Helping low-income Manitobans prepare their tax returns reaps big rewards
The cost of income tax preparation is significant for some low-income Manitobans, but the cost of not doing their taxes can be even more significant in lost benefits and credits.
Enter Community Financial Counselling Services (CFCS) – a United Way agency partner that offers financial counselling, education and advocacy for people; especially high-risk populations facing financial challenges.
Since 2008 CFSC has worked in partnership with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to provide free income tax preparation to 10,000 Manitobans annually through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).
“Many people can’t afford the $60 to get it done,” said John Silver, CFCS Executive Director, at their volunteer appreciation lunch last April.
John points out that people need to complete their tax return to be eligible for benefits and tax credits related to things like GST, pharmacare, disability and child care.
“It’s the same money that all of us are entitled to when we do our taxes.”
The work they do returns $20 million Winnipeggers are entitled to, John says, representing a 400-fold return on the $50,000 program cost.
The value of the service is also apparent to the CRA-registered volunteers who prepare taxes for clients.
“It’s written all over their faces,” said Hugo Peters, who has volunteered for over 10 years.
“People who struggle or make do with very little, they have no pretense.”
The tax preparation program is available free to all Manitobans with low income earnings. It opens at the Norquay Building on February 21st and runs 9AM to 3PM Tuesday to Friday until April 28th.
This is just one resource available to Manitobans. To find a service closest to your home, visit mb.211.ca and click on the tile for financial services.
To learn more about the CVITP specifically, or to volunteer in the program preparing taxes for low-income Manitobans, go online or call 204-989-1900.