SAITSA offers tax help for international students

Taxes don’t have to be scary: Bekah Callaghan, SAITSA student volunteer coordinator for the Income Tax Program, poses on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 in Calgary.

The tax season is upon us and for international students this can be quite daunting.

It’s one thing being a student in a new country many miles from home and it’s another to file taxes ensuring that you are in the good books with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). And whether you are a resident or just studying here in Canada you have to file taxes, even if you are only working part-time.

But Bekah Callaghan says, “taxes are not as scary as a lot of people think they are. It’s not like the big bad government coming after you. It’s just keeping records. ”

Bekah Callaghan is a student enrolled at SAIT finishing up her Business Degree. Callaghan is also the SAITSA student volunteer coordinator for the Income Tax Program.

If you are a SAIT student there is no need to worry about how to file your taxes. The SAIT student organization SAITSA runs a volunteer income tax program for students that is completely free which means they will file your taxes for you at no charge.

In order for them to file your taxes at no charge though you need to meet eligibility requirements. Eligibility means that you have $35,000 maximum net income individually, have $45,000 maximum net income if you’re married or common-law + $2,500 per dependent, do not have capital gains/losses, are not self-employed and do not have rental income.

The majority of the student volunteers that will help you file your taxes are enrolled in business and accounting programs and they are required to follow the Volunteer Income Tax Program standards to ensure your filling is done adequately.

Callaghan oversees the program, trains all the volunteers and is available in the clinic to assist with complicated tax returns, if there’s anything abnormal that they haven’t seen before.

Final year international student Minh Nguyen enrolled in the Architectural Technology program agrees with Callaghan that paying taxes is not a scary thing.

“Oh, it was a little complicated at first and it takes time because there’s so many documents because I combined like three or four years but it’s not that hard,” says Nguyen, who decided to challenge himself and file his own taxes.

“Go online, do some research and you can easily do it by yourself. But if you find it too hard you can find a company or a consultant,” says Nguyen.

That is another option for students. There are many self-filling tax kits that you can buy online. That way you don’t have to pay an accountant, however this is time consuming, as Nguyen admitted.

If you don’t want to by a self-filling kit or if your taxes are too complicated then you can seek out the help of experience professionals at a place like H&R Block.

They are equipped to handle more complicated tax filing issues and as long as you can prove that you are a student, they charge a set rate of $50 which you only have to pay once they have collected all of your forms and documents and filled your taxes. With them you can get instant tax refunds, if you are eligible for them.

Go online, do some research and you can easily do it by yourself. But if you find it too hard you can find a company or a consultan. – Minh Nguyun

Some important dates to take note of are; Apr. 2, 2021 is the deadline to set up a pre-authorized debit payment for 2020 to avoid interest charges Apr. 30, 2021 filing due date for 2020 tax returns for individuals. And Jun. 15, 2021 filing due date for 2020 tax returns for self-employed in Canada.

There are many options and avenues one can take when it comes to filling one’s taxes. One must first consider their situation, measure the complexity and then decide which would be the best route to take in terms of getting filling assistance.

If you are still hoping to file your taxes and you meet the eligibility requirements SAITSA will have an Online Tax Program between Mar 14 and Apr 16, 2021.

About Michaela Pitman 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Michaela Pitman is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.