Tax tips for students filing returns

MP Alex Atamanenko, for B.C. Southern Interior, provides tips for students filing tax returns.

The deadline for income tax returns is approaching (Monday, April 30) and there are some things people need to know, particularly if they are students.

Eligible tuition fees – You can claim only the fees paid for courses you took in the year.

To qualify, the fees you paid to attend each educational institution listed below must be more than $100 for the year.

You can claim tuition fees paid to any of the following institutions:

  • a university, college, or other educational institution in Canada for courses at a post-secondary school level,
  • an educational institution in Canada certified by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada for courses (if you were 16 or older at the end of the year) to develop or improve skills in an occupation,
  • a university, college, or other educational institution in the United States for courses at a post-secondary school level if you lived in Canada near the border throughout the year and you commuted to the school and
  • a university outside Canada, if you were in full time attendance, for courses that were at least 13 consecutive weeks long and that will lead to a degree at the bachelor level or higher.

Notes – You are not considered to be in full -time attendance at a university outside of Canada if you are taking courses by correspondence (which includes courses where assignments are submitted electronically).

If you are taking courses over the Internet, you will be considered to be in full-time attendance only if the program requires you to be in virtual attendance, on a full-time basis, for classes and other course-related activities.

Eligible tuition fees include:

  • admission fees,
  • charges for the use or library or laboratory facilities,
  • examination fees,
  • application fees (but only if the student later enrolls in the institution),
  • charges for a certificate, diploma, or degree,
  • mandatory computer service fees,
  • academic fees,
  • the cost of any books that are included in the total fees for a correspondence course taken through a post secondary educational institution in Canada and fees, such as athletic and health services fees, paid to a university, college, or other educational institution in addition to your tuition for post-secondary courses, when such fees are required to be paid by all students. The amount of eligible fees is limited to $250 if the fees do not have to be paid by all students.

Education Amount – You can claim a full time or part time education amount for each whole or part month in the year in which you were enrolled in a qualifying educational program at a designated educational institution.

Textbook amount – You are eligible to claim this amount only if you are entitled to claim the education amount.

The amount is:

  • $65 for each month you qualify for the full-time education amount and
  • $20 for each month you qualify for the part-time education amount.

You have to claim your tuition, education, and textbook amounts first on your own return, even if someone else paid your fees.

However, you may be able to transfer the unused part of these amounts to your spouse or common-law partner or to you or your spouse or common-law partner’s parent or grandparent.

The maximum amount you can transfer in a year is $5,000, minus the amount you use, even if there is an unused tuition, education and textbook amount remaining.

For complete tax rules visit Canada Revenue Agency at www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

– Alex Atamanenko is MP for the B.C. Southern Interior.