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Your Guide to Canadian Income Tax

Friday, 28 April 2023

Income Tax Explained

First and foremost, let's start with the basics - what is income tax? Income tax is a tax that is levied on the income of individuals, corporations, and other entities. In Canada, the federal government and provincial governments both have the power to levy income tax. It’s calculated based on the total income earned during that year, which includes all sources of income such as salaries, wages, rental income, investment income, and self-employment income. The percentage of tax you’ll have to pay varies depending on your income level. Typically, income tax is collected by the government through a tax withholding system, where your employers will deduct a specific amount of tax from your salary before you’re paid. 
It's important to note that not all income is taxable. For example, gifts and inheritances are generally not taxable, and certain types of investment income may be tax-free or tax-deferred. It's also important to keep track of any income earned outside of Canada, as it may be subject to Canadian income tax depending on the individual's residency status.

Tips for Filing

Now that we've covered the basics of income tax, let's move on to some tips for filing. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  1. Keep good records. Good preparation can make filing much easier, so be sure to keep track of all your relevant documents, such as T4 slips and receipts, to ensure an organized filing process. It's also never a bad idea to keep receipts and invoices as proof of these expenses.
  2. Know your deadlines. The deadline for filing your income tax return in Canada is April 30th for employees. Filing taxes before the deadline will make sure you don’t incur any late-filing penalties. 
  3. Consider using Tax software. This can be a great option to make filing your taxes much easier. These programs can help you calculate your deductions and credits and can also help you file electronically.
  4. Seek professional help if needed. If you're unsure about how to file your taxes or have a more complex tax situation, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a tax professional. This can help ensure that you're filing correctly and taking advantage of all available deductions and credits.

Income Tax and Self-Employment

As a self-employed individual, filing your income tax return can be a bit more complicated. In Canada, the deadline to file self-employed income tax is June 15. Here are some other important things to keep in mind:
  1. Keep track of your business expenses. As a self-employed individual, you may be able to claim a variety of business expenses on your tax return, such as office expenses, vehicle expenses, and advertising expenses. It's important to keep detailed records of these expenses throughout the year.
  2. Consider setting up a separate business bank account. This can help you keep track of your business income and expenses more easily, and help you avoid mixing personal and business finances.
  3. Pay attention to your tax installments. As a self-employed individual, you may be required to make quarterly tax installments throughout the year. It's important to pay these installments on time to avoid penalties.
  4. Self-employed individuals are required to pay both the employee and employer portions of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions. The contribution rate for 2023 is 5.95% on earnings between $3,500 and $62,500. 
  5. If you’re self-employed, you’re also required to pay into the Employment Insurance (EI) program. The current EI premium rate for self-employed individuals is 1.58% on earnings up to $67,700. 

Income Tax When Working for an Employer

As an employee at a company, your employer will deduct income tax from your paycheque throughout the year. Here are some things to keep in mind as an employee when it comes to income tax:
  1. Make sure your employer has your correct information. This includes your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and your current address. If your employer doesn't have this information, they may not be able to deduct the correct amount of income tax from your paycheque, which can lead to issues when it comes time to file your tax return.
  2. Review your T4 slip. Your employer will provide you with a T4 slip at the end of the year, which summarizes your income and deductions for the year. It's important to review this slip to ensure that all of the information is accurate.
  3. Consider contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Contributions to an RRSP are tax-deductible, meaning they can help lower your taxable income and reduce the amount of income tax you owe.

Deductions and Incentives


A great way to reduce the amount of tax you owe is to take advantage of the deductions available to you. Income tax deductions in Canada are expenses that can be subtracted from your taxable income, and there are many types of deductions available in Canada, some of which include:
  1. RRSP contributions: You can deduct contributions you make to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) from your taxable income. The maximum amount you can deduct depends on your income and contribution limit.
  2. Employment expenses: If you have expenses related to your job that your employer doesn’t reimburse you for, you may be able to deduct them from your taxable income. This includes expenses such as home office expenses, travel expenses, and work-related supplies.
  3. Charitable donations: You can deduct donations you make to a registered charity from your taxable income. The maximum amount you can deduct is based on a percentage of your income.
  4. Medical expenses: You can deduct eligible medical expenses you paid for yourself or a dependent from your taxable income. This includes expenses such as prescription drugs, dental work, and certain medical devices.
  5. Childcare expenses: If you paid for childcare so that you could work or go to school, you may be able to deduct those expenses from your taxable income.
  6. Tuition and education amounts: You may be able to deduct tuition and education amounts you paid for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent children from your taxable income. 
It's important to note that not all expenses are eligible for deductions and that the amount you can deduct may be subject to certain limits. But being aware of the deductions available to you can have some major financial benefits come tax time.


In Canada, income tax incentives are designed to encourage certain behaviours or activities that are considered beneficial to the economy or society. These incentives take the form of deductions, credits, or exemptions that reduce the amount of tax owed by individuals and businesses.
Some common income tax incentives in Canada include: 
  1. Charitable donations tax credit: Canadians who donate to registered charities are eligible for a tax credit on their income tax return. The credit is based on the amount donated and can be up to 75% of the donation amount.
  2. Home Buyer's Plan: If you’re a first-time home buyer, you can withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP to use towards a down payment on a home. The withdrawn amount would not bet included in your taxable income as long as it is paid back within 15 years.
  3. Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program: This program provides tax incentives to Canadian businesses that conduct research and development activities. The incentives include a tax credit for eligible expenditures and an investment tax credit for certain types of investments.
  4. Small Business Deduction: This deduction allows small businesses to deduct up to $500,000 of their income from their taxes. This can help reduce the tax burden for small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.
  5. Capital gains exemption: Individuals can claim a capital gains exemption on the sale of certain types of property, such as qualified small business shares and farm or fishing property. The exemption can be up to $892,218 in 2021, and it can help reduce the tax owed on the sale of these assets.


In addition to deductions and incentives, there are also a variety of rebates available to Canadians. There are several types of income tax rebates available in Canada, some of which include:
  1. Refunds for overpayment of taxes: This type of rebate occurs when an individual or business has paid more income tax than they owe.
  2. Tax credits: Tax credits are deductions from the amount of income tax owed. Various tax credits are available, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the Disability Tax Credit, and the Home Accessibility Tax Credit.
  3. GST/HST credit: The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit is a tax-free quarterly payment made to low- and modest-income individuals to help offset the cost of the GST/HST they pay.
  4. Climate action incentive: This rebate is available to residents of provinces and territories where the federal carbon pricing backstop applies. It is meant to help offset the carbon tax cost and is paid to eligible individuals and families when they file their taxes.


In Canada, the amount of income tax you owe is determined by a progressive tax system, which means that the more income you earn, the higher your tax rate will be.
2022 Canadian Federal Income Tax Rates:
  • 15% on the portion of taxable income that is $50,197 or less, plus
  • 20.5% on the portion of taxable income over $50,197 up to $100,392, plus
  • 26% on the portion of taxable income over $100,392 up to $155,625 plus
  • 29% on the portion of taxable income over $155,625 up to $221,708, plus
  • 33% on the portion of taxable income over $221,708
Provincial tax rates vary depending on where you live, so it’s important to check with your provincial government to find out what rates apply to you.


In Canada, there are several penalties that may be applied if you fail to file your income tax return or pay the taxes owed by the required deadlines. Here are some of the most common penalties:
  • Late-filing penalty: If you fail to file your tax return by the deadline, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may charge a late-filing penalty. This penalty is 5% of the balance owing plus an additional 1% for each month the return is late, up to a maximum of 12 months.
  • Late-payment penalty: If you fail to pay the taxes owed by the deadline, the CRA may charge a late-payment penalty. This penalty is 1% of the balance owing plus an additional 1% for each full month the payment is late, up to a maximum of 12 months.
  • Interest charges: If you fail to file your return or pay your taxes by the deadline, the CRA will charge interest on the balance owing. The interest rate is determined quarterly and is set by the CRA.
  • Repeated failure to report income penalty: If you fail to report income for two consecutive years, the CRA may apply a penalty equal to 10% of the unreported income for both years.
  • Gross negligence penalty: If you knowingly or under circumstances amounting to gross negligence make a false statement or omission on your tax return, the CRA may apply a penalty equal to 50% of the understated tax and/or overstated credits related to the false statement or omission. Penalties and interest can add up quickly, so be sure to file, and pay on time. 

Closing Thoughts

To effectively manage your finances in Canada, it's crucial to have a good understanding of your income tax responsibilities. Whether you're a self-employed individual, employee, or business owner, it's important to be aware of tax deadlines, potential penalties, and available deductions and credits that can help you minimize your tax liability. That’s why staying organized, keeping accurate records, and seeking professional advice when necessary is vital.
You can stay informed about any changes to the tax code by checking the CRA website or consulting a tax professional. By acquiring the necessary knowledge and planning, you can navigate Canada's tax system with confidence and security every year at tax time.

By: Andrew Carr