International students studying in Canada: Doing your taxes helps you

March 20, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada Revenue Agency

If you’re an international student studying in Canada and a resident for tax purposes, you could get benefit and credit payments that can help with your cost of living. Check out our 3-minute benefits and credits video for everything you need to know about benefit and credit payments in Canada.

Apply for benefit and credit payments on arrival

Many Canadians receive benefit and credit payments, and you could too. Once you’ve applied, you will need to file your income tax and benefit return each year to continue to receive them.

Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
Every three months, eligible individuals may get money to help offset what they pay in GST/HST
Canada Carbon Rebate
Every three months, eligible individuals may get money to help offset the cost of the federal carbon pollution pricing (note that this rebate was previously known as the Climate action incentive payment)
Canada child benefit (CCB)
Every month, eligible individuals may get money to help with the cost of raising a child

There are also provincial or territorial payments that may help with your costs.

How to apply for benefit and credit payments

Step 1: Apply for a social insurance number

Step 2: Apply for benefits and credits

Check your eligibility for the GST/HST credit or CCB on the benefits, credits, and taxes for newcomers web page and complete these forms:

Step 3: You and your spouse or common-law partner (if applicable) must each continue to file a tax return every year to keep receiving the payments you are eligible for.

Do you need to do your taxes in Canada?

In Canada, individuals are responsible for completing and filing their personal tax return. As an international student, you may need to file a return whether you stay in Canada part-time or are here year-round, even if you do not have any income in Canada. You will also need to file a return to continue to receive the benefit and credit payments you are eligible for.

Determine your residency status

Most international students who study or carry out research in Canada establish residential ties with Canada, are considered residents of Canada for income tax purposes and may need to file a Canadian tax return.

Your residency status determines your income tax obligations to Canada. Note that your residency status can be different from your immigration status. For tax purposes, international students studying in Canada are typically considered one of the following:

Residency status is based on the residential ties you have with Canada. Residential ties can include having a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependent who is moving to Canada to live with you. Other residential ties can include having:

You may be considered a deemed resident of Canada if you have not established significant residential ties, but you stayed in Canada for 183 or more days in the year.

If you return to your home or another country on a regular basis or for large portions of the calendar year and you do not have significant residential ties with Canada, you may be considered a non-resident of Canada for income tax purposes.

Read more about residential ties and determining your residency status.

Learn more about the Canadian tax system

Learn about your taxes is a free online learning tool designed to help you understand what taxes are, how to do them, and what’s in it for you. We want to empower people to do their own taxes and to make sure they know about the benefit and credit payments they could be eligible for. We have 5-minute lessons, fun quizzes, and quick videos on everything you need to know.

Want to listen instead?

You can check out our new podcast: Taxology. We simplify the world of taxes, since it can be confusing! We’ll help you understand Canadian taxes, including how to prepare for tax season, explain different savings accounts to help kick-start your savings, and introduce you to the platform economy.

More resources

Want to know more about benefit and credit payments? We have resources designed with newcomers in mind:

Contacts

Media Relations
Canada Revenue Agency
613-948-8366
cra-arc.media@cra-arc.gc.ca

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