Minimum Age to File Tax Return in Canada

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires all individuals earning income in Canada to file a tax return and pay the appropriate income tax in any year their gross income exceeds certain levels, regardless of age. to file a tax return and pay the appropriate income tax in any year their gross income exceeds certain levels.

There is no specific age. It depends on whether you have earned enough income to do so. If you earn more than the amount of the personal exemption allowed by the Canada Revenue Agency within one tax year, you will need to report that income on an annual tax return.

At what age should you start filing a tax return?

The CRA tax law code requires filing a tax return based on income level. If you earn more than the amount of the personal exemption allowed by the Canada Revenue Agency within one tax year, you will need to report that income on an annual tax return. Special rules apply to income received by children who are claimed as dependents by other taxpayers.

Children can be six months, six years, or 16; they still have to file a tax return in Canada depending upon their income level. It depends on whether their earned, unearned, or combined income exceeds certain limits. The applicable standard deduction is also a factor. Earned income is what they make from a job. Unearned income, sometimes referred to as passive income, would be interest or dividends from investments.

Do Working children pay taxes?

As with any Canadian citizen, your child isn’t generally required to file a tax return if they have no tax owing. Usually, the amount earned by a minor child doesn’t hit the basic personal credit amount (around $11,000), meaning they won’t owe tax on their earnings. There are some exceptions. 

Regarding tax returns for a child, how much the child earned from what activities will determine if your child needs to file taxes. Don’t worry — we’ll help you figure out what you and your child need to do.

What determines who must file a tax return?

  • You owe tax to the CRA.
  • You are self-employed and have to pay your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums.
  • The same is true for paying Employment Insurance (EI) premiums on your self-employment earnings.
  • You and your spouse or common-law partner want to split your pension income.
  • You’ve participated in the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) or Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) and have repayments owing.
  • You disposed of capital property. If you sell your home, you must file a tax return even if you don’t have to pay capital gains tax on the sale (referred to as the principal residence exemption).
  • You have to repay any of your old age security or employment insurance benefits.
  • You have received a Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) advance payment in the tax year.
  • The CRA has sent you a Request to File.
  • If the CRA has sent you a Demand to File, then that means they are serious about your lack of filing and you had better get to it.

Age does not affect your requirement to file a tax return. If you meet one of the above requirements, the CRA expects to receive an income tax return from you. The only time age might excuse you from filing a tax return is when you’re 65 or older and your income is below certain very low thresholds.

Should I file taxes even if I don't have to?

People with an income of under a certain amount aren't required to file a tax return because they won't owe any tax. It's very common to feel like you shouldn't need to file a return if you don't owe any tax. However, owing to tax and having filing requirements are two separate situations in the CRA's eyes. 

Even if the amount of income from your child’s job doesn’t require a tax return, if a refund is coming, a return should be filed. A child should file a tax return for many reasons:

If your child had any income tax (or CPP premiums) deducted at the source, chances are they’ll receive those deductions back as a refund.

Filing a return sets up your child’s information with CRA for future years. Many first returns still need to be mailed in, as opposed to netfiled. Once the first return is processed, your child’s info will be filed, enabling them to file electronically in the future. Trust me, sending in a paper return for a high schooler is generally much easier than waiting until they have tuition credits or medical expenses to claim.

RRSP contribution room begins as soon as earned income is reported. Even if your child doesn’t purchase RRSP’s (which they can if they choose to, even though they are under 18), their contribution room will begin to accumulate as soon as they report their earned income on their tax return.

If you still need help, Filing Taxes professional accountants can go into more detail about how and when your child has to file a tax return. Whether you have a simple or complex tax situation, we've got you covered. Feel free to reach out to Filing Taxes at 416-479-8532. Schedule your tax preparation appointment with us and take the first step towards proper management of your finances. Our professional personal tax accountants will make sure to get you the maximum tax refund on your personal tax return.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not consider your personal situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from accounting and financial professionals. Salman Rundhawa and Filing Taxes will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.

Written By:
Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa is the founder of Filing Taxes. Salman provides valuable tax planning, accounting, and income tax preparation services in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.

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