UMSU tax office back in full swing with arrival of tax season

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With the arrival of tax season, some students may be unsure of how or where to file their taxes. U of M students looking to file their own taxes can make use of UMSU’s free tax office or online services such Ufile.ca.

Since 2007, the University of Manitoba Students’ Union has provided the UMSU Tax Office for free to university students.

Sid Rashid, UMSU president said the Tax Office was created after a previous UMSU executive learned how other students’ unions were utilizing the partnership between Ufile.ca and the Canadian Federation of Students-Services.

“The UMSU Tax Office helps publicize the free UFile.ca service and provides additional support for students while they file their taxes,” he said.

UMSU is the only student union in Manitoba that has implemented a free tax office in conjunction with promoting free online tax filing. Students from both the University of Winnipeg and Collége Universitaire de Saint-Boniface have come to use the tax office located on the U of M Fort Garry campus.

“We do not yet have final numbers for how many students have used the UMSU Tax Office this year, as students are still using the service. However, since being implemented in 2007, the service has been seeing steady growth in use, helping over 600 students last year alone” said Jonty Chandrasena, UMSU vice-president (internal).
Emilia Kotris, communications manager for Canada Revenue Agency said via email, “There is a lot of information on the CRA website for students and filing income tax. We also have several Community Volunteer Income Tax Preparation locations in Manitoba.”

According to the Canada Revenue Agency website, they also provide other online services such as NETFILE, My Account, My payment and direct deposit to “file your return, manage your tax affairs online, make online payments and get your refund and benefits deposited directly into your bank account [ . . . ].”

Students may qualify for a variety of tax credits that fall under categories such as education, textbooks, tuition fees, student loan interest, public transit tax credit, moving expenses, goods and services tax and child care expenses.

With regards to moving expenses, for example, the website states, “You may be able to claim a deduction for moving expenses if you move to take courses as a full-time student at an educational institution offering post-secondary education and receive taxable scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, certain prizes and research grants or if you move for work purposes [ . . .].”

Students can visit Cra.gc.ca/students, which provides a complete list of credits, deductions and benefits available to students.

Kotris also said, “Many of the tax preparation software developers offer free copies or web applications for low income earners. You have to go directly to their websites to see if you qualify.”
The list of certified products can be found at Netfile.gc.ca/sftwr-eng.html.

Steven Towes, a second-year Asper student said, “I usually use Efile.ca. I like it because it’s simple to use and it’s free [for students].”

Ibukun Akin-Agunbiade, a third-year arts student, said, “I will be attending the service provided for international students at the International Centre for Students. It’s free and there is also training for volunteers to help other international students, all free.”

Rashid said, “All members of the Canadian Federation of Students are able to make use of the free UFile.ca service, and we will be working with other interested student unions to help implement the service in future years.”

The UMSU Tax Office will be open until April 30 and is located at 112 University Centre.