Do I have to file an income tax return this year?
If you live in Québec, whether as a temporary resident (person with a study or work permit) or a permanent resident, you may have to file income tax returns with the governments of Québec and Canada. Normally, all residents* must file these returns regardless of their immigration status. You have until April 30 to send your documents for the income taxes of the previous year.
* For income tax purposes, the concept of “resident” is different than that of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
If you are planning to stay in Canada for several years to study or work after your studies, it is simpler and more advantageous for you to start completing your tax returns each year.
All residents who file income tax returns must start with the year of their arrival in Canada. Accordingly, if you have been here for several years but have not yet completed any income tax returns, you must prepare those for the previous years (2016, 2015, 2014, etc.) you lived in Canada before completing those the actual year.
In Canada, employers deduct income taxes directly from employee salaries. At the end of each fiscal year, the amount of tax payable is adjusted according to each person’s financial situation. Accordingly, after filing their tax returns, many people receive a partial or full refund of the tax paid. Moreover, it is possible to receive certain credits even if you did not pay tax in the past year. These payments are called refundable and nonrefundable tax credits.
To claim the following tax credits, you must file income tax returns:
- Goods and services tax credit (GST)
- Solidarity tax credit
- Childcare credits and benefits
- Carry forward to a future year some or all of the tax credits related to your tuition costs.
- These credits will give you significant income tax reductions if you work in Canada after
- your studies (T2202-A and RL-8 slip)
- Carry forward RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) deductions to a future year
To file an income tax return, a social insurance number (SIN) is usually required. If you do not have a SIN, you can still prepare an income tax return. In this case, before filing your return, you must obtain a tax identification number (TIN), which replaces the SIN. For the federal return, the procedure for obtaining a TIN is detailed on the Canada Revenue Agency site (Form T1261 E). For the provincial return, you do not need to apply for a TIN because a temporary number is automatically issued to individuals who do not have a SIN.
It is important to keep all tax slips you receive from employers (RL-1 and T4 slips), Université Laval financial services (RL-8 and T2202A slips), and any other organization, even if you are not filing income tax returns this year. You will need them to complete these returns in the future. All residents are required to keep their income tax documents for six years.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
- New residents and income tax
- Newcomers in Canada
- Ministère du Revenu du Québec
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Series: International Students and Income Tax (video)
- Free online course «Learning About Taxes»
Conferences on income tax
It is time for the annual tax return and you don’t know where to start?
This introductory conferences for international students will help you understand the basics of our tax system.
Four ways to submit your income tax return
You can file your income tax return using paper-based guides and forms available free of charge in the branches of Canada Post and Desjardins Credit Union from February to April. Once completed, mail them to the appropriate income agency, Canada Revenue Agency or Quebec Revenue Agency.
You can complete your income tax return by using a tax software. Here are some suggestions:
You can also ask an accountant or a company specialised in income taxes to prepare and file your income tax return. These organization, while professional and fast, will charge you higher fees.
*Please note that the softwares and companies named above are for information purposes only. Université Laval does not recommend any specific organisation.
Tax preparation clinics by volunteers
Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, community organizations host free tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare income tax and benefit returns for individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation. Usually, individuals whose income is of less than 30 000$ for one person or 40 000$ for a family are eligible. These clinics are open from February to April all over Canada.
Before showing up, contact the organization to verify your eligibility.
See the complete list of clinics in Quebec City online.