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

March 24, 2022

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.

To make things easier to navigate, click the section you’d like more information on:

How to determine if you need to file a return

In order to find out if you need to file a tax return, it really comes down to your residency status.

In Canada there are 4 types of residency statuses:

  1. Resident
  2. Non-resident
  3. Deemed resident
  4. Deemed non-resident

Now your residency status depends on something called residential ties. Significant residential ties include:

  • Owning or renting a home here
  • Having a spouse, common-law partner or dependants in Canada

However, secondary residential ties can also be relevant. These include:

  • Personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture
  • Social ties in Canada, such as memberships in Canadian recreational or religious organizations
  • Economic ties in Canada, such as Canadian bank accounts or credit cards
  • A Canadian driver's license
  • A Canadian passport
  • Health insurance with a Canadian province or territory

For more information on how to find out if you need to file a return and more information about residency status, check out our Help Centre blog!

Credits and deductions for international students

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 Saturday in 2022 you have until the next business day which would be May 2, 2022.

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 2021 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? You can Ask a Tax Expert any questions you have about your tax situation.

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