Webinar - International Students

Please note: The content of this presentation is accurate as of the date it was aired on November 30, 2022. For the most recent information on these topics, go to Newcomers to Canada - Canada.ca.


Webinar for international students studying in Canada

Jordan: Hello, and welcome. My name is Jordan. I’m with the Canada Revenue Agency, or the CRA for short. I’m very happy to be here today.

Today, I’ll talk about taxes, benefits, and credits for international students studying in Canada.

[Three individuals looking at each other laughing.]

Land Acknowledgement

Jordan: I would like to begin by acknowledging that the lands on which we are gathered are part of the Mi-kma’ki (meeg-ma-gee) territory of the Mi’kmaq (meeg-mah) People.

Given that we are meeting virtually, I also want to acknowledge the lands on which you are gathered and invite you to take a moment of silence to have a thought for the territory in which you find yourself.


Jordan: In this presentation, you will learn about:

[Individual walking outside with a laptop in their hand.]

Why do we pay taxes?

Jordan: Let’s start with why we pay taxes and what they are for.

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.

Taxes also fund 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.

[Multiple pictures: a bridge, medical professional speaking to an individual, children on a playground, individuals in a community swimming pool, fire station, garbage collection.]

Canada’s tax system

Jordan: Canada's tax system is based on a self-assessment principle. This means that every taxpayer is responsible for:

It is also the taxpayer’s responsibility to ensure that:

It’s important to note that the CRA relies on the information taxpayers provide to issue benefit and credit payments. If no return is filed, no benefits or credits can be issued.

Understanding your responsibilities

Jordan: As an international student in Canada, you should understand what your rights, entitlements, and obligations are under Canada's tax system.

You are responsible for determining your residency status for income tax purposes. And according to the law, you must pay what you owe in taxes for each year.

If you would like to know more about your rights as a taxpayer and possible entitlements, go to canada.ca/new-to-canada.

Residency in Canada for tax purposes

Jordan: As an international student studying in Canada, you are considered to be one of the following types of residents for income tax purposes:

For more information on tax treaties, go to canada.ca/cra-tax-treaties.

Your residency status is based on the residential ties you have with Canada.

Next we will explain what these residential ties are.

[An individual sitting outside, smiling, with an open laptop.]

Residential ties for income tax purposes

Jordan: 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:

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.

Note that your residency status for tax purposes is different from your immigration status.

[Individual walking outside with a laptop in their hand.]

Determining your residency status

Jordan: When determining your residency status, it’s important to note that in general, undergraduate international students have not established significant residential ties with Canada:

However, many international postgraduate level students establish significant residential ties with Canada. These students often study or do research for a number of years.

In addition, graduate students are often adult-aged, married, or parents, and can easily establish residential ties.

For more information on determining your residency status, go to canada.ca/new-to-canada.

If you need help to determine your residency status for tax purposes, you can fill out Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status and send it to the address indicated on the form. The CRA will give you their opinion about your residency status.

Work while you study

Jordan: As an international student studying in Canada, you may be asking yourself these questions:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, also know as IRCC, will be able to answer your questions, visit canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship for more information.

[An individual working in a café, wearing a mask.]

Social insurance number (SIN)

Jordan: To work in Canada and receive benefits and services from the government, including doing a tax return, 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. If your SIN gets into the wrong hands, it could lead to fraud or even identity theft.

The federal organization that issues SINs is Service Canada.

You will need to give your SIN to your employer when you start a job and to your bank when you open an account. They are responsible for protecting your personal information. They use your SIN to send information about your income to the CRA.

You also need to provide your SIN to government agencies or departments to access a benefit or service. For example, you’ll give your SIN to the CRA when you do your taxes or complete a benefits application form. Here, your SIN will help identify you in the CRA’s system.

To get a SIN, you can apply online, by mail, or in person through Service Canada. You will have to provide or send in a document that proves your identity.

To find a Service Canada office near you got to canada.ca/service-canada-office or call 1-800-622-6232. For more information on the SIN, go to canada.ca/social-insurance-number or call 1-866-274-6627.

If you don’t meet Service Canada’s eligibility criteria for a SIN, you can still apply for benefits and credits with the CRA.

To do so, send us your benefit and credit application with a note explaining why you cannot get a SIN. Along with the note, you will need to include a photocopy of any document that proves your or your spouse's or common-law partner's identity. This could be a:

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

Jordan: To do your taxes in Canada, you’ll need to understand your total income.

Your total income includes your income from all sources, both 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, such as tutoring or working on or off campus. Your total income also includes any tips or gratuities you receive from your job.

Note that in Canada, some sources of income are non-taxable and do not have to be reported on your income tax return.

For example, this can include the GST/HST credit and Canada child benefit payments, as well as any money or gifts received from parents or family members.

For more information on what to report as income, go to canada.ca/doing-your-taxes and canada.ca/taxes-individuals.

Do you have to complete an income tax return?

Jordan: As an international student, you are probably wondering whether you need to complete a tax return.

Generally, you must complete a tax return if you:

Keep in mind that your residency status determines your income tax return filing requirements in Canada.

The deadline to do and pay your taxes is generally April 30 every year.

For more information on if you need to file a tax return, visit canada.ca/new-to-canada.

[An individual sitting at a table, writing in a book, with a laptop open.]

Learn about the benefits and credits you may be entitled to!

Jordan: If you are a resident or deemed resident of Canada, you may be eligible for certain benefits and credits. Non-residents or deemed non-residents of Canada are not eligible.

These benefits and credits include the:

Applying for some of these will also register you for any related provincial or territorial payments.

For more information on benefits and credits, please go to canada.ca/child-family-benefits.

[Two individuals sitting on a couch smiling, reading documentation, with an open laptop sitting on a table in front of them.]

GST/HST credit

Jordan: The goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, more commonly known as the GST/HST credit, is a tax-free payment for people with low and modest incomes. It helps offset the GST or HST they pay on goods and services.

The payment is issued 4 times a year, around the 5th of July, October, January and April.

If you are entitled, you could start receiving up to $116.75, four times a year. You could also be entitled to related provincial or territorial credits.

Also, to support those most affected by inflation, the government recently doubled the GST/HST credit for six months. Individuals and families already receiving the quarterly GST credit would have automatically received an additional one-time lump-sum payment on November 4, 2022 as well.

If you sign up for direct deposit, you’ll get your benefit and credit payments the day that they are issued – no waiting for a cheque in the mail!

That’s cash in your pocket! Or, better yet, in your savings account!

Remember to do your taxes on time every year to keep getting benefits and credits.

For more information, visit canada.ca/gst-hst-credit.

[An individual working in a restaurant, wearing a mask.]

Applying for the GST/HST credit and the climate action incentive payment (CAIP)

Jordan: As an international student, you may be eligible for the GST/HST credit and the climate action incentive payment.

Like the GST/HST credit, this 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.

To apply, complete Form RC151, GST/HST Credit and Climate Action Incentive Payment Application for Individuals Who Become Residents of Canada.

On this form, you have to include your income 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.

You only have to apply once; in the year you became a resident of Canada. After that, the CRA will determine if you are eligible when you do your taxes every year.

[An image of page 1 of the RC151 E Form GST/HST credit and the climate action incentive payment for individuals who became residents of Canada.}

Tuition tax credit

Jordan: If you are a resident or deemed resident of Canada, you may be eligible to claim some tax credits on your tax return.

These tax credits reduce any income tax you may have to pay. However, if the total of these credits is more than your federal income tax, you will not get a refund for the difference.

One of them is the tuition tax credit.

To claim this credit on your tax return, use the information from Form T2202, Tuition and Enrolment Certificate. Your educational institution should provide you this form by the end of February each year. You will be able to enter the information on your tax return by completing the section entitled Schedule 11.

For more information on the tuition tax credit including how to transfer credits or use those from a previous year, visit canada.ca/deductions-credits-expenses.

[An image of page 1 & 2 of Schedule 11, Federal Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts and Canada Training Credit.]

One-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit

Jordan: Recently, the Government of Canada proposed new financial support measures to make life more affordable for Canadians. The proposed one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit would provide a $500 payment to low-income renters facing housing affordability challenges. This includes Canadian renters who are at least 15 years of age at any time in 2022.

To learn more about the one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit, including eligibility requirements, visit canada.ca/one-time-housing-benefit.

Once available, applications for the benefit can be made through My Account, an online webform or over the phone with the CRA.

Use the Benefits Finder and the online calculator

Jordan: To find out what benefits you may be eligible for, you can use the online Benefits Finder (canada.ca/benefits-finder). Answer a few questions and the Benefits Finder will customize a list of benefits for you.

You can also use the CRA calculator (canada.ca/child-family-benefits-calculator) to see how much you could get in child and family benefits.

[An image of a calculator.]

Underground economy

Jordan: Moonlighting, working for cash, and working under the table are all terms used to describe the underground economy. These terms mean not reporting income for income tax and GST/HST purposes.

It can include income not reported or under-reported from:

Generally, any income you earn is taxable and you have to report it on your tax return. This is true even when you don’t receive a T4 slip and when the activity is not your main source of income.

If you don’t report all your income and the CRA selects your return for an audit, you may have to pay the income tax you didn’t pay, plus interest and penalties.

Make sure you are on the payroll of an employer so that you can benefit from a workers compensation program if you are injured on the job and from employment insurance if you lose your job and want to apply for employment insurance.

Always get a written contract or receipt when you buy goods or services.

If you don’t get a receipt to prove you purchased something, such as a new laptop, you’re not protected if something goes wrong, and you want a refund. Instead, it may cost you even more money to repair or buy a new laptop.

It’s important to know that evading taxes is illegal and can result in severe consequences, such as penalties, fines, and criminal convictions.

A few dollars of unreported income may not seem like a big deal, but collectively they amount to billions of dollars lost that are needed to fund public services in your community.

So be part of the solution! Know how to recognize and avoid the underground economy (canada.ca/taxes-underground-economy).

[Two individuals signing a contract.]

There are a few ways to do your taxes!

Jordan: There are a few ways to do your taxes.

The fastest and easiest way is to do them online. If you are eligible, you can use certified software, or a web application found at canada.ca/netfile.

Some certified software is even free to use. The tax software guides you through the process. It calculates everything for you and helps make sure you don’t miss out on any benefits and credits you may be eligible for.

If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, a volunteer could do your taxes for you, for free.

You can also do them on paper by downloading a tax package for your province or territory, filling out the forms and mailing them to the CRA. If you prefer, you can fill out the forms on your computer before printing them.

To get a tax package, please visit canada.ca/taxes-general-package.

Free tax help

Jordan: As I mentioned on the previous slide, you may be able to get your taxes done by a volunteer, for free!

The program is called the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In Quebec, it’s known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program.

You’re eligible to have your taxes done through the program if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

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. Many secondary and post-secondary institutions across Canada already host their own clinics.

If your educational institution is interested in hosting its own clinic or if you are interested in learning about taxes and volunteering yourself to help others, reach out to us!

For more information or to find a clinic near you, go to canada.ca/get-tax-help.

[The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) logo with the text “People helping people” in the center.]

My Account for Individuals

Jordan: Once you do your taxes for the first time or have them done for you, and you receive your notice of assessment, you can sign up for the CRA’s digital service called My Account.

My Account is a secure portal that lets you view your personal income tax and benefit information and manage your individual tax affairs online.

As well, you can:

You can also register for direct deposit to receive any CRA refunds or benefit and credit payments faster and directly into your bank account!

Along with doing your taxes every year, you must keep your personal information up to date to keep getting benefits and credits. This includes your address, marital status, number of children in your care and direct deposit information. You can update all of this information on your own through My Account!

When you sign into My Account, the first page you’ll see is the Overview page. This page is constantly evolving, but it should resemble something like this.

For more information or to sign up, go to canada.ca/my-cra-account.

[Screen capture of the overview webpage of My Account.]

Need help?

Jordan: Did you know that you can give permission to someone you trust to deal with the CRA on your behalf?

You can authorize a representative to have access to your personal tax account through My Account. Or, if you would like to authorize a representative for offline access only, you can complete a paper Form AUT-01, Authorize a Representative for Offline Access, and send it to the CRA.

Taxpayer information is confidential. The CRA needs your permission to share your tax information with another person, such as a family member, a friend, or an accountant.

You don’t need to authorize someone as a representative if that person is only doing your taxes.

Want to learn more about taxes?

Jordan: Want to learn more about the Canadian tax system?

We invite you to try out our new online interactive tool called Learn about your taxes.

This is a free online course that teaches you the basics of tax.

You can access this course by visiting canada.ca/learn-about-taxes.

This online self-directed tool takes you through starting your first job, completing a basic tax return, and the purpose of taxes.

It has resources, such as videos, common tax terms, and links to websites where you can learn more.

[A snapshot of a Learn about your taxes - Canada.ca webpage.]

Learn about your taxes

Jordan: The learning tool has modules and lessons.

The first module is Starting to work and has 4 lessons. They cover why you need a SIN, when to fill out a TD1, and what’s on your pay stub and T4 slip.

Throughout the lessons, you will find definitions, examples and quizzes to put your knowledge to the test.

Content and topics are updated regularly.

Be sure to check it out!

[A snapshot of a Learn about your taxes - Canada.ca module.]

Did the CRA really contact you?

Jordan: You should always be cautious if you receive a communication that claims to be from the CRA.

Sometimes, the CRA may need to legitimately contact you. But 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.

Always be careful; the CRA will never ask you for your bank account number, credit card number, or passport number. These scammers may insist that they need your personal information so you can receive a refund or a benefit payment. They can also threaten legal consequences to scare you into paying a debt to the CRA that does not actually exist.

There are also other communications that may urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA web page where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information.

These are scams and you should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided.

[A cellphone showing an incoming call from “Government of Canada”. Text beside the phone reads “Is this the CRA calling?”]

Be scam smart!

Jordan: Here’s how you can be scam smart:

Never be afraid to question why the CRA needs your personal information, so take a minute and think about it

The CRA’s Be Scam Smart web page provides more information on scams, including links to:

[Text on top of an individual's head reads, "Listen to your voice of reason before you act".]

Thank you!

Jordan: And that’s it for me! This is the end of our webinar. Thank you so much for joining us today! We hope it was helpful!

We also encourage you to visit our Upcoming Events page at canada.ca/cra-outreach-events to view and register for any of our upcoming webinars.

Thank you for listening and enjoy your day!

CRA general enquiries: 1-800-959-8281

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

Stay connected:

Twitter: @CanRevAgency

Facebook: canrevagency

YouTube: CanRevAgency

LinkedIn: cra-arc

Instagram: @canrevagency

[Six students gathered on a step, laughing and enjoying themselves.]

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