Tax Tips: Newcomers (Immigrants) to Canada

Tax tips for newcomers to Canada - first year tax filing in Canada

Canada taxes its residents on the worldwide income.

You become the resident of Canada when you establish residential ties with Canada. The year in which you become resident of Canada, is considered a part-year for tax purposes. Keep in mind that tax residency is different from the immigration residency status in Canada. An individual who is a landed immigrant may not have established established residential ties with Canada or other way round.

An individual who becomes resident of Canada is subject to Canadian taxes on worldwide income from the date of change of residency status until the end of the year and whereas for the first part of the year before becoming the resident only Canadian sourced income is taxed.

When we say worldwide income taxation in Canada, generally foreign tax credits are available to avoid double taxation of income. Also, Canada has tax treaties with other countries which affect taxation of foreign sourced income. Foreign sourced income prior to becoming resident is not taxed in Canada whereas foreign sourced income after becoming resident of Canada is taxed.

There are a few tips which can help avoiding tax issues for newcomers to Canada:

Earn more income in country with low taxes before becoming resident of Canada

If the country you are leaving before coming to Canada as a resident has lower income tax rates, try to earn as much income as possible in that country. Foreign sourced income prior to date of commencement of residency is not subject to Canadian taxes.

Maintain travel logs and establish date of change of residency

Maintain detailed travel logs to plan your residency in Canada. You can get benefit from marginal tax rates in Canada by planning your residency commencement date well before coming to Canada.

Capital gains and losses before coming to Canada

You may have capital losses being carried forward in the country which you are leaving before coming to Canada. If you have investments, review your assets and consider disposing off loss making investments to claim those losses in your previous country.

Don’t apply for health card if you are not residing in Canada

If you are a landed immigrant and get health coverage, it is usually considered significant residential ties and your worldwide income is subject to Canadian taxes. If you are just landing in Canada to get the permanent residency status for immigration purposes and intend to go back to move later, you should consider not applying the health coverage. Most provinces generally have waiting time before enrolling you for coverage. Getting a health care coverage seem to be an attractive option for many of new immigrants, however, landed immigrants having health card may become tax residents of Canada even if they return back to plan their final move.

Moving Expenses to Canada

Moving expenses deductions for residents of Canada are sometimes different in the case of moving to Canada. In certain cases, your new employer may reimburse you the moving expenses. Consult your professional tax adviser in Canada to understand the effect of the moving expenses paid by your employer. You can try to get these benefits before coming to Canada. Certain types of reimbursements are not taxable whereas others are, therefore, plan to get the tax benefit accordingly.

Retirements and Pension plans before coming to Canada

It is very common to have pension plans or other retirement plans before you become resident of Canada. This is another complex area and you should consider consulting a professional personal tax service provider for residents and non-residents. You maybe able to move these plans to RRSP but you should check foreign tax issues with your leaving country. If you leave foreign plan and your employer keeps contributing to it, it might restrict your ability to contribute to Canadian RRSPs, DPSPs and RPPs.

Review your stock options before moving to Canada

You may have Stock options related to your foreign employment before you become resident of Canada. Consider the tax consequences of exercising those options.

Reporting requirements for foreign investments in Canada

There are reporting and filing requirements for the residents of Canada who hold foreign investments. Familiarize and prepare yourself with these requirements before coming to Canada to ensure compliance with tax laws. Some of these information returns which might be applicable to individuals becoming residents of Canada are:

  1. Form T1135, Foreign income Verification Statement for the residents of Canada if they hold more than $100,000 in foreign assets at any time of the year.
  2. Form T1134, Information Return Relating to Controlled and Not-Controlled Foreign Affiliates must be filed by an individual annually who holds interest in a Non-Resident corporation or Non-Resident trust which meets the definition of Foreign affiliate.
  3. Form T1141, Information Return in Respect of Contributions to Non-Resident Trusts, Arrangements or Entities must be filed by the individuals who have loaned property to Non-Resident trusts, arrangement or entity.
  4. Form 1142, Information Return in Respect of Distributions from and Indebtedness to a Non-Resident Trust must be filed for the years when a distribution or a loan is received from the Non-Resident trust.

A lot of times new immigrants face issues while preparing their first year tax returns. You can easily do personal taxes in Canada if you have a simple tax situation. However, you are recommended to consult professional individual tax preparation services who also provide tax advice to ensure accurate tax filings in Canada.

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