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!

40% of us work past retirement age: StatsCan

By Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 5:07:22 EDT PM

OTTAWA — Taking from the richer and giving to the poorer is alive and well in Canada, according to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

The NHS, which replaced Statistics Canada’s mandatory long-form census, found that the richest 10% of Canadians paid about 42% of all income tax collected.

Alison Hale, Stats Canada’s director of income statistics, says that’s not surprising.

“That’s how the income tax system is designed,” said Hale.

The machinery of government plays Robin Hood with that money through various benefit programs.

That means the poorest 20% of Canadians get more than half their income from government pension plans, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplements, Employment Insurance benefits, welfare payments or child benefit programs.

Hale suggests people may find that finding “reassuring.”

“There’s a perception that transfers should be going to people in need,” she said.

The groups most dependent on government transfers, said Hale, are seniors and single women raising children under six.

Residents of some of the Atlantic provinces were the most dependent on government transfers for their income.

“In three provinces — Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick — the total in transfers received was slightly more than the taxes they paid,” said the NHS.

In all other provinces and territories residents paid more in income tax than they got back from government programs.

“As a percentage of total income, Alberta was the only province whose taxes exceeded transfers by more than 10 percentage points,” said the NHS.

The data also shows that while seven in 10 Canadians get some kind of government transfer, only 13% depend exclusively on those transfers for their income.

For the most part, Canadians don’t depend on their fellow taxpayer for their income.

The NHS found that almost 88% of Canadians’ incomes come from private sources.

“Obviously, we’re a nation of workers,” said Hale.

In fact, many Canadians are working into their golden years to supplement their income.

Most still retire at 65 when their state pension benefits become available, but the NHS still found that “at age 66, about four in 10 still had employment income.”

That gradually declines as workers age, however.

“By the age of 74, employment income accounted for less than 10% of total income,” said the NHS.

The 2011 NHS shows the average income of Canadians is $38,700.

Hale says it’s difficult to compare that with the figure from the 2006 census because of different methodologies used.