Filing a tax return

You’re required to file an income tax return for a taxation year if you

  • have tax payable for that year (in excess of amounts withheld on your behalf);
  • sold or disposed of capital property in the year, regardless of whether you had a gain or loss on the property;
  • realized a capital gain even though you did not dispose of a capital property in the year (for example, where a capital gains reserve was claimed on your 2015 return, or a capital gain was allocated to you by a trust or mutual fund);
  • have to repay Old Age Security or Employment Insurance benefits;
  • elected, along with your spouse or common-law partner, to split pension income for 2016;
  • received Working Income Tax Benefit advance payments in 2016 and you want to apply for WITB advance payments for 2017;
  • want to apply for the child tax benefit (both you and your spouse or common-law partner must file a return);
  • want to reapply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement;
  • have self-employed earnings of $3,500 or more in the year and must make CPP contributions, even if your income is otherwise below taxable levels;
  • have not fully repaid amounts you withdrew from your RRSP under the Home Buyers’ Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan (see topics 63 and 64);
  • ceased to be a resident of Canada in the year and owned capital property at the time of emigration; or
  • receive a request to file from the CRA.

Non-residents of Canada who receive certain types of income from Canada may also be required to file returns (see topic 122).

Even though you may not be required to file a return, you may still want to do so for the following reasons:

  • If no tax is payable, but tax has been withheld, you must file a return to obtain a refund;
  • You may be entitled to claim federal or provincial tax credits, for example, the GST /HST credit;
  • You were a student in the tax year and you have excess tuition/education/textbook amounts to be carried forward (see topic 87); or
  • You had “earned income” in the year for RRSP purposes (see topic 56).

Tax tip: Anyone, including minors, with earned income for RRSP purposes should consider filing an income tax return. Your RRSP contribution room, which may be used in subsequent years, will accumulate only if a tax return is filed.