Low income or no income, everyone should file tax returns, advises Bill Van Beek.
“What we are trying to do is get people the benefits they are entitled to,” says Van Beek of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). “And the main thing is that even if you have no income you should file because there are a lot of government benefits that are triggered off by filing.”
Paying to have income tax return done by a professional is costly, usually upwards of $100.
So for the past 10-plus years, CVITP has been helping low income earners in the Trail and Greater area file their taxes free-of-charge.
To qualify for the free service, individual income must be under $30,000; family earnings less than $40,000; and for a single parent with one child, $35,000 with $2,500 allowed for each additional dependent.
“We only help those who meet these requirements,” said Van Beek. “The software deals with a lot of the complexities, so what people have to do is make sure they bring in all the information,” he added. “And the other part is that people have to be open with us from the point of view of their situation so we can make sure to get them all the benefits that are available to them.”
Beginning March 1 and running until the end of April, free tax clinics will run five days a week from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m,. throughout Greater Trail, starting with the Trail Senior’s Centre (Greater Trail Community Centre) on Mondays; Tuesday at Kate’s Kitchen on Rossland Ave.; and Wednesdays at the Trail FAIR Society on Columbia Ave.
The program then moves to the Beaver Valley Manor on Laurier Ave. in Fruitvale on Thursdays, then every Friday, volunteers will be on site in Rossland at the Esling Park Lodge on Spokane Street.
People accessing the program are asked to bring all slips including T3s, T4s, T5s and receipts for medical expenses, child arts and recreational programs, charitable donations, as well as a copy of the previous year’s return.
All information is confidential and once the tax return is electronically filed, the computers are wiped clean (information is not stored year-to-year). Interviews are on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Persons with investment income well in excess of $1,000, capital gains/losses, partnership income, rental income, business or professional income, farming or fishing income, or anyone with complex deductions may be deemed ineligible for this service.
Additionally, CVITP is unable to prepare final returns for deceased persons, and other limitations may apply.
By the last day of tax season, Canadians will spend between $4 billion and $5.8 billion preparing and filing personal income tax returns, with the average cost per person being $215, according to a study by the Fraser Institute.