Families

Summer Jobs and Taxes Part 1 – School Aged Children (under 18)

Whether it’s an ice cream scooper at the local dairy bar, babysitter for the neighbour’s kids, or day camp counselor, summer jobs are an excellent way for kids to learn responsibility, independence, and money management skills. But what tax implications come from your child’s employment? Let’s review the most common questions.

Is my child now required to file a tax return?

As with any Canadian citizen, your child isn’t generally required to file a tax return if he has no tax owing. Usually the amount earned by a minor child doesn’t hit the basic personal credit amount (around $11,000) meaning he won’t owe tax on his earnings. There are some exceptions.

The better question is, should my child file a tax return?

Absolutely! And for so many reasons.

  1. If your child had any income tax (or CPP premiums) deducted at the source, chances are he’ll receive those deductions back as a refund.
  2. Filing a return sets up your child’s information with CRA for future years. Many first returns still need to be mailed in, as opposed to Netfiling. Once the first return is processed, your child’s info will be file, enabling him to file electronically in the future. Trust me, sending in a paper return for a high schooler is generally much easier than waiting until little Johnny has tuition credits, medical expenses, or bus passes to claim.
  3. RRSP contribution room begins as soon as earned income is reported. Even if you child doesn’t purchase RRSP’s (which he can if he chooses to, even though he’s under 18), his contribution room will begin to accumulate as soon as he reports his earned income on his tax return.
  4. It’s a teaching moment. I’m one of those people who believes that preparing a simple personal tax return should be part of the high school curriculum. Sadly, in most schools, that’s not the case – so take the time to educate your kids yourself. If your kids are like mine, they’re likely on their phone or tablet much of the day anyway. Put that technology to work and download a free app like TurboTax Free. Mom and Dad – you might just learn a thing or two. Kids today can type faster and search quicker than most of us adults!

Does my child’s income affect my tax return?

If you’re a single parent, your child’s summer employment may affect your tax return. If you claim the eligible dependant credit for your youngster, the amount of money he earns is deducted dollar for dollar from the credit at tax time. Even if your child does not file a tax return for himself, you must still deduct his earnings from this credit on your return.

The good news is that if you have more than one child that qualifies for the eligible dependant credit, you have the option to choose to claim the lower earning child. For example, if you have a working 17 year old and 10 year old, you can choose to name the 10 year old as your eligible dependant as there’s little chance he’s earned more income than your teenager.