With the rising costs of everything — groceries, rent, tuition and technology — it’s an expensive time to be a student in Canada. And your budget might get even tighter if you end up with a tax bill.
Tax credits for students
As a student, claiming tax credits or deductions can reduce the tax you owe on income earned from work, withdrawals from your registered education savings plan, or taxable scholarships, grants and bursaries throughout the year.
Tax credits fall into two categories: non-refundable and refundable. If your tax credit is non-refundable, you can use it to reduce the amount of tax you owe to $0, but not further — meaning, you can’t use non-refundable tax credits to get a tax refund. But refundable tax credits don’t have this restriction. If your refundable tax credits add up to more than your tax owing, you’ll get a refund.
Non-refundable tax credits students may qualify for
If you were 16 or older and paid tuition fees to a post-secondary institution in Canada last year, you are likely eligible to claim the tuition tax credit. Some provinces and territories may also offer additional tuition tax credits to post-secondary students.
You may also be able to claim fees you paid to an educational institution, professional association or provincial ministry to take an occupational, trade or professional exam that would allow you to work in Canada.
Nerdy Tip: Students used to be able to claim the costs of textbooks, but the federal education and textbook tax credits were eliminated back in 2017. If you have amounts from 2016 or earlier that you haven’t yet claimed, you can still claim them retroactively.
Student loan interest
If you have provincial, territorial or federal student loans, you may be eligible to receive a tax credit based on any interest you pay on them. Note that Interest paid on a private student loan, such as one obtained from a bank, does not qualify for this credit.
Canada employment amount
If you had a full or part-time job last year, you may be eligible to claim the employment amount on your tax return. Claim either your total income or the 2023 employment amount, $1,368 — whichever is lower.
Refundable tax credits students may qualify for
The GST/HST credit is designed to help Canadian residents over the age of 19 with low incomes — including students — offset all or part of the GST or HST they pay. The payment is sent out four times a year, rather than as part of your tax refund.
Canada training credit
Available to individuals aged 26 to 65, the refundable Canada training credit helps working Canadians with the cost of tuition or training fees paid to an eligible post-secondary or occupational training institution.
How can I claim these tax credits?
Claiming non-refundable and refundable tax credits requires you to complete and file your tax return for the year with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You can do this on your own, with the help of DIY tax software, or by hiring a tax prep professional, such as an accountant.
- Enter your eligible tuition fees on line 32300 of your tax return.
- Enter Canada training credit information on line 45350.
- Enter student loan interest information goes on line 31900.
- When you file your taxes, you’ll be automatically considered for the GST/HST credit.
If you’re using tax software to fill out your return, simply enter the correct expense amounts when prompted. If you’re working with a professional, you may just need to provide proof of fees paid or payments made.
Tax deductions for students
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a few common tax deductions
Child care expenses
If you paid for childcare (daycare, a babysitter or nanny, before or after school care, or day camp) so you could attend school, you may qualify for a tax deduction based on those costs. You can deduct up to $8,000 for children under 7 years old and $5,000 for children between 7 and 16, but note that you’ll need receipts to back up your claim.
If you moved more than 40km to become a full-time student in a post-secondary program at a university, college or other educational institution, you may be able to deduct eligible moving expenses from the parts of your scholarships, bursaries and grants that you’re required to report as taxable income.
How can I claim these tax deductions?
You can claim childcare expenses and moving expenses on your tax return — which you may complete on your own or with the help of a tax prep professional.
- To calculate your child care expense deduction, fill out Form T778 and enter your deduction amount on line 21400 of your return.
- Eligible moving expenses go on line 21900 of your return.
How to get affordable help with your tax return
Navigating taxes can be difficult — and when you’re a student, ensuring you claim all of the tax credits or deductions you’re eligible for is key to minimizing your taxes owing. Luckily, students looking for help filling out and filing their tax returns have several free or low-cost options:
Free tax clinics
During tax season, many universities and colleges offer free tax services to help current students prepare their tax returns. Some clinics may even offer to review previous years’ filings to make sure you carry forward anything you missed.
The government also offers free tax clinics in cities and towns across Canada, open to anyone on a walk-in and appointment basis. Virtual clinics may also be available.
DIY tax software
If you’re comfortable completing your own tax return, several tax software programs are available on a free or “pay-what-you-want” basis, either as mobile apps or online. Look for certified products that use the secure NETFILE service, so your completed forms are filed directly to the CRA.
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