Simple Steps for Students Filing Tax Returns

There is perhaps no better time to learn how to file your tax return than when you are a student attending college or university. Student tax returns are often simpler than other tax returns, as students don’t usually have as much employment income, which can make filing a lot less tedious. The hardest part is usually claiming tuition, education and textbook amounts. A student who cannot claim the full amount should consider transferring the tax credit to her parents.

Gather Your Tax Slips

Before a student files a tax return, they must gather all of her necessary tax slips. This should include a T4 slip for any students who work throughout their studies. Students who receive Educational Assistance Payments from a Registered Education Savings Plan receive a T4A Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income slip. CRA My Account holders may view these slips online in early March.

Although some colleges and universities provide or mail tax slips, most schools leave it up to students to retrieve them electronically. Students can generally download tax slips from their college or university’s website. Students who pay tuition to an eligible college or university should download a T2202A/T2202 Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts Certificate. This tax slip has important information for claiming the tuition, education and textbook amounts.

Claim the Public Transit Amount

While some students are fortunate to own or have access to a vehicle while attending school, there are many students who rely on public transit. When you buy a monthly transit pass, you can claim a tax credit. Eligible modes of transportation include buses, subways, streetcars and commuter trains. You can claim the public transit tax credit on Schedule 1, Federal Tax. Hold onto your receipts because the Canada Revenue Agency may ask for a copy to verify your claim.

Please note that the Public Transit Amount is no longer available after 2017.

Claim Tuition, Education and Textbook Amounts

Full-time and part-time college and university students are entitled to claim the tuition, education and textbook amounts. These amounts are claimed on Schedule 11. Students eligible for the deduction receive a T2202A/T2202 tax slip from their college or university. A student claims the amount of tuition she paid during the tax year. For the education amount, full-time students claim $400 per month of enrollment, while part-time students claim $120 per month. For the textbook amount, full-time students claim $65 per month, while part-time students claim $20 per month. For example, if a full-time student went to college for eight months in 2014, she could claim $3,200 for the education amount and $520 for the textbook amount.

Please note that the education and textbook amounts are no longer available starting in 2017.

The tuition deduction is a non-refundable tax credit. If a student does not have enough taxable income, she cannot claim the full amount. She has the choice of carrying forward the amount to a future year when she has enough taxable income to reduce her taxes. The other option is to transfer the credit to her parents, spouse or common-law partner. The student completes Schedule 11 to determine the amount she can transfer.