Volunteer Bureau offering tax help

Duane Hicks

While figuring out their income tax may not be difficult for some, it can be stressful to others–especially if they can’t afford to hire a service to do it for them.
As such, the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau once again is offering a helping hand through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVIP), in which volunteers donate their time to aid low-income families, people living with disabilities, seniors, and others prepare their income tax forms before the April 30 filing deadline.
Those who want help with their taxes, but can’t afford to get them done at a firm, can bring the applicable forms and information to the Volunteer Bureau (located in the old CN station) on Monday through Friday from 1-4 p.m.
The information, which will be kept confidential, then will be given to trained volunteers to complete.
For those who qualify, there is no charge for this service.
“We had a bit of unexpected delays last year,” Volunteer Bureau executive director Matt Soprovich noted.
“But we’ve managed to get our ducks in a row a little better this time around and we’ll be open for business from here on out through the end of April now,” he said.
The local Volunteer Bureau helped about 200 people complete their tax returns last year and Soprovich anticipated they’ll see the same (if not more) this year due to the earlier start, with more time for participants to be able to file.
“Last year was my first year participating in this program and it was really eye-opening for me,” he remarked.
“For those of us whose only income might come from ODSP or CPP/OAS, helping someone on a fixed monthly income save $85 can make a significant impact in a person’s life,” Soprovich said.
“If you’re unsure if you’d qualify, or you’ve never done this before, please call or come see us and we’ll try to help you out the best that we can,” he added.
While the deadline to file your taxes is April 30, people are advised to bring in their information before the last week of April in order to give volunteers time to do them, Soprovich noted.
As in previous years, the free service is aimed at those in a lower income bracket. Those with a net income of $30,000 or less ($40,000 or less for families) are eligible.
Soprovich did note there are some exceptions so if you’re not sure if you’d qualify, contact the Volunteer Bureau directly at 274-9555 for further information.
Volunteers only will help with straightforward personal returns, Soprovich stressed.
Assistance will not be provided to those filing tax returns for the deceased or bankrupt, for example, or those filing employment expenses, rental income, capital gains, foreign investments, giving or receiving support payments, or anything else that would be considered a complex return.
It’s important that those who do seek help come prepared and bring all the necessary information with them.
Even if the Volunteer Bureau has helped them file their taxes in the past, it will not have that information on file.
Those who have their tax returns done also are reminded that volunteers are giving their time and are not responsible for unintentional errors and omissions.
If you have a problem with how your return was done, refer the matter to 1-800-959-8281.
They also are advised to keep a working copy of the year’s tax return filed away for easy access.
The CVIP has been going on here for well over two decades now, and has been offered by the federal government since 1971.w
It remains a free service for those who qualify.
Soprovich stressed that should anyone tell participants there will be any charge associated, they are wholly incorrect.
Last year more than 2,500 organizations and 16,500 volunteers nationwide participated in the CVITP, helping over 750,000 people complete their returns. Over $1.5 billion in refund and benefit entitlements were calculated as a result of CVITP prepared returns.