Wanted: People who know their way around a tax return

As the Canada Revenue Agency gears up for the 2019 tax season, it's recruiting volunteers for a program that helps those in need file taxes and access eligible credits and benefits.

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, a collaboration between the CRA and community organizations, has been around for about 40 years.

Spokesperson Dawn Kennedy told CBC the free service helped about 10,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians receive nearly  $24 million in total tax refunds and benefit entitlements last year.

"There was a need in the community for people with modest income who just simply didn't have the means to get their taxes done," she said. 

"So community members and CRA partners joined together to do something to help people in need.… There's a lot of demand."

For them to have to not pay, and to then get their GST credit or child benefits, that's money that they never would have had. That's food on the table.  - Dawn Kennedy

According to Kennedy, many people don't file their tax returns because they aren't able to pay for the expense. But by failing to file their taxes, they could be missing out on refunds or credits they're entitled to. 

"Sometimes people just don't know where to start," Kennedy said. 

"Sometimes they just don't know that they could actually get a GST cheque, or maybe there was something that they overpaid on a tax return and they're entitled to get it back."

Kennedy said the program can actually go back 10 years and file returns for those who haven't been able to. 

"So that would be 10 years of any refunds or credits that you missed, that we will pay out at that time," said Kennedy. 

Paula Gale/CBC

Volunteers needed

CRA is looking for host organizations and volunteers to make the clinics happen and to increase awareness of the program for those who may benefit.

"We are full force right now accepting registrations, and that's a long process for us," Kennedy said. 

"We want people registered now, early, because we find that it takes us a little bit of time to get through the applications and we want them all set up and ready for the new year so there will be no delays for people getting their returns done."

Anyone with tax experience, who has done a tax return and is willing to learn, is eligible to volunteer for the program.

Kennedy said it's a great way of giving back to your community. 

"You are actually helping a person or a family in need who does not have the means to go pay someone what is costs these days to do a tax return," she said. 

"For them to have to not pay, and to then get their GST credit or child benefits, that's money that they never would have had. That's food on the table."

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