There are many tax credits and tax deductions available for students in Canada. Even if you have little or no income, you should still do your taxes to get the benefit payments you’re entitled to. The easiest way to do this is is to let TurboTax walk you through what you may be entitled to, so that come tax time, you have the opportunity to maximize your deductions.
Here are the top tax credits and deductions often overlooked by students.
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.
Eligible Tuition Fees
Generally, a course qualifies for a tuition tax credit if it was taken at a post-secondary education institution or by Canadians who are 16 years of age or older at the end of the year. The course also has to develop or improve skills in an occupation, and the educational institution offering the course must have been certified by Employment and Social Development Canada. The course must have also been taken in 2018.
Fees paid by a student to a post-secondary educational institution in Canada or fees paid by a deemed resident of Canada to a post-secondary educational institution outside Canada, for courses which are not at the post-secondary school level, are eligible for the tuition tax credit.
Students with more than one tax certificate can claim all amounts which exceed $100.
The following scenarios where fees were paid by someone else are not eligible to be claimed, such as:
- Fees were paid or reimbursed by your employer, or an employer of one of your parents, where the amount is not included in your or your parent’s income
- Fees were paid by a federal, provincial, or territorial job training program, where the amount is not included in your income
- Fees were paid (or eligible to be paid) under a federal program to help athletes, where the payment or reimbursement has not been included in your income
Examination Fees for licensing or certification: Eligible
Examination fees paid to an educational institution, professional association, provincial ministry or other similar institution in order to take an occupational, trade or professional examination which is required to obtain a professional status – recognized by federal or provincial statute – or to be licensed or certified as a tradesperson which would then allow you to practice the profession or trade in Canada, may be eligible for the tuition tax credit.
Ancillary Fees: Ineligible
Ancillary fees or charges exceeding $250 and paid in respect of an occupational, trade, or professional examination are not eligible tuition fees unless they are required to be paid by all individuals taking the examination.
You should be provided with a receipt to substantiate your eligible exam fees. Keep the receipt!
Completing Your Tax Return
The amount of your tuition is entered in field 320 of Schedule 11.
Transfer or Carry Forward
Depending on how much tax you owe, you may need to use all of your credits, or maybe you just need to use some of them. In the scenario when you do not need to use all of your credits, you have the option to transfer them to someone else or carry them forward for your use in the future.
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 for a future year the part of your 2018 tuition amount you cannot use and have not transferred for the year. Once you carry it forward, you then cannot transfer it.
Qualifying Students 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 2018 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– No longer available.
- 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. To be eligible, your new place of residence must be at least 40kms closer to your new school.
- 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 these eligible child care expenses
- Caregivers providing child care services;
- Day nursery schools and daycare centres;
- Fees for child care services offered through educational institutions;
- Day camps and day sports schools where the primary goal of the camp is to care for children (an institution offering a sports study program is not a sports school); or
- Boarding schools, overnight sports schools, or camps where lodging is involved.
- 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 CCB, a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help 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 and may be able to apply for advance payments.
- Learning Disability – If you have a child who has a learning disability, or if you yourself do, you may be able to deduct the costs of primary education and tutoring services as medical expenses. In order to deduct the cost of school, a medical practitioner must certify, in writing, that the equipment, facilities or personnel specially provided by that school are needed because of you, or your child’s, physical or mental impairment.
- Tutoring – In order to deduct the cost of tutoring services for you or your child, the CRA would need a letter from a medical practitioner stating that the tutoring is necessary because of a mental impairment. Eligible tutoring services must be paid to a person in the business of providing these services to individuals and the tutor must not be related to you or your child.
Amounts to Claim
Each year, for each child, you could claim up to:
- $8,000 for children under age 7
- $5,000 for other eligible children aged 7 to 16
- $11,000 for children who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit
Remember to keep any receipts or documents related to you or your child’s schooling and tutoring services in case the CRA asks to see them after you file your tax return.