With tax season upon us, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is once again offering a free volunteer run income tax clinic throughout the months of March and April, to help residents file their taxes. The service is offered to anyone with income under $45,000 for families, and $35,000 for individuals, with an additional allowance of $2,500 per dependent. The clinics are offered to those below a certain income level in an effort to avoid unfairly competing with tax professionals.
The clinics run on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fernie Library board room from March 7 to April 25, with closures for Holy Saturday on April 11. Clinics are also available on Tuesdays at the Fernie Seniors Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from March 3 until April 28. The clinics are drop in and operate on a first come first serve basis. However, appointments can be made for those who cannot make the designated times, and house visits are offered for housebound clients.
“These services are beneficial because people with these low incomes have a need for the refund of GST, and the low income benefit that comes from the carbon tax. The payments come four times a year, and they usually spend locally and that benefits local business,” said William Silversides, one of Fernie’s tax clinic volunteers.
At the clinics, volunteers complete and submit client’s tax forms, answering questions along the way in an effort to teach residents how to do their own taxes.
“Revenue Canada supplies us with the software and a dedicated hotline to get answers to any questions we have and even access client’s information, with their consent, for missing tax slips. We are authorized ‘Efilers’ which affords us more flexibility than ‘Netfiling’ any changes to the clients profile,” said Terry Cryderman, another volunteer.
Those attending the clinics must bring tax information slips, receipts, Social Insurance number, and identification. Tax information slips are prepared by employers, and should have been received by the end of February. In the event of not having received slips, employers must be contacted. Previous year’s Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, and Old Age Security tax slips can be found electronically on the Service Canada website. For slips from 2018 and earlier, copies can be found at the My Account service on the Government of Canada website, or by speaking to a CRA agent at 1-800-959-8281.
For those with a phone and reasonable plan, another option for filing taxes is Telefiling. Residents with access to a computer can also file online, or with the assistance of a purchased tax program. Online filing is cheaper than hiring an accountant for those with higher incomes, and is free for people with low incomes.
The clinic representatives remind the public to submit their tax claims before the deadline to avoid delays on returns or interference to benefits.
If there are any outstanding questions or the need to meet at times or locations not currently offered, contact Terry Cryderman at 250-423-4905 or email@example.com, or William Silversides at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-423-4758.