7 Income Tax Filing Tips For College And University Students

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The month of April is tax season and all working  individuals are required to file an income tax return – even you!

April 30 is the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) 2012 personal income tax filing deadline.

Did you know that even if you didn’t work or earn any income this tax year, it could still benefit you to file your taxes?

Here are seven special tax tips just for students to help you get the most out of your next tax return:

1. Tuition and textbooks

If you go to a post-secondary institution in Canada, or outside of Canada for a period of at least three weeks, you can get the tuition tax credit. And those darn ancillary and examination fees can also be included in this cost. This credit adds up to 15% of the total eligible fees paid to the institution, as stated in the T2202A tax slip that you get from your school. Educational institutions use this form to certify a student’s eligibility for tuition, education and textbook amounts.

The credit simply reduces the amount of tax you owe to the government. Tax credits for education and textbook fees are also available to all students that attend qualifying programs, and are fixed values as predetermined by the CRA every year.

Even if you don’t have enough income to apply these credits, you can still transfer up to $5,000 to a parent or grandparent, but only amounts in excess of taxable income less the personal credit, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) credits are eligible. If you have an excess amount leftover after transferring, you can carry it forward indefinitely to your benefit in future tax years.

Where to find your T2202A: Your T2202A receipts will not be mailed to you – you simply have to login to your school’s web portal and download the file (usually a PDF) to your computer. You should also print a copy and keep it safe for your records. T2202A receipts are generally available by the end of February each year.

2. No income to report?

Even if you don’t have any income to report, you should still file an income tax return. Why? Because you are likely eligible for the GST/HST credit and you can only get this benefit if you file your tax return every year.

Did you know? Any scholarships or bursaries you received and used toward your education won’t be taxed by the government.

3. Student loans

You can claim a non-refundable tax credit  for your student loan interest – even if someone else paid it for you.  Unused interest amounts can be carried forward for five years as long as you received the loan from the Canada Student Loans Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, or a similar provincial or territorial government law for post-secondary education.

4. Public transit

Do you take public transit to school using monthly passes, weekly passes or electronic payment cards? You can get a public transit tax credit adding up to 15% of total costs relating to these transit passes.

Don’t forget: Keep your passes and receipts just in case they are requested by the CRA.

5. Moving expenses

If you’re a full-time student at a post-secondary institution and you moved at least 40 km within Canada for work (such as a summer job, internship or co-op work term), you can claim your moving expenses the year the move took place or the following year – including the year after you graduate.

What to include:

  • The cost of canceling utilities, such as water, hydro, cable, phone line, etc., at your previous residence, or connecting them at your new one
  • Fees incurred by cancelling a lease
  • Up to 15 days of temporary board and lodging neither either your previous or new residence
  • The cost of storing your belongings as a result of the move
  • Travel costs, including meals and accommodations

Don’t forget: Save all of the receipts related to your move and keep them in a safe place.

6. RRSP withdrawals

Need extra help paying your tuition? Well, under the Lifetime Learning Plan (LLP), you can withdraw money tax-free from your RRSP to help pay your education (or even the education of your spouse or common-law partner).

7. Childcare expenses

Do you have to put your child in daycare so that you can go to school? You may be eligible to deduct this childcare expense.

Happy tax filing!

Photo credit: Chris Potter

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