Tax tips for students

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It’s that time of year, when we’re reminded there are some good things that go along with being a university student—likely a low-earning one, who may be living at home. It’s tax time, and for students that typically means money, money, and more money! Cherish this time, because a year or two after graduation, it’s a whole new ball game.

I am in my 13th year of preparing income tax returns, and it breaks my heart knowing that students routinely miss out on some tax savings benefits because they believe that if they’re getting any refund at all, they must be doing things right. Wrong.

The Canada Revenue Agency is going to claim enough of your money when you start working full-time. There is no reason to be generous now and let them have what is rightfully yours.

Note that the following tax tips really only apply to you if you earned income at some point throughout 2013.

 U-Pass

The U-Pass fees can be included on your return on line 364 (public transit passes). The fee was included as part of your tuition: $81 each for the Winter 2013 and Fall 2013 semesters. So, $162 times 15 per cent tax credit equals approximately $25 in savings.

Medical expenses

Medical expenses not covered by insurance can be claimed, so long as the total exceeds a threshold equal to three per cent of your net income (a figure that is set, and occasionally changed, by Revenue Canada). Don’t worry if the concepts involved go over your head. Just make sure to save all of your receipts, and pass along all the info to a reputable tax preparer or advisor. Examples of medical expenses include glasses, contact lenses, prescriptions, chiropractor appointments, massages, physiotherapy, and dental expenses.

Moving expenses

You can claim moving expenses any time you move at least 40 kilometres closer to a place of employment, or in order to study at a post-secondary institution. So, if you move home in the summer and then back to Victoria each year, you can claim moving expenses for both trips! Examples of moving expenses include fuel, ferry ticket, flight, meals, storage rental, and trailer rental (for example: U-Haul). Didn’t keep the receipts? That’s fine, because you very likely have proof in the form of your debit or credit card statements.

It is important to note that your income tax return may not actually seem to change if you make use of the tips mentioned above. However, if you’re using tuition credits this year, the above will reduce the amount of tuition credits utilized, allowing you to carry more forward.

While I know it is tempting to pass along your hard earned dollars to our beloved government, please reconsider! Take advantage of whatever tax breaks you can. The tax refund glory years may be upon you now, but unlike diamonds or Twinkies, they don’t last forever.

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