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Everything You Need to Know About Tax Season in Vancouver

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

The sun is out and the flowers are blooming. Tax season is here!

Filing your taxes in Canada as an international student isn't as scary as it may seem; it may stress you out at first, but then once you figure out the process, tax season will become an exciting time. Stick with us and you’ll find out why.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about tax season in Vancouver, why filing taxes is essential, what documents you'll need, how to file your taxes, and where to get help if you need it.

What is tax season?

Tax season is when we and businesses file our taxes with the government. In Canada, tax season generally goes from late February to April 30th.

Why do I have to file taxes?

Taxes are an important part of life in Canada. Everyone who has income, in your case, income earned in Canada, must file a tax return. If you do not file your taxes, you could face penalties such as fines or jail time. Dun dun duuuuun! 😳

Don't worry! You will be fine. Mainly because when you get paid by your employer, Provincial and Federal taxes are already deducted from your paycheque. And when you pay your school fees, you already pay taxes on it too.

That being said, since all your taxes are already paid, filing your taxes will be relatively easy because you are not having to do the math and pay extra. Although, it is fair to say that it also depends on each case, so take everything we say here with a grain of salt. If you have doubts, seek help from a professional.

One of the benefits of filing your taxes is that you will probably get back some of the money you paid in taxes throughout the year. Ka-Ching!

Seriously though, filing your taxes is important because it helps the government fund vital programs and services. The money you pay in taxes goes toward healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

What do I need to file my taxes?

As an international student in Vancouver, you are required to file taxes if you have worked during the tax year. The tax year in Canada runs from January 1st to December 31st. You must submit a tax return even if you only worked for a short time or earned very little money.

There are a few things that you will need to file your taxes. The first thing you will need is a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Your SIN is the number that you need to get before you work in Vancouver. You can learn more about this nine-digit number in our Hustle 101 article.

If you do not have a SIN, you can apply for one at any Service Canada office. You will need to bring along two pieces of ID, such as your passport and study permit. Check out our 'Just Landed' article for details.

The second thing you will need is a T4 slip, also known as a Statement of Remuneration Paid. Your employer will give you this slip, showing how much money you earned during the year and any deductions that were taken from your paycheque. If you worked for more than one employer during the year, you would receive a T4 slip from each employer.

As a student you may also need a T2202 tax form from your school. Check with your school's finance or student services department for more information.

How do I file my taxes?

Once you have everything you need, you can file your taxes in a few different ways. The easiest way to file your taxes is online using the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) NETFILE services. You will need to create an account with one of the certified tax software such as TurboTax or Wealthsimple Tax and have your tax documents handy. Once you're logged in, you can follow the instructions on how to file your taxes.

If you'd rather file by mail, you can request the forms you need from the CRA website and send them in with your tax documents. Mailing your taxes early is a good idea, as the CRA can take a few weeks to process them. If you want help filing your taxes, the CRA offers many online tools and resources, including a webinar called 'International students and taxes', which provides an overview of the tax-filing process for international students.

Where can I get help with my taxes?

Filing your taxes can be a bit complicated the first time, but there are resources available to help you. For example, there are many organizations in Vancouver that offer free tax clinics, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Clinic (VITC) program provided by the CRA.

If you like to pay for all-inclusive services and avoid the headache, H&R Block is a company that helps Vancouverites file their taxes. You simply take your forms to them, an ID, and anything else they request when you book your appointment, and they charge you a fee once they’re done with your filing.

Since we know that you probably won’t be reading this article again next year, here is a short checklist for you to keep in mind:

  • Collect documents early: One of the most important things you can do to prepare for tax season is to start collecting your documents early. This includes things like your T4, T2202, receipts for any expenses you want to claim, and records of any other income you received. The earlier you start collecting these documents, the easier it will be to file your taxes.

  • Keep track of expenses: Throughout the year, make sure to keep track of any expenses you incur that could be eligible for a tax credit or deduction. This could include things like tuition, childcare expenses, or medical expenses. Having all of this information organized will make it much easier to file your taxes.

  • Ask for help if needed: If you're feeling overwhelmed by the tax filing process, don't hesitate to ask for help. There are a number of resources available to help individuals with their taxes, including the CRA and your school. The most important thing is to get started on your taxes early so you don't have to rush through the process.

Did you enjoy this article and find it useful? Join our THRIVVE community on Slack. Help is just a question away!

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