By Nguyen Khanh Ha Doan
I didn’t know it was tax season until I received my tax slips email from Ryerson.
I’ve always known there are taxes. I learned in my business courses throughout high school that we all have to pay our taxes and I heard my parents talking about it and I think I know what taxes are for. But I’ve always heard people call it the “ultimate adult task,” and I’ve legally been an adult for approximately five months, which is to say that I am still trying to get my life together.
So when it came time to actually do taxes, I realized that I don’t actually know how.
I don’t think I’m the only one struggling with this. Looking at the BMO Nesbitt Burn Survey, 20 per cent of Canadians say they don’t know how to file taxes. We as students know that our essay is due next week but we may not know that the last day to file for our taxes is on April 30.
I was so confused the day I received my T2202A tax slip (some of you may be eligible for T4(A)) from Ryerson. My initial response was “what am I supposed to do with this?” I talked to a few of my friends and some of my relatives, but the answers I got in return were vague and only added to my confusion.
I panicked, obviously, because this is something I can’t screw up. It’s important not to have any errors when filing important documents like your taxes. I called my mom asking what I should do only to realize that she is not in Canada like me and she probably wouldn’t know what I am talking about. So, I spent one entire night, four hours straight, digging around the internet for information about tax returns and my eligibility. However, the internet is a dangerous and very confusing place.
When I searched “how to file tax return in Canada” the first page that appeared was the official page of the Canadian government. I believed it would be helpful, yet when I clicked into it, an overwhelming page filled with code numbers for tax forms and tax slips popped up. I decided to open another tab, asking more specific questions and ended up being overwhelmed with different sources of information.
So my gift to you, my fellow tax-panickers, after spending the entire night searching about taxes: I gathered up some quick tips I feel that would be helpful for local and international students alike.
1. Ask people who have filed their taxes before
This may seem like a piece of silly advice but in fact, those who did it before should be able to answer your questions about doing your taxes. They were once as confused as you and whatever questions you are having, chances that they already had those questions and they got answers. While some people would advise against seeking help from others, I encourage you to do so. The elders are the wiser.
2. Utilize the Canada.ca page
They have most of the information you’ll need to know and are very trustworthy. They have everything from your eligibility and what documents you need to prepare and the forms you need to fill out. In accordance, you may want to check out Ontario.ca website as they are more provincially specific and probably will be more detailed information.
3. Contact your university.
For those of you who want direct answers in a short period of time, most universities have resources to help. Ask Ryerson is available and has most of the answers regarding student taxes. International Students can also email or call ISS ([email protected]) for more specific questions.
4. Visit a free tax clinic
This is the one I encourage everyone to do because there will be people who are qualified to do your taxes for you and answer any of your questions, free of charge. Although Ryerson’s tax clinic is already fully booked, there are many around the city available specifically for students with a modest income. Check out this website to find your nearest clinic.
I hope these trustworthy methods can assist you during this tax season. Happy filing!