Free tax support! Reduce stress this tax season with help from Mac’s Money Centre
We know that tax season — the time when Canadians are required to prepare and file their income tax returns — can be stressful. But the good news is that, as a student, you’re likely to get money back by filing your taxes. And we can help.
Each year, Mac’s Money Centre and campus and community partners come together to support the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Through this program, we offer free tax services for McMaster students and eligible Hamilton/surrounding area community members.
Avoid delays in your benefits. The deadline to file returns for the 2022 tax year is April 30, 2023.
Need help filing previous tax returns?
No problem. We can help with tax returns for previous years (up to 10 years).
Do-it-yourself (DIY) tax clinics
It’s time to get financially empowered to file your own tax return. Attend a clinic to learn all about filing taxes in Canada so you can make the most of eligible benefits and credits. (This means money back in your bank account!) Then, file your tax return with confidence. No previous experience required.
Drop-in tax appointments
Sign up for a free tax appointment to have your tax return prepared by a trained Tax Squad volunteer.
- Appointments: March 20, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Appointments: March 23, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Appointments: March 26, 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Appointments: March 28, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Appointments: April 4, 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Appointments: April 13, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Appointments: April 27, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Appointments: April 28, 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
What to bring
- MacID student card
- T4 (employment income)
- T4A (scholarships, bursaries, RESP)
- T5 (investment income)
- Self-employment income and expenses
- 2022 rent receipts
- Medical expenses (UHIP premium and expenses not covered by insurance)
- Tuition (T2202) — consult with your parents (if you are a domestic student) regarding an optional transfer of unused tuition (up to $5,000)
- Moving expenses to Hamilton to attend McMaster
- Child-care expenses
- Charitable donations
- Work-from-home expenses (number of days you worked from home)
- Last year’s notice of assessment (NOA), if you have it
Finding McMaster tax forms on Mosaic
How to find your T2202/T4A:
- Log in to Mosiac using your MacID.
- On the home page, select “Student Centre” and scroll to the section titled “finances.”
- Use the drop-down menu and select “print/view tax forms.”
- Select the appropriate tax form(s) and the tax year.
How to find your T4:
Student staff, as well as part-time and full-time McMaster employees, can also access their tax forms on Mosaic.
- Log in to Mosiac using your MacID.
- Go to “Mosiac home” and select “employee self-service” from the drop-down menu.
- Choose “view T4 slips”
Personal tax preparation is available at no charge to local community members with a modest income
This year, we’re offering in-person tax clinics so you don’t have to drop off your information and wait to come pick up your return. Instead, we’ll prepare your return, review it with you and file it on the spot. We’ll give you a filing confirmation and a copy of your returns.
The following individuals/families are eligible for tax return support:
- One-person family: $35,000 or less
- Two-person family: $45,000 (combined) or less
- Three-person family: $47,500 (combined) or less
- Four-person family: $50,000 (combined) or less, plus $2,500 for each additional person
Volunteers do not prepare complex returns, such as returns for individuals who:
- Have self-employment income
- Have business or rental income and expenses
- Have capital gains or losses
- Have employment expenses
- Have interest income greater than $1,000
- Have filed for bankruptcy
- Are deceased within the year
To make sure your tax return is completed correctly, please bring all of the necessary information that applies to your situation.
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- T4 (employment income)
- T4A, T4A (P), T4 (OAS), T4RIF, T4E
- T5 (statement of investment income)
- T3 (statement of trust income allocations and designations)
- T5007 (social services benefits)
- RC62 (universal child care benefit)
- Your notice of assessment from last year’s taxes
- Charitable donations
- Medical/dental expenses not covered by a health plan
- Child care expenses
- Property taxes
- RRSP contributions
- T2202 (tuition and education)
In-person tax clinics
Central Public Library55 York Boulevard, Hamilton
- March 18, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- April 8, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- April 22, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Redhill Public Library695 Queenston Road, Hamilton
- March 25, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Barton Public Library571 Barton Street East, Hamilton
- March 31, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- April 15, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Dundas Public Library18 Ogilvie Street, Dundas
- April 1, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- April 18 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Terryberry Public Library100 Mohawk Road West, Hamilton
- April 20, 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
My Money PersonalityMarch 1, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
We all have a money personality. Attend this workshop to find out what yours is and how it can shape your financial habits. We’ll explore how past experiences and perceptions impact money attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. This workshop is a great icebreaker to start learning all about money.
Set Your Financial GoalsMach 2, 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET
The goals you have set for yourself should reflect what’s important to you, and setting financial goals that support these efforts is crucial.
This workshop is a hands-on, interactive experience where you’ll get to explore how to take an idea, turn it into a specific goal and ensure that it’s actionable. Learn how to use SMART goals (and some interesting twists on this practice) and how they can support your success.
Maximize Your Tax and Education Benefits: Students with DisabilitiesMarch 21, 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET
The government provides education grants and tax benefits for persons with disabilities. Attend this workshop to get the information you need and find out how these benefits can open doors to additional credits and grants.
We’ll talk about:
- Education grants
- Disability tax credit and recent changes
- Eligible medical deductions
- Disability support deductions
- Registered disability savings plan (grants and bonds available)
- Home accessibility grant
Saving and InvestingMarch 23, 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET
Everyone tells us that building our savings is important, but they aren’t always clear about the why or how. Attend our workshop to learn about money-saving behaviour and the benefits of investing. Learn about the different types of investments and savings, how to make wise investment decisions and ways to get started. We’ll review the basic types of investment products, including bonds, stocks, mutual funds, TFSAs, RRSP’s and the magic of compounding interest over time to build wealth.
Building a Great Credit ReportMarch 28, 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET
Do you know what a credit report is? If you have a credit card, cell phone, car loan or student loan from the bank, then you already have a credit report and score. In addition to having higher credit approval rates, people with good credit often receive lower interest rates. This is now more important than ever, given the climate of rising interest rates. Paying less interest on your debt can save you a lot of money over time, so building your credit score is one of the smartest financial moves you can make.
Attend this workshop to learn everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about your credit score and how you can increase it.
Gain confidence in your finances through casual money conversations
You probably have questions about money — OSAP, budgeting, bank accounts, credit scores, debt and more. We’ve all been there. Book a financial literacy (AKA “FinLit”) peer appointment with an upper-year student who can help.
If you’re feeling financially stressed, we also offer money coaching with a certified financial counsellor.
Book appointments on OSCARplus (under Student Success Centre > Appointments > Mac’s Money Centre).
Who is eligible to file an individual tax return?
If you’re a Canadian resident who’s 18 years of age or older, then you’re eligible to file a tax return. This includes international students and any partners living with them in Canada.
Why should I file a tax return if I don’t have any income? Will I get in trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if I don’t file?
When you file a return, you may be eligible for benefits and credits available for individuals and families with lower income in Canada. You can’t receive these benefits if you don’t file.
Only individuals who owe the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) taxes receive a fine for not filing their tax returns. However, students with no income won’t be subject to taxes.
I want to file my own taxes this year. What free software should I use?
First of all, congratulations! Learning to do your taxes is an essential part of understanding where your money’s going.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recommends several free tax software, and they’re all acceptable. In our sessions, we recommend Wealthsimple Tax because it’s simple and intuitive and works well for simple returns. You can find more tax software options on the CRA website.
Remember, the concept of what to include and claim remains the same for any software — only the navigation changes.
I used a different tax software last year. Do I need to use the same one to file my taxes this year?
No, you can use any software you want if you haven’t already filed your taxes this year. Delete your account on the other software and start fresh on the new one.
Note: If you use the same software, you can keep your personal information and the carry-forwards from your last year’s return.
I’ve moved since 2022. Which address should I use on my taxes?
Your address is an important piece of identification for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
If you’re attending a free tax appointment where one of our volunteers prepares your return, please provide your current address. The CRA will automatically update your address when we file your return.
If you’re electronically filing your return — through one of our do-it-yourself (DIY) clinics, for example — you must update your address with the CRA before completing your return. Otherwise, you won’t be able to file your return.
How to update your address: You can make this change using the CRA My Account. If you don’t have an account, but you’ve previously filed a return in the last two years, we recommend registering for an account to receive email updates and easy access to your information.
Does it matter if my address is outdated on Mosaic?
No, having an outdated address on Mosaic doesn’t impact your ability to file taxes. However, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) needs your current address.
Note: You can update your address on the Mosaic self-serve portal.
Do married and common-law couples file their tax returns separately?
Yes. However, you can prepare both returns together since some information will be the same. This is because some benefits are based on family income, and only one partner receives the benefit on behalf of the entire family. Any tax software you use will help you prepare both returns and then file them separately.
You must also include information for children under the age of 18.
To be considered a common-law couple, you must have lived together for 12 consecutive months (in most cases). Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re not sure.
What is the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account? Do I need to register before I file my taxes?
The CRA’s My Account is a secure online platform where you can access information on your taxes, credits and benefits. It allows you to edit your personal information, set up direct deposit, file your income taxes, register for email notifications, check when you’ll receive your benefits and manage all other personal tax matters in one place.
It’s easy, but it does require that you submit your initial tax return before you can register. If you’ve filed returns in previous years, we recommend that you set up an account before filing this year.
Visit the CRA website to learn how to register. Or, watch this video on the CRA registration process.
I have a lot of tax questions, and a few of them are a bit more complicated. Who can I ask?
This depends on the nature of your questions, but you can contact Mac’s Money Centre (email@example.com) for support. If we don’t have the answer, we can guide you to get the information you need.
Where do I upload my documents on the tax software?
You don’t need to submit documents when you file your taxes. In Canada, we prepare our taxes on the honour system. However, you must keep your receipts for six years in case the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requests backup documentation. Remember that CRA already has a copy of all T4-related slips submitted by employers. If you omit a T4 on your return, they will re-assess your return to include it. If anything, they may request copies of your T2202 tuition slips to prove you’re eligible for the credits you claim. You can access the T2202 on Mosaic.
What if I’ve already filed my return and forgot to include some important expenses?
Unfortunately, you can’t refile a return. In this case, you must wait for your notice of assessment (NOA). Then, if you’ve already registered for a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account, you can submit the adjustment online. If you don’t have an account, you must fill out a T1 adjustment form and mail it separately. The form lets you identify what you missed and where to include it on the return. Then, the CRA will adjust it for you and send a copy of your revised notice of assessment (NOA).
I need to file tax returns for previous years. Where should I start?
Good news! You can still file returns for up to 10 years. Start with the first year you were eligible to file a return (18 years old) and work your way from there. Most of the free tax software will allow you to prepare multiple returns.
I filed my return. Now what?
Ensure you keep a copy of the confirmation that your file was submitted correctly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Then, wait for your notice of assessment (NOA) to be ready. It usually takes a few weeks to process. We recommend saving a PDF of the return so you can refer to it later as needed.
What is a notice of assessment (NOA)?
Your NOA is a government notice confirming your tax refund, benefits and credits based on your tax submission. If they have made any adjustments to your return, this information will also be on your NOA. You can refer to your original tax return to check if the amounts match. If you don’t understand any adjustments, you should contact the CRA.
I tried to file my return electronically using NETFILE but received a message saying I’m not permitted to file. Now what?
Read the message carefully to find out why. Sometimes, your name listed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may not match the name listed on your tax return. This is common. Use the name indicated on your social insurance number (SIN). Other times, the first and last names can be in the wrong order. If you’re still unable to file, you can always contact the CRA.
Remember, your name, birth date, SIN and address must match the CRA’s records. In some cases where the CRA may not have any record for you, you’ll need to mail your return with all your documentation. Keep copies. If you mail your return, it’ll take longer to process.
I’m nervous about preparing and filing my tax return. Do you have any advice or guidance?
Your nerves will most likely disappear once you learn more about the process and complete your first return. Doing your taxes is empowering, and it’s an essential part of understanding your financial situation and where your money goes.
It can take some time to understand the whole process, so make sure you check your return and ask questions. The good news is that most student returns aren’t complicated and can be easily done using free software.
Attend one of our do-it-yourself (DIY) clinics, and we’ll guide you through the process.
When do I need to submit my taxes to qualify for benefits?
The standard deadline for filing returns is April 30. However, if you don’t owe the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) money, you can complete your taxes at any time. However, we still recommend filing on time so your benefit payments aren’t delayed.
Generally, students won’t owe additional taxes.
If you’re filing returns for multiple years, however, you can only receive the funds for these benefits for the last four years.
I have general questions about taxes, and I may have made some errors when I filed my return. How can I get help?
You can book an appointment on OSCARplus to meet with financial literacy (AKA “FinLit”) peers, who are trained upper-year students. They will show you how to file an adjustment to a previous year’s tax return.
What qualifies as income?
Income refers to funds coming from any of these sources:
- Employment (T4)
- Scholarships and bursaries (T4A)
- Interest earned on investments (T3 and T5)
- Government programs like Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Ontario Works (OW)
- Tips and gratuities
You should receive slips for these income sources no later than March. If you’re missing a slip, you should contact your employer, bank or whatever institution provided you with the funds. As you receive the slips, put them away safely until you’re ready to file your return.
Bank slips are often sent to your online bank account. Check there first.
What about self-employment income? I’m an Uber driver.
You’re required to claim any income received from all sources. With self-employment income, you can also claim eligible expenses. With Uber, you can claim a mileage allowance to offset your costs. Ensure you log all your trips in case the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asks for documentation. The easiest way to do this is to include the net amount (income less mileage) under “other income.” You must fill out an income and expense statement if you have a more complicated business with several expenses. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if this is your situation, and we can help.
What if I have multiple revenue slips? Should I be calculating the total myself?
There’s no need to calculate the total yourself. One of the software benefits is that the calculations are automatic. Once you add in one slip using Wealthsimple, you can add others. But first, make sure you’re not uploading duplicates.
Why do I need to include my scholarship and bursary amounts on my T4A? I was told that they aren’t taxable.
If you’re a full-time student, then they’re probably not taxable. However, any funds you receive are considered when calculating the benefits you’re eligible for.
I have investment money in my account to help pay for school and living expenses. Is this considered to be income for tax purposes?
If you have money you saved, brought over from another country or received as a gift, it is not considered income. Only the interest generated from this money is considered income. You should be receiving a T5 from the institution for the interest you received.
Expenses and receipts
What type of receipts do I need from my landlord to claim rent?
You must have proof of payment to your landlord. You should first contact your landlord and ask them for a letter confirming the total amount you paid for the year. Have them include their name and address, and your name. They’re legally required to provide you with this receipt. If they don’t, keep a copy of your e-transfers or cheques as proof of payment. Never pay rent using cash.
I lived in residence. What can I claim?
You can claim $25 in occupancy costs if you lived in residence.
I share the rent with my roommate, but only one of us is on the lease. Should I ask for separate receipts?
Yes. Ask for two separate receipts so you can both claim your share. Next time you rent, ensure that everyone living there’s included on the lease.
Can I use my lease agreement as rent documentation?
No. You must request a rent receipt from your landlord.
I live with my parents and pay them rent. Should I be claiming this amount?
Yes. You can claim the rent if your parents agree to claim this amount as income on their tax return. This is a conversation that you will need to have with them. If not, then do not claim the rent on your tax return.
Can I claim commuting expenses like Go Transit and the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) city bus?
Unfortunately, you can’t claim general bus expenses. However, if you’re travelling more than 40 kilometres to school, you can submit that as an expense — but only after you’ve returned from a summer break or a co-op or internship. You can email email@example.com if you have questions.
What medical expenses can I claim?
You can deduct medical premiums and expenses that your insurance didn’t cover. If you have a complicated medical condition leading to many expenses, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll help you identify which costs you can claim.
Can I claim my children’s day-care expenses?
Yes. You must have a receipt from the day-care provider. The parent with the lower income must be the one to claim.
Benefits (GST/HST, Ontario Trillium Grant, Climate Action Incentive Grant)
I know that individuals and families with lower incomes are eligible for these benefits. What’s the eligible income range?
Eligibility depends on several factors, including your income, the number of people in your family and the type of deductions you’ve utilized. Most students, even those working part-time, generally qualify for these benefits. The tax software you use will calculate the amount of benefits you’re entitled to.
What benefits should I be checking for after I prepare my return?
Always check your return before filing to ensure the benefits and amounts are identified on your return. Check and re-check your inputs. You should check for a GST/HST benefit from the federal government, the Ontario Trillium Grant and the Climate Action Incentive benefit.
Do I need shopping receipts to claim these benefits?
No receipts are required. The amount you receive is based on your income.
What is the GST/HST benefit, and who qualifies for it?
The GST represents the federal government’s portion (5%) of the 13% tax we pay on most purchases. The benefit is designed to help offset this tax. You must be 19 years of age to apply. Regular quarterly benefits are sent on the fifth day of July, October, January and April.
What is the Ontario Trillium Grant, and who qualifies for it?
This benefit combines the Ontario sales tax credit and the occupancy tax credit (if you rent or own property). You only need to apply for the rent/occupancy part of the Trillium benefit. Any tax software you use will automatically calculate the sales tax amount. You must be 18 years of age to apply. Monthly benefits are sent on the tenth day of every month, starting in July. If your benefit amount is less than $360 for the year, then you’ll get a lump sum payment in July for your eligible amount. You must have lived in Ontario in December 2022 to qualify for this provincial benefit.
What is the Climate Action Incentive Grant? Who qualifies for it?
The benefit is a new refundable tax credit for Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta residents. Starting in April 2019, residents of these provinces were charged a new federal carbon tax. The Climate Action Incentive is to compensate you individuals for the increased expenses.
You must be 18 years or older to apply. Only individuals and families who lived in the province for the entire year are eligible for this refund.
I don’t own a car. Can I still claim the Climate Action Incentive?
Tax credits (tuition credits, moving expenses and the Canada Child Benefit)
What do I do to claim/use my tuition tax credits?
You can only use your tuition tax credits to offset future government taxes. You’re not likely in this position as a student. However, to have these amounts available when you start working full-time, you must record them in the year they were incurred. These are known as deferred tax credits.
These tax credits will accumulate in your tax account, so make sure you record them every year. You can check these amounts on the T2202 form, which you can find on Mosaic. You should receive a copy of the T2202 form by the end of February, so check your account.
Do tuition tax credits mean that the government’s giving back my tuition?
Yes and no. The government allows us to accumulate tuition credits to reduce future tax liability. The tuition credit is calculated at a rate of 15% of your accrued tuition amounts. Most students typically can use this credit when they start working full-time.
Tip: If you’re an international student, you must stay in Canada to be able to use tuition credits. You won’t be able to access them if you return to your home country.
The tax software I’m using is asking me for the “unused carry-forward amount related to tuition.” Where do I find this?
You can find this amount on your notice of assessment (NOA). Or, you can find it on your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account. The CRA will automatically accumulate these credits from the year before, so you can leave it blank on your tax return if you don’t know what amount to submit.
I’m preparing my return, and the software’s asking if I should transfer tuition credits to my parents. What does that mean?
Note: This only applies to domestic students.
As a student, all tuition credits belong to you, regardless of who paid them. So it’s your decision to transfer the funds. You can transfer a maximum of $5,000 to your parents, partner or spouse.
Tip: If you need the credit to pay a loan or tuition, then you can ask them to use the credit and give you the $750 tax refund.
What type of moving expenses qualify for a credit?
You can claim moving expenses to cover your transportation costs if you’re travelling more than 40 kilometres for school or work. This could include renting a moving van, gas, food and temporary accommodations. You must have receipts to claim these expenses. These expenses are used to reduce taxable scholarships, bursaries and fellowships only, not employment income.
If you’re an international student, then you can claim the expenses to come to Canada. However, you can’t claim return flights if you’re going back home to visit.
Who qualifies for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)?
Review the eligibility for the new CCB is entirely based on your family’s net income.
International students with families are also eligible for the CCB if they lived in Canada with their child for 18 consecutive months. If this applies to you, you must apply separately from your tax return by submitting an RC66SCH form.
What does it mean to be considered a newcomer or resident for tax purposes?
Being considered a newcomer or resident for tax purposes is based on living in Canada. This is different than being a permanent resident in terms of immigration status.
For example: You came to Canada to study and or work. You rented a place to live. You spent money in the economy. And you set up a bank account. So you’re considered a resident for tax purposes (and eligibility purposes).
As a newcomer/resident for tax purposes, what do I need to do to receive benefits?
If you’re single or married and have no children, you must submit the RC151 form to receive your benefits. This is separate from your tax return. This form is required only for the year you became a resident of Canada, so you don’t need to file the form every year. Spouses or partners who aren’t in the country don’t need to sign the form.
Access the RC151 form on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.
My partner/spouse isn’t with me in Canada. Do I still indicate that I’m married on my tax return?
Yes. Your tax software will ask some questions about your income before arriving in Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will use this in calculating your benefits
My partner/spouse and child are living with me in Canada. Do I need to do anything special when filing my taxes?
You’ll need to file the RC66SCH in addition to the RC151 form. The forms are similar, but the RC66SCH contains a citizen questionnaire.
I brought my child with me to Canada. When will I receive the Canada Child Benefit?
You can only receive this benefit after residing in Canada on a study or work permit with your child for at least 18 months. In the nineteenth month (or later), you can apply for the benefit using the RC66 form. You might want to prepare the form in advance so you can submit it quickly when you’re eligible. This applies to both the federal and provincial child tax benefits.
Do I have to apply for the GST/HST, Ontario Trillium Grant and Climate Action Incentive Grant?
You must apply for these benefits during your first year of living in Canada.
If you’re single or married without children, complete the RC151 form and attach the original letter from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you’re married and arriving with your partner and child/children, then fill out both the RC151 and the RC66SCH.
Where do I mail tax forms?
Each form will indicate where you should mail them. You can upload documents online if you’ve registered for a Canada Revenue (CRA) My Account.
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