The Income Security Action Group of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force encourages everyone to file a tax return. For modest and low income Canadians, filing a tax return helps increase the number of benefits they can collect and may result in an increase in their income. Many Canadians have no idea they would get money back, and they fear being told they have to pay the government for back taxes they cannot afford. But this is not the case for most people on low income.
Here are three good reasons to file for 2017:
- To qualify for programs including the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the GST/HST credit, and the Ontario Trillium Benefit, which all pay cash when you qualify.
- To take advantage of certain tax credits like the Working Income Tax Benefit.
- To recover any tax you may have overpaid from your pay cheque.
- If you have not applied to the Ontario Electricity Support Program you may be missing out on a monthly benefit towards your hydro bill starting at $35.00 and upwards based on your income. A new partnership exists with the United Way of Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Community Income Tax Clinic to apply.
A recent Community Income Tax Clinics Network meeting with Community Income Tax volunteers, the Income Security Action Group and Community Voices examined barriers to tax filing (Prosper Canada, 2016):
- 17% of people have insufficient access to clinics and services
- 14% of people don’t know where to get help
- 14% can’t afford commercial tax services
- 12% not aware of the need to file even if they have no taxable income
The big roadblocks:
- Poor ACCESS to affordable and relevant services.
- Insufficient COMMUNICATIONS about the benefits of tax filing and available assistance.
- Lack of TARGETED APPROACHES to the distinct barriers and needs of different groups.
There are some incredible volunteers that provide free tax services to people on low income all across Grey-Bruce. But we do have challenges with transportation to clinics; people knowing where and when free clinics are being held; and people who need support to prepare paperwork for filing.
The Canadian Revenue Agency supports programs that prepare taxes for low-income Canadians through its Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. A list of clinic dates, times and locations can be found by calling 211 or check on line at 211 Information Bruce Grey or The HealthLine.
Do you offer a free clinic? Is your community without any services? Please contact us!