Do High School Students Have to File a Tax Return?

As a high school student, you may be required to file an income tax return, both federal and provincial, or you may elect to file a return to take advantage of certain tax credits. Most Canadians are required to file, but there are special circumstances that are more relevant to students, even those in high school.

Why Students Should File Their Tax Returns

CRA sets certain criteria for filing income tax returns for all Canadians, regardless of age. A high school student’s income tax is based on the amount of taxable income that was earned in the previous year, according to Services for Youth.

This also applies to any tax credits to which they may be entitled while in school. Other circumstances that may cause you to file a return include:

  • The CRA asks you to file;
  • You have employment insurance benefits that need to be repaid;
  • You need to repay money to your RRSP for a withdrawal regarding the lifelong learning plan;
  • You are self-employed and need to pay employment insurance premiums on eligible income;
  • You receive money from the working income tax benefit and want to do so again next year.

Social Insurance Number

When filing a tax return in high school, you need a social insurance number (SIN). Your SIN is your authorized number CRA uses to assess your tax return. To apply for your SIN, you need to provide one of the following original documents to a Service Canada office:

  • Your birth certificate obtained from the vital statistics agency in the province or territory where you were born. Note that Service Canada does not accept proof-of-birth documents from Quebec issued before 1994;
  • A certificate of Canadian citizenship;
  • A certificate of registration of birth abroad;
  • As a registered Indian, provide your birth certificate and certificate of Indian status.

High school students, who are permanent residents or temporary residents, require residency documents as described on Service Canada’s website.

Common Student Income Sources

There are several types of income common to students. These include:

  • Employment income that the employer reports on a T4 slip;
  • Other income not on the T4 slip such as tips, gratuities, and occasional earnings;
  • Partial or total amounts of scholarships, bursaries, study grants, fellowships and artists’ project grants, depending on the circumstances;
  • Any interest from investment accounts such as a savings account;
  • Apprenticeship grants and training allowances;
  • Registered education savings plan income.

As a high school student, you may not feel it is necessary to report these incomes. However, if you have these sources of income and don’t report them, you may be liable to penalties and interest levied by CRA. By disclosing them on your tax return, you may be able to receive certain tax credits and possibly a refund.

Common Deductions

High school students are able to claim deductions that are applicable to any Canadian, provided they are eligible. However, some deductions, credits, and benefits are more common to students.

Under certain circumstances, your tuition may be deductible if the course taken develops or improves skills in an occupation and the educational institution has been approved by the Employment and Social Development Canada.

Plus, if you have children, you may be able to claim child care expenses on your return.

References & Resources