Students: here’s what you need to know this tax season
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wants to help you at tax time. There are tax credits and deductions you can claim on your return, and benefit and credit payments you could get when you do your taxes. Even if you have little or no income, you should still do your taxes to get the benefit payments you’re entitled to.
Here are the top tax credits and deductions that students often overlook.
- Tuition tax credit – You may be able to claim the tuition tax credit if you attended certain post‑secondary educational institutions. Under certain conditions, students can now include fees paid to a post-secondary educational institution for occupational skills courses that are not at the post-secondary level.
Depending on how much tax you owe, you may need to use all of the credit, or just some of it. If you did not need to use all of the credit, you can either transfer it or carry it forward. Unused amounts can be transferred to your spouse or common-law partner, a parent, grandparent, or the parent or grandparent of your spouse or common-law partner to reduce their taxable income. You can also carry forward and claim in a future year the part of your 2017 tuition amount you cannot use (and do not transfer) for the year, and your unused tuition, education, and textbook amounts from 2016 and previous years. However, if you carry forward an amount, you will not be able to transfer it to anyone.
If you are a qualifying student, you may be able to claim the scholarship exemption for scholarship, fellowship and bursary income.
- Education and textbook amounts – Even though these amounts can no longer be claimed, you can still carry forward any amounts you didn’t claim in previous years.
- Interest paid on your student loans – You may be able to claim an amount for the interest paid in 2017 on your student loan for post-secondary education. You can also claim interest paid over the past five years if you haven’t already claimed it. It must be interest paid on a loan received under the Canada Student Loans Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Apprentice Loans Act, or a similar provincial or territorial law.
- Public transit amount – After June 30, 2017, the public transit amount is no longer available. However, you may be able to claim the public transit amount on your 2017 return for the cost of eligible transit passes that were used for public transit services for the period January 1 to June 30, 2017.
- Eligible moving expenses – If you moved for your post-secondary studies and are a full-time student, you may be able to claim moving expenses. You can deduct these expenses only from the part of your scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, certain prizes, research grants, and artists’ project grants that you have to include in your income. If you moved to work, including for a summer job or to run a business, you may also be able to claim your moving expenses. However, you can deduct these expenses only from the income you earned at the new work location. To be eligible, your new place of residence must be at least 40 kilometres closer to your new school or work. You cannot claim these expenses if they were paid by your employer.
- Child care expenses – If you pay someone to look after your child while you go to school, earn income, or conduct research, you may be able to deduct child care expenses.
- Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit – If you are turning 19 before April 1, 2019, you may be eligible for the GST/HST credit and any related provincial payments. The CRA will see if you are eligible when you do your taxes and will send you a notice if you are.
- Canada child benefit (CCB) – If you have a child, you may be eligible for the Canada child benefit (CCB), a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. To get this benefit, you only need to apply once and do your taxes every year to keep getting your CCB payments.
- Working income tax benefit (WITB) – If you are a student with a dependant and have a modest working income, you may be eligible for the working income tax benefit. You may be able to apply for advance payments.
Want to learn more about the benefits of doing your taxes? Check out the CRA’s videos designed to help you put cash back in your pockets this tax season: Filing your Tax Return and Filing by Yourself, as well as the videos series created specifically for students.
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