Yea, I didn't even know I 'owed' taxes as it was until a few days ago. Looks like the CRA did an assessment September...I never saw anything till November and they are charging huge interest each month on the whole 'debt'.
Yea, the thing is, I have a very bad feeling that just mentioning I've been a non-resident is not going to be enough. I may have to file an objection and field proof. And like you, I can't easily claim I've been a proper resident in another country (by proper, a tax-paying resident). I've been out of canada, yes. I've not been earning anything from Canada, yes. But it depends on how they view the situation. And you are always guilty until proven innocent with the tax man.
To me it seems pretty imperative to show verifiable proof you are tied to another country:
*work permit (which I never ever had in Thailand)
proof you are paying *some tax in your 'new' host country (again, something I never was doing in Thailand, since i didn't have proper 'permit' as it were
*proof you've set down roots (apartment contracts, bank accounts in new country, drivers license in the new country, etc)
I don't think just 'leaving canada' for a few years while hopping around to different countries is a strong qualification for 'no taxes' to the tax man, especially if you are not making one country specifically a place you might be able to prove is your new 'home'.
I would set up base in one country, on paper anyways, to fortify your position. And it seems it's a good idea you need to show you are paying taxes in one country. You can hope around to other countries, but it appears you need a base on paper.
In my case, I probably need to set up a Thai company, then pay myself some pittance wage, then pay 'taxes' on this (10-20 percent in Thailand if it's under 20,000 usd) so you can get a tax receipt. This tax receipt (along with the work visa you get by starting a company) is very, very strong proof for non-residency in Canada.
And I can't stress the importance of doing NO banking back in Canada -- at least nothing you are not afraid to pay 'some' taxes on, if they ever use that to come with a tax assessment. You are far, far better holding things in PayPal or create an Estonian Company / HK company, or some offshore place to do your business + banking. I wouldn't be in this mess if this was the case.
I'll keep you guys updated. I'm still doing my research before I contact the CRA.
Looks like there are NO other Nomads here who have gone through anything like this...yet.
Let me just say that be prepared though -- especially you Canadians. Don't just leave Canada with properly preparing and structuring your business / finances so no money goes into Canada, which will complicate your residency situation, as it has in my case.