As a student, you should be filing a tax return each year, if any of the following situations apply to you:
- You have to pay tax
- You haven’t finished repaying the amounts you withdrew from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) under the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)
- You have to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) (this will be the case if your net self-employment income and pensionable employment income is more than $3,500 in 2016)
- You want to apply for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
- You or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving Canada child benefits payments
- You want to carry forward (or transfer to an eligible family member) the unused part of your tuition, education, and textbook amounts* (or if you’re a resident of Québec, your amount for tuition or examination fees) or
- You want to report income for which you could contribute to an RRSP to keep your RRSP deduction limit for future years.
Note: This list represents the most common scenarios that will require you, as a student, to file an income tax return. For a more detailed list, refer to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.
*Beginning January 1, 2017, the tuition, education, and textbook tax credit is being replaced with the tuition tax credit. If you have unused education and textbook credits from a previous year, you’ll still be able to claim them on your 2017 return or on a future return.
As a student, what kinds of income do I need to report on my return?
As a rule, you need to report all the income you earned during the year. Generally speaking, income is taxable (this means that you need to pay tax on it). Certain amounts however are non-taxable and as such don’t need to be reported on your tax return. For a list of non-taxable amounts, refer to the CRA website. The following list represents some common taxable sources of income:
- Employment income
- Tips and income earned from offering occasional services like babysitting, lawn maintenance, and other small jobs
- Investment income (for example, the interest you earn from your bank account)
- Amounts from scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, and study grants (these can include apprenticeship grants, research grants, and artists’ project grants)
- Educational assistance payments (EAP)s such as:
Note: If you received EAPs during the year, you’ll receive a T4A: Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income from the promoter of your EAP with an amount reported in box 42. For more information on RESPs, check out Information Sheet RC4092.
What tax credits and deductions can I claim as a student?
You can claim things like the tuition and education amount, moving expenses, childcare expenses, and the cost of your public transit pass. For a more comprehensive look at these and other credits, check out our article, I’m a student: What tax credits and deductions can I claim?.
I only worked part-time during the year – can I claim the Canada employment amount?
Yes. If you’ve got employment income to report in 2016, H&R Block’s tax software will automatically claim the Canada employment amount on your return.
What about my student loans?
You can claim the eligible interest amounts that you, or someone related to you paid on your student loan. You should also keep in mind that if you aren’t up to date in the repayment of your student loans you won’t be able to claim the interest you paid. To be eligible, you must have received your student loan in accordance with one of the following:
- The Canada Student Loans Act
- The Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
- Act respecting financial assistance for education expenses (residents of Québec)
- A similar provincial or territorial government law or
- The Canada Apprentice Loan Act
What if I don’t need to claim my tuition, education, and textbook amounts this year?
Even if you don’t have any tax payable for the year, you should still file a return and report your tuition, education, and textbook amounts. Doing so allows you to do one of two things; you can carry forward any unused amount for use in a year you do have tax payable or, you can transfer it to a member of your family (parent, grandparent, spouse, common-law partner, etc.) so that they can use the credit on their return.
Where can I learn more?
- Student loan interest paid in 2016 or interest not claimed in a previous year (H&R Block Online Help Centre article)
- Schedule M: Interest paid on a student loan (H&R Block Online Help Centre article)
- Scholarships, grants, or bursaries not reported on a slip (H&R Block Online Help Centre article)