Benefits, credits, and taxes for newcomers
What you need to know about income taxes and benefit payments for the first year you are a resident of Canada
On this page
- Who newcomers to Canada are
- Get a social insurance number (SIN)
- What money you could get from the CRA
- When you need to do your taxes
- Free tax help from the CRA
- Be aware of tax scams
- Learn about Canadian taxes
Who newcomers to Canada are
Newcomers to Canada may be:
- permanent residents (including people who have received "approval-in-principle" from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to stay in Canada)
- refugees (protected persons)
- temporary residents (including student, worker, or temporary resident permit holders)
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers you a newcomer to Canada for the first year you are a resident of Canada.
You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you have enough residential ties in Canada. You usually establish residential ties on the day you arrive in Canada.
What residential ties are
Significant residential ties to Canada include:
- a home you own or lease in Canada
- a spouse or common-law partner in Canada
- dependants in Canada
Secondary residential ties that may be relevant include:
- personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture
- social ties in Canada, such as memberships in Canadian recreational or religious organizations
- economic ties in Canada, such as Canadian bank accounts or credit cards
- a Canadian driver's licence
- a Canadian passport
- health insurance with a Canadian province or territory
Your residency status for income tax purposes is different from your immigration status. Read more about determining your residency status.
Returning to Canada after being a non-resident
If you were a resident of Canada in a previous year and you are now a non-resident, you will be considered a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you move back to Canada and re-establish your residential ties.
Who the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is a government agency responsible for collecting taxes and administering various benefits and credits.
Get a social insurance number (SIN)
A SIN is a 9-digit number that is personal, confidential, and unique to you.
You need a SIN to:
- receive benefits and credits
- work in Canada
- open most types of bank accounts
Go to Service Canada to apply for a SIN.
What to do if you can't get a SIN
If Service Canada is unable to give you a permanent or temporary SIN, the CRA may give you a temporary tax number (TTN) you may use to get benefits and credits, file taxes, and sign up for CRA's online services.
How to get a TTN
Complete your benefit or credit application or tax return without an account number. Attach a letter explaining why you do not have a SIN or can't get one.
To get a number faster, you may also include certified copies of documents that prove your identity, such as:
- a passport
- a driver's licence
- a birth certificate or proof of birth
- an immigration document showing that your spouse is sponsoring you (if your spouse has a SIN and is sponsoring you)
- a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that says they are reviewing your file
What money you could get from the CRA
Canada has benefits and credits to help financially support you. You or your spouse or common-law partner must be a resident of Canada for income tax purposes.
To start getting payments, you must:
- Get a social insurance number (SIN) from Service Canada
- Apply for the benefit and credit you are eligible for
You do not need to do your first tax return before you can get these benefits and credits:
If you are at least 19 years old, have a low or modest income, and are eligible, apply for a tax-free quarterly payment to help offset the tax you pay on things you buy.
Find out if you are eligible to apply for the GST/HST credit.
- Canada child benefit (CCB)
If you have at least one child under 18 years old and are eligible, apply for a tax-free monthly payment to help with the cost of raising your family.
If you are a temporary resident
If you are a temporary resident, you must live in Canada for 18 months in a row and have a valid permit on your 19th month of living in Canada before you can apply for the Canada child benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs.
Find out if you are eligible to apply for the Canada child benefit.
If you are eligible for the GST/HST or CCB credit, you only need to complete these forms:
- If you do not have children: fill out and sign Form RC151, GST/HST Credit Application for Individuals Who Become Residents of Canada
- If you have children: fill out and sign Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application and include form RC66SCH, Status in Canada and Income Information
- Provincial and territorial benefits and credits
Many of the provinces and territories have several benefits and credits that you may be eligible for.
For the related programs that the CRA administers on behalf of the provinces and territories, you do not need to apply separately. We automatically consider you for provincial and territorial benefits and credits when you apply for the CCB or file a tax return.
Read about the various provincial and territorial programs.
Getting your money
Sign up for direct deposit to get your money directly into your account at a financial institution in Canada. It is fast, secure, and makes sure you never miss a payment in the mail.
If you choose not to sign up for direct deposit, you will receive your payment by cheque through the mail.
Keep getting your benefits and credits
Only send in your application for benefits and credits one time.
To continue receiving the benefit and credit payments you are entitled to, every year you must:
- file your income tax and benefit return on time, even if you have no income in the year
- have your spouse or common-law partner, if you have one, file a return even if they have no income
- keep your personal information updated with the CRA
- keep documents that show proof of your situation, in case we need to confirm your benefits
Once you have filed your first tax return, you may be eligible to receive more tax credits and benefits.
What benefits and credits are
Benefits and credits are payments from the CRA, given directly to eligible families and individuals to help offset some of the costs of living.
When you need to do your taxes
Even if you only lived in Canada for part of the year, you have to file a tax return if:
- you have to pay tax
- you want to claim a refund
You do not need to file a tax return before you can begin receiving benefits and credits. However, you do need to file a tax return to continue getting benefits and credits after your first year in Canada, even if you had no income.
For more detailed information, refer to: Do you have to file a return?
Doing your taxes for the first time in Canada
There are 2 main ways to complete and send us your tax return.
- File your taxes electronically using certified tax software
- Software sends your completed return directly to the CRA
- Usually 2 weeks to process
- File your taxes manually using a paper return
- Send your completed return by mail to your tax centre
- Usually 8 or more weeks to process
Get the right income tax package for you
You can read more about reporting world income, what happens to property you owned before coming to Canada, and claiming deductions when completing a personal tax return as a newcomer to Canada.
You do not need to hire someone to do your taxes for you. The CRA offers free tax help if you need it. You can also let someone you trust contact the CRA to file your taxes and access your tax information for you by authorizing them to be a representative.
Free tax help from the CRA
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation you may be able to get your taxes done at a free tax clinic.
If you are self-employed or own a small business and need help understanding your tax obligations, you can get free tax help from the CRA’s liaison officer service.
We hold free learning events for different communities. Join us at one of our upcoming tax learning events.
If you have questions about your taxes, credits, or benefits, you can contact the CRA.
Be aware of tax scams
Be cautious if you are contacted by someone that claims to be from the CRA and requests personal information such as your SIN, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.
Scams may contact you by phone, email, mail or instant messaging.
We will never:
- ask you to pay fees using prepaid credit cards, gift cards, or any other similar services
- use aggressive language
- threaten to harm, arrest, or deport you
Read more about scams and how to confirm if the CRA contacted you: Scam prevention and the CRA
Learn about Canadian taxes
Many of the benefits people enjoy in Canada are made possible through taxes. If you are an employee, your employer usually deducts taxes and pays them to the CRA for you.
Each year, people complete a tax return (Income Tax and Benefit Return) to find out if they owe tax or if they will get money back.
Understand how the Canadian tax system works: Learn about your taxes
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