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By Christina Flores-Chan
It’s tax season again and if the idea of sitting at the kitchen table, awash in piles of documents and a calculator, doesn’t sound appealing to you, you’re not alone.
For most, the annual tax return process can seem tedious, time-consuming, and for beginners, completely alien. Fortunately, according to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), there are ways to simplify filing an annual tax return.
The government uses taxes to provide services like education and health care to the country – contributing to these common goods is part of being a Canadian citizen.
This year, the filing deadline for most individuals is Saturday, April 30. Those who filed on time should receive their tax returns or postmark by May 2.
Filing your returns is a two-way street, and students often receive federal, provincial, and territorial benefits and credits in the end.
The revelation spoke to CRA spokesperson Amanda Sebastian-Carrier about the agency’s recent tax guide, “What Students Need to Know This Tax Season,” and how students can maximize their benefits This year.
“It’s important that people file tax returns so they don’t miss out on benefits or entitlements like the quarterly GST credit, the Ontario Trillium Benefit and the Climate Action Incentive,” says Sebastian- Carrier.
While eligibility for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit, the Ontario Trillium Benefit and the Climate Action Incentive depends on individual factors such as the province of residence of citizens and income, tuition fees can be included on each post-secondary student’s income tax return.
“Students can get tax credits for their tuition,” says Sebastian-Carrier. “If you don’t need to use them all this year, they can carry over or transfer up to $5,000 of their credits to parents, spouses or grandparents.
Carrying forward unused tuition can be beneficial to use in future years and although students will no longer be able to claim tuition and textbook costs, they may still be able to carry forward amounts for years previous ones.
For new graduates or those repaying student loans, line 31900 of a tax return also allows for claiming interest paid on loans, a point that Sebastian-Carrier uses to stress the importance of the tax return. regardless of income.
Other expenses students may be able to claim on their returns include moving expenses, job training, child-related expenses and more.
For those who are currently employed, the CRA advises checking the information on their T4 slips to make sure their name, employer, and amount of income are correct. Checking all required forms before filing your taxes simplifies the process later.
People should regularly update and verify the information they submit to the CRA. This includes a person’s address, marital status, and personal and bank details, which can be found in the “My Account” section of the ARC platform.
According to Sebastian-Carrier, government documents that would otherwise have been lost or more difficult to access on paper are all available online.
If a T4 slip is issued to a student’s temporary address, such as a dorm or student residence, rather than the permanent address the CRA has on file, it would still be accessible online.
“You can check and update information online or by calling us on our tax information line,” adds Sebastian-Carrier. “We would be happy to answer all your questions.”
Another crucial item to include on your tax returns is the T4A information slip for COVID-19 benefits (such as the Canada Recovery Benefit), issued to citizens by the Government of Canada. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A information slip and a Relevé 1.
While filing their tax returns, Sebastian-Carrier alerts students to scams and frauds involving people impersonating the CRA and trying to access Canadians’ personal and banking information.
“As tax season begins, the scams seem to be on the rise,” she says. “We never ask for personal or financial information via email. And if you get a call saying you owe the CRA money, you can call our 1-800 number to verify and one of our agents can verify it.
Sebastian-Carrier recommends that students new to tax filing learn more about the Canadian system and its importance with the CRA’s new online course: Learn About Your Taxes.
Any other general inquiries or questions can be directed to +1 800-959-8281, the agency’s Individual Tax Inquiry Line.