Personal income tax tips for students

April 30 might still be more than a month away, but with a plethora of papers and final exams between now and then, the date is going to come up faster than you think. It’s a good idea to file your taxes early, and to make sure you know exactly what you can or can’t claim. Even if you’ve been filing your own tax returns for years, there are always new changes to the unnecessarily complicated Canadian tax system. Here are a few basic and not so basic tips on making sure you get the most you can back.

  1. If you’re a student, use UFile. It’s free, and it’s extremely easy to use. Just go to to set up an account. UMSU runs a Tax Office during tax season, so if you have any problem filing your taxes using UFile, you can visit 112 University Centre, across from the pharmacy. They’ve got computers, so you can file your taxes right in the office. Just remember to bring all your T4 employment slips and all the information you need to claim some of the tax credits listed below.
  2. There are tax credits for your tuition and textbooks. These are based in part of the fees you’ve paid (this information can be found using Aurora) and the number of months you attend school. You can also claim a tax credit on interest you’ve paid on a student loan. If you don’t make enough money to use your tax credit, you can carry them forward to years when you will make more, or you can transfer the credits to your parents or spouse.
  3. There is a medical expense tax credit. If you’ve been keeping track of your medical expenses (or if you use Green Shield, they keep track of this for you online) you can claim them on your tax return. The cost of eyeglasses and prescriptions are included as eligible medical expenses.
  4. If you moved in order to study at the U of M you can claim your moving expenses. Your new home must be at least 40 km closer to the university than your old home. Moving expenses include travel, meals and temporary accommodations during your move. You can also claim moving expenses if you had to move to get a summer job.
  5. If you needed to have child care in order to attend university, you can claim those costs. And most spending on fitness for children can also be claimed.
  6. There is a tax credit for public transit. Unless you want to risk being audited, you will need both your monthly bus passes and your receipt to claim the tax credit. Only passes used for five days or more can be used for the tax credit.
  7. Any donations you’ve made during the year (say, to Haiti) can be claimed for a tax credit. Just make sure you have a receipt.
  8. New for 2009, you can claim $5,000 if you bought a house after Jan. 27, 2009, and you can claim home renovation expenses. Expenses like furniture, cleaning and maintenance are not eligible for the home renovations tax credit.
  9. If you’re married or have been living common-law for more than 12 months, you or your partner may be eligible for a tax credit. If, for example, as a student you made less than $10,320 in 2009, your partner can claim the amount you made less than $10,320 as a tax credit.
  10. Even if you haven’t made any money this year, you should still file your taxes. Your tuition tax credits can be carried forward to future years, and if you’re over 19, filing your tax return means you can apply to get a GST/HST credit every three months. There is a box for you to tick on the first page of your tax return if you would like to apply for the credit.