Everything you should know about your taxes as an international student.

March 22, 2023

If you’ve chosen Canada as your destination for your education, you’re a part of the growing number of international students in Canada. When it comes to filing your taxes, we understand this can be a little bit of a confusing area, but that’s why we’re here! If you’re filing your taxes as an international student, keep reading to get all the information you need. Here are some things to keep in mind when filing your taxes. To make things easier to navigate, click the section you’d like more information on:

Taxable income as a Canadian student.

Full-time students are not exempt from paying income tax in Canada. If you received any income from summer jobs or part-time jobs, you need to file an income tax return. All money you received regardless of if that work was occasional, part-time, or full time, is considered employment income. This also includes any tips you collected while on the job. Other forms of taxable income include any interest received from a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Scholarships, bursaries, and grants are generally exempt.

Remember to claim your federal tuition tax credit.

The federal tuition tax credit is one of the top tax credits for post-secondary students. Even if you aren’t reporting any income on your tax return, you can use this credit to claim the eligible tuition fees for post-secondary level courses. You can also claim fees you paid to an educational institution to take a course for developing or improving your skills in an occupation (if that institution is certified by Employment and Social Development Canada), as well as fees to take an occupational, trade, or professional exam.

Claim the interest you paid on your student loans.

When you repay your student loans, you are able to claim the interest as a non-refundable tax credit to help reduce any taxes owed.

Transferring unused credits.

If you have unused tuition tax credits for the current tax year, you can carry them forward to claim in future years. The caveat is that you must claim your carry forward amounts in the first year that you have to pay income tax. Another option you have is to transfer up to $5,000 to qualifying relatives such as parents, grandparents, spouses, and common-law partners.

Student moving expenses.

If you moved at least 40 kilometres away from home to get a summer job, you might be able to claim your moving expenses. This includes what you paid for transportation, storage, travel, temporary living, and more. You may also claim moving expenses to take courses as a full-time student in a post-secondary program, but only if you have taxable scholarship income (which is not usually the case).

International Students Studying in Canada.

Students who have shown they have significant residential ties to Canada, in the eyes of the federal government, are considered residents of Canada. This means that, like other fellow Canadian residents, they would be eligible for GST/HST credits, tuition carry-forward credits and other provincial credits or tuition rebates!

But if you’re a student who spends less than 183 days or 6 months in Canada, and you don’t have significant residential ties in Canada, you would be considered a non-resident. Non-residents are unfortunately not eligible for benefits or credits. In addition, you would only need to file a tax return to pay taxes or receive a refund if you paid too much tax on income from Canadian sources.

This concept would also apply to people deemed non-residents, who are students and have established residential ties with Canada, but who are still considered residents of their own country or another country with which Canada has a tax treaty.

What you need for your return.

The tax year runs from January until December. Usually, the personal tax return deadline is April 30, but since April 30 falls on a Sunday in 2023 you have until the next business day which would be Monday, May 1, 2023.

The first step to filing your return is to get your Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada or get an individual Tax Number from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Some of the forms you should make sure you have can include:

  • Income tax slips like T4 or T4A (for scholarships, awards, grants, and bursaries)
  • Tuition receipt T2202A. This identifies the number of months you attended a post-secondary institution and the tuition you paid
  • Rent receipts from your landlord. This does not include on-campus residence fees.
  • Any correspondence from the CRA if you've filed taxes in Canada before, which would include your past notice of assessments.

It’s important to report all income you had from both Canadian and international sources. As a resident, you’ll be taxed on all income you receive regardless of where it comes from, but you’ll be able to claim any taxes you paid to a foreign government as a foreign tax credit.

Finally, as a student don’t forget that you’re eligible to claim tuition credits using the T2202/T2202A form which would be given to you by your school.

Want to learn more about the new or unused credits and deductions you can claim on your 2022 return? At H&R Block, students file for less! Get expert help by finding an H&R Block office near you, or have one of our Tax Experts help you from home with Remote Tax Expert. Want to use our Do It Yourself Tax Software?

Subscribe to our tax tips newsletter.

Get the latest tax news to your email.

By clicking the Subscribe button, you consent to receiving electronic messages from H&R Block Canada regarding product offerings, tax tips, and promotional materials. You can withdraw your consent at any time by emailing us at unsubscribe@hrblock.ca