Monday, April 13, 2015

Tax Tips For Residents / Filing With StudioTax (For Free!)

tax tips for residents
I'm sorry you clicked on what will most likely be my most boring post ever. Having filed my taxes over the weekend (after much procrastination), I just thought it might be helpful to share a few tax tips for medical residents, before they slip from my mind forever until next year. I'll do my best to keep it short and sweet.

How To File Your Own Taxes For Free
That's right, you don't have to hire an accountant, or even spend $20 on TurboTax; if your taxes are straightforward, it's not overly taxing (ha) to file them yourself. Gone are the days of picking up paper forms from the post office to fill out and mail in. The Canadian Revenue Agency suggests a number of software products, compatible with Netfile (Canada's electronic tax filing service):
free tax software
free tax software
Positive online reviews led me to try StudioTax this year -- which is free and every bit as user-friendly as advertised.
pretty simple -- but remember to hit "save" once in a while (I got to do my taxes twice)
when you're done, StudioTax submits your return directly to Netfile -- no need to print anything out!

Tax Slips & Receipts You May Need To Gather
(Not comprehensive; these are just the minimum ones I may qualify for more than this.)
  • T4 -- renumeration from employer
  • T4A -- scholarship/bursary (if you had one in 4th-year medical school)
  • T2202A -- tuition paid (yup, we're still considered students in residency...and pay tuition)
  • T3, T5 -- investment income (if applicable)
  • receipt for public transit pass
  • receipt for malpractice (CMPA) dues (they issue an "annual receipt")
  • receipt for College of Physicians and Surgeons dues
  • receipt for MCCQE Part 1 (they issue a "tuition tax credit" letter)
  • receipts for hospital parking (or check pay stubs if automatic deduction)
  • receipts for medical/dental expenses & amount deducted from paycheques for medical/dental insurance plan premiums (check pay stubs)
  • receipts for RRSP contributions
  • receipts for charitable donations
  • previous year's notice of assessment (to note your unused tuition tax credit)
first things first: gathering all of my forms in a folder

Things You Can Claim As Tax Deductions
(As far as I know! Again, not comprehensive, as I have neglected anything related to children/dependants, student loans, etc.)
  • tuition (also remember to type in the unused tuition tax credit amount from your previous year's notice of assessment)
  • moving expenses (you don't even need to have all the receipts -- use the simplified method to estimate cost)
  • public transit pass
  • malpractice (CMPA) dues -- this goes on line 212 (like T4 box 44: union dues)
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons dues -- this goes on line 212 (like T4 box 44: union dues)
  • MCCQE Part 1 fee -- this is considered tuition
  • hospital parking
  • medical/dental expenses & insurance plan premiums
  • RRSP contributions
  • charitable donations

Things You Apparently Cannot Claim As Tax Deductions
  • CaRMS application fees (I actually did include this in my return as "tuition" because the guide that I was following said that this was "a confusing and controversial area and a tax specialist should be consulted")
  • USMLE registration fees (also apparently "a confusing and controversial area" though)
  • books & equipment (your textbook amount is calculated based on the number of months of school you attended, as per your T2202A; apparently you can't claim anything on top of this)

Where You Can Get More Detailed Information, Specific To Medical Students & Residents:
The CMA website -- specifically, Tax Tips for the Physician & Physician in Training 2015.
Also, don't forget that you can always phone the Canadian Revenue Agency if you have any questions!

Okay, that's it. My apologies if you've read all the way through to this point!

I'll just note that I'm by no means an authority on tax filing, so please contact the CRA or an accountant if you are unsure about anything (and I'm sure many of you know more about taxes than I do, so please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments!). Happy tax filing!

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