Students should file their taxes now or they could be hit with a penalty

The dreaded tax season can be daunting for anyone, let alone for the students who simply don’t know where to start. It’s one of the many challenges first-timers face: How to file a tax return.

The April 30 deadline is fast approaching and young adults should act quickly to avoid being hit with the five per cent interest penalty.

Luckily, getting help with your taxes at Ryerson has become significantly easier.

Each year, the RSU holds tax clinics to help students file their taxes for free. Student-volunteers from finance, accounting and business programs at Ryerson are trained, screened and verified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), in order to help other students file their taxes.

“We want to make sure it’s easy for students to file, and give them the experience they need to succeed in the future,” said Priyanth Nallaratnam, director of finance and services with Continuing Education Students at Ryerson (CESAR).

Though Ryerson clinics have already wrapped up for the year, there are many local financial wellness centres in the city that will help you do your taxes for free.

These appointments require you to bring appropriate documentation, such as the T4 slips you receive from your employers and your social insurance number.

University and college students can also tap into certain benefits that boost their annual tax return. Students can claim a textbook credit, a tuition credit and even a student-loan credit.

“You can always come back and ask for changes to your return afterwards” says CRA

The CRA also offers a free, 90-minute introductory course on its website called Learning About Taxes. It covers the basics of the tax system and how to file a basic tax return online. There is also a video tutorial specifically for international students.

Neil Shalapata, an employee with the CRA, said that taxpayers should file on time regardless of whether they are getting a refund or not.

“Put together the information as best as possible, even if you don’t have all the accurate information available,” he said. “You can always come back and ask for changes to your return afterwards.”

He also suggests filing your taxes online because it’s the fastest way to get your refund. In fact, 80 per cent of Canadians used this online option last year.

But make sure you keep all of your receipts and tax documentation, just in case the CRA checks in on you. They may require you to submit your receipts for verification to support the claims you are making on your income tax return.

“We recommended that people keep their documents for six years, after the year for which they are filing an income tax return,” said Shalapata.

Shalapata says Canada has one of the highest rates of tax compliance in the world.

If you’re just starting to file your taxes now, make sure you have the appropriate forms. Income tax receipts and education deductions certificates (T22O2A) are available online on your RAMSS account. As for your T4 slips, those should have been available to you by your employers at the end of February.

If you’re concerned about not having the right forms, you can always contact the CRA, as employers are required to send in copies of your documentation each year.

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