Filing your first tax return in Canada

IF you or your family members have recently moved to Canada, you understand the incredible level of change that takes place. Your check list might include: settling into a new neighbourhood, building a network of friends and landing a new job. But there’s another nuance to living in Canada that should be on your list –filing a tax return before April 30.

“Being a newcomer means you are likely new to the routines and requirements of the new country,” said Ivy Chiu, Senior Director, Cultural Markets at RBC. “As you adjust to life in Canada, make sure you plan ahead in your first year and for years ahead. Lean on your community and trusted experts to set you and your family up for success while navigating your way through the changes.”

If you are a resident of Canada for part or all of the tax year (January 1 to December 31) , you are required to file a tax return if you have taxable income or would like to claim a refund. Even if you have not received an income, you would still need to file a return to claim benefits that you would be eligible for so ensure you do so by the April 30, 2017 deadline. Here are a few questions you might want to ask your accountant or financial advisor before filing your tax return.

Hint: If you have a low income or a simple tax return, you may be eligible for the Community Volunteer Tax Income Program.

  1. What income needs to be reported? I still have income/property back home – do I need to report that?
  2. Be sure to clarify what income (including when you became a resident of Canada and prior) that needs to be reported on your tax return.
  3. What benefits and credits am I eligible for?

There are lots of benefits and credits available including the Canada Child Benefit for eligible Canadian residents. Find out what credits and benefits you are entitled to and how and when to apply for them.

  1. What information do I need to compile to complete my tax return?

Be prepared and find out what identification, property ownership details and income information are needed before you file.

  1. What tax sheltering options am I eligible for?

Be sure to ask what tax sheltering options (i.e. Tax Free Savings Account or Registered Retirement Savings Plan) you are eligible for.

Filing your first tax return is one of the many steps thousands of newcomers take in their first year. Asking the right questions will help you file with ease. The Canada Revenue Website has lots of information on helping newcomers understand the Canadian tax system. For other newcomer advice, visit