Volunteer Bureau to offer help at tax time

While figuring out their income tax forms 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.
But the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau once again is offering a helping hand, with volunteers donating their time to aid low-income families, the disabled, and elderly prepare their income tax forms before the April 30 deadline.
As such, an all-day training session for those who want to help others do their taxes is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 17 at the old CN station.
“We always welcome more volunteers,” said Vanessa Hebert, executive director at the Volunteer Bureau. “But this year, we’re expecting them to help a certain number of people out.”
Last year, Hebert noted, seven of the 30 people who came out for the workshop did not help anyone after they had received the training—taking the computer software they got to fill out the tax returns and using it for their own purposes, instead.
Starting either at the end of February or in early March, those who want help with their taxes, but can’t afford to get them done at a firm, can just bring the applicable forms and information to the Volunteer Bureau.
Specific dates will be released in the near future.
“I encourage anybody who is on a fixed income to let us help them. There’s a lot of people who use this service, so you won’t be the only one,” noted Hebert.
Volunteers also can pick up information from someone’s home—a huge benefit for elderly people and the disabled who may not be able to get to the volunteer bureau, Hebert noted.
The program is based on net income of $28,000 or less, but the service will be provided to those who exceed that amount in certain situations, she added.
For instance, new Canadians may make more than that but still not know how filing their income tax works.
Hebert said the Volunteer Bureau also is interested in helping people help themselves so they don’t have to come back next year—or even could share their new skills with others in need.
The local Volunteer Bureau has been organizing this assistance for the past eight years.
Herbert said the program handled about 475 tax returns last year, though not all of them come in the spring.
Some people even wait until the summer or fall to get help—after they realize they aren’t getting GST cheques or some other financial benefit in the mail anymore.
If you have any questions about attending the Feb. 17 workshop, or getting your taxes done at the Volunteer Bureau, call Hebert or assistant co-ordinator Karen Haney at 274-9555.