From the desk of the McGill Parents Association…

From the desk of the McGill Parents Association…

Tax time!

Great news: there’s only a few days left in the month of February! Just as you were getting excited about the first day of spring being less than 30 days away, someone had to utter these words: tax season.

Now, I’ll be frank with you: taxes are not exactly what I have in mind when I think of the word “season”. Seasons for me evoke change, fluctuations in temperatures, the passing of years or even Vivaldi. Otherwise, tax time is not something I think of negatively. Perhaps it’s because we put a positive spin on it in Canada by calling what we file our General Income Tax and Benefit Return! Maybe it’s because mine is pretty straight forward to fill out, even with both levels of government having two different perspectives on what I earn and how much of it they should keep.

Researching information related to filing taxes for McGill parents and students, however, I realized how easy it is to get lost trying to find answers to tax-related questions. So I thought I would share my findings with you. While I am not equipped to provide advice on how to file your taxes, I can offer leads to important information you may find helpful, whether as a parent or student.

McGill as a provider of funds

Some students receive an amount of money or a monetary value from McGill during the course of their studies. Whether in the form of scholarships, awards or exemptions from tuition related to staff dependent bursaries, or in the case where a student has been employed on campus, these usually result in students having to declare an income. For this purpose, McGill has to be identified as the source of this income.

What does this mean for these students? Other than the need to declare an income, it can also mean becoming eligible for deductions or credits. It also means receiving T4 slips for any employment income and payroll deductions, and/or T4A slips for scholarship, fellowship, and bursary income, or payments from a registered education savings plan. These slips are to be used when filing for a federal return. The corresponding slips for filing at the provincial level are called Relevé 1 or RL-1 slips (summary of source deductions and employer contributions).

To know everything about filing a return in Canada from a student’s perspective, I strongly suggest visiting the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website and accessing their Students and Income Tax Guide. In this guide, you will also find information on which tax package to use according to your province of residence. For students who also need to file a Quebec provincial return, please refer to the Revenu Quebec portal and their section specifically designed for students.

If filing taxes in Canada, when declaring income and other sources of revenue received from McGill, you need to refer to our institution using its Canadian Employer Identification Number, which is 0051920-20. For the same purpose, parents and students filing in the U.S. will have to use McGill’s IRS or U.S. Employer Identification Number, which is 98-6001153.

Funds paid to McGill or relating to your child’s studies at the University

Tuition and fees paid by students while at McGill may result in interesting tax deductions and credits. Beyond the strict amount paid for tuition, expenses such as health insurance contributions or interest paid on a student loan can translate into credits depending on where you live and file taxes.

Students will find all the information they need to submit expenses that might be eligible for deductions in their “Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts Certificate”, otherwise referred to as T2202A and to be used for their Canadian Federal return. The equivalent needed to file for their Quebec provincial return are the Relevé 8 or RL-8, (amount for post-secondary studies), and the Quebec Tuition receipt (amount for tuition or examination fees). These and all other tax slips for 2010 are now available on Minerva, where students and guests to whom they have granted access to financial information can retrieve them. Under the Student Accounts Menu is a menu entitled “Student Tax Slips“, where students may select the taxation year to be viewed. Students will be able to access printable versions of these government approved forms should they require them.

Donations to McGill

Parents who have made donations to McGill throughout the year should have received a charitable tax receipt on which the appropriate information is included for your claim. McGill University, or Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning, is a registered charity in Canada referred to as Business Number 11912 8981 RR0001. This number applies to all donations made in Canada by donors paying income tax in Canada.

For donations by parents living and paying income tax in the United States, the I.R.S. tax number to use is 98-6001153, the same as the one listed as our U.S. Employer Identification Number.

Should you be missing a charitable donation receipt or require further information, please contact our Donation and Record Services Help Desk at (514) 398-2787 or toll-free at 1 800 567-5175, ext. 2787. To know whether your gift is tax-deductible, please contact your accountant or financial advisor to determine your tax credit.

Income Tax Information Session for International Students

International Student Services (ISS) will be holding two Income Tax Information Sessions, in collaboration with Revenu Quebec and the Canada Revenue Agency, on March 18th. The sessions are open to registered international students, and the sessions cater specifically to their needs.

Two two-hour sessions will be held on that day, starting at 10 am and 2 pm. Representatives will be on hand to help students learn how to fill out their income tax forms. Students will also learn how to calculate their taxable income, apply for tax credits, determine their residency status for income tax purposes, and apply for G.S.T rebate. Visit the ISS website and check out their upcoming events section for more details.

Helpful links

The following is not an exhaustive list but a good starting point for students trying to confirm whether they need to file taxes and where to do so; it should also help students and parents wanting to learn more about the deductions and credits to which they might be entitled (note that possible credits are explained on the websites of the governments with which you file taxes; please refer to them should their information not be included here):

On the McGill website:
Tax slips information on the Student Accounts website
Financial Aid for current students
FAQ on giving to McGill

On the Canada Revenue Agency website:
Topics and services specifically for students
Canadian students and income tax guide
Individuals – Do you have to file a return?
International students in Canada – find out whether you have to file a Canadian income tax return; more information for you is also found on the Are you an international student studying in Canada? fact sheet and in the General Income Tax and Benefit Guide for Non-Residents and Deemed Residents of Canada for 2010

On the Revenu Quebec website:
The Students page, where you fill find all topics related to students and recent graduates
The Parents page, where you find programs and credits available to those who have children
Are you required to file an income tax return in Quebec?
Income Tax Return Documents: This page gives you access to the PDF version of all the documents you will require to complete your personal income tax return for 2010, such as the following forms: Interest Paid on a Student Loan (M), Amount Transferred by a Child 18 or Over Enrolled in Post-Secondary Studies (S) and Tuition or Examination Fees (T).

On the Internal Revenue Service website (IRS; for US citizens):
Tax information for students
Tax information for parents
Tax Benefits for Education (Publication 970) – From What’s New to Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions, from American Opportunity Credit to Lifetime Learning Credits without forgetting Tuition and Fees Deduction, it’s all there. The Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center helps make sense of it all.
Forms and Publications

Do You Need to File a Federal Income Tax Return?
Contacting the IRS – Note that people calling from outside the U.S. for advice should refer to this page.

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