Income Tax

How to file your taxes as a Postdoctoral scholar

From "Most Canadian income tax and benefit returns for 2017 are due on April 30, 2018. If you or your spouse or common-law partner is self-employed, you have until June 15, 2018. You can file online as early as February 26, 2018. Filing early ensures your benefit and credit payments are not delayed or stopped."

PAW has prepared a summary of points you might want to consider as you prepare to file your taxes.  

Download: Presentation for Canadian and International Postdocs by Famme & Co Professional Corporation, presented in Feb 2017

Helpful information from the Canada Revenue Agency:
Download: Presentation by CRA at the CAPA/CAPS meeting in Oct 2014
General overview about your tax return
Tips about filing your tax return online for free
Get help with completing your return at a free clinic at these locations in Canada

If you have any questions, please contact the current PAW Tax Information Representative or Canada Revenue Agency.

  • Individuals: 1-800-959-8281
  • Self-employed: 1-800-959-5525
  • International: 1-800-267-5177

Key Tax Documents:

The T4 is a tax receipt issued by an employer to employees for income they earned in the calendar year. All T4s are first distributed to the department which funded the aforementioned payments. The department will then distribute the T4 internally to the employee or mail it to the employee's most recent address on file with Human Resources.

The T4A is a tax receipt issued to anyone paid through Payroll who received a Graduate Research Assistantship, scholarship, or other award(s) from Western in the previous calendar year. All T4As are first distributed to the department which funded the above payments. The department will then distribute the T4A(s) to the employee or mail it to the most recent address on file with Human Resources. 

Questions on this matter can be directed to: Human Resources, 519 661-2194

FAQ 1: Can I opt to pay taxes every month instead of making only one payment when filling my taxes?

Updated August 2013

Yes it is possible to have taxes deducted at the source every month. If you want to pay taxes every month instead of once a year, please send an email to Human Resources ( with the following information: Name, employee ID and the amount of money you want to have withheld from your pay check each month. The amount of taxes an individual has deducted depends upon a number of factors, all of which are personal to the individual. To determine your amount, please use the Canada Revenue Agency online calculator.

FAQ 2: Should I opt-in to Employment Insurance (EI) Special Benefits for self-employed postdoctoral fellows (PDFs)?

Updated January 2013
If you are a postdoctoral fellow (PDF), you are considered self-employed or an independent contractor by the University. As such, Employment Insurance is not deducted from your pay as is the case for Postdoctoral Associates (PDAs). At this time, it does NOT seem that PDFs are eligible for the special benefits EI (Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed People) due to the type of income they receive. Please note that we have recently been advised that some PDFs have been able to opt-in this special EI and receive the benefits but were later told that their income labeled as research grants made them unable to claim EI benefits. We urge you to research this option carefully so that you are not forced to repay the benefits. 

FAQ 3: What is the story behind no more tax exemptions for Postdoctoral Fellows since 2009?

NOTE: the following information was given to PAW from the Department of Communications and Public Affairs at Western.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has released a technical interpretation regarding the income tax status of Postdoctoral Fellows in response to a request from the University of Toronto. The interpretation provides further clarification following the 2010 federal budget in which amendments were proposed that expressly preclude Postdoctoral Fellows from claiming scholarship exemption for the tax years 2009 onward.
In this interpretation, the CRA states that, in their view, a Postdoctoral Fellow is more likely to receive employment income or research grant(s) for income tax purposes than scholarship income. It is also the view of the CRA that the full scholarship exemption will not apply in most cases even if the income were scholarship income. Specifically, the CRA states: "We can confirm that where the tax return of a post-doctoral fellow is reviewed by the CRA, a claim for the full scholarship exemption will generally be denied." Historically, Western University has not issued T2202A tax forms to Postdoctoral Fellows.  The CRA interpretation supports this approach, and as such, Western will continue this practice.

For more information, please visit: and the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars' (CAPS) position paper on this matter.

Further Assistance

Tax information and clinics for international students and postdocs can be found at International Students & Tax Income.