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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Increasing Income through Filing Your Taxes

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:

  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.
  4. 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.

Our list for 2018 is now up! 2018 Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance List

Do you offer a free clinic? Is your community without any services? Please contact us!

Filing a Tax Return could mean More Income

Tax season is here.  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 may actually help 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 2016:

  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.

“If a tax return is not filed, the family may miss out on benefits that could help increase their income and decrease health inequities,” says Jill Umbach of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.  “There are some incredible volunteers that provide free tax services to people on low income all across Grey-Bruce. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these services to file this year’s and prior years’ taxes.”

Support in filing your taxes is a hugely important anti-poverty and health intervention.  The Canadian Revenue Agency supports programs that prepare taxes for low-income Canadians through its Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Take advantage of the free tax clinics throughout Grey and Bruce.  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.   For a listing prepared by the Poverty Task Force:  Volunteer Income Tax Clinics_Listing_March 2017

For More Information:

Jill Umbach

Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force
519-377-9406
jill.umbach@gmail.com