(from l) Ashcroft Community Volunteer Income Tax Program volunteers Shirley Holowchuk

(from l) Ashcroft Community Volunteer Income Tax Program volunteers Shirley Holowchuk

Volunteers take sting out of tax returns

A group of volunteers in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Bonaparte, and Clinton will take the headache out of filing your rturn - for free.

Income tax season is almost here; a prospect that can be daunting to many, and expensive for those on low or fixed incomes who need assistance preparing their returns.

That’s where the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) can step in to help. The free service is available to any single person who has an income of less than $30,000 per year, or to couples who earn less than $40,000 a year combined.

The program is sponsored by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which provides training and software to help volunteers prepare the returns. The CRA does not, however, give any funding for supplies or office space; which is why local CVITP Coordinator Vivian Edwards is grateful to the businesses and groups that have stepped up with assistance.

“I really want to thank Kelly Adamski and Kelrockden Holdings for providing us with office space, and Nancy Kendall of Better At Home for sponsoring us,” says Edwards. “The program can’t operate without a sponsor. And a big thank you to Deb Tedford of Friendship Auto for a cash donation.”

Edwards notes that the service, which was started by Gordon Berdan, has been running for more than four decades. “It’s for students, seniors, First Nations, those with low incomes.”

The CVITP office in Ashcroft is located at 310 Railway Railway Avenue (in the Better At Home office), and is open every Friday from March 4 to early May, from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Clinton is served by John White and Yvette May, who will be working out of the Clinton Seniors’ Centre on Smith Avenue every Friday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Betty Antoine (250-457-9261) is available at Bonaparte, and Adeline Sarver (250-457-6689) covers Cache Creek and 16 Mile. Cache Creek and area residents are also welcome to come to the Ashcroft office, where one of the six volunteers will help them.

“People can just drop in,” says Edwards. “They leave their tax information and fill out a form with us. They can then come back the following week and pick up their completed return.” Edwards notes that the returns are filed electronically wherever possible, so that people can get their refunds as soon as possible.

Edwards estimates that 200 to 250 Ashcroft and Cache Creek residents use the Ashcroft service each year.

“One thing people forget to bring in is their medical expenses,” she says. “Prescriptions, glasses, hearing aids, walkers, and things like mileage to Kamloops, hotel accommodation and meals there for medical appointments and procedures; they can all be claimed.”