Just in time for tax season, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program is back, to help qualifying individuals and households complete — for free — their 2021 tax returns.
The service, which is administered by volunteers under the umbrella of the Community Resource Society and overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency, is available to single people with a yearly income of $35,000 or less, and to couples with a combined yearly household income of $45,000 or less.
The service is intended for people with basic, straightforward tax returns, says local organizer Vivian Edwards. Last year the volunteers completed more than 400 tax returns for people in the region.
“If you have a complex tax return, or are high income, we’re not the right people. People have to meet the income threshold and have a fairly simple return. And we don’t do businesses.”
Qualifying people who want to take advantage of the service need to gather together all their 2021 tax documents, such as T4s and T5s. You should also have any medical receipts from 2021, such as prescriptions, or charges for items like glasses, hearing aids, and more.
Expenses incurred attending out-of-town medical appointments can also be included, so be sure to have a list of the dates of any such trips, the destination of and reason for the trip, and your doctor’s name. However, if your return indicates that you will not pay any taxes, including medical receipts will not result in a larger refund; they can only reduce the amount of taxes owed.
This year’s service has volunteers based throughout the region to serve residents in Spences Bridge, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 16 Mile, Loon Lake, Clinton, Walhachin, Savona, and the Ashcroft and Bonaparte Indian Bands. In Ashcroft, volunteers will be at St. Alban’s church hall every Tuesday through May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and in Cache Creek they will be at the library every Wednesday through May 4 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
However, Edwards notes that because of COVID-19 there will be no drop-ins; people need to call to make an appointment.
“Next year we hope things will be back to normal and people can just drop in. This year, people in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area need to call Dave Gory at (250) 457-0491, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., to make an appointment to come by at a specific day and time. People can also complete their returns by phone if that’s what they’d prefer; call (250) 453-9534, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.”
In Clinton, the service is being offered through April 30, also by appointment. Clients can call or email to book an appointment or find out where to drop off their paperwork: contact Yvette May (250-459-7725, 250-212-5506 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org) or John White (250-459-2680, 250-377-5848 (cell), email@example.com).
Edwards says that the appointment usually lasts no more than 15 minutes. “We ask questions and make sure the paperwork is in order, and fill out a couple of forms with the clients. All the filing is done online, and they can pick up their paperwork a week later; it’s probably a week after that that they get their refund. It’s really quick.”
The program is run entirely by volunteers in Clinton, Savona, Cache Creek, and Ashcroft, and Edwards says that the Cache Creek volunteer will also go to The Equality Project to help clients there. Normally the volunteers have to pay for supplies, but Edwards says that this year they have applied to the Canada Revenue Agency for a grant to help them buy stationery and supplies, ink cartridges, and stamps.
“It’s something they started last year, and we think we’re going to get it. If we have some funds left over then they will carry over to next year. Last year we got a grant from the Village of Ashcroft, and that really helped.”