Advice for students during tax time

Canadian bills and coins. Piggybank via Unsplash

You won’t get arrested

Tax season doesn’t have to be scary. But as a student with tuition, scholarships, part-time or full-time jobs, loans, and everything in between, it can be hard to get everything straight. As a student, the most important document you need is your T2202, which is an official statement of your tuition.

As a University of Regina student, to access this document, you can log into your U of R Self Service account, then select student services, and click on Canadian tax forms. From there, you can select T2202A and submit, read the notice, click continue, and then a printable form should appear. This document is used to calculate your tuition tax credit which is used to offset the cost of university by reducing the tax you might have payable.

Amanda Suther Page is an accountant who owns Page Bookkeeping and Consulting, and spoke with the Carillon to give students tips and advice on their taxes.

What is one of the biggest things you find students forget about at tax time?

One of the biggest things that I find that students don’t understand and don’t know is that tuition and education credits don’t expire, so you can use them ongoing as long as you claim them. Initially, they will carry forward in your tax carryforwards in the revenue Canada file you have. In order to gain access to those credits, they have to go to their school and get a T2202A because your institution will usually send you that slip, which will list the tuition you pay in the year, as well as the number of months that you were in school. The tuition credit is a transferable credit, and it can be carried forward to another year. If you take advantage of the entire credit this year because your income isn’t high enough, that’s completely fine, but if you don’t, you can transfer part of the unused portion to a family member or carry forward any amount. The other thing for students is that you can claim credit for your public transit path. Most Universities and colleges let you download a fee assessment for your pass through your online services account. Even if your school doesn’t offer a pass, and you purchased eligible transit passes, and you kept your receipts, you can claim this public transit credit too.

How do scholarships and bursaries factor into your taxes?

If you’re enrolled in a full-time program, your scholarship fellowships and bursaries are not taxable up to the amount required to support you in the program. For part-time programs, your scholarship fellowships and bursaries are not taxable up to the tuition fees and cost from program-related material.

Do you recommend students find an accountant or service to do their taxes?

I don’t think that an accountant has to file taxes because they can charge an astronomical price, but I would caution people to do a little bit of a check before you get just anyone to do your taxes. I redid a return this morning that someone else did and I’m going to have to refile it, and it’s a difference of four thousand dollars.

What are some things international students should keep in mind when doing their taxes?

Anyone who is in the country for longer than six months are required to file a Canadian tax return and then file worldwide income. With international students, Canada has credits that they offer to international students, and their country will have credits that they offer. So it’s a back and forth, and what that attempts to do is make it so that with giving those credits, your tax return here and at home balances out for you. And it gives you the ability to make sure you’re not getting penalized for coming to Canada. So they in a way file two tax returns, but the credits that they’re offered based on their circumstances make it so that they’re not gouged.

If a student hasn’t filed in a few years, for whatever reason, what would be the best advice you can give them?

Most people are scared by the government, and I wish that wasn’t the case because if they miss one or two years, what normally happens is they go into the third year feeling a lot of anxiety, and then they just keep pushing it off and don’t get it done. And they’re worried about, you know, anything that could happen to them at that point. People think jail. They’re thinking about huge fines. They’re thinking penalties. But the truth of the matter is if you file a tax return and you don’t owe any money, then revenue Canada owes you, and there’s no penalty for that. If you haven’t filed your taxes in five years you can apply for what’s called tax payer relief and the Canadian revenue agency is usually understanding as long you go about it properly.

Tax season doesn’t have to be scary. As long as you do your research, pay attention to the details, and don’t let fear get in the way, then filing your taxes can be as easy as summer vacation.


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