Prepare yourself for the experience of being a true adult: after you read this article, you will be able to confidently file your own taxes.
According to the Government of Canada’s website, here are the steps for correctly filing your taxes. Note that these directions apply only to individual personal taxes and might differ depending on factors such as self-employment. Taxes can be filed starting in February and running all the way until April 30 this year.
Throughout the year, save any tax forms from your employers (commonly known as T4 slips) and any receipts that you will need to submit (tuition statements, medical receipts, etc.). Keep them in a safe spot so you don’t need to request new ones at the last minute.
Update your information
It’s important to make sure all of your personal information is current and correct before you submit your taxes. Events such as marriage, children, or a move within the last year can all affect your taxes, so it’s key that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is aware of any changes to your personal information.
Deductions and expenses
Depending on your situation, the government may let you claim several different kinds of deductions and expenses on your tax return. Educate yourself about which ones you qualify for, as they can really add up in the end. Some common deductions for students include tuition, public transit passes, textbook receipts, and interest from student loans.
Choose your filing method
Filing your taxes online is the quickest and easiest way to go, but may require you to purchase online software to complete the process. The brand you choose must be NETFILE-certified if you want to file directly with the government — and keep in mind that some brands provide free filing options for students. Whichever type you choose, the software will walk you through the process of reporting your income from the past year.
If you prefer to file your taxes manually, you can mail them in using forms available at any Canada Post or Service Canada office.
Keep the files
After all of this hard work, make sure you hold onto the documents and files. The Canada Revenue Agency may ask for your tax information from any time during the past six years in order to make sure you’re filing correctly.
After you file your taxes, you can expect to receive your refund, if you qualify for one, no later than eight weeks after the fact. However, filing online and signing up for direct deposit both make it more likely that you will receive your refund sooner.
Remember, it’s also possible you may owe money to the CRA. This could happen if you choose a filing status that you do not qualify for, or if you don’t accurately report your income. If this is the case, make sure you understand the payment deadlines to avoid penalties.
You need a Social Insurance Number to file taxes in Canada, so make sure you have one or apply for one well in advance.
Being a student means you can take advantage of tax clinics run by the Accounting Club every year at MacEwan. The clinics take place in March and April and will help you through the entire process.
Graphic by Kia Valdez Bettcher.