For almost 40 years Surinderpal Rathor has been among a group of volunteers preparing income tax returns for people in Williams Lake.
“We are government trained community volunteers. We don’t charge anything,” Rathor said, adding the mission and objective isn’t to take work away from professionals, but to help those who cannot afford to pay for someone to prepare a return.
“In Canada if you are above 18 years old you have to file in order to receive the HST/GST and Child Tax benefits. And your Medical Service Plan premiums are based on income.”
This year the income level has changed to qualify for the free service.
The guideline for 2012 returns is maximum income of $30,000 for a single person, $40,000 for a couple and an additional $3,500 for each child.
A person’s interest income has to be less than $1,000.
Additionally, the volunteers cannot process returns for deceased people, bankruptcies, or capital gain loss.
“We tell people in those situations there are several professional people doing returns in the community,” Rathor said. “We don’t tell them where they should seek help, just that there are lots of businesses preparing returns.”
Drop off locations for the volunteer service are at the Women’s Contact Society and the Seniors Activity Centre. Rathor picks them up from those locations and then starts a file.
Clients are also asked to sign a waiver or a T60 authorizing volunteers to prepare the return and e-file it.
Five sittings are scheduled for Mar. 12 at Glen Arbor from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at Seniors Activity Centre 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. On Mar. 19 at Seniors Village from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and at Sunset Manor from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. On Mar. 26 at Salvation Army from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Presently the Williams Lake program is within the northern region for Canada Revenue Agency, but starting next year it will be under the Burnaby-Fraser section. Rathor said he learned that in November when he participated in a half-day webinar to co-ordinate this year’s program and renew his password as an e-file volunteer.
Since the beginning of February, Rathor has being preparing returns. He said there are less volunteers than in the past so if anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer to contact him at 250-398-5222 or 250-392-0909.