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Tax obligations for international students

The team from the International Student Affairs Office has gathered some information concerning your tax obligations. We hope that this site can answer your questions. We suggest you check directly with the competent authorities if you need further details.

 

 

In Canada, taxes are deducted at source by employers. In addition, the federal and provincial governments also collect tax revenue indirectly in the form of sales tax on various products and services.

The fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends on December 31. You have until April 30 of the year following a given fiscal year to file your tax return.

 

Do I need to file a tax return?

If you are an international student in Canada, you may have to file a tax return. You first have to determine your residence status to know how you will be taxed in Canada.

N.B. The residence status for income tax purposes has nothing to do with the notion of “residence” as understood by Canadian immigration authorities. Note that, since you live in Québec, you have to file two tax returns: one for the provincial government, one for the federal government.

International students generally meet the conditions of tax residence when they are in the following situations:

  • The student resides in Canada for 183 days or longer in a given tax year;
  • The student pays rent in Canada;
  • The student has opened a bank account in Canada.

Your residence status will determine the procedure to follow. Consult the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec for more information.

 

Do I need a Social Insurance Number?

To file a tax return, you need a Social Insurance Number. International students may obtain a SIN only if they work during their studies (check details here). 

If this situation does not apply to you, you still need to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency by completing and submitting form T1261 — Application for a Canada Revenue Agency Individual Tax Number (ITN) for Non-Residents.

Enquiries Centre, Human Resources and Social Development Canada
English: 1 800 206-7218
French: 1 800 808-6352

 

What about my tuition fees?

Many international students file tax returns in order to claim what is called a tax credit for their tuition fees. International students are entitled to declare these fees. However, in order to take advantage of this credit, students also need to declare a certain amount of income. Students who do not have enough income to declare cannot take advantage of the tax credits for their tuition fees.

Nevertheless, these fees may be carried forward to future years. International students wishing to stay in Canada after they complete their studies may declare their tuition fees for the previous tax year right away, even if they have no income to declare. They can then carry these credits forward to a year when they are working in Canada and paying income tax. For information on retroactively declaring tuition fees, contact the Canada Revenue Agency or Revenu Québec.

Students wishing to declare these amounts and receive the income tax credit must obtain the RL-8 slip, indicating their tuition fees at Accounting and Treasury Services. You need to make the request at 340-6236 or by email at services.comptables@hec.ca.

For more information on tuition-related tax credits:
Revenu Québec
Canada Revenue Agency

 

I have worked during the previous year

If you work on campus during your studies, you must declare your employment income to the tax services. Your employer will supply you with a T4 and an RL-1 slip, which you need to file your return. If you work at HEC Montréal, these forms are generally issued by the School’s Human Resources Office (3.410).

 

Income from foreign sources

If you earned any income outside of Canada, you must normally declare it as well. However, since Canada has tax treaties with many countries, you need to determine your personal situation with the competent authorities.

 

GST and QST credits

Under certain circumstances, students will qualify for a rebate of the GST (federal goods and services tax) and QST (Québec sales tax) they paid while in Canada.

For more information on the QST credit, click here.
For more information on the GST credit, click here.

 

Other tax credits

Other credits from the Government of Québec can help reduce the amount of tax you may have to pay for a given year. Tax credits are listed on the following site: Revenu Québec. You may also be eligible for refundable tax credits.  The federal government also issues certain tax credits.  

 

Revenu Québec forms

Revenu Québec’s forms and guides can be downloaded from its website. You may also file your income tax return electronically, or order the forms and publications you need and have them mailed to you. For more information on filing the Québec tax return, consult the Revenu Québec website.

 

Canada Revenue Agency Forms

Tax forms can be downloaded from the Canada Revenue Agency website or ordered for delivery by mail.

 

Additional information

For further information, please contact directly: 
Canada Revenue Agency: 1 800 267-5177
Revenu Québec: 1 866 440-2500 or 514 873-2600

PLEASE CHECK OUR ACTIVITY CALENDAR TO FIND OUT THE DATES OF THE ANNUAL TAX CLINICS ORGANIZED BY THE SRA (Société de relations d’affaires HEC) AND THE VARIOUS TAX INFORMATION SESSIONS.

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