Canadian Tax and
Financial Information
Who Pays Tax?

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Personal Income Tax -> Who pays tax in Canada

Who Pays Tax in Canada, and on What Income?

Canadian Residents

A person who is a resident of Canada is subject to Canadian income tax on their world wide income.

Are You a Resident?

Whether or not a person is a resident of Canada is determined by many factors.  The amount of time spent in Canada is not the only factor considered.  Other factors include

bullet maintaining a residence in Canada
bullet relatives in Canada
bullet bank accounts in Canada, and
bullet other social and economic ties.

A person who is a resident of Canada, and moves to another country, could still be considered to be a resident of Canada for tax purposes.  If you left Canada in the year to travel or live abroad, see the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) information Individuals - Leaving or entering Canada and non-residents.

As per CRA's technical interpretation TI-2012-0444821E5, The residential ties of an individual that will almost always be significant residential ties for the purpose of determining residence status are the individual's:
     (a) dwelling place (or places),
     (b) spouse or common-law partner, and
     (c) dependants.

For newcomers to Canada, you have to report your world income for the part of the year that you were a resident of Canada.  Some personal tax credits will be prorated based on the day you immigrated to Canada.

If you are a non-resident of or newcomer to Canada, see the following information on the CRA web site:

bullet Individuals - International and Non-Resident Taxes
bullet T4058 Non-Residents and Income Tax
bullet Newcomers to Canada
bullet T4055 Newcomers to Canada

Non-Residents and Deemed Residents

A person who is not a resident of Canada for any part of the year, and visits Canada for less than 183 days in a year, will pay Canadian income tax only on income earned from Canadian sources.

A person who is not a resident of Canada for any part of the year, but who visits Canada for a total of 183 days or more in a year, may be deemed to be a resident of Canada, and subject to Canadian income tax on their world wide income for the entire year.

Non-residents and deemed residents may or may not have to file a Canadian tax return.  Much Canadian source income will have had Canadian tax withheld when it was paid, and in many cases there is no requirement to file a Canadian tax return.  The most common types of income earned in Canada which are required to be reported on a Canadian tax return are:

bullet income from employment in Canada
bullet income from a business carried on in Canada
bullet taxable part of Canadian scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, and research grants, and
bullet taxable capital gains from the disposal of taxable Canadian property

When a non-resident or deemed resident files a Canadian tax return, they are taxed at the current federal tax rates, plus a surtax of 48% of the federal tax, unless income was earned from a business with a permanent establishment in Canada.  In this case, provincial or territorial tax is paid on that income.

Deemed residents can claim the federal basic personal tax credit plus other applicable tax credits.  For non-residents, the amount of non-refundable tax credits allowed depends upon whether Canadian-source income is 90% or more of total world income for the year.

See also our article on Non-Resident Workers in Canada.

For more information, see the CRA Income Tax and Benefit Package for non-residents and deemed residents of Canada.

When a non-resident disposes of certain taxable Canadian property, such as real estate, there are certain procedures to be followed, which include paying a tax of 25% of the gain on the property.  If this tax is not paid, the purchaser of the property will be liable for the tax, and thus may withhold 25% (50% in some cases) of the selling price of the property.  See disposing of certain types of property in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guide T4058 Non-Residents and Income Tax for more information.

If a tax treaty exists between Canada and your country of residence, the terms of the treaty may reduce or eliminate the tax on some types of income.  You may be a deemed non-resident of Canada for tax purposes if you were a resident of Canada in the year, and, under a tax treaty, you were considered to be a resident of another country.  In this case, you will be treated as a non-resident for tax purposes.

Non-Resident Withholding Taxes / Elective Returns

Canadian payers must withhold tax on payments of certain types of income to non-residents.  The tax withheld is usually considered your final obligation to Canada for taxes on the income.  However, for certain types of income, you have the option of filing a Canadian income tax return.  This may allow you to receive a refund of some or all of the non-resident tax withheld.  Another option is to file an NR5 Application by a Non-Resident of Canada for a Reduction in the Amount of Non-Resident Tax Required to be Withheld for Tax Year.  This application is used to determine whether filing a section 217 elective return will be beneficial for you.  Once filed and approved, the withholding tax reduction is in effect for 5 years, and a section 217 income tax return must be filed annually.

The most common types of income which are subject to non-resident withholding tax are:

bullet dividends
bullet rental payments
bullet pension payments
bullet Old Age Security pension
bullet Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan benefits
bullet retiring allowances
bullet registered retirement savings plan payments
bullet registered retirement income fund payments
bullet annuity payments

If you have received any of the above types of income, you may be able to recover some of your withholding tax by filing a Canadian tax return.  This is called an Elective Return.  For more information, see:

bullet T4058 Non-Residents and Income Tax - see Elective Returns section
bullet T4144 Income Tax Guide for Electing Under Section 216 re rental income from real property in Canada, or timber royalties on a timber resource property or a timber limit in Canada
bullet T4145 Electing Under Section 217 of the Income Tax Act re most other types of income from which withholding tax has been deducted

Non-Resident Recipients of Old Age Security (OAS)

If you are a non-resident and are a recipient of the OAS pension, you may have to file a T1136 Old Age Security Return of Income every year.  Whether or not this return has to be filed depends on the country in which you live.  For instance, a US resident receiving OAS would not have to file this return.  See CRA's T4155 Old Age Security Return of Income Guide for Non-Residents to see if your country of residence is one of the ones listed, for which a return is not needed.  The purpose of the T1136 is to determine whether you will be subject to the OAS clawback, or "recovery tax". If you are required to file the T1136 each year, this must be done, regardless of your income level, in order to ensure that your OAS payments are not interrupted.

See CRA's technical interpretation TI-2012-0444821E5, in which the principal issues are whether an individual is a non-resident of Canada and required to file a tax return to report pension income.

Part-Time Residents

A person who is a resident of Canada for any part of the year is subject to Canadian income tax on their world wide income during the time that they are a resident of Canada.  During the time that they are not a resident of Canada, they will pay Canadian income tax only on income earned from Canadian sources.

See also Non-taxable Amounts.

Canada Revenue Agency Resources

bullet Residency - Individuals
bulletFolio S5-F1-C1: Determining an Individual's Residence Status
bullet Forms to complete and submit to CRA for determination of residency status:
bullet NR73 - Leaving Canada
bullet NR74 - Entering Canada
bulletTax Treaties

Revised: March 14, 2017


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