International graduate students bring valuable perspectives, insights and experiences to the university. If you are a current international student, this section will provide tips and resources to help you make the most of your grad experience.
If you are a new student, visit our Virtual Orientation page to help you find your way through getting settled in Metro Vancouver and getting established in the Canadian university system.
We are committed to helping you throughout your graduate program. If you have a question that's not answered below, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SFU is unable to provide advice on income tax matters to individual students, given the uniqueness of each student's personal financial situation. The information below is provided as a brief overview only, to help familiarize you with the the tax system in Canada. You are encouraged to seek advice from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), or from a qualified income tax specialist.
As an international graduate student, if you earn income in Canada (teaching/research assistantships, employment, investment or business income) you are responsible for "filing a tax return" (submitting income tax forms to the Canada Revenue Agency). Each year, you must submit an "Income Tax and Benefit Return" to tell the government how much money you earned and how much tax you paid. If you paid more than you were supposed to, you will get a refund. If you paid less, you will have to pay. (see current income tax rates in Canada)
You may also have to file a tax return for other reasons. See Do I Have to File?
Benefits & Deductions
Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you must do so if you wish to see if you qualify for various government benefits, such as the Child & Family Benefits and the GST/HST credit (goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax), and to claim your Tuition, Education & Textbook Amounts. You may also be able to claim transit amounts (see U-Pass BC FAQs) certain medical expenses and childcare expenses among other things.
The Canadian tax system is based on residency, not citizenship. To know how you will be taxed in Canada, which forms to use and for which deductions and benefits you are eligible, you first need to determine your residency for tax purposes. See International Students in Canada to best define your own situation.
If Canada has a tax treaty with your home country, you can contact the International Tax Services Office in Ottawa for more information.
How to file
To file your taxes, you willl require the General Income Tax & Benefit Package, your Social Insurance Number (or an Individual Tax Number, if you are ineligible for a SIN), and a number of tax information slips provided by SFU and other sources (see below). You may also require receipts for moving expenses, childcare, medical expenses, transit etc., depending on your personal situation.
Students who are new to Canada or have never filed an income tax return in Canada before, will need to complete a paper form and mail it to the International Tax Services Office in Ottawa. In future years, you may apply online or mail your application to you local tax office. Most students can file online for free using U-File.
Income tax is calculated for a calendar year. The deadline for filing a tax return is April 30 of the following year.
SFU International Services for Students has an information bulletin available on their website.
If you need assistance filing your tax return, the SFU Accounting Students Association runs a free tax-filing service, run by CRA-trained volunteers each March/April. It is very popular, and fills up quickly. Check their website for details and registration deadlines. There are also Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics and numerous accounting firms operating around the the city.
If you have questions, please contact the International Tax Services Office in Ottawa at 1-855-284-5942 (toll-free within Canada & the US) or 1-613-940-8495 (outside North America, collect calls accepted).