What if I didn’t have any income?

Even if you didn’t earn any income in 2016, there are still many reasons why it’s in your best interest to file an income tax return before April 30, 2017. Filing a return each year (even if you didn’t have any income), makes you eligible to receive certain tax credits and benefits that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. If you don’t file your return, you could miss out on the following:

* As of July 2016, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) replaces the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), and Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). Since UCCB was a taxable benefit, you’ll need to remember to report this amount for January 2016 to June 2016 on your tax return.

If you missed out claiming the UCCB or CCTB in previous years, there’s no need to worry; you can still file your return and apply to receive both the UCCB and CCTB for previous years.

Take a look at the following situations. If any of them applied to you in 2016, you must file a tax return:

  • You have tax owing
  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sent you a request to file a return
  • Both you and your spouse or common-law partner agreed to split pension income
  • You received Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) advance payments
  • You disposed of or sold a capital property (like shares or real estate) or you realized a taxable capital gain (profit)
  • You had to repay some or all of your old age security or employment insurance benefits
  • You haven’t repaid all of the amounts withdrawn from your RRSP under the Home Buyers’ Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan
  • You had to make a contribution to the Canada Pension Plan (for example, if your net self-employment income and pensionable employment income was more than $3,500) or
  • You had to pay employment insurance premiums on self-employment and other eligible earnings

Even if none of the situations in the list above applied to you in 2016, you should still file a return for the year if:

  • You want to claim a refund
  • You want to claim the WITB
  • You or your spouse want to start or continue receiving child benefits (such as the CCB), including any related provincial or territorial benefit payments
  • You’d like to receive the GST/HST credit
  • You’ve incurred a non-capital loss and want to be able to apply it on a future return
  • You want to transfer or carry forward the unused part of your unused tuition, education, and textbook amounts
  • You want to report income that you could contribute to an RRSP and/or a Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) to keep your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit for future years
  • You want to carry forward the unused investment tax credit on expenditures you incurred or
  • You received the guaranteed income supplement or allowance benefits under the old age security program

Generally speaking, you can ensure that your benefits continue uninterrupted by filing your return by April 30. If you choose not to file, you’ll have to reapply for the benefit.


How do I indicate that I didn’t have any income in 2016?

Before you can successfully NETFILE your return, you need to indicate that you didn’t earn any income during the year. You can do this by completing these steps:

  1. On the FILE tab, click the NETFILE Now button.

  2. Confirm that you didn’t have any income in 2016 by selecting the checkbox in the dialog window that appears:


Once you’ve confirmed that you had no income in 2016, click the I Agree with the Terms and Conditions button to submit your return to the CRA.


Where can I learn more?