FCSS Volunteer Free Tax Clinic Starts March 12

It's already that time of year again—tax season! While sorting out income taxes can be daunting, there's assistance available for those with modest incomes and relatively simple tax situations.

Beginning March 12, Swan Hills Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is offering free tax clinics to help eligible individuals complete their 2023 income tax returns. FCSS can assist with returns from the last two years, excluding those for deceased individuals. This initiative is part of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), a collaborative effort between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), community organizations, and their volunteers, which has been active since 1971.

In 2022, 370 community organizations in Alberta participated in the CVITP with 1,990 volunteers to help 71,700 individuals complete 84,490 tax returns, uncovering $192,164,000 worth of tax refunds, credits, and benefit entitlements.

Individuals must have a modest income and a simple tax situation to qualify for the CVITP. According to the information on the CRA website, eligible individuals for this program include:

· Indigenous Peoples

· Newcomers and refugees

· Persons with disabilities

· Seniors (65+)

· Youth/Students

· Individuals with a modest income

The information on the CRA website defines a simple tax situation as one where the individual has no income or if they derive their income from:

· Employment

· Pension

· Benefits (Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Disability Insurance, Employment Insurance, and Social Assistance)

· Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)

· Support Payments

· Scholarships, Fellowships, Bursaries, or Grants

· Interest (under $1000)

For more information about the CVITP program, please visit the Government of Canada website on free tax clinics (canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/community-volunteer-income-tax-program/lend-a-hand-individuals/about.html).

Swan Hills FCSS's tax clinics are available to eligible individuals by appointment, with appointment scheduling starting on March 12. Two appointments are necessary to complete an individual's tax return. The first appointment, lasting about 15 minutes, involves going through the individual's tax documents and collecting any required information. The second appointment, also about 15 minutes, is for the individual to pick up and sign their completed tax return.

For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Swan Hills FCSS at (780) 333-4119. You can also stay updated on their programs and services by visiting the Swan Hills FCSS Facebook page (facebook.com/SwanHillsFCSS).

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette