Free Tax Filing Services Can Help Grey Bruce residents with Low Income to Boost Their Income

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) is a community-based volunteer program that offers tax preparation services to citizens of Bruce and Grey Counties that meet specific income guidelines. The program is free and is intended to provide service to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

The income guidelines for the program are as follows:

  • Individual: $35,000 or less
  • Married or Common law couple: $45,000 or less
  • Single Parent with 1 child: $40,000 or less — Add $2,500 per additional child
  • Interest income limited to under $1,000

Alex Ruff, MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, is encouraging eligible residents of Grey and Bruce Counties to take advantage of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Across both counties, there are some 24 listings in 19 cities/towns that offer free services.

“The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program provides families and individuals who may be struggling financially, with a service to file their income tax,” said Ruff. “I would like to thank all volunteers for their hard work on this program, and all of the organizations and businesses that have donated to make these clinics possible.”

Community partnerships are important. For over 25 years, volunteers at the Grey Bruce CVITP have been offering clinics in Owen Sound. These clinics are offered by appointment only. Interested individuals should contact Alex Ruff’s office at 519-371-1059, leave your name and phone number with the office staff and a volunteer will contact you after 5:00 p.m. to set up an appointment.

Other CVITP volunteers work in partnership with libraries, community health centres, employment services, etc. across Bruce County and Grey County. Some volunteers support people throughout the year to file their taxes in Grey Bruce.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force works with 211 to annually list all free clinics for eligible customers; to identify barriers experienced locally and to engage with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), community partners and volunteers to overcome those barriers.

“With the trend of the government flowing more income to low income households through tax benefits and credits it is so important for people to file their taxes,” said Jill Umbach, Poverty Task Force Coordinator. “We want to see people increasing their income. The CRA uses the information from your income tax and benefit return to calculate your GST credit, Ontario Trillium Benefit and Canada Child Benefits.”

The Ontario Childcare Tax Credit and the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit assists with making life more affordable. Families can now receive up to 75% of their eligible child care expenses. And the Low-Income workers tax credit can get up to $850 in Ontario Personal Income Tax relief (or up to $1,700 for couples).

Other social agencies use an income tax return statement to support applications to other benefits such as the Ontario Seniors Dental Program or the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP).

How to access services:

Visit Ontario.ca/TaxReturn to learn how to get Ontario tax credits and benefits.

Call 2-1-1 for help finding a free tax clinic close to you.

Access the Free Community Income Tax Listing online at: https://brucegreycommunityinfo.cioc.ca/record/GRE0364

CC 211 Grey Bruce

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Putting a spotlight on poverty

United Way of Bruce Grey and the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force wants to put a spotlight on poverty in our community.

Basic needs are increasingly out of reach for people living on low-income, and people with insufficient income face impossible choices every single day. For people living with disabilities, further barriers related to employment, social exclusion, and higher cost of living make it even more difficult to thrive without comprehensive supports.

After the 1.5% rate increase in October 2018, a single person receiving Ontario Works will still be 65% below the poverty line receiving only: $ 732/month.

On average,1 949 households per month access Ontario Works in Grey County and Bruce County in 2018.

July 2018 profiles:

Of the July case load:

  • 1148 clients, or 62% were single,
  • 595 clients, or 31%, were sole supporting parents
  • Balance were dual parent families or couples with no children.

ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) has a caseload of 6855 households in Grey Bruce. A single person on ODSP is 55% below the poverty line receiving $1 151.

Ontario’s low income cut-off puts the poverty line at $2 080 for a single person.

The lonely girl cries in the street

Any increases to Ontario Works caseloads are attributed to positive changes in regulations around income supports such as child support no longer being considered income, increase asset limits which allow people to keep more of their earned income and savings as well as the eligibility requirements for youth 16 and 17 living on their own.

Transitioning people out of poverty and to a life of sustainability requires many supports. Access to transportation, childcare that is affordable and fits the schedule of the jobs available.

We also need to ensure that the right supports are there for the right demographic of people needing supports. With 62% of recipients being singles, we need to ensure there are supports beyond those just focused on children and families.

The United Way of Bruce Grey and the Poverty Task Force look forward to working with the new Provincial government on addressing rural poverty needs.

Microsoft PowerPoint - PTF Election Graphics_4August2018

 

For more information:

Media Release: Help available to file tax returns

February 22, 2018

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and Grey Bruce Health Unit encourage everyone to file a tax return, especially those with low or modest income. Filing a tax return helps identify benefits they can collect and may result in more money back. Getting help with filing tax returns is available throughout Grey Bruce. The Task Force has created a list of Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance services to help people find the service closest to them.

“Many people have no idea they can get money back. They fear being told to pay the government for large back taxes. But this is not the case for most people on low income.” Says Jill Umbach, Coordinator of Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force. “It is important to file this year to take advantage of tax credits to increase your annual income. You don’t have to file your previous taxes first to catch up. Many community tax clinics will help you to file for previous years as well.”

There are good reasons to file:
1. 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.
2. To take advantage of certain tax credits like the Working Income Tax Benefit.
3. To recover any tax you may have overpaid from your pay cheque.

People on low income may not have access to affordable or relevant tax filing services and may not know about benefits and assistance available to them including targeted approaches suited to their specific needs.

Tax time is a good time to apply for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). Those who have not applied to OESP may be missing out on a monthly benefit towards their hydro bill, starting at $35.00 and upwards, based on income. The United Way of Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Community Income Tax Clinic can assist with an application.

Free tax services are available to people on low income all across Grey Bruce. Call 211 or check online at 211 Information Bruce Grey.

For More Information:

Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator,  Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, 519-377-9406, jill.umbach@gmail.com

Allison Murray, Health Promoter, Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1343
allison.murray@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca