Beware the Tax Man Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Beware the Tax Man
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Tax season is around the corner and that means I’ve been getting frantic emails from readers about paying taxes in the UK and whether they have to file a tax return in Canada while living abroad. It turns out this stuff really isn’t as complicated as I thought!

The short answer is yes, in most cases you must file a tax return if you are earning income abroad.

But before we get to the meat of this post, I have a few disclaimers and requests:

1. Please do not email me with questions about taxes. I love hearing from readers, but I am neither an accountant nor a tax law specialist. The UK Government website has very clear guides to EVERYTHING so if you do email me with something “Hey Alyssa, Do I need to file a self-assessment?” I will respond with a link similar to this one. You know how I wrote this post? Research. A quick Google will often solve all your problems.

2. This blog post is for guidance only. I am relating my personal experience and while I endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will I be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook
 Why waste time sifting through 10 different resources when you can get it all in one place? The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook: Everything Canadians Need to Know about Getting the Visa and Moving to the UK contains 56 pages of useful information that will help you make your dream of moving abroad a reality!

Get it now!

Now that we have that out of the way, here is all the information you need to know about dealing with taxes while on a Youth Mobility Visa in the UK:

Are you a ‘factual resident’ of Canada?

A factual resident has maintained significant residential ties to Canada. That means while you may be working outside of Canada you still have a residence in Canada or a Canadian drivers licence. Visit this page to determine whether you are a ‘factual resident’.

If you want to stop paying taxes to Canada, you must sever residential ties–you must have no place to live in Canada, have financial accounts in your new country, and have taken your family with you. The minimum time frame to be determined a non-resident is 18-24 months without residential ties. Fill out the Form NR74 or NR73 at the bottom of this page for the CRA’s opinion on your residency status.

Have you severed residential ties? If no, please continue…

UK-Canada Tax Treaty

The tax treaty between Canada and the UK overrides both countries’ domestic law. That means that when you pay tax in the UK you receive a foreign tax credit in Canada.

If you earned the equivalent of  CAD $45,000 in the UK you will pay almost CAD $14,000 in taxes. If the tax in Canada would have been CAD $16,000, you would have to pay an extra $2,000 to Canada.

However, taxes are generally higher in the UK than Canada so unless you are a high earner (£200,000+) you are not at risk of being double taxed.

This means that YES, you must file a tax return in Canada.

What if you arrived midway through the fiscal year?

This is what happened to me–I arrived in September and when I started my job I did not pay PAYE. This was because 1) I already had my NI number so I was not assigned an emergency tax code, and 2) By the end of the fiscal year my income would not have surpassed the personal allowance and I wouldn’t need to pay taxes on it.

In this circumstance, you must file a return in Canada including your income made in Canada and in the UK. If you didn’t have to pay taxes on it in the UK, you may have to pay them to Canada.

How do I actually do my taxes though?

In the UK, you do not need to file a return if you are paying PAYE. That said, if you have other income (freelance work, cash jobs, etc.) or tax deductions not accounted for in your tax code, then you must complete a self-assessment.

Now, once you have received your P60 from your employer (or completed your self-assessment, or both) you can start your tax return:

  1. Figure out your total income in Canadian dollars. Go to the Bank of Canada website and get the annual exchange rate for the year you are filing. Use that to calculate your total income (from Canada and the UK) and add that to line 101 and 104 as normal.
  2. Use that Bank of Canada annual exchange rate to calculate the amount of foreign tax credit (in Canadian dollars) you can claim for the taxes you paid here in the UK.
  3. Complete form T2209 – Federal Foreign Tax Credits. Enter the amount from Line 12 of the T2209 into Line 405 (Deductions) of your Schedule 1. Attach your T2209 form to the return.

File the rest of your return as normal and wait to hear back as to whether you owe the GoC some money.

How does HMRC deal with my emergency tax code?

If you were assigned an emergency tax code upon starting a new job, your permanent tax code will adjust for any under- or overpayments (if any).

If you have overpaid in the previous fiscal year you must contact HM Revenue and Customs and explain that why you think you overpaid. They will either send you a refund by cheque or tell you why you’re not due a refund. You can use the HMRC tax checker if calculate if you have overpaid.

I hold investments in Canada and income in the UK and tax deductions in Canada…

I cannot help you. Talk to an accountant who is familiar with expatriate accounting.

I hope this was helpful for everyone worrying about their taxes!

14 thoughts on “Reader Question # 5: How do I Deal With Taxes in Canada While On a UK Youth Mobility Visa?”

  1. This was really valuable reference point for me as it was my first time filing my Canadian taxes with no income earned in Canada and all of my income earned in the UK under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa. Thank you so much! x

  2. Hi,
    I just wanted to note you comment about taxes being higher in the UK is wrong. The UK has a much simpler tax code with a 20% and 40% bracket based on income. You pay just 20% on income between £11,851 – £46,350 and 40% on income above that (and under £150,000). For example, if you earn £35,000 in the UK it would be just ~£4630 or $7,935 in CAD$. In Canada–at least in BC–your marginal rate at $60,000 (£35,000) is actually 28.2% (not 20%) and your tax owed is $11,010, which is almost $3,000 more than in the UK. I think most readers earning under £100,000 will need to pay ADDITIONAL income tax in Canada

    1. Just to say this is unfortunately true and accurate as far as I know and have experienced. This example pretty much sums it up (I’m from BC).
      Not usually one to comment but hopefully it helps anyone else trying to navigate the confusing Canadian tax world.
      Thanks Alyssa for this website. Google usually does the trick, but this has been immensely helpful for Tier 5 Visa adventures.

  3. Hi Alyssa, your blog has been really helpful! I’m just attempting to file my taxes (I’m very late) at the moment, and I have my P60 form, but I have just noticed that the tax year in the U.K. runs from April to April, and Canada’s is from January to December. Did you just ask your employers for your total income for the year? Basically, I’m just wondering if this was an issue for you when filing your taxes, and how did you overcome it?

    1. If you have your P60, you should know what you made in April – Dec 2015. Then use pay stubs or your previous P60 to figure out January to April 2015… Otherwise, I have no idea.

  4. Hi Alyssa,

    I’m currently in the UK on a Youth Mobility visa and have been since April 2015 – this question isn’t exactly about paying Canadian taxes, but it’s worth a shot.

    I was wondering if you knew the process of how to apply for your UK tax refund after completing your 24 month stay? I haven’t found an outline of what to do/where to go on your site (unless I’m not looking hard enough), so I was wondering if you happened to have applied for a tax refund when before you left the UK and know the process.


    1. There is no “tax refund” process in the UK. PAYE takes out the exact tax you are meant to pay. Unless you have write-offs and self employed, the tax you pay is what you pay.

  5. Hi Alyssa,

    I’ll probably have to complete my income tax back.i n Canada and claim my tax from the UK on it.

    If I’m applying for a tier 5 youth mobility visa, what exactly am I being taxed on?

    Would I taxed on everything just the same as UK citizen? Or would it be slightly different? Are the taxes super high? I only plan on being there four months. My employer has mentioned that I may not be taxed on the ‘national’ tax because I’m a temporary worker and not a citizen.

    Please advise.

  6. Hi Alyssa,

    I hold investments in Canada so I was hoping to seek out an accountant for help, familiar with expatriate tax filling. Would you suggest I look at someone based in the UK or back in Canada for help?

    Thanks again!

    1. I’m not sure! If you’re part of the Canadians in the UK Facebook group, I would suggest asking what others have done. Good luck!

  7. Hi Alyssa,

    Thanks for all your information. I just got my p60’s last week and am trying to figure out my taxes but haven’t been to get through to the cra over the phone.

    Normally when I do my taxes I do it via Netfile but it doesn’t appear that is an option since I live outside of the country. I’m a bit confused to I just fill out my tax return hand and the Foreign tax credit form and mail it in? I’ve filled out my tax return but nothing seems to apply except the amount I made which I put in canadian dollars and the tax I paid. Every other box I’ve put 0. Also the options for tax return are the regular form or the deemed non resident one. The regular form asks for my address for the tax year but it’s clearly only for Canada. I don’t have a Canadian address anymore…

    Am I doing this right?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Unfortunately I can’t be much help here – the post outlines everything I know about taxes. Sorry and good luck!

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