a passport, driver's licence or any document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
The CRA will then give you a temporary tax number you can use on your application forms and on your income tax and benefit return until you get your SIN.
Total income – All sources
Adedamola: To do your taxes in Canada, you'll need to understand your total income.
Your total income includes your income from all sources, both from inside and outside of Canada.
You can receive many different types of income, including employment income. Employment income includes any income you receive from your job. Your total income also includes tips or gratuities you receive from your job and different types of scholarships or grants.
Total income – Non-taxable sources
Adedamola: In Canada, some sources of income are non-taxable and do not have to be reported on the income tax return.
For example, this can include benefit and credit payments you may be eligible to receive from the government, like the GST/HST credit and Canada child benefit which we will cover in more detail shortly. It can also include any money or gifts received from parents or family members.
To know what to report as income, visit canada.ca/doing-your-taxes.
Adedamola: Throughout the presentation, I will go over some common questions we get. Question #1
I came to Canada in August 2022 and started working in February 2023. Do I need to do a tax return in 2023?
The answer is: Yes. Even if you did not have any income in 2022, you should still file your taxes. Your tax return will cover the period you were in Canada in 2022, so August to December 2022 in this scenario. It will be used to calculate any benefits and credits you might be entitled to.
Benefits and credits you may be eligible for
Adedamola: As a newcomer to Canada, you may be able to get benefit and credit payments right away.
I will go over the Canada child benefit, the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, the disability tax credit, and the child disability benefit.
I will also discuss the new Canada dental benefit and one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit.
The provinces and territories also have several benefits and credits. Applying for the CRA's benefits is the first step to also receiving these.
Let's see how you can get these benefits and what you need to do to keep getting them.
For more information on benefits and credits, visit canada.ca/child-family-benefits.
[A couple is sitting on a sofa with a laptop in front of them. One individual smiles at the other while showing them a notepad.]
Canada child benefit (CCB)
Adedamola: Let's begin with the Canada child benefit, or CCB for short.
The Canada child benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.
Each year, it may provide up to $6,997 for each of your children under 6 years of age and up to $5,903 for each child aged 6 to 17.
You need to apply for all children in your household if you have not applied previously and nobody is receiving it for them.
[An individual is using a laptop while two children are sitting across the table from them doing homework.]
Are you eligible for the Canada child benefit (CCB)?
Adedamola: To be eligible for the CCB, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- You must live with the child, and the child must be under 18 years of age.
- You must be primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child.
- You must be a resident of Canada for tax purposes.
You or your spouse or common-law partner must also be one of the following:
- a Canadian citizen
- a permanent resident
- a protected person
- a temporary resident who has lived in Canada for the previous 18 months, and who has a valid permit in the 19th month
- or, an individual who is registered, or entitled to be registered, under the Indian Act A primary caregiver can be the child's parent, grandparent, or other family member.
When should you apply for the Canada child benefit (CCB)?
Adedamola: You should apply for the CCB as soon as possible after you move to Canada and meet the eligibility criteria, after your child is born, after a child starts to live with you, or as soon as you or your spouse or common-law partner meet all of the eligibility conditions.
You should apply even if you share custody of a child or a child is living with you for a determined temporary period of time.
[An individual is holding a young child in their arms and they are both smiling.]
How do you get the Canada child benefit (CCB)?
Adedamola: Newcomers to Canada can apply for the CCB by filling out two forms and mailing them to the CRA. You can easily find these forms at canada.ca.
First form is the Canada Child Benefits Application (RC66).
- If your child wasn't born in Canada, you'll have to send us proof of birth with your forms. This documentation should indicate the child's family name, given name, and date of birth. Acceptable documents include a photocopy of the child's birth certificate, passport, or any document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, such as the child's permanent resident card, confirmation of the child's permanent residency or a temporary resident permit.
- You only have to apply once to get the CCB for a child. If you have another child in the future, you'll have to send another application for them.
- On the RC66SCH, you will have to include information about your and your spouse or common-law partner's residency and citizenship and immigration statuses.
- You'll also need to provide your income from all sources, including income not reported on a Canadian tax return, even if it's zero. You may have to include information for up to two years, depending on the date you became a resident of Canada.
If you cannot provide the documents requested on the form, call the Benefits enquiries line on 1-800-387-1193.
Adedamola: The goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, more commonly known as the GST/HST credit, is a quarterly tax-free payment for people with low and modest incomes. It helps offset the GST or HST they pay on goods and services.
To get it, all you have to do is your taxes every year, even if you have no income to report.
The CRA will confirm if you are eligible, and how much you will get when you do your taxes.
For more information, visit canada.ca/gst-hst-credit.
[An individual is sitting at a desk filling out papers and has a laptop open to their left.]
Applying for the GST/HST credit and the Climate action incentive payment (CAIP)
Adedamola: As a newcomer to Canada, you may be eligible for the GST/HST credit and the Climate action incentive payment as soon as you arrive in Canada.
Like the GST/HST credit, the Climate action incentive payment is tax-free. It is paid to help individuals and families offset the cost of federal pollution pricing. It is only available to residents of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Starting in July 2023, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island will also start to receive this payment.
If you don't have children, you can apply for the GST/HST credit and Climate action incentive payments by completing Form RC151, GST/HST Credit and Climate Action Incentive Payment Application for Individuals Who Become Residents of Canada. If you have children under 18 years of age, applying for the CCB will automatically determine your eligibility for these benefits.
On these forms, you have to include your income outside Canada for the year you became a resident of Canada and from the year before, or two years before, depending on the date you became a resident of Canada. It's important to report your income, even if it was zero, because the CRA needs this information to calculate your payments.
You only have to apply once in the year you became a resident of Canada. After that, the CRA will use the information from your tax returns when you do your taxes every year to calculate the amount you're entitled to.
[A picture of Form RC151, GST/HST Credit and Climate Action Incentive Payment Application for Individuals Who Become Residents of Canada.]
Disability tax credit (DTC)
Adedamola: In Canada, we recognize that persons with disabilities face many barriers including additional costs.
The disability tax credit, DTC for short, is a non-refundable tax credit. You can claim 15 percent of your non-refundable tax credits to reduce the income tax you may have to pay.
The purpose of the DTC is to provide some relief for unavoidable, additional costs that result from living with a disability.
Being eligible for the DTC can also open the door to other federal, provincial, and territorial programs, such as the Registered disability savings plan, the Canada workers benefit, and the Child disability benefit.
To learn more about the DTC, visit canada.ca/disability-tax-credit.
[An individual in a wheelchair uses a laptop at a desk with a headset on.]
Canada Dental Benefit
Adedamola: The government has launched the new interim Canada Dental Benefit. This benefit provides financial support for families who have an adjusted family net income of less than $90,000, and have out-of-pocket dental care expenses for their children under 12.
If you are a parent or guardian of eligible children under 12 years old you will have to attest that:
- Your child does not have access to private dental insurance; and
- Your child's dental costs are not fully covered by another dental program provided by any level of government.
In order to apply, remember that you need to be receiving the Canada Child Benefit for your child and to have filed your 2021 tax return. Also remember that you must keep your receipts or records from your dental appointment for 6 years.
If you have not done your taxes for 2021 and became a resident of Canada for tax purposes in 2021 or 2022, you will need to apply for the CCB and provide your personal information and world income.
If you have a spouse or common-law partner, you will also need to provide their information.
If you already applied for the CCB and your 2021 world income is missing, you can call the Benefits enquiries line at 1‑800‑387‑1193 to provide that information.
Canada Dental Benefit – Period 1
Adedamola : For the first benefit period:
- Your child must be born on or after December 2, 2010, that is, under 12 years old as of December 1, 2022.
- Your child must receive dental care services in Canada between October 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
Canada dental benefit
Adedamola : Depending on your adjusted family net income, your non-taxable Canada dental benefit payments could be as high as $650 per child, per year.
[A child smiling for the camera wearing a yellow shirt.]
Canada dental benefit
Adedamola : You can apply for the Canada dental benefit through the CRA's online service, My Account or by calling 1-800-715-8836.
My Account is the quickest, easiest, and most secure way to complete your application. If you apply online and are signed up for direct deposit, you could receive your payment within 5 business days! Please note that in order to use My Account, you must have filed your first tax return with CRA.
If you are unable to apply online or would prefer to call us, please call the dedicated number on 1-800-715-8836.
For more information on the Canada dental benefit, visit canada.ca/dental.
One-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit
Adedamola: One-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit is a one-time payment of $500 to assist lower-income renters 15 years or older who are in the following situation.
- Their adjusted net income, including world income, for 2021 is:
- $35,000 or less for families;
- $20,000 or less for individuals.
- And the cost of their rent for their principal residence in Canada in 2022 is at least 30% of their 2021 adjusted family net income.
As part of the eligibility criteria, you must have been a resident of Canada for income tax purposes in 2022. If you became a resident of Canada in 2021 or 2022 and you have not yet submitted your world income, you must do so before applying for this benefit.
One-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit
Adedamola: As with the Canada dental benefit, you can apply for the one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit either through My Account or by calling 1-800-282-8079. The last day to apply is March 31, 2023.
For more information on the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit including the online application form, visit canada.ca/one-time-housing-benefit.
This web page also has a handy calculator to help you estimate your adjusted family net income and check if your income and rent amount would qualify for the benefit.
Adedamola: Let's continue with the questions we often receive. Question #2
Why do I have to provide the income I earned outside Canada in past years on my application to get benefit payments? Will I be taxed on that income?
Adedamola: The answer is: No. You will not be taxed on the foreign income information you provide on your statement of income.
The CRA asks for this information to calculate your benefits. The amount you are entitled to in terms of benefits is based on your income from the previous year.
For instance, your income from 2022 will be used to calculate the benefits you receive from July 2023 to June 2024.
Adedamola: Question #3
I am single and came to Canada in September 2022 as a temporary resident with my child. Am I eligible for the Canada child benefit?
Adedamola: The answer is: As a temporary resident in Canada, you would be eligible for the Canada child benefit once you have lived in Canada for 18 months and continue to hold a valid temporary resident permit on the 19th month. To be eligible, your permit must not state "does not confer status" or "does not confer temporary resident status".
You may be entitled to the GST/HST credit and Climate action incentive payments as soon as you arrive in Canada.
Adedamola: Question #4
I live in Canada with my child but my spouse lives outside Canada. How do I apply for the CCB?
Adedamola: The answer is: If your spouse or common-law partner is not a resident of Canada, you will need to fill out Form CTB9, titled Income of Non-Resident Spouse or Common-Law Partner for the Canada child benefit, and send it in to CRA for each year or part of a year that they are a non-resident of Canada.
If your spouse moves to Canada, they must complete a tax return every year even if they have no income to report.
There are a few ways to do your taxes!
Adedamola: There are a few ways to do your taxes:
You can do your taxes online. This is the fastest way. Certified software is available to make online filing easy, and some software products are even free. The tax software guides you and calculates everything for you. For more information, visit canada.ca/netfile.
There are a few ways to do your taxes!
Adedamola: Volunteers may be able to help you do your taxes for free. There are free tax clinics hosted by community organizations across Canada for those with a modest income and simple tax situation. For more information, visit canada.ca/get-tax-help.
There are a few ways to do your taxes!
Adedamola: You can also get help from a family member, a friend, or a tax preparer.
There are a few ways to do your taxes!
Adedamola: Or, you can file on paper. To do this, download a tax package, fill out the paper forms, and mail them to the CRA. Filing a tax return by paper can take up to 10 to 12 weeks to process. To get a package, visit canada.ca/taxes-general-package or call 1-855-330-3305.
Free tax help
Adedamola: As I mentioned, you may be eligible to have your taxes done by a volunteer at a free tax clinic if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation.
The program is called the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, or CVITP for short. In Quebec, it's known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program, or ITAVP for short.
Generally, a modest income is less than $35,000 for a single person and less than $45,000 for a couple.
Your tax situation is simple if, for example, you don't have a small business or income from a rental property.
Tax clinics are held all year. However, most clinics are offered in March and April.
To find a clinic near you, visit canada.ca/get-tax-help.
[The CRA Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) logo with the text "People helping people" in the centre.]
Keep your personal information up to date
Adedamola: Along with doing your taxes every year, you must keep your personal information up to date to keep getting benefits and credits.
- your address;
- your marital, residency and citizenship status;
- the number of children in your care, and
- your direct deposit information.
You can update this information using CRA's My Account, MyBenefits CRA mobile application, by mail, or an agent can assist you by phone.
[An individual using a laptop smiling for the camera.]
Have you received a letter from the CRA? No need to worry!
Adedamola: The CRA will sometimes send you a questionnaire or letter if we need more information and to make sure you're getting the right benefits and credits.
If you get one of these letters, don't ignore it. You need to respond as soon as possible and send any requested information to the CRA. Often, we will ask for documents to confirm that the CRA has the most up-to-date information for you, like your marital status, proof that you are the primary caregiver of a child, or your address.
If you don't have the documents, need some extra time to gather them, or don't understand what we're asking, just let the CRA know by calling the number on the letter.
The CRA needs this information to calculate your benefits and credits.
If you don't respond, your benefit or credit payments will stop, and you may be asked to repay the payments you already received.
[An individual holding a letter and looking at a tablet while sitting on the floor in their living room.]
My Account for Individuals
Adedamola: I've mentioned My Account a couple times already during today's presentation and now I'll cover this valuable service in more detail. You will be able to access this service after you send your first tax return to the CRA and receive a notice of assessment.
My Account is a secure portal that lets you view your personal income tax and benefit information and manage your individual tax affairs online on your own.
You can track your refund, view or change your return, check your benefit and credit payments and statements, manage direct deposit, change your personal information, view any uncashed cheques, view your CRA mail online, such as your notice of assessment, and more.
To sign up, visit canada.ca/my-cra-account.
[A screenshot of the CRA My Account "Overview" page]
Adedamola: Depending on your situation, you may want another person to call the CRA on your behalf. This might be helpful if you find it hard to communicate in English or French, or for other reasons.
Taxpayer information is confidential. The CRA needs your permission to deal with another person, such as a family member, friend, or an accountant, who may act as your representative for income tax and benefit matters.
You can give permission to another person online in My Account, or on paper by filling out Form AUT-01, Authorize a Representative for Offline Access, and sending it to the CRA.
Make sure to choose someone you can trust!
You don't need to authorize someone as a representative if that person is only doing your taxes.
Be scam smart!
Adedamola: You should always be cautious if you receive communication that claims to be from the CRA.
It is possible to receive a direct communication from the CRA. We may, for example, need to provide you information about your account or ask you to clarify something you've shared with us.
We will not ask you for you bank account number, credit card number, or passport number or use threats or intimidation tactics.
Scammers often attempt to imitate the CRA to try to steal your personal information. They may target you by telephone, text, instant messaging, email, or mail.
Here's how you can be scam smart:
- never be afraid to question why the CRA needs your personal information
- when in doubt, check My Account to see if you have mail or any amount owing
- you can also call the CRA to check on communications
- if still in doubt – delete, delete, delete!
For more information, visit canada.ca/be-scam-smart.
[An individual's forehead with the text "Listen to your voice of reason before you act." above.]
Want to learn more about taxes?
Adedamola: We also invite you to try out our new online interactive tool called Learn about your taxes. After listening to todays' webinar, I encourage you to go to the web address on your screen to learn more about Canada's tax system.
This online self-directed tool takes you through starting to work, preparing to do your taxes, introduction to completing a basic tax return, the purpose of taxes and much more.
Go to canada.ca/learn-about-taxes to dive in and check it out.
[A screenshot of the Learn about your taxes – Canada.ca webpage]
Adedamola: And that's all for me! This is the end of the webinar. Thank you so much for joining us today. We hope it was helpful!
You can access the factsheets and other products by visiting our Outreach materials to print and share web page. The web address is canada.ca/outreach-materials. Beside English and French, we have products available in Arabic, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese, Pashto, Dari, Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian. There is also a short video on benefits and credits for newcomers to Canada in 13 languages.
For more information on any related topics, start your search at canada.ca/taxes.
Thank you for listening and enjoy your day!
Individual tax enquiries line: 1-800-959-8281
Outreach materials – Canada.ca: canada.ca/outreach-materials
Taxes – Canada.ca: canada.ca/taxes
Individuals video gallery – Canada.ca: canada.ca/individuals-video-gallery
Upcoming events – Canada.ca: canada.ca/cra-outreach-events
[An individual smiling at the camera while embracing 2 children.]
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