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Tax credits and benefits
Types of tax credits and benefits
There are two types of tax credits:
- non-refundable tax credits can reduce the amount of tax that you owe, for example you may receive a tax credit for donations and gifts
- refundable tax credits can reduce the amount of tax that you owe but are also available even if you don't owe any tax, such as the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
Benefits can help with various living expenses, such as raising children, housing, loss of income and medical expenses.
Read the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA's) General Income Tax and Benefit Guide and Forms Book to learn more about which tax credits you can claim.
With the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit, you could get back up to 75% of your eligible child care expenses. It applies to eligible child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps.
The Low-Income Workers Tax Credit provides up to $850 each year in Ontario personal income tax relief to low-income workers, including those earning minimum wage.
How to apply for tax credits and benefits
You need to file a tax return to apply for tax credits and benefits.
Most tax return software will automatically prompt you with questions to apply for tax credits and benefits. You can also apply by filing a paper tax return and accompanying forms.
Income tax basics
About income tax
You may pay tax on the income you make.
The amount you pay is based on how much income you earn in a year. You can reduce or eliminate the amount of income tax you need to pay by claiming tax credits and certain expenses. For example, the basic personal amount, a non-refundable tax credit, allows every Canadian resident to earn more than $10,000 each year before any income tax is payable.
How income tax works
Federal and Ontario income taxes are paid to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is part of the federal government.
Income tax is commonly taken off your pay by your employer, or off your pension, and sent directly to the CRA. You may also have to calculate the tax you owe and send a payment to the CRA.
Each year, you should file a tax return with the CRA to:
- report the income you've made
- ensure you've paid the correct amount of income tax
- access tax credits and benefits
Learn more about how much tax you should pay on each portion of your income.
Types of taxable income
You have to report any taxable income you earn inside and outside Canada when you file your tax return. This includes:
- any full-time or part-time work
- self-generated income (for example, a home business, selling goods or services online, earning tips)
- rental income, including renting out a portion of your home
- investments (such as interest, dividends and capital gains)
- your pension
Types of non-taxable income
You do not have to report certain non-taxable amounts as income, including:
- most lottery winnings
- elementary, secondary and post-secondary school scholarships
How and when to file your tax return
Learn how to fill out your return using tax preparation software or on paper.
The deadline for filing personal income tax returns and paying outstanding income tax is April 30. After April 30, penalties and interest start to apply to any outstanding balance owed.
If you are self-employed or filing for someone who has passed away, please see the CRA's website for filing deadlines.
The tax return can change every year. Find out what's new on the tax return to see how it affects you.
Subscribe to the Ontario Ministry of Finance's personal income tax email alerts to stay up-to-date on changes to personal income tax requirements or new or changing tax credits and benefit programs.
Why file a return
Even if you had no income, you should still file your taxes before you turn 19. You may be able to access tax credits and benefits, like sales tax credits or support for child care.
You must file a return if you:
- owe tax
- want to claim a tax refund
- want to apply for tax credits and benefits
- want to qualify for some government programs
Calculating your return
After the CRA processes your tax return, you will receive a notice of assessment. The notice of assessment will tell you if you:
- paid too much income tax and are eligible for a tax refund
- paid too little income tax and have to pay the CRA, in either a lump sum or smaller amounts throughout the following year
- are eligible to get money back through tax credits and benefits
Help and resources
Free tax clinics
If you have a modest income, simple tax situation and need help filing your tax return, visit the CRA's Community Volunteer Income Tax Program to find the nearest tax clinic or volunteer service to help you for free.
Filing a paper tax return
To get a tax return form, you can either:
- download one from the Canada Revenue Agency website
- view and order forms at canada.ca/taxes-general-package
- call the CRA at
1-855-330-3305to order a copy
To access tax credits and benefits when filing a paper tax return, complete and submit these three forms with your tax return:
- ON479, allows you to claim the:
- ON-BEN, allows you to claim the:
- ON428, allows you to claim non-refundable tax credits, including:
- medical expenses
- caregiver amounts
- disability amounts, etc.
Learn about the types of income you must report on a personal income tax return if you are self-employed, an unincorporated business or in a partnership.
Learn about tax credits that can help your business lower costs, hire/train workers and compete in the marketplace.
Tax literacy for students
Tax literacy is about understanding your tax responsibilities and the resources available to support you. The tools below can help you learn more about the personal income tax system and how taxes affect your budget.
- Welcome to Personal Income Tax - Educator Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Welcome to Personal Income Tax - Student Worksheet (PDF)
- Welcome to Personal Income Tax - Tips for Talking to Teens about Personal Income Tax (PDF)
- Personal Income Tax Tip Sheet (PDF)