Written By: Clarissa Wall
Haven’t filed your taxes yet? That’s okay, you aren’t alone. Procrastination, forgetfulness, or intimidation often explain the delay. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions to help you along in the process, which can seem daunting, but for most of us, really isn’t.
Should I file my own taxes?
Chances are, your taxes are easier than you think. This is why I discourage people from going to places like H&R Block that charge huge fees for little service. If your taxes really are complicated, you should have a real accountant. For most of us young people, they are well within what we can handle. Test it out yourself by using one of the free software available and if you feel confident, file them yourself and save at least $100.
What software is best?
This kind of comes down to personal preference, as most of them do pretty much the same thing. Some are totally free, some are free for students or low-income individuals, and some cost $15-30. For 2013 and 2014 I used StudioTax, and I had no issues with it. It walks you through a questionnaire which is really helpful if you’re just learning. This year, I’m using SimpleTax, partly because I wanted to try something new, and partly because their design is so beautifully minimalist. So far, it has really lived up to it’s name; it’s super easy to use, but still includes everything you need. Both of these programs are free. I can’t personally speak to the many others, as I haven’t tested them out (yet).
What do I include on my return?
You’ve likely received some tax slips in the mail by now. Any regular employment should have sent a T4, scholarships or bursaries usually send a T4A. If you’re in college or university, you’ll want to claim your tuition and education amounts by entering the amounts on the T2202A form provided by your school (if you don’t know where to get it, just ask your school).
Basically, you need to report all the income you’ve earned. Then you can claim deductions to reduce the amount of tax you need to pay. Common deductions include transit passes, charitable donations, tuition, student loan interest, and medical expenses.
What if I didn’t work last year?
If you weren’t working in the year you’re filing taxes for you should still submit a return. Why? Two reasons: first, you can claim things like tuition and they will carry forward to the next time you need them. Second, your tax return is also your application for provincial and federal credits like the GST credit, or Ontario Trillium Benefit, which can add up to hundreds of dollars you don’t want to miss out on.
What if I can’t file by the 30th?
Great news! Since this year the 30th falls on a Saturday, the deadline has been extended to May 2nd. Still can’t get them in on time? If you’re expecting a refund there isn’t a penalty for filing late. If you’re going to have a balance owing, you should really try to get them in as soon as you can, as penalties and interest will start accruing.
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