Basem Marhoon, left, co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor and Emily Wolbeck are gearing up for this year’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program in Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Basem Marhoon, left, co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor and Emily Wolbeck are gearing up for this year’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program in Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Community income tax program volunteers readying to help Williams Lake in March

For the 43rd year in a row, former and long-time city councillor Surinderpal Rathor is heading up the Citizen Volunteer Income Tax Program.

Surinderpal Rathor and his team are preparing to offer the Citizen Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) once again in Williams Lake.

This week Rathor, Basem Marhoon and Emily Wolbeck told the Tribune they are excited to be offering the program, along with volunteers Craig Glover in Williams Lake, Diane Walters at the Women’s Contact Society and Vicky Ortiz in McLeese Lake.

“We are here to help people in need, not to take business away from regular income tax program providers,” said Rathor who has been offering the program in the community for 43 years.

“We are here for students, single parents, seniors, people with low incomes, new immigrants or people whose situation has drastically changed from last year.”

Returns they cannot do are for files that involve bankruptcy, capital gains and losses, interest income more than $1,000, rental income and expenses, self-employment or employment expenses and business income.

“We also cannot prepare returns for deceased family members,” Rathor explained.

The ceiling for eligibility to use their program is a $30,000-income for one person, $40,000 for two-person household, plus $2,500 for each additional child.

This year the Williams Lake CVITP has been selected by Canada Revenue Agency for a pilot project with its new auto-fill return program that allows volunteers to automatically fill in parts of the return with information that the CRA has available at the time of filling the return.

Reminding people of eligible medical and disability expenses they can claim, Rathor encouraged everyone to go to their pharmacy for a print out because that will help with timing and ensure nothing is missed.

For medical travel, they will need the doctor’s name and address, if it’s more than 40 kilometres one way to travel from home they can claim a meal, plus the kilometres.

Bus passes and tickets purchased up until July 1, 2017 will also be eligible to claim.

Wolbeck said there are also people who have pensions from other countries and the volunteers will help translate the amounts into Canadian currency.

“New people to Canada need to understand that if one spouse does not work, they still need to fill out an income tax return,” Wolbeck explained. “If they bring all their papers together at the same time that is ideal. There is no such thing as a joint return, but doing them at the same time is easier.”

Wolbeck moved to the lakecity in June 2017 with her husband and two children.

She volunteered with the CVITP for several years and ran a site in Alberta.

Before even moving to Williams Lake, she contacted Rathor letting him know she would love to volunteer.

Marhoon has been in Williams Lake since 2016.

He moved from Barhan with his wife, who is a physician, and their three children. He was an accountant in Barhan.

As for Rathor, he continues to volunteer because he loves working with numbers and said income tax is a very integral part of being a Canadian.

“When people turn 18 they are supposed to file,” Rathor said, noting it’s important because it is the way to access benefits such as the GST and the Child Tax Credit. “Sometimes people complain that we pay too much tax, but it’s key to funding the things we need in our society.”

People who drop off their information packages will also need to sign a TIS60 before the volunteers can file their return.

“The Seniors Activity Centre will have the form they need,” Rathor said.

There is permanent drop-off of income tax return information available at the Seniors Activity Centre, 176 Fourth Ave. North between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

In the past there have been problems with people not returning to pick up their files, so this year there will be a $2 charge for drop off that will be returned when the files are picked up.

“If they aren’t picked up then the Seniors Centre will use the $2 to mail it to the owner,” Rathor said.

People can also drop their information off at the Women’s Contact Society at 51A Fourth Avenue South.

Schedule for sittings

Williams Lake

March 8 – 10 a.m. to noon. Seniors Activity Centre at 176 Fourth Ave. North. Contact Glenda Winger 250-392-7946.

March 13 – 10 a.m. to noon. Salvation Army at 267 Borland Street. Contact Tamara Robinson 250-392-2423 Ext. 208.

March 15 – 10 a.m. to noon. Glen Arbor at 564 Oliver Street. Contact Rena at 250-305-1232.

March 20 – 10 a.m. to noon. Sunset Manor at 60 Westridge Drive. Contact Iris Moor at 250-398-0457

March 22 – 10 a.m. to noon. United Steelworkers at 124C Second Ave. North. Contact Paul French at 250-398-8248.

March 27 – 10 a.m. to noon. Seniors Village at 1455 Western Ave. Contact Jackie King at 250-305-3191.

Rathor said the sessions at Glen Arbor and Sunset Manor are for the residents only.

Schedule for sittings

McLeese Lake

March 15 and April 9. McLeese Lake Recreation Hall at 6178 Fir Glen Road. Contact Vicky Ortiz at 250-297-6261 or 250-303-0905.

Rathor said anyone wanting to contact him can call him on his cell phone at 250-392-0909.

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We have added Diane Walters as a volunteer for the program since the story was first posted last Friday.