The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program begins in Greater Trail on March 2. (Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash)

Free tax return program returns to Greater Trail

The free service has been offered to low income households in the Trail area for 10+ years

Number-crunchers are readying for tax season and the hundreds of returns they’ll do at no-cost for low income locals.

Read more: Volunteers welcome for free tax program

Read more: Free tax prep for low income earners

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program will open shop weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in five set locations from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley, beginning Monday, March 2. The free service will run until the end of April, with last interview dates being April 17 to April 23, depending upon the locale.

“We prepare and file personal income tax for low income people in the Greater Trail area, under the auspices of the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and our local sponsoring organization, the Trail FAIR Society,” Ellen Vallie said.

“There are an awful lot of benefits and credits that are based on income tax filing, especially for low income people, so the more they can get out of it, the better.”

Annual income maximums apply, such as a single-person cannot earn more than $35,000; two-person households cannot exceed $45,000; however, families greater than two are permitted $2,500 for each additional person.

To access the free tax program, all applicants must show up in-person and they must have government photo identification.

“You can’t bring in your husband’s or child’s,” Vallie pointed out. “Each person has to sign their permission for us to do the taxes, so it’s important that each person attends themselves.”

She reminds clients to bring all essential documents and receipts to the interview. A copy of the previous year’s return and/or the CRA Notice of Assessment for the previous year are also helpful.

New this year is a partnership between the volunteer-run program and FortisBC.

Vallie reminds clients to bring in their FortisBC bill and, if they so wish, a referral can be made to the utility company’s Energy Conservation Assistance Program. FortisBC offers free home energy upgrades for income-qualified households.

Once each person’s intake is complete, volunteers will finish the return and e-file it from their private offices.

“The client’s information is all kept confidential,” Vallie stressed. “Nothing is saved on our personal computers. If we need to save a file for any reason, it’s saved to an encrypted flash drive.”

After the CRA has confirmed acceptance of an e-filed tax return, all the client’s data is erased from the flash drive.

“Any tax paperwork is returned to the client and nothing is kept from year to year,” she said.

Completed returns should be picked up the following week. Any return not picked up within two weeks of application and filing will be shredded.

The five locales are the Trail Senior Citizens Branch on Mondays; Salvation Army Family Services at 730 Rossland Ave. on Tuesdays; the Trail Legion on Wednesdays; Thursdays at Beaver Valley Senior Citizens Manor in Fruitvale; and Esling Park Lodge in Rossland on Fridays.

Persons with investment/interest income in excess of $1,000, capital gains/losses, partnership income, rental income, business or professional income, farming or fishing income, bankruptcy, or anyone with complex deductions may be deemed ineligible for this service. Also, the program is unable to prepare final returns for deceased persons. Other limitations may apply.

For more information contact the Trail FAIR Society at 250.364.2326.

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