Taxes in Canada

General Information on Tax Returns

A tax return is a statement of income and expenditures that is submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency once a year.  All international students enrolled in Dalhousie are eligible to file tax returns.  This includes students who work part-time or during co-op work terms AND students who do not work.

Benefits of a tax return

International students are encouraged to file tax returns while in Canada.  Benefits are listed below:

  • You may receive quarterly GST/HST credit money.
  • You may receive tuition tax credits for tuition paid to universities and colleges.  You can use tax credits against future income if you work in Canada after graduation.
  • If you worked in Canada you may receive a tax refund.

When to file your tax return

Students can file returns from late February to April 30, every year. However, because of COVID-19, the deadline to submit your return this year has been extended to June 1, 2020.

It may take you some time to gather all your documents so you should begin to collect your documents in early February.  If you wait until March then you may not be able to collect everything before the typical April 30 deadline.

If you arrived in Canada in 2020 you are not eligible to file a tax return this year.  You will be eligible next year.

Helpful links and information on income taxes

You can visit the following links from the Canada Revenue Agency for more information on income taxes:


1. Apply for a Social Insurance Number

2.  Collect your tax receipts and immigration documents

3.  Go to the Ufile website, click 'Start your return online for free' and create an account for the Ufile program.  Ufile allows you to submit your return online for free.

You could also go to the Canada Revenue Agency website and use another Netfile program to complete and submit your tax return online

Get help to file your tax return

Go to a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Clinic (CVITP

Community Income Tax Clinics

There are also a number of FREE Income Tax Clinics throughout the city, through CRA's Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). The CVITP is a collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and community organizations. The organizations host tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

When you go to a CVITP clinic be sure to take all your tax documents and let them know you are "an international student and a deemed resident in Canada for tax purposes".

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I missed the tax review drop-ins at the International Centre. What do I do if I still want to file my taxes?

You can go to a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program clinic.

Please note that if the clinic makes an error on your return you will have to go back to the clinic to fix it.  The International Centre is unable to fix returns prepared by other clinics since we do not have the original tax file.

You can do your taxes yourself using the tax preaparation software on  Read the instructions carefully to ensure you complete the return properly.  Remember an error on your tax return could end up costing you money.  So be sure to read the instructions carefully and use the help button if something is not clear to you.

As an international student, am I considered a resident for tax filing purposes? How do I determine my residency status for income tax purposes?

Your Canadian immigration/residency status DOES NOT determine your residency status for income tax purposes. You must know your residency status for income tax purposes in order to submit the correct tax forms. To determine your residency status, complete the Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada) NR74 Form well before the tax deadline and send it to the International Tax Services Office in Ottawa. You will receive a letter informing you of your status. Keep the letter and include a copy with your tax return.

Most international students are Residents for income tax purposes and should therefore fill out the General Income Tax forms for Residents. Some international students may, however, be deemed Residents and Non-Residents. 

For more information about determining your residency, read:

Can I file my income tax return if I don't have a Social Insurance Number?

If you are a full time international student then, no.  All full time international students who study in Canada for more than 6 months have study permits and are eligible for a study permits that allow them to work off campus.  Therefore are eligible for Social Insurance Numbers and should apply for them. 

If you are not a full time international student and you do not have a study permit, you can try to apply for a Individual Tax Number (ITN).  This is only recommended for:

  • spouses who are accompanying a student to Canada and do not have valid work or study permits

If you have a spouse or partner, they can apply for an ITN by completing the Application for a Canada Revenue Agency Individual Tax Number for Non-Residents (form T1261).  Send the complete form to the International Tax Services Office and include a true copy of a passport, true copy of a visitor permit, and a letter explaining your spouse is accompanying you to Canada.

Do not complete this form if you already have a SIN (even if it has expired), you are eligible for a SIN, or already have an individual tax number or a temporary taxation number.

For more information on how to apply for an ITN contact the International Tax Services Office at 1-800-267-5177.

How do I apply for a Social Insurance Number?

What if I am married?

Spouse (husband/wife/partner) in Canada: If your spouse is in Canada they must also have an ITN/SIN, and if applicable the tax documents stated above.

Spouse (husband/wife/partner) in another country: If your spouse is in another country, you need to know their date of birth and income from January 1–December 31 of the tax year.

I have been living in Canada for a number of years and have never filed taxes before, what should I do?

You can either do it yourself online, or contact another Community Volunteer Income Tax clinic. 

What do I do after I have filed my taxes?

1) Receive your Notice of Assessment letter in your mail and save it for next year

Canada Revenue Agency will send this letter to the mailing address on your tax return. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. Keep it safe.

2) Create an online My Account on the CRA website

Go to and click on the Log in/Register tab. This will allow you to view your tax information. This is very helpful in case you need to change your mailing address or banking information. IMPORTANT: SAVE YOUR PASSWORD AND USERNAME IN A SAFE PLACE WHERE YOU WILL REMEMBER FOR NEXT YEAR.

3) Check your bank account by July 31 (at the latest) for benefit payments

The payments may show as a deposit from “CANADA” or “GOVT of CANADA”.

4) If you receive a tuition assessment letter, mail another copy of your T2202A to Canada Revenue Agency

Sometimes the CRA does a review of tax returns, and mails out requests to students asking to see their tuition receipts. If you receive something like this in your mail, respond to it as soon as possible. If you do not respond you could be asked to pay a fee OR your payments will stop.

What is a Notice of Assessment?

When the Canada Revenue Agency receives your income tax return, they will review your information and send you a summary of the results of your income tax return, also known as a Notice of Assessment. Please review your Notice of Assessment to ensure that all the information is correct. You will need to keep your Notice of Assessment in your files to use it for the next year's income tax return. Your Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment will show unused tuition amounts carried forward from previous years.

What happens if I don’t receive any GST/HST payments by the end of July in the year following the completion of my taxes for the previous year?

CRA may have sent you a letter in the mail and you did not respond.

  • If you moved your mailing address and you did not let CRA know your new mailing address, they will stop your payments. You will have to call CRA or update your mailing address on your My Account ( Only after your mailing address is up to date will your payments be issued.
  • If CRA sent you a letter asking for your world income and you did not send them a letter stating your world income, you will not receive GST/HST payments. You must send a letter stating your world income, even if you have already provided that information when you filed your tax return.

What happens if I change my address in the next four months?

You must let CRA know your new mailing address immediately. There two ways:

  1. Log in to your My Account and update your address. This is quick and easy and CRA prefers this.
  2. Call 1-800-959-8281 and change your address over the phone. It may take you up to 30 minutes to an hour to talk to an agent and you will need your SIN, Notice of Assessment, and old address in order for the agent to confirm your identity.   


How and why you should do your taxes

Read our blog post created by our international student blogger Catalina about why it's worth your while to file your Canadian tax return.