For many post-secondary students, things such as taxes, T2202A and T4A are a foreign language.
Students spend years in school learning algebra and physics but many people never learned about taxes.
Nancy Miller, a tax pro at Oshawa’s H&R block, says she sees many students in the offices closest to the campus.
“A lot of times students that maybe are in their first year don’t realize because they haven’t worked that they should have been filing their taxes,” Miller says. “Maybe a year or two into their studies they got a part-time job or they’ve worked in the summer time and they have employment income, then they’ll come in and we’ll ask them about their previous years and we do have to do some backtracking for them.”
Miller says there is no late penalty for people getting a refund, but if they owe there is a five per cent late filing charge and one per cent per month. If people habitually file their taxes late, Miller says, the Canada Revenue Agency will increase the penalties, and increase the interest.
The process of filing taxes takes about 45 minutes to an hour if you are eligible for cash back, Miller says. Students can get their cash right away for a fee of 15 per cent. If this is not an option, students can Efile their taxes and the return takes approximately two weeks, she says.
Even without income, students are entitled to credits that they may miss out on if they don’t file their taxes.
“GST credits are credits that are paid out every three months. It’s usually around $60 or so for someone that doesn’t have any income,” Miller says.
After turning 19, students are eligible for GST payments at the next payment period. The Ontario Ministry of Finance describes the Ontario Trillium Benefit as relief to people for sales, energy costs and property tax. This is another perk of filing your taxes, Miller says.
“Anyone that doesn’t have any income or very little income, is entitled to the Trillium Benefit to help pay for the sales tax credit,” Miller says.
If you have no income or rent, you are still eligible for the Ontario Trillium Benefit, which pays roughly around $267 per year, Miller says.
The T2202 is a statement from the university or college, which shows how much of a student’s tuition went towards the tuition credits.
If students are in school for full time months they get an extra $400 credit for each month that they are in full-time attendance and $65 per month for textbooks. If they are living in residence they get $25 for residence fees paid out on the Trillium Benefit.
Of 10 students recently surveyed, half said they do file their taxes. The remaining five said their parents file their taxes for them.
Karolina Roussakis, a Library, and Information Technician student said she just filed her taxes for the first time this year. “It was super easy,” she said.
H & R Block offers incentives to students who file their taxes with them. Miller says they offer a student rate of $39.95 and free SPC cards for students with at least four months attendance in post secondary.
On the edge of tax season, Miller shares her final tip for students filing taxes. “My only advice is make sure they file every year,” she says.