Taxes Your stress-free guide to filing taxes in Canada

Filing taxes is a part of life. Learn your tax bracket, get tips on how to file taxes, and more.


Updated: July 12, 2023

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The thought of filing taxes can lead to nightmares of numbers and paperwork.

But with some tax-knowledge and planning, you’ll find that the process isn’t as hard as you might fear.

From the forms you need to the deductions you can make, we’re here to make your tax filing process as easy as possible.

Filing taxes in Canada

First-time tax filers

If you've never filed taxes before, it's important to know that, in Canada, it is mandatory to file an income tax return if any of the following conditions apply: you owe tax to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); you are self-employed and have to pay your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums or Employment Insurance (EI) premiums on your self-employment earnings; you and your spouse/common-law partner want to split your pension income.

Filing your tax return is a relatively straightforward process that can be completed online, even if you have no previous experience with filing by using a NETFILE-certified tax software or by enlisting the services of a tax preparer.

Filing taxes if you're a student

In Canada, both full-time and part-time students are required to pay income tax. If you earned money from summer or part-time jobs, you must file an income tax return. Any income you received, whether it was from occasional, part-time, or full-time work, is considered employment income.

Filing taxes if you have a side hustle

In Canada, it is mandatory to report and pay taxes on any income earned from a side hustle. Such income is considered to be business income and must be reported on your personal tax return.

Freelancers filing taxes

In Canada, freelancers have a legal obligation to report all of their income, regardless of how small it may be. Attempting to evade this requirement can result in a fine of up to 10% of the unreported amount, so it is important to comply with the law and report all income.

How much will you pay in taxes?

Federal income tax rates in Canada range from 15% to 33%. Canada has a graduated tax system where the amount of money you earn each year determines the amount of taxes you will pay. 

When is the tax deadline in Canada?

The deadline for most Canadians to file their 2022 tax return was May 1, 2023.

The deadline for filing taxes in Canada for the 2023 tax year is April 30, 2024.

More: Tax deadline in Canada

How to file taxes in Canada

When it comes to filing your taxes, there are a variety of options available to you. You may choose to file taxes online using NETFILE-certified tax software, either on your own or through a tax preparer who uses EFILE-certified tax software. If you prefer a more personal touch, you may want to consider talking with a tax accountant. Alternatively, you can file a paper tax return or use the File my Return automated phone line (if you have received an invitation to do so).

More: Best tax software

Information and documents needed to file

The information and documents needed to file your tax return vary from year to year, and person to person, depending on their income. A few of the documents and slips you will need include:

  • T4 slips (Employment income)
  • Employment insurance benefits receipts
  • Old Age Security and CPP benefits receipts
  • RRSP contribution receipts

If you are filing your return electronically, you should keep these documents for your own records. If you are filing a paper return, be sure to attach any required supporting documents, such as certificates, forms, schedules, or receipts, as indicated in the instructions for your return. It’s important to keep all receipts and documents in case they are needed by the CRA at a later date. CRA can request documents for up to seven years after you’ve filed your taxes. 

Canada tax brackets

The tax system in Canada is based on a graduated tax rate, meaning that your income is divided into different tax brackets and each bracket is taxed at a different rate. The federal government and each province sets their own tax brackets. You will fall into one of five federal and one of five Ontario tax brackets based on your income. If your income increases and you move into a higher tax bracket, only the portion of your income in the higher bracket is taxed at the higher rate.

2023 taxable income
2023 tax rate
$0 - $53,359
$53,359 - $106,717
$106,717 - $165,430
$165,430 - $235,675

More: Income tax brackets

Tax filing tips

Most people dread tax season. But if you come prepared, preparing your tax return will be relatively painless. We’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you out. 

1. Gather all necessary documents

Before you begin filing your taxes, it is important to gather all necessary documents. Including:

  • Income Slips: T4 slips for employees, employment insurance benefits, tuition, interest slips, Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan benefits.
  • Receipts: Receipts for child-care expenses, medical expenses, charitable donations, moving expenses and business expenses.
  • Other Documents: Notice of Assessment, Social Insurance Number and access code for online filing.

Make sure to have these documents readily available to ensure a smooth and successful tax filing experience.

2. Maximize your tax savings with RRSP contributions

One of the most effective ways to reduce your tax burden is to make contributions to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). For every dollar you contribute, your taxable income is decreased by an equal amount, allowing you to save on taxes. 

3. Side hustle deductions

If you're working for yourself or have a side hustle, you may be eligible to deduct expenses associated with your work. As long as you generate income from your work, any reasonable business-related expense can be claimed as a deduction. However, it's important to note that a tax deduction is not a refund - it simply reduces the amount of income you're taxed on, potentially leading to a smaller tax bill.

4. All in the family

If you are married or have children, you may qualify for additional tax breaks that are not available to single filers. Take advantage of these opportunities by seeking the help of a tax professional, who can identify all of the savings you may have missed.

Taxes FAQ

  • What is the tax deadline for 2023?


    You need to file your taxes by May 1, 2023. The deadline is extended to June 15, 2023 if you're self-employed or have a spouse or common-law partner who is self-employed. All taxes owed must be paid to the CRA by May 1, 2023.

  • How much does it cost to file taxes?


    The price for filing taxes varies. If you have a simple tax return, you can file for free using online tax software. For more complicated returns, prices range from about $10 for online tax software such as TurboTax, to hundreds of dollars for an accountant.

  • How long does it take to get a tax refund?


    The Canada Revenue Agency aims to issue refunds within two weeks for online filers and eight weeks for those who file a paper return.

  • Are RESP contributions tax deductible?


    No. Contributions made to an RESP can’t be used to reduce your taxable income.

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James Battiston has been writing personal finance articles for various websites for the past four years. He has a background in film and TV production, and can often be found consuming far too much coffee.

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