It was April 30, 2004. I had turned 18 just a few weeks ago. I had been in Canada for a whooping 8 months on a Student Visa. Exams were over and I was trying to figure out this whole tax business. I had an income of $0 but I did have a few scholarships to declare. I had no idea if I was suppose to do taxes (was I a resident?), let alone how to do them. Thankfully, a guy behind a desk in the student court accepted my payment of $30 to do my taxes.
He asked me a few questions. Told me that I’d “only” be getting $60 back – do I really want to do them? I thought that was an absurd question – of course I want to do my taxes! I don’t want the government putting me in jail for failure to do my taxes. I handed him $30 in fees to do my taxes. He gave me a whole lot of printed documents to mail, as well as a folder with copies for me. I was ALL done – in time – and I was going to be getting $60! Woohoo!
It wasn’t until I did my 2008 taxes that I paid someone to do my taxes. I also usually had my taxes done by March 2nd. After all, the sooner I get the money, the better
Now, for some lessons….
If you had no income, you do not* have to file taxes. But it is in your interest to do so – you could be eligible for benefits resulting in money for you. You don’t get them unless you file your taxes. (*Find out what situations you must file taxes under.)
You can do your taxes for free. Yes, you can always do them yourself if you have the time, but there are also many companies that let students, or low-income folks to use their product for free. Use them. Don’t just go to some guy behind a desk charging you $30. The government also has Volunteer tax clinics (volunteers who do your taxes) which are open to newcomers and students.
There is a lot of money out there in benefits; I highly recommend filing your taxes to see what you’re eligible for. I’ve personally used Ufile for the last 7 years and have only recently considered migrating to accommodate my growing family and complex financial situations.