Tips for filing your taxes if you’re a new Canadian
Woman using a calculator to determine her taxes

If you’re new to Canada and filing taxes for the first time, there are many things to consider. The tax system will differ slightly from what you’re used to back home, but the overall process is pretty straightforward. Best of all, the government of Canada has an intro video that’s available in 13 different languages to get you familiar with things. But before you get ready to file, make sure you read these tips, as they may give you a confidence boost.

Tax deadlines 

Canada’s tax season is in the spring. Depending on your situation, there will be different dates to be aware of:

●      April 30 - Personal income tax deadline

●      April 30 - Deadline for taxes owed for all individuals

●      June 15 - Self-employment tax deadline

If any of the above dates fall on a weekend, the deadline will be extended to the following Monday. 

Newcomers would file their taxes based on when they become residents for tax purposes. For example, if you moved to Canada in September of 2023, you would file your first tax return the following year. 

Canada also has tax treaties with many other countries, so you wouldn’t be taxed twice.

You should always file your taxes

Even if you had little or no income after arriving in Canada, you should still file your taxes. That’s because to be eligible for many of the benefits and credits available to Canadian residents, you must have filed a tax return. Some perks you may get by filing include:

●      The Canada Child Benefit

●      The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Credit

●      Federal, provincial or territorial payments

●      The Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP)

●      The Canada Worker Benefit

When you file your taxes, you may be eligible for a tax refund. This happens when you’ve paid more taxes than you’re owed – the government simply sends the excess amount back to you. In addition, when you file your taxes by the deadlines, you avoid any penalties.

You won’t have any RRSP room the first year you file

One of the best ways to reduce your tax burden is by contributing to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). For every dollar you contribute, your taxable income is reduced by an equal amount.

However, you only earn contribution room after you file your first tax return. The amount of room you get is based on 18% of your previous year’s income or the yearly max. Although you won’t be able to take advantage of this benefit the first year you file, you’ll have the room available next year.

Filing is simple

Filing your taxes is straightforward, as all you really need to do is gather your tax documents and then fill out all the necessary paperwork. Your employer would provide you with any relevant tax slips. However, if you have any investments or you’ve made charitable donations, you may need to download those documents on your own.

When it comes to actually filing your taxes, there are three common ways to do so: 

●      On your own with tax software

●      With the assistance of a tax preparer

●      Hire an accountant

Generally, if your taxes are simple, you can likely do things all on your own. TurboTax is one of the more popular software options since they have different services that are designed for your needs. For example, you can file on your own or with an expert. If you choose the expert option, you can either have them review your return with TurboTax Live Assist & Review or prepare and file everything on your behalf with TurboTax Live Full Service. Regardless of the option you choose, TurboTax automatically searches all available credits to ensure you’re getting the best possible tax outcome. 

You can access all your information in one spot

Once your initial tax return has been filed, you’ll be able to set up a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account. With this account, you can access your tax return, future tax slips, and additional information, such as how much RRSP contribution room you have. In addition, you can set up your direct deposit information so any tax refunds or credits get deposited right into your bank account.

Be aware of fraud

There are a lot of scam artists out there that target new immigrants. They pose as CRA representatives and claim that you must pay taxes or you’ll be deported immediately. If you ever receive a suspicious text message or phone call, do not provide them with any personal information. If you’re worried, call the CRA directly and ask if there’s anything going on with your file.

The bottom line

Filing taxes is something every Canadian resident needs to do, so there’s no reason to be worried. The process is simple, and once you’ve filed, you may be eligible for a tax refund, tax rebates, and other government incentives.

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. As a completely self-taught, do-it-yourself investor with no formal training, he makes money easy to understand for all Canadians. His specialties include personal finance, budget travel, millennial money, credit cards, and trending destinations.

Barry Choi is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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