4 tips for filing your taxes for the first time as a student
Students, this one’s for you! Regardless of whether you’ve earned an income this year, it’s important to file your taxes. Reason being, as a student there are a number of unique credits and deductions you may be entitled to – all of which will help put money back in your pocket – but you only receive them if you file.
While the task of filing a return may seem daunting, we’ve got a number of tips that will help you understand the process of filing the first time as a student.
1. Take Note of Key Dates
To avoid the stress of last minute filing, we recommend using a calendar app to flag important tax-related dates (when the CRA opens for electronic filing, tax filing deadlines) so they don’t sneak up on you! Set reminders on your phone so when it comes time to file, you’re ready. The CRA outlines all important dates for individuals here. Or, you can sign up for our newsletter to get reminders about key tax dates.
2. Stay Organized
Ensure you gather all your forms, slips and necessary receipts throughout the year. Organize everything you need to file your return (such as public transit receipts, medical bills, etc.) by category and date and file them away somewhere accessible. Make it a habit to file receipts away every time you empty your wallet, or as receipts come in via email, save them to a receipts folder. You could also take photos of hard copy receipts and add these to your online folder as well. This will make your life so much easier if you ever have to look back months – or even years – later.
3. Get Familiar with Student Credits and Deductions
Tuition credits are something you’ll grow fond of quickly, as they’re a big tax break for students. Track down your T2202A form, which outlines tuition fees paid that year. This form can be downloaded from your school’s web portal and is usually available at the end of February). Don’t need to use the full amount of credits this year? The unused portion can be transferred to a parent or grandparent. In a scenario where mom, dad, grandma and grandpa are doing just fine financially these credits could instead be saved until after graduation, when extra money in the form of a tax refund is much needed.
Also, did you know that if you moved more than 40 kilometres to attend post-secondary school full-time there’s the opportunity to expense transportation, storage, travel, temporary living, and more? You have to be a full-time student, recipient of a taxable scholarship, research grant or prize, but if you meet those requirements it can really help to offset expenses.
4. Take Advantage of the Help Available
It can be difficult to understand the CRA website, especially if you are a first-time filer, but don’t panic. Many post-secondary schools offer sessions throughout the year where students and professors come together to provide guidance on unknown territories, including taxes. Additionally, tax preparation companies (a.k.a us, here at H&R Block!) often host student tax clinics on campuses. Find out when they are taking place at your school and join – it’s a great way to source additional help to ensure you are maximizing your return!
If you’re still left feeling a little uneasy about the whole process, don’t fret. We’re open year-round to answer any questions you may have!
Overall, it’s important to stay organized throughout the year, collect the right documents and receipts and understand what resources are available to you to help make your first tax-filing experience as a student a smooth one. If you have questions, an H&R Block Tax Expert is always available to chat. For more information, visit one of H&R Block’s offices or online at www.hrblock.ca.