From 2009-2015, I was studying in Ontario universities, and made no income. My parents paid all my tuition. I filed my taxes, but didn't know that I could claim tuition tax credits.

u/pfc-toss commented in 2015

You don't have any tuition credit currently available for the years that you did not file. This alone is worth filing past years. Unless you want to just toss the possibly $10k in future refunds.

u/coffeenorth commented in Apr 2019

Can I claim this full amount this year?

You need to refile each of those previous years. Even though they carry forward, they have to be claimed in the year you pay.

How much of a tax credit can I expect?

(Value of credits) * 0.15

You might also get provincial refunds depending on your province.

For the years prior to 2017, you will also get tuition and education monthly amounts.

  1. Is the maximum tuition tax credit $5000 CAD?

  2. Do I understand u/Drithaan's comment beneath? As I spent more than $33,333 (= 5000/0.15), my parents can pay less tax if I retroactively transfer the credit from each year to my income-earning parents. Right?

    You can carry forward all of your unused tuition credits from post-secondary. Transferring them to a parent counts as using them, so if you've been doing this you will have less to carry forward.

    This weekend, I'll refile my taxes from 2009-2013, as u/bluenose777 commented in 2018

    3/ You can amend returns for 10 years so currently that means 2008 to 2017.

  3. But have I missed and lost out on lowering my parents' taxes? Retroactively, can I transfer my tuition tax credits to my parents? Then my parents amend their tax returns too?

u/bubbles1286 in 2016

No, unfortunately tuition tax credits can only be transferred to others in the year they are paid. Past years' credits will sit on your account until you have the income to use them.

u/UnfortunateLuka in 2016

If these tax credits are from 2014 or earlier, no. Credits can only be transferred in their effective tax year. 2015 credits can only be transferred to a spouse this year.

  • Parents can deduct tuition for their child as long as the student was their dependent. So your parents may already make their tax deduction.
    – mootmoot
    Jun 27, 2019 at 8:20
  • @mootmoot There is no deduction for tuition in Canada, only tax credits. This does not work the same as in the US. Jul 5, 2019 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


In Canada, an individual CRA agent has a fair degree of leeway, in determining how charitable to be with a reassessment like this. This could be good for you, because there is no requirement for the CRA to accept refiled returns older than 3 years ago. But in my experience, it is quite likely they will, in a situation like this.

I strongly advise you to prepare tax returns for each tax year in question, carrying forward each old balance to a further year, from 2009-2015. So when you are done, you should have a paper stack of 7 tax returns, that comprehensively includes all paper support of your amounts. Because of the exceptional circumstances of what you are asking for, you will want to include a cover letter explaining everything together be as polite, and endearing, as possible. You also want to make the job of the reviewer as easy on them as possible. This includes having a table in your explanation letter, gathering up your credits from each year, so that they can see that by the end of 2015, you expect to have $x of credits available yourself, with $y credits having been transferred in each previous year.

If you make them do a lot of work to help you, they may just decide not to help you!

The references in your question are all correct, you will need to file each return separately, including an election in that year to transfer the credits to your parents.

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