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Can You Get a Tax Refund If You Have No Income In Canada?

Filing taxes is something most people have to do in Canada. But what if you don’t have any income to report?

You still may have to file your return. And even if you don’t, it could be worth your while.

You may be able to claim several tax refunds even without income. Here’s everything you need to know.

Key Takeaways

  • Even if you have no income in Canada, you may still need to file a tax return.
  • If you don’t have to file a return, it may be in your interest to do so to claim tax refunds.
  • You could claim refundable tax credits like the Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) even if you have no income to report.

Do I Need to File Taxes if I Have No Income?

If you have no income to report, this does not automatically mean you don’t have to file your taxes.

You may not have had any income in the previous year for several reasons. For example, you may have lost your job or taken time off to look after your children.

But even if you are in one of these situations, you may still have to file your taxes. It’s not a simple question of only needing to file your tax return if you earned income.

Most people will have to file a return, even with no income, including in the following situations:

  • You made a profit from selling stocks or real estate.
  • You need to repay some of your RRSPs.
  • You received Canada’s Worker Benefit (CWB) payments.
  • You contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
  • You have received a request from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to file a return.

Even if none of the above situations apply, you might still want to file a return to claim a refund. That’s because you could enjoy several tax benefits you don’t want to miss.

How to File Taxes with No Income

Filing your taxes with no income is quite a straightforward process. It’s the same process as if you have income, but there is simply less information to fill in.

You can choose from several online tax filing tools, like TurboTax and UFile. They all have different prices and features. For your needs, the most basic plans should be fine.

Follow the instructions as the software takes you through the process. Then, you just fill in the information and report no income.

When it comes to information that does apply to you, like any profits from selling property or tax credits that may apply, fill in this information accurately.

File your return, and that’s all there is to it.

The process may only take a few minutes, and you could get a tax refund for the effort, so it’s well worth doing.

Can I Get a Tax Refund if I Didn’t Work and Have No Income?

If you didn’t work in the previous year and have no income to report, you might assume that you won’t be able to get a tax refund. But this is not always the case.

Tax refunds are provided to you when you pay too much tax. But you can also get a tax refund for tax credits.

Tax credits are when you are given a discount on your tax bill. For example, if your total tax bill comes to $8,000, but you have a $1,000 tax credit, you will only pay $7,000.

However, tax credits can be refundable or non-refundable.

A non-refundable tax credit only gives you a discount on your tax bill if you pay taxes. If you don’t have any taxes to pay, you don’t get any money back.

Refundable tax credits, on the other hand, allow you to receive the credit even if you are not paying any tax.

In this situation, if your tax bill is $0, and you have a tax credit of $1,000, you will receive $1,000.

If you qualify for a refundable tax credit, it clearly makes sense for you to file your tax return even if you have no income, and there is no obligation for you to file.

The only way to take advantage of refundable tax credits is by filing a tax return.

Refundable Tax Credits in Canada

So, what are the refundable tax credits in Canada that may apply to you? There are a few to consider, and here are some of the most important:

Canada Workers Benefit (CWB)

Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is for low-income individuals. Your maximum earnings to qualify for this tax credit depends on your province as well as whether you have a family or are single with no dependents.

GST/HST Credit

The Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax Credit is a tax-free payment for families and individuals on low incomes. It is currently worth up to $467 for individuals and $612 for families and couples.

Ontario Trillium Benefit

This tax credit for Ontarians provides assistance to low-income families to help with energy costs, property taxes, and sales tax.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

This is a tax-free monthly payment, and the amount you receive depends on your children, their ages, and your income. You can currently receive up to $583.08 per month tax-free for every child under six and $491.91 for children between six and 17.

Just be aware that this amount changes regularly, and you can find how much the tax credit is worth here.


Do I have to file taxes in Canada if I have no income?

You may or may not need to file taxes in Canada even if you have no income. It depends on your circumstances. If you want to claim a tax credit, you need to file a tax return.

Do I get the child tax credit if I have no income?

Yes, you can still get the Canada Child Benefit if you have no income.

Can a single person get a working tax credit?

You may qualify for the Canada Workers Benefit (CWB), which depends on your earnings. It applies to both individuals and families.

How much tax credit does a single person get?

This depends on your situation and the tax credits you qualify for. You may be able to take advantage of several tax credits, including the GST/HST Credit and Canada Workers Benefit (CWB).

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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in Forbes, The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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