Home / Student Advice hub / A Student's Guide to Filing Taxes: What you need to know

Disclaimer: TD does not provide tax or accounting advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors about your personal circumstances.

A Student's Guide to Filing Taxes: What you need to know

What are tax credits?

A lot of students don’t see the point in filing their taxes while they are in school. They don’t make enough money to owe the government any money so they figure they don’t need to file their taxes.

But, filing taxes is essential for students who want to take advantage of potential benefits and deductions - even if they didn't earn any income, especially dental and medical students.

Tax credits act like discounts on your taxes. Non-refundable credits can lower your taxes, while refundable credits can even give you a refund1. Certain unused tax credits can be carried forward into the next year2. Tax credits can be provided by both the federal government and the provincial governments3.

A few examples of important credits and deductions you could potentially claim4 on your tax return include:

  • Tuition tax credit (excluding textbooks)
  • Childcare costs
  • Interest paid on qualifying student loans
  • Moving expenses
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Taxes (HST) Credit5
  • Canada Carbon Rebate

Filing taxes is a requirement if you are a resident for tax purposes in Canada and your annual income is above the basic personal amount6 (BPA). Those who earn less than the BPA should still file to claim benefits such as tax credits. For more information relating to taxes, consult a tax accountant.

How do tax credits help students?

Tax credits could help students save money for school and other needs because they lower the amount of tax that students must pay. Even after graduating, students can reduce their tax owed by using credits earned during their studies7.

Where do I file? How will I get my refunds?

Tax returns can either be filed online or by mail to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)8. If filing online, you may register on CRA's online portal9 and learn more about filing a return through their digital services10.

There are online options (some might have an associated fee for the service) to help you get started on your tax filing.

When you file your taxes, CRA may ask for your bank details so they can deposit any tax refunds directly into your bank account11. This means you don’t have to make a trip to the bank. To make things even easier, you can set up direct deposits to your TD Student Chequing Account today. By doing so, you'll streamline the process of receiving your tax refunds, giving you more time to focus on the things that matter to you.

What do I need to know before filing?

Tax filing is based on residency and not citizenship, so international students might need to file tax returns if they meet the requirements12. If you do not know your residency status and if you should file a tax return, contact CRA.

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) or an International Tax Number (ITN) is required for filing. If you don't have a SIN, you can apply for an ITN through the CRA website.

You may need the following to file your tax returns:

Reporting requirements13

Important documents14

  • Full time or part time income, including tips and freelance work.
  • Withdrawals from Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).
  • Bank interest or investment earnings.
  • Certain grants, fellowships, or scholarships (some might be exempted).
  • T4: A form that shows how much money you've earned and how much tax was taken off from your income during a calendar year.
  • T4A: Report scholarships, bursaries, fellowships and prizes (Box 105) and claim the exemption, if applicable.
  • T4E: Report taxable tuition assistance (Box 20) and claim the education tax credit using your T2202.
  • T2202, TL11A, TL11C, TL11D: Download these slips from your school to claim the tuition, education, and textbook amounts.
  • Additional documents: You might need a T3 or T515 (statements of investment income), along with various additional receipts.

What can I do with my savings and refunds?

It's tempting to use your tax refunds to have fun in college! However, you can instead use your tax refunds towards paying off student loans or lines of credit, if any or save towards a future financial goal. Book an appointment to talk to a TD Branch Specialist to explore your options.

What if I file my taxes late?

The Canadian tax year is from January 1st to December 31st. If you have a balance owing, your tax return and payment must be filed by April 30th of the following year. Failing to file returns on time could result in interest charges and penalties16.

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