It’s tax time, and volunteers around the Boundary are here to help.
For the sixth year in a row, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program will be operating in Grand Forks and other locations around the Boundary.
The local program is an initiative of the Canada Revenue Agency to help low income Canadians and those in need complete their taxes. Volunteers handle simple tax situations for those considered low-income, with incomes generally under $40,000 for a couple or $30,000 for an individual. The program does not handle business taxes, taxes for those recently deceased, or bankruptcy taxes.
Lorraine Dick, coordinator for the program here in Grand Forks, said it started as a simple thing she could do to help people access services.
“We started with one clinic in Service BC,” she said.
Since then, the program has grown – she said she has more volunteers than she has clinics to run, and last year the program did 2015 taxes for 249 people. Dick said they also completed 189 sets of 2014 taxes last year, to help people get caught up and up to date.
“The whole point of the program is so that people get benefits,” Dick said. “Those who are at the low end aren’t getting health coverage, GST, child benefits, etc. They don’t get much back, but it is to get them on the book so they get benefits.”
Dick later clarified that “people are still covered for medical services however they will be invoiced at the full rate and will not have access to reimbursement for peri medical services like chiropractic, etc.”
The program is completely free. Dick said anyone interested in having their taxes done should come to one of the clinic locations with the necessary forms – statements of income, such as T4s for employment, disability or welfare – and sign a few forms giving the volunteers permission to file their taxes electronically as well as provide other personal information. Dick stresses that all information is kept private before being shredded.
“You drop in, you’ll have papers to fill out that give us permission to do [your taxes], and give us information about you,” she said. “We need to know if you have children, other dependents, social insurance number, it is all kept private. Bring your T4 or whatever the government has given you for income tax. T4 is work and other forms of income, like welfare and disability come in different forms.
A week later, they can come back and pick up their forms. It’s as easy as that, Dick said.
This year for the first time the program will be expanding to Beaverdell, by appointment on Tuesdays. Dick said that came largely from having a volunteer in the area. The program will also service people from Midway and Rock Creek, if they can come in to a clinic.
The program runs between March 1 and April 28. There will be two clinics in Grand Forks: The Phoenix Room at 174 Market Ave on Wednesdays and the main foyer of Gospel Chapel on Fridays. There will also be a clinic in Greenwood at Community Futures on Wednesdays.
“I am just blown away by how well this has taken off in our community,” she said.
For more information on clinic times and dates, visit crw-arc.gc.ca or see the Boundary Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Facebook page.