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A student’s guide to filing taxes

The deadline to file your taxes — April 30th, 2021— is fast approaching! To help students navigate the process, the Canada Revenue Agency has provided the information below.


Many post-secondary students are filing a tax return for the first time this year. If it’s your first time filing for yourself, or you’re a parent filing for your child, some simple tips can help you maximize your returns.

Why students should file their taxes

Filing often leads to extra cash in the bank. Even if you’re not making much money, chances are you’re eligible for some benefits and credits.

Did you know that most of the money you spend on tuition may be used to claim a tax credit? The credit is non-refundable, meaning it will reduce your federal tax up to the amount of tax owing.

Even if you didn’t make enough money last year to need the credit, you can carry it forward to after university, saving you money later when you owe tax on your income. You can also transfer it to your family or partner to help them reduce their tax owing.

Gather your documents

If you have a job, you will need to report this income and any other sources of income. For students that could include tips, scholarships, bursaries, study grants and payments from a registered education savings plan (RESP). If you’re lucky enough to receive a gift of cash from your family or another benefactor, that money doesn’t count as income.

Next, think of all your expenses and deductions. Did you move for school? If so, you can claim your moving expenses. Are you making payments on your student loan? You can claim part of the interest you’ve paid.

You’ll also receive a form from your post-secondary institution that outlines the tuition paid to your school. With this you can claim tuition to reduce your tax owing.

COVID-19 emergency benefits

If you received any of the individual benefits, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), you will need to report that income on your tax return. The CRA and/or Service Canada will mail you a T4A or T4E slip with the information you need.

How to file

There are a variety of certified software products to meet your needs, some of which are free.

Filing online is the quickest way to get your return. When you do, it’s a good time to check your account for any uncashed cheques, which you may have missed if you moved and didn’t update your address. You can also register for direct deposit to receive any payments faster. If you have a modest income and simple tax situation, a volunteer through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) can do your taxes for you — for free. This year, volunteers are completing tax returns in your community by phone, videoconference or contactless document drop-off.

One last tip — file on time. Filing on time ensures you can access government benefits and credits and that if you owe money, you will avoid the late-filing fee. Find more information specific to your situation at canada.ca/taxes-students.



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