Filing taxes for international students

International student Advisors do not have tax expertise and cannot advise you on tax issues. This page is a basic reference and lists places to go for help, both on and off-campus. Here are some resources to get you started.

Here is a great series of videos created by the CRA to help you understand the Canadian tax system and how it applies to international students: Series: International Students and Income Tax


About the Canadian tax system

In Canada, income tax is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The Canadian income tax year is from January 1 to December 31. If you owe income tax, you must pay it by April 30 for the previous calendar year. Late submissions are accepted, but there may be a penalty.

If you are employed in Canada, your employer will deduct income tax from your wages and send this money to the CRA. In order to deduct the proper amount of income tax from your wages, your employer will ask you to complete the form TD–1. Employers will deduct an amount from each pay cheque for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI).

You are responsible for determining your income tax status and paying the correct amount of tax. International Student Advisors don't have tax expertise and can't advise on tax issues.

Through the UBCSUO, students can get help with their annual taxes…for free! Your Students’ Union – the UBCSUO – and the UBCSUO Finance Club have partnered up to connect students with trained student volunteers of the Canadian Revenue Agency and help students file their income taxes at no cost. This service is available in March and April each year. To book an appointment, drop by the Students’ Union Services office (UNC 133) or call 250.807.8842. For more information, visit the UBCSUO website

Prepare for tax season when you get to UBC

You need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to file Canadian taxes.

Decide if you need to submit a tax return

Most international students “file a tax return” (submit an income tax form to the government) to receive tax credits (money from governments or the chance to lower taxes later). International students may have to pay Canadian income tax on income earned from teaching and/or research assistantships, other employment, and investment and business income. Generally, students also have to report income they receive from outside of Canada.

The Canadian tax system is based on residency, not citizenship. Students from countries that have a tax treaty with Canada may not have to pay Canadian income tax and may be able to request that their employer stop withholding tax from their Canadian employment income with permission from CRA.

You must file a tax return if you:

  • ·owe income tax to the government
  • are asked by the CRA to file a return

Even if you don’t owe any tax, you should file a tax return if you:

  • expect an income tax refund from the government
  • are applying for the GST/HST credit (which provides cash payments to low- and middle-income taxpayers, to help offset the costs of paying GST/HST on taxable purchases)
  • are eligible to receive the child tax credit (for low- and middle-income taxpayers with children)
  • might earn more income in Canada later (e.g., co-op) so want to carry-forward (i.e. save for future years) Tuition Payment and Education Credits to reduce the tax you owe in future years.

You do not need to pay taxes on your income from scholarships, fellowships, or bursaries, but you must give UBC your ITN or SIN when UBC requests it for tax purposes.

Applying for tax deductions

You may be eligible to deduct certain expenses from your tax payments. Moving expenses such as transportation and storage of personal effects, travel, and temporary accommodation may be considered eligible deductions. Save your receipts for the cost of relocating to Canada. However, you cannot deduct moving expenses if your only income at the new location is scholarship, fellowship, or bursary income that is entirely exempt from tax under the current legislation.

You may also deduct childcare expenses, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions, and union dues.

How to file your taxes


NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing option allowing you to file your income tax directly to the Canada Revenue Agency online. Tax returns filed via NETFILE must first be prepared using a NETFILE-certified product you can find on their website.

By paper

Find the forms you need to submit your tax return by paper.

Mailing your tax return

When you submit your first tax return, you should send your return to International Tax Services Office, Returns Processing Division, 2204 Walkley Road, Ottawa, ON, K1A 1A8.

If this is not your first year to file a tax return, you may be eligible to apply online, or send it to the local office at Canada Revenue Agency, Tax Centre, 9755 King George Highway, Surrey, BC, V3T 5E1.

Last reviewed shim10/25/2016 1:33:48 PM