Completing your return
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On this page...
- What's new for 2020?
- Completing your return
- Do you have to file a return?
- Determining your residency status
- Were you a non-resident of Canada in 2020?
- Were you a deemed non-resident of Canada in 2020?
- Were you a deemed resident of Canada in 2020?
- Due dates, penalties, and interest
- Gather all your documents
- Need help doing your taxes?
- How to file your return
- Which income tax package should you use?
What's new for 2020?
We have outlined major tax changes and improvements to services below. We have noted changes to income tax rules, including those that were announced but that were not yet law, when this guide was published. If they become law as proposed, they will be effective for 2020 or as of the dates given. You will find more information about some of these changes throughout the guide. New items are flagged with the word: New
The 2020 Income Tax Package includes the Income Tax and Benefit Guide for Non-Residents and Deemed Residents of Canada, the return, schedules, and worksheet. We have made several changes to this package to enhance our services, such as making the guide less complex and reducing paper use by removing text for income, deduction, and credit lines that are rarely used. If you need any information that is not provided in the guide, go to Canada.ca.
Individuals and families
Home Buyers' Plan – If you are not considered a first-time home buyer for the purposes of the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP), and you experience a breakdown in your marriage or common-law partnership, you may be able to participate in the HBP under certain conditions. For more information, go to What is the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP)?.
Other employment expenses (line 22900 of the return) – If you worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19, you may be able to claim certain employment expenses.
Basic personal amount (line 30000 of the return) – This amount has increased for most taxpayers.
Spouse or common-law partner amount (line 30300 of the return) – This amount has increased for most taxpayers.
Amount for an eligible dependant (line 30400 of the return) – This amount has increased for most taxpayers.
Digital news subscription expenses (line 31350 of the return) – For the 2020 to 2024 tax years, you may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit for expenses you paid in the year for a digital news subscription with a qualified Canadian journalism organization.
Your tuition, education, and textbook amounts (line 32300 of the return) – The Canada training credit that the student claims for the year reduces the amount that they can use to calculate their tuition tax credit, transfer to a designated individual, or carry forward to a later year.
Donations and gifts (line 34900 of the return) – We have simplified the calculation on Schedule 9 for most individuals. Also, for 2020 and later tax years, you may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit for donations made to registered journalism organizations.
Canada training credit (line 45350 of the return) – If you meet certain conditions, you will be able to claim a Canada training credit, a new refundable tax credit that is available for 2020 and later tax years.
Canadian journalism labour tax credit (CJLTC) (line 47555 of the return) – For 2019 and later tax years, if you are a member of a partnership that is a qualifying journalism organization, you can claim this new refundable credit allocated to you by the partnership.
Mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors – This investment tax credit is extended for an additional 5 years to March 31, 2024.
Amounts received related to COVID-19
During the year, you may have received federal, provincial, or territorial government COVID-19 payments such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. You will have received an information slip, such as a T4A or T4E. If the amount is taxable, follow the instructions on the slip for how to report these amounts. These slips are also available in My Account.
If you are self-employed, you may have received federal, provincial, or territorial government COVID-19 assistance for your business, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Generally, you have to either include these amounts in business income or reduce your expenses by the amounts that you received. You may also have received a government loan. The loan itself is not taxable, but you have to include in your business income any portion of the loan that is forgivable.
If you received the Canada Recovery Benefit, you may have to repay all or part of it, if your net income after certain adjustments is more than $38,000. The repayment is calculated on the Worksheet for the return at line 23500, as part of the social benefits repayment calculation.
This guide provides the basic information you need to get ready, complete and file your Income Tax and Benefit Return for Non-residents and Deemed Residents of Canada. Use this information along with the instructions on the return and schedules. It tells you what types of income you must report, and which deductions and credits you can claim to help you figure out if you owe tax or if you will get a refund for 2020. Even if you had no income in the year, you have to file a return to get the benefits, credits, and refund you are entitled to. To complete your return:
- Determine if you have to file. See Do you have to file a return?.
- Determine if, in 2020, you were a deemed resident of Canada, a non-resident of Canada, or a non-resident of Canada making an election under section 217 or section 216.1 of the Income Tax Act. For more information, see Determining your residency status.
- Make sure you file on time. See Due dates, penalties, and interest.
- See Gather all your documents.
- Make sure you have the correct income tax package. See Which income tax package should you use?.
- See What's new for 2020?.
- Locate the symbol that applies to your situation.
- Follow the instructions in this guide for the lines on the return that apply to you. If your symbol appears beside the line number, the information for that line may apply to you. If your symbol does not appear, the information does not apply to you.
- Look on the back of your information slips to find instructions on where to report an amount.
If your situation is the same as last year, you may want to use your 2019 income tax and benefit return to help you complete this year's return.
- The return has been divided into seven steps. Complete each step before going on to the next:
- Step 1 – Identification and other information – Provide information about yourself and your spouse or common-law partner, as well as other information required to process your return.
- Step 2 – Total income – Determine your total income at line 15000.
- Step 3 – Net income – To determine your net income at line 23600, claim any deductions that apply to you.
- Step 4 – Taxable income – To determine your taxable income at line 26000, claim any deductions that apply to you.
- Step 5 – Federal tax – Calculate your federal tax and credits.
- Step 6– Provincial or territorial tax - Calculate your provincial or territorial tax, and complete Form T2203, Provincial and Territorial Taxes for Multiple Jurisdictions, if it applies.
To calculate your tax for Quebec, you will have to file a provincial income tax return for Quebec.
- Step 7 – Refund or balance owing – To determine your refund or balance owing, calculate your total payable and claim any refundable credits that apply to you.
- Attach to your return only the documents (schedules, information slips, forms, or receipts) requested in the guide to support the credits you claim and deductions you make. Keep all other supporting documents in case the CRA asks to see them later.
= deemed residents of Canada
= non-residents of Canada
= non-residents of Canada electing under sections 217 or 216.1 of the Income Tax Act
File a return for 2020 if:
- you have to pay tax for the year
- you want to claim a refund
- you want to claim the Canada workers benefit (CWB) or you received CWB advance payments in the year
- you or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving the following payments (including any related provincial or territorial payments):
- Canada child benefit (CCB)
- goods and services tax ⁄ harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
- guaranteed income supplement (GIS)
If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they also have to file a return.
- the CRA sent you a request to file a return
- you and your spouse or common-law partner are jointly electing to split pension income (see line 11500)
- you were a deemed resident of Canada at any time in the year, and you disposed of capital property (which could be a principal residence) or you realized a taxable capital gain in the year
- you were a non-resident of Canada throughout 2020, and you disposed of taxable Canadian property in 2020. However, if all the gain from each disposition is exempt under a tax treaty or you have received a Certificate of Compliance in respect of the disposition where no payment of tax was required, you may not have to file a tax return. For more information, go to Disposing of or acquiring certain Canadian property
- you have to repay all or part of your old age security or employment insurance benefits. If you were a non-resident of Canada in 2020, you will use the return T1136, Old Age Security Return of Income, to repay all or part of your old age security benefits
- you have not repaid all the amounts you withdrew from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) under the Home Buyers' Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan
- you have to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2020. This can apply if your total net self-employment income and pensionable employment income is more than $3,500
- you are paying employment insurance premiums on self-employment income or other eligible earnings
- you have incurred a non-capital loss in the year that you want to be able to apply in other years
- you want to transfer unused tuition fees or carry forward unused tuition, education, and textbook amounts to a future year
- you want to report income that would allow you to contribute to an RRSP, a pooled registered pension plan (PRPP), or a specified pension plan (SPP) to keep your RRSP deduction limit (see Schedule 7, RRSP and PRPP Unused Contributions, Transfers, and HBP or LLP Activities) for future years up to date
- you want to carry forward to a future year the unused investment tax credit on expenditures you incurred during the current year
- you want to report income that will allow you to increase your Canada training credit limit
- you filed Form NR5, Application by a Non-Resident of Canada For a Reduction in the Amount of Non-Resident Tax Required to be Withheld, for 2020, and the CRA approved it. If this is your situation, you may have to file a return electing under section 217 of the Income Tax Act for each year of the period covered by the approved Form NR5 (see Form NR5 for exceptions)
- you filed Form NR6, Undertaking to File an Income Tax Return by a Non-Resident Receiving Rent From Real or Immovable Property or Receiving a Timber Royalty, for 2020, and the CRA approved it. If this is your situation, you have to file a separate return electing under section 216 of the Income Tax Act
- you filed Form T1287, Application by a Non-Resident of Canada (Individual) for a Reduction in the Amount of Non-Resident Tax Required to be Withheld on Income Earned from Acting in a Film or Video Production, for 2020, and the CRA approved it. If this is your situation, you have to file a return electing under section 216.1 of the Income Tax Act
If you are the legal representative (the executor, administrator, or liquidator) of the estate of a person who died in 2020, you may have to file a return for 2020 for that person. When there are no legal documents designating a legal representative, you may request to be the deceased person's legal representative by completing an Affidavit form for intestate situations. For more information about your filing requirements and options, and to know what documents are required, see Guide T4011, Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons, and Information Sheet RC4111, Canada Revenue Agency – What to Do Following a Death.
Determining your residency status
Were you a non-resident of Canada in 2020?
What income should you report?
Report your income from Canadian sources such as the taxable part of your scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, net research grants, income from employment in Canada or a business that does not have a permanent establishment in Canada, net partnership income (limited or non-active partners only), and taxable capital gains from disposing of taxable Canadian property, as shown under the income lines applicable to non-residents of Canada in the guide.
What are residential ties?
Significant residential ties almost always include a home in Canada and a spouse or common-law partner and dependants who stayed in Canada while you were living outside Canada. Other relevant residential ties may include a Canadian driver's licence, Canadian bank accounts or credit cards, health insurance with a Canadian province or territory, personal property, and social ties in Canada.
To determine an individual's residence status, all of the relevant facts in each case must be considered, including residential ties with Canada and length of time, object, intent, and continuity while living inside and outside Canada.
For more information about residential ties, see Income Tax Folio S5-F1-C1, Determining an Individual's Residence Status.
Were you a non-resident of Canada in 2020 who wants to elect under section 217?
Under section 217 of the Income Tax Act, you can choose to file a Canadian return and report certain types of Canadian-source income. You are then electing under section 217 of the Income Tax Act. By doing this, you may pay tax on this income using an alternative method and may receive a refund of some or all of the non-resident tax withheld.
Were you a non-resident of Canada in 2020 who wants to elect under section 216.1?
Under section 216.1 of the Income Tax Act, if you are a non-resident actor, you can choose to report amounts paid, credited, or provided as a benefit to you for film and video acting services rendered in Canada on a Canadian return and pay tax on that income using an alternative taxing method. Choosing to do this is called "Electing under section 216.1."
Were you a deemed non-resident of Canada in 2020?
You were a deemed non-resident of Canada in 2020 if you would have been considered a resident of Canada (or a deemed resident) but, under a tax treaty, you were considered a resident of another country. You become a deemed non-resident of Canada when your ties with the other country are such that, under the tax treaty, you would be considered a resident of that other country and not Canada. In this case, the same rules that apply to a non-resident of Canada will apply to you as a deemed non-resident (including the way you complete your return).
Were you a deemed resident of Canada in 2020?
You were a deemed resident of Canada for tax purposes if you did not have significant residential ties in Canada, but you stayed here for 183 days or more in 2020 and, under a tax treaty, you were not considered a resident of another country.
You were also a deemed resident of Canada if you lived outside Canada during 2020, you were not considered a factual resident of Canada because you did not have significant residential ties in Canada, and you were one of the following:
- a member of the Canadian Forces overseas school staff and you choose to file a return as a deemed resident of Canada (if you left Canada during 2020, see Were you a member of the overseas Canadian Forces school staff who left Canada in 2020?)
- a federal or provincial government employee and you were either a resident of Canada just before being posted abroad or you received a representation allowance for 2020
- a person working under a Global Affairs Canada assistance program if you were a resident of Canada at any time during the three month period just before you began your duties abroad
- a member of the Canadian Forces at any time in 2020
- a person who, under a tax treaty, agreement, or convention between Canada and another country, is exempt from tax in that other country on 90% or more of your income from all sources because of your relationship to a resident (including a deemed resident) of Canada
- a dependent child of one of the first four persons described earlier in this section and your net world income in 2020 was not more than the basic personal amount (see line 30000) in Canadian dollars
What income should you report?
Report your 2020 world income. World income is income from all sources both inside and outside Canada.
Were you a member of the overseas Canadian Forces school staff who left Canada in 2020?
If you were a member of the overseas Canadian Forces school staff who left Canada in 2020 and severed residential ties, you became a non-resident of Canada. Use the 2020 income tax package for the province or territory where you lived just before you left Canada. Go to Taxes.
However, you can file as a deemed resident of Canada while you are serving abroad. If you make this choice, use the 2020 income tax package for the province or territory where you lived just before you left Canada. In future years, you will use the guide for non-residents and deemed residents of Canada.
Did you live in Quebec just before you left Canada?
In addition to being considered a deemed resident of Canada, under Quebec law you may also be considered a deemed resident of that province. If this is the case, you may have to pay Quebec income tax while you are serving abroad.
For example, if you are a deemed resident of Canada and you were at any time in the year an agent-general, an officer, or a servant of the province of Quebec and you were a resident of that province just before your appointment or employment with that province, you must pay Quebec income tax. To avoid double taxation (surtax for non-residents and deemed residents of Canada plus Quebec income tax), attach a note to your federal return telling the CRA all of the following:
- You are subject to Quebec provincial income tax
- You are filing a Quebec provincial return
- You are asking for relief from the non-resident and deemed resident surtax
The province of Quebec also grants relief to certain taxpayers who were deemed residents of Canada and Quebec. This includes deemed residents of Canada who are members of the Canadian Forces or at any time in the year, an ambassador, minister, high commissioner, officer, or servant of Canada, and who were also deemed residents of Quebec. For more information, contact Revenu Quebec.
Due dates, penalties, and interest
Your 2020 return and payment are due on or before the following dates:
- For most people, the return is due April 30, 2021, and payment is due April 30, 2021
- For a self-employed person and their spouse or common law partner with business expenditures that relate mostly to a tax shelter investment, the return is due April 30, 2021, and payment is due April 30, 2021
- For a self-employed person and their spouse or common law partner (other than those stated above) the return is due June 15, 2021, and payment is due April 30, 2021
- For a deceased person and their surviving spouse or common law partner, see Guide T4011, Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons
When a due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday recognized by the CRA, your return is considered on time if the CRA receives it or if it is postmarked on the next business day. Your payment will be considered received on time if it is received on the first business day after the due date.
Non-residents electing under section 216.1 – For information on when your section 216.1 return is due, see When is your section 216.1 return due?.
For more information, go to Important dates for Individuals.
Did you know...
Deemed residents – Filing early helps ensure your benefit and credit payments are not delayed or stopped. These include:
- guaranteed income supplement (GIS)
- GST/HST credit
- Canada child benefit (CCB)
- related provincial and territorial programs
The CRA may charge you a penalty if any of the following applies:
- you filed your return late and you owe tax for 2020
- you failed to report an amount on your return for 2020 and you also failed to report an amount on your return for 2017, 2018, or 2019
- you knowingly or under circumstances amounting to gross negligence have made a false statement or an omission on your 2020 return
Non-residents electing under section 217 – If you file your 2020 section 217 return after June 30, 2021, your election is not valid. For more information, see When is your section 217 return due?.
Non-residents electing under section 216.1 – If you file your section 216.1 return after the due date, your election is not valid. For more information, see When is your section 216.1 return due?. For more information, go to Penalties.
Interest you must pay to the CRA
If you have a balance owing for 2020, the CRA charges compound daily interest starting May 1, 2021, on any unpaid amounts owing for 2020. This includes any balance owing if the CRA reassesses your return.
The CRA will pay you compound daily interest on your tax refund for 2020 in some situations. The calculation will start on the latest of the following three dates:
- May 30, 2021
- the 30th day after you file your return
- the day after you overpaid your taxes
Cancel or waive penalties or interest
The CRA administers legislation, commonly called taxpayer relief provisions, that allows the CRA discretion to cancel or waive penalties or interest when taxpayers cannot meet their tax obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.
The CRA's discretion to grant relief is limited to any period that ended within 10 calendar years before the year in which a request is made.
For penalties, the CRA will consider your request only if it relates to a tax year or fiscal period ending in any of the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make your request. For example, your request made in 2021 must relate to a penalty for a tax year or fiscal period ending in 2011 or later.
For interest on a balance owing for any tax year or fiscal period, the CRA will consider only the amounts that accrued during the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make your request. For example, your request made in 2019 must relate to interest that accrued in 2009 or later.
To make a request, fill out Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest. For more information about relief from penalties or interest and how to submit your request, go to Taxpayer relief provisions.
Gather all your documents
Gather all the information slips, receipts, and supporting documents you need to report your income and claim any deductions or credits.
What if you are missing information?
File your return on time even if you do not have all of your slips or receipts. You are responsible for reporting your income from all sources to avoid any penalties and interest that may be charged. If you have not received your slip by early April or if you have any questions about an amount on a slip, contact the payer.
Did you know...
If you know you won't be able to get a missing information slip by the due date, use your pay stubs or statements to estimate your income and any related deductions and credits you can claim. Enter the estimated amounts on the appropriate lines of your return.
Need help doing your taxes?
Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) – For personal and general tax information by telephone, use the CRA's automated service, TIPS, at 1-800-267-6999 (for calls within Canada and the United States).
By phone (individuals) – The telephone numbers can be found at Contact the CRA.
If you work in the film or video production industry and you need more information, go to Film and media tax credits. You will find the telephone numbers, fax numbers, and addresses for the film services units.
How to file your return
|Country of residence||Tax Centre|
|Winnipeg Tax Centre
PO Box 14001, Station Main
Winnipeg MB R3C 3M3
|All other countries||Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 5C2
If you prepare your return or other people's returns, mail each person's return in a separate envelope. However, if you file returns for more than one year for the same person, put them all in one envelope.
If you provide services in the film and television industry, send your income tax return to the Film Services Unit that serves the province or territory where the services were provided. You can find the addresses of the offices on our website at Film and media tax credits.
Which income tax package should you use?
- If you were a deemed resident of Canada on December 31, 2020, and you are reporting only income from a business with a permanent establishment in a province or territory of Canada, use the income tax package for that province or territory.
- If you were a deemed resident of Canada and you returned to Canada to live in 2020, use the income tax package for the province or territory where you lived on December 31, 2020.
- If you were a non-resident of Canada throughout 2020 and you are reporting only income from employment in Canada or from a business or partnership with a permanent establishment in Canada, use the income tax package for the province or territory where you earned the income. Also see Guide T4058, Non-Residents and Income Tax, for the special rules that apply.
- If you are also reporting other types of Canadian source income such as taxable scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, research grants, or capital gains from disposing of taxable Canadian property, you will also need Form T2203, Provincial and Territorial Taxes for Multiple Jurisdictions, to calculate your tax payable.
- If you were a non-resident of Canada during 2020 and you received rental income from real or immovable property in Canada or timber royalties on a timber resource property or a timber limit in Canada, get Guide T4144, Income Tax Guide for Electing Under Section 216.
- If you resided outside Canada on December 31, 2020, but kept significant residential ties with Canada, you may be a factual resident of Canada. Use the income tax package for the province or territory where you kept your residential ties. However, this may not apply if you were a factual resident who, under a tax treaty, is considered to be a resident of another country. For more information, see Were you a deemed non-resident of Canada in 2020?
- If you were a newcomer to Canada in 2020, use the income tax package for the province or territory where you resided on December 31, 2020. See Pamphlet T4055, Newcomers to Canada, for the special rules that apply.
- If you emigrated from Canada during 2020, use the income tax package for the province or territory where you resided on the day you left Canada. Go to Leaving Canada (emigrants) for the special rules that apply.
Forms and publications
To get an income tax package for your province or territory, or to get a paper version of CRA's forms and publications, go to Forms and publications or call one of the following numbers:
- 1-800-959-8281, from Canada and the United States
- 613-940-8495, from outside Canada and the United States. The CRA only accepts collect calls initiated by telephone operators. After your call is accepted by an automated response, you may hear a beep and experience a normal connection delay
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