Replace "" Department of Biology - Simon Fraser University

Tax Information


Since individual circumstance vary, and we are not tax accountants, please double check in the tax guide that the advice below actually applies to your individual circumstance. The BISC Grad Caucus waives responsibility for anything you report to Canada Revenue Agency.

Some of this information may be out of date. If you notice any errors, please email

File online for free

All students can file online for free using U-File.

Links to the Canada Revenue Agency Website:

Canada Revenue Agency Homepage
Students & Income Tax Guide (Canada Revenue Agency)


  • The FULL amount of scholarships & busaries (T4A) are not taxable, and are not reported as income.
  • Because of the above, you are more likely to be able to claim medical expenses (ability to claim is partially based on total income vs. expenses).
  • You can claim a portion of your U-Pass (Tax Credit for Public Transit Passes). This is effective as of June 30, 2006, so you can claim the full amount for the fall semester and a proportion of the amount from the summer semester. Don't include a receipt, but keep in case you get audited (The receipt is you detailed account statement from goSFU, where the UPass is listed as a seperate item).
  • New item on Schedule 11. Textbook amount: this happens automatically (you don't need receipts). Yay!
  • The Refundable medical expenses amount has increased. Yay!
  • The Canada employment amount is a new non-refundable tax credit - as long as you earned over $250, you can claim $250 on line 363. See here for more info.
  • Universal Child Care Benefit (line 117) - Since July 2006, if you are an eligible individual responsible for the care of a child under 6 years of age, you are eligible to receive $100 per month for each qualified dependant.
  • Also see the Canada Revenue Agency "New This Year" for more info, and additional ones that seemed less relevent to students to me.
  • Children's Fitness Tax Credit: As of January 1, 2007, parents of children under 16 will be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 to help cover the costs of certain programs of physical activity.

Checklist for common mistakes students make that cost them money:

  • If you're a single, full-time SFU biology grad student and you supported yourself through a typical combination of scholarships, grants, and TAships, you almost certainly shouldn't be paying any tax. If you are, you have probably done something wrong.
  • Did you download a T2202 from the SFU website? (This is the only form not mailed to you by SFU, and it is the one that gives you money instead of taking it away.)Your T4 & T4A form will be mailed to you by the university. But your T2202A form WILL NOT. You need to go to the goSFU website and print this out yourself. VERY IMPORTANT: Even if you aren't paying tax this year, you MUST fill out you Schedule 11 with all the info from the T2202 form. This is becase you can carry forward these tax credits indefinately. This means that when you eventually leave school and get a full time job, you may have over $10,000 in tax credits stored up that you can use once you start earning the big bucks. This represents THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in saved taxes a few years from now.
  • In general, even if you won't be paying tax because you have enough education tax credits, make sure you claim all the non-refundable tax credits that you can (e.g., union dues, transit pass, etc.). That way you'll have more education amounts to carry over to future years when you (hopefully) earn enough $ to pay tax.
  • Did you remember to NOT enter ANY OF your scholarship or grant earnings as income? This is new. For many people, this will mean that even though you received one or more T4A forms from SFU, you don't use them at all. This change can make a big difference to the amount of
  • If you had medical expenses totalling more than 3% of your net income, did you claim this? Not everyone realizes that this includes ALL KINDS OF STUFF: private medical insurance premiums, and your out-of-pocket expenses for birth control, chiropractors, physiotherapy, and a bunch of other stuff. There is a REFUNDABLE credit for medical expenses on page 4 of T1, so even if your income is too low for you to pay tax, you can get money back from this. (Note that this looks on the surface like a non-refundable credit, but for poor people like students, there IS a refundable part). Also, since scholarships & grants are no longer income, you may be eligibale for this for the first time. See tax guide blurb about medical expenses (line 330), and especially tax guide blurb about the refundable part for poor people (line 452). The lists of eligible expenses is hard to find - you should check 2 places: (1) the list in Medical and Disability-Related Information - 2006 and (2) the Interpretations Bulletin on Medical stuff. NOTE: you need to include receipts for medical claims. For your benefit plan costs, I believe a printout of your account from goSFU is the appropriate document.
  • Did you check "yes" for the GST rebate on page 1 of your T1? EVERYONE should do this. If you're noteligible, the government fiugures that our for you. If you check "no", you're essentially saying "don't bother to check if I'm eligible"
  • If you moved to Vancouver to attend school here, did you claim your moving expenses?
  • SFU has probably over-deducted CPP contributions (they are conservative, this prevents you from being surprised that you owe $$ at the end of the year). When you file taxes, the government (so far) figures out whether you paid automoaticvally, and adjusts your return (so if you haven't done this calculation in the past, you won't have lost any $$). But if you want to do this yourself so that you know how much your total return will be when you file, you should fill out form T2204 before you start filling out the main tax return.

Typical example:

  • I TAed 1 semester, RAed 1 semester, and had a GF for 1 semester. I'm a single Canadian without any children, assets, RSPs or investments, I made no political or charitable donations, and I had a couple of prescriptions filled, of which my health plan only covered 80%.
  • Here's the forms I used (This is probably the most simple tax situation that a grad student can have, so it's likely that you should be using all these forms too (at least), if you're filing on paper.):
    1. T1 General
    2. Federal Worksheet (for refundable medical expenses)
    3. T2204 (employee overpayment of 2006 canada pension plan contributions and 2006 employment insurance premiums)
    4. Schedule BC(S11) (BC education amounts)
    5. BC428 (BC tax)
    6. Schedule 11 (federal education amounts)
    7. BC479 (BC credits - for sales tax refundable credit)
    8. Schedule 1 (federal tax)
    9. T4 received in mail from SFU
    10. T2202A printed out from the goSFU website
    11. note: I also received 2 T4As from SFU that each listed a scholarship/bursary and nothing else. This is no longer considered reportable income, so I didn't use these forms.
  • Here's the approximate result (if you have a simple situation, your refund should be comparable):
    1. I'll get a GST rebate check 4 times a year (approx. $50-$100 per cheque)
    2. I pay no federal or provincial tax for the 2006 year
    3. SFU deducted $100-$200 in tax -> I will get this refunded to me
    4. SFU deducted about $100 extra in CPP payments -> I will get this refunded to me
    5. I will get about $25 back in refundable medical expense supplement
    6. I will get $75 back for the BC refundable sales tax credit
    7. Collectively, I will receive a refund of $300-$400.
    8. I have unused education tax credits from this year that I can carry over to future years: $10,000 federally & $7,000 provincially. This gets added to what I had left over from previous years, and my total to carry over to future yrs is about $14,000 and $10,000.

If you made a mistake

If you realize that you made a mistake in a tax return that you already filed (either for this year or for a previous year), it's not too late! You can file for an adjustment to previous tax claims from up to 10 years ago. More info about how to do this is available from the Canada Revenue Agency website.