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Most students will not earn enough income from Canadian sources while they are studying to be required to pay income tax. Instead, many students will qualify for tax credits/refunds without having to pay income taxes (or even having had Canadian income). Preparing a tax return will determine if you need to pay or if you will receive a refund.
The Canada Revenue Agency offers a series of videos that can help international students understand their rights and responsibilities with regard to taxes in Canada.
Beware of attempts to steal your username, password, Social Insurance Number, and other credentials!
Phone calls and emails that appear to be coming from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are sometimes used to convince people to provide details for their accounts. CRA will NOT call and ask you to make a payment immediately. CRA WILL send you an email that asks you to login to their MyAccount system to see the contents of your message.
Why Complete Tax Forms?
Completing a tax return can qualify you to receive immediate and future benefits.
Immediate benefits: Tax credits can be worth more than $500/year for most students, but vary depending on a number of factors, including total income, income tax taken from each payment (if applicable) and the amount and type of rent paid. If you have been working, there is a chance that your employer has withheld some of your pay for taxes and other federal programs. Completing your tax forms will confirm whether you have overpaid.
Future benefits: Students may total their eligible tuition and a monthly education and textbook amount for use as non-refundable tax credits in a future tax year. These credits can protect you from paying income tax in future years. Some students have saved thousands of dollars in income taxes by using their tuition and education amounts as tax credits.
To qualify for Child Tax Benefits, an income tax return must be completed by each of the parents living in Canada.
Who Must Complete Tax Forms?
If you earn income from Canadian sources during the tax year, the Canada Revenue Agency expects you to complete Canadian Income Tax forms.
Even without earning income, many students qualify for tax credits/refunds so it is a good idea for all students that have been or intend to be in Canada for 18 months or more, to complete income tax forms.
How (and When) to Complete Tax Forms
The Queen’s University International Centre offers tax workshops during March and April to assist international students, staff and faculty with the process of preparing their taxes. Some workshops may be offered in the Fall term for students who have been in Canada for some time and want to get their taxes up-to-date.
Taxes owing should be paid by April 30. After that date, if money is owing, interest will be charged.
There is no penalty if there is no money owing. In that case, tax returns may be submitted at any time for a previous year or years.
If you choose to use tax software other than what we guide students through in our tax workshops, we recommend that you check with the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure the software is certified to work with the Netfile online submission system.
It is also important to confirm if the software will provide you with a printable version of your tax forms in case you are not eligible to submit through the Netfile system and are required to mail in paper versions of your forms.
Documents and Info Needed to Complete Tax Forms
Tax-related receipts are produced in January and February for the previous tax year.
For students, some of the information will be available through SOLUS, while some information will be sent to the mailing address that you have on file with Queen’s. That means it is important to keep your address up-to-date and to save these documents when they arrive.
While you do not require a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to file Canadian income tax forms, it is easier if you have one. Check the Working in Canada page of our site for details about whether you are eligible and how to apply.
Everyone should have the following documents for each year of tax forms that they are planning to complete:
- A record of the rent paid (unless you only lived in a Queen’s residence during the tax year)
- A Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Individual Tax Number (ITN) (if you don’t have an SIN, we can help you apply for an ITN at your tax workshop).
More information about the SIN is available on the Working in Canada page of our site.
If you received scholarships or bursaries from Queen’s (or other Canadian sources), you should have:
- T4A – Scholarship and Bursary income (Issued by Queen’s to the mailing address you have on SOLUS by the end of February, if applicable)
Scholarships and bursaries are non-taxable (for students).
If you need a T4A from a previous year, you can request it by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org from your Queen’s e-mail account. More information is available on the Student Awards office website.
If you earned income from Canadian sources you should also have:
- T4 – Employment Income (Issued by your employer by the end of February, if applicable)
- T3 or T5 – Investment or Interest Income (Issued by your bank by the end of February, if applicable)
If you have filed in previous years, please bring your “Notice of Assessment” from the Canada Revenue Agency (the information on it is necessary to complete this year’s forms).
The tax forms themselves are produced by the tax software that we sill guide you through. If you want to access the forms directly, you can do so through the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Deductions Taken From Payments
Most students that earn employment income will see three deductions from their payments:
- Income Tax
- Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
- Employment Insurance (EI)
If income tax is taken from your paycheques, when you file your forms each year, you will determine what amount, if any, will be refunded to you. Most students have enough tax credits available to them to ensure that they will get back some, if not all, of the income tax deductions.
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is meant to provide some financial support to those that have reached retirement-age. Anyone who has paid into the CPP can qualify for payments, but only upon retirement. You don’t even have to be in Canada to qualify.
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are meant to support people who lose their jobs while they look for new full-time employment. It may be possible for graduate students to qualify, as long as they work the required number of hours in the year before their application, they have permission to work in Canada, and are looking for full-time work. The only time when this is likely, is upon graduation. The Employment Insurance program also provides some benefits for those who have left Canada.
Sales tax is paid on most items in Canada. It is paid to both our Federal and Provincial Governments. In Ontario, the total sales tax rate is 13%. Of this amount, 8% is provincial and 5% is federal. It is known as the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Sales tax is not included in advertised prices (unless otherwise noted).
Sales Tax Refunds
A sales tax credit is available to those who complete a Canadian Income Tax return. Receipts are not required to claim this credit.
There is no sales tax refund for short-term visitors who do not complete a tax return. Detailed information is available from the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm.