Along with understanding some of our unique terms like chesterfield and double-double, Canada’s tax system may be somewhat puzzling to recent immigrants. Depending on your own tax situation and family structure, you may be eligible for a number of tax breaks.
As a new Canadian, you may receive benefits or tax refunds. You are eligible for most of the same benefits as other Canadians, but you have to apply for these benefits and file your income tax return, (and your spouse’s if you have one). Because you are becoming a resident during the tax year, you may be able to get additional refunds if you know how the tax system works.
Benefits include payments for qualifying families with children, a rebate of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) – known as the GST/HST Credit, and certain Provincial & Territorial benefits and credits. For new arrivals, the date you become a resident affects the calculation of your taxes for income earned inside and outside Canada. Payment of most of the benefits for which you are eligible are spread out over the year, but any tax refund you get is paid in a lump sum.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers you a resident for tax purposes when you have strong residential ties to Canada. Such ties could be ownership of property, family links, membership in Canadian organizations or Canadian employment. For new Canadians, your residency usually starts when you arrive in the country, and this date helps determine whether income is taxable when filing your tax return. Be sure to contact the CRA for residency status, as residency in Canada is determined on a case by case basis.
The GST/HST tax credit is a rebate of sales tax which you have paid for the purchase of goods and services. If eligible, the government calculates the amount of the credit based on your family’s net income, plus the number of dependent children. When you become a resident, you have to file the RC151 GST/HST Credit Application Form. If eligible, you will receive payments every three months, and both you and your spouse (if you have one) must file your tax returns on time each year in order to continue with these payments.
If you have children under the age of 18, you may be eligible for benefits designed to help with the expense of raising a child. The Canada child benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The CCB might include the child disability benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs. You have to be eligible to receive the CCB and must apply for it. One of the requirements is that you are a Canadian resident for tax purposes and if you’re eligible, you’ll receive monthly payments once your application has been processed.
You have to apply for these benefits using Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application and RC66SCH, Status in Canada/Statement of Income, and both you and your spouse (if you have one) must file your tax returns on time each year in order to continue with these payments.
Becoming familiar with the income tax system allows you to make sure you are receiving all the benefits of being a Canadian resident. You may qualify for certain payments as soon as you arrive in Canada, but submitting the required application forms and filing your income tax return are key steps toward receiving these benefits. The first time you file your return doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Danielle’s SOS Financial is available to help.