Women’s Centre helps with tax returns

Three women from the Golden Women’s Resource Centre attended a tax preparation training session this week in order to help local women with basic tax returns.

Laurie Dalzell, Shaheen Hasham and Sarah Wegelin took the Canadian Revenue Agencies (CRA) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) training program when it stopped in Golden on Tuesday.

The three Women’s Centre staff will then use CRA tax preparation software to help women with their taxes. The program is targeted at low-income women who have never filed a return or need a bit of extra help with this year’s taxes.

Each year the CVITP program allows 16,000 volunteers in nearly 3,000 communities across the country to help more than 501,000 Canadians file their tax returns.

This is the fifth year the Women’s Centre has offered this service.

“For low-income single mothers or families, the best thing to do is file a tax return,” said Dalzell, one of the three staff trained through the CRA program and the Financial Literacy Co-ordinator at the Women’s Centre.

Dalzell explained that you can only access the majority of government programs, like the new Registered Disability Savings Plan, if you have completed and sent in your tax returns.

According to the recent Toronto Star article ‘File a tax return, raise your income’ by James Daw, a single mother earning $15,000 a year could get about $800 extra income from tax, child and other benefits.

Daw believes there are many reasons why Canadians are missing out on these benefits, including lack of awareness, lack of mathematical skills, bad experiences in other countries or fear of abusive spouses who demand the benefits.

Daw quoted John Stapleton, a consultant who works as a volunteer tax preparer, in his article:

“Many Canadians are led to believe they should not have to file a tax return because their income is low.”

But, he calculated that the tax system delivers around $21 billion of extra income each year from the federal and provincial governments. Stapleton has also met low-income Canadians who do not file a tax return because they fear private lenders or banks will try to collect debts from their benefits.

Daw explained that the Income Tax Act is meant to protect tax refunds, sales tax credits and other benefits.

“The Canadian Revenue Agency may hold back tax refunds to pay old student loans or other debts to government,” he wrote. “ But the tax filer may be better off than having the debt hanging over them for years.”

The Golden Women’s Resource Centre is able to help women with their tax return anytime after March 1st. Those interested should book an appointment by calling the centre at 250-344-5317.

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