DIY Tax Guide

To provide students with support in tax preparation, the USSU had planned to offer filing services in partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the USSU has decided to cancel these tax clinics to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff. As an alternative, this guide will help you file your taxes independently.

Important Dates

March 1, 2021: Deadline to contribute to a RRSP, PRPP, or SPP

April 30, 2021: Deadline to file your taxes

Apr 30, 2021: Deadline to pay your 2020 taxes if you have a balance owing

June 15, 2021: Deadline to file your taxes if you or your spouse or common-law partner are self-employed

Get Organized

Everyone’s tax return will be unique, but here is a checklist of some standard documents.

  • SIN card or SIN number
  • Applicable tax slips:
    • T4 (employment income)
    • T4A (scholarships, RESP, grants)
    • T4E (employment insurance)
    • T5 (investment income)
    • T5007 (benefits like workers’ compensation and social assistance)
    • T2202 (tuition, found on the PAWS)
  • Expenses
    • Medical expenses (prescriptions, health and dental premiums, etc. Full list available here)
    • Charitable donation receipts (claim or carry forward for up to 5 years)
    • Records of moving expenses (if you have moved more than 40 km for work or school)
    • Child care expenses
    • Other expenses as applicable

Choose a Service

There are many options when it comes to filing your taxes. The CRA has a full list of options available on their website, many of which are free.

Online Filing

The CRA has created a filing software called NETFILE, and have certified many other popular options. Two options that are free, easy to use, and CRA certified are:

Simpletax (available here)
TurboTax (available here)
These options are integrated with the CRA’s Auto-fill my return service, which automates much of the data entry and makes filing a lot faster. These options also allow support through phone and email, and advanced packages if your tax return is more complicated. The CRA’s website also contains a feature to ‘Chat with Charlie’, which allows for tax support through instant messaging.

Paper Filing

If you prefer, you may file your taxes with a paper return. You can download the tax package, or order one from the CRA by calling 1-888-330-3305.

Complete Your Return

Provide and update your personal information

Keeping your personal information up-to-date with the CRA can save you time when doing your taxes. Tell the CRA if any of the following has changed:

  • your marital status
  • the number of children in your care
  • your banking information
  • your home address

It is important to let the CRA know about these changes as soon as possible to make sure you get the right benefits and credits to which you are entitled.

Report your income

Income is money you earn through employment, self-employment, and investments you have or the benefits you receive. On your return, you must report income from all sources, both inside and outside Canada. This is true even if you were paid in cash, which includes money you earn from a side job or tips you have received.

Claim your deductions, tax credits, and expenses

Reduce the amount of tax you pay by claiming your deductions, expenses, and tax credits. You’ll have to use the receipts and records you’ve kept during the year to support your claims. A full list of deductions and credits are available here.

File Your Return

There are several ways to send your tax return to the CRA, depending on how you decide to complete your return.

By software (electronically):

If you selected a NETFILE certified software, it will communicate directly with the NETFILE application servers and transmit all required information on your behalf directly.

By paper:

Mail your completed income tax package to your tax centre.

Remember to keep your receipts and documents.

Regardless of how you submit your tax return, you must retain all your tax documents for at least six years. If you claim expenses, deductions, or tax credits, make sure you keep all your receipts and any related documents in case the CRA asks to see them.

What happens next?

If you filed online and registered for online mail, you could get your notice of assessment (NOA) shortly after you file your tax return using the Express NOA service.

If you file your tax return online and choose direct deposit, you could receive your refund in as little as eight business days. If you send a paper tax return, it generally takes eight weeks before the CRA to issue your notice of assessment and any refund.

There are many ways to make a payment to the CRA. To avoid interest or penalties, make sure you pay any amount you owe by April 30, 2021. After this date, the CRA will charge interest on any amount you owe until your balance is paid. Interest applies after April 20, 2021, even if you are self-employed.

You can make a payment arrangement with the CRA. In certain circumstances, the CRA can grant relief from penalty or interest.

If you forgot to include information or made a mistake on your tax return, wait until you get your notice of assessment from the CRA. Then you can change your return.

More Resources

A complete guide from the Canada Revenue Agency

Financial Literacy packages from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada

Budgeting Skills for University Students (CPA Canada)

Tax information for Students from H&R Block