Community tax volunteers will once again be available at area libraries to help qualifying people file their income tax forms for free. Photo: Better Business Bureau.

Community Income Tax volunteers will be at local libraries to help with tax returns

Lower-income singles and families can take advantage of free tax return service

What’s faster than getting an answer on a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) hotline, more powerful than TurboTax, and able to leap tall mountains of paperwork in a single bound? It’s the Community Income Tax Volunteers, who will be back again this year to prepare tax returns for qualifying residents of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge, Walhachin, Savona, Ashcroft Band, Bonaparte Band, and the surrounding area.

The local volunteers are part of the nation-wide Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which is sponsored by the CRA and provides training and software to help the volunteers prepare tax returns. The free service is available to any single person with a net income of less than $35,000 per year, or to families who jointly earn less than $45,000 per year net, regardless of their age. Students, seniors, First Nations, and low-income earners can all make use of the service.

The service is intended for people whose tax returns are relatively basic, but who may not be willing or able to tackle doing them on their own, and for whom the cost of having them prepared by someone else might be prohibitive. Participants bring all relevant paperwork and receipts to the volunteers, who prepare the return and file it electronically, usually within a day. Refunds are usually received within two weeks.

This year the volunteers will once again be operating out of local libraries, starting in early March and continuing through the begining of May. The hours are as follows:

Ashcroft Library: Fridays from noon to 2 p.m., starting March 1 and ending May 1.

Cache Creek Library: Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting March 5 and ending April 30.

Clinton Library: Tuesdays from 1 to 4 p.m., starting March 5 and ending April 30, and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m., starting March 9 and ending April 27.

Savona Library: Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., starting March 6 and ending May 1.

Anyone wanting to take advantage of this service should come prepared with all relevant paperwork, including information about medical expenses such as prescriptions, glasses, health care-related items like walkers, canes, or crutches, and travel expenses (mileage, meals, accommodation) incurred while accessing medical services outside their home community.

Please note that library staff cannot help you with your paperwork or hold it to pass along to the volunteers. If you would like more information about the service, drop by one of the libraries listed above once the program starts. The first couple of sessions are usually the busiest, and there might be a wait time, but after that things are quieter.

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