Volunteers with the Community Volunteer Income Tax program are ready to help low-income people file their taxes for free.
The program was started by the federal government in 1971, says Williams Lake and district local co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor, who has been involved in the program since 1975.
“We are not trying to take business away from the professionals,” Rathor says. “Our mission and objective is to help those who need help, who cannot afford to pay to get their income tax done.”
He notes everyone, by law, must file their income taxes regardless of their income.
Those who could benefit from this program include students, single parents, seniors, and immigrants, for example.
“We have a threshold of $25,000 (for a single person),” he says, noting the threshold is a guideline only. Each volunteer will use his or her discretion in deciding who is assisted.
Rathor explains that a single person may have made more than $25,000 last year but has since been laid off, for example. That person may be a candidate for the program.
He says the volunteers will not file income taxes for a business or anyone who has capital gains or loss. They will also not file the taxes of a deceased or bankrupt person.
“We have a very select clientele,” he says. “We focus more on parents and senior citizens and the single people on welfare.”
Rathor says he loves being involved in the program and “playing with the numbers.”
He notes the program is completely non-profit.
“We are trained by the government but we do not work for the government,” Rathor adds. “And we do not charge anybody for anything.”
The volunteers’ experience ranges from one year to 30-plus years and are very knowledgeable, he says.
Those interested in having their taxes done by a volunteer can drop off their tax and contact information, including their phone number, at the Seniors’ Activity Centre on Fourth Avenue and the Womens’ Contact Society on Oliver Street.
There will be five sittings in the following places:
• Glen Arbor on March 12.
• Seniors Activity Centre on March 19.
• Sunset Manor on April 9.
• The Seniors Village (Retirement Concepts) on Western Avenue on April 16.
• The Salvation Army on April 23.
Each session runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Rathor notes that sessions at Sunset Manor, Glen Arbor, and the Seniors Village will be held particularly for residents of those facilities.
However, if others are only able to attend those sessions they will not be turned away.
Those who cannot attend any of the above sessions but would like assistance can contact Rathor at 250-398-5222. Volunteers can also travel west of the city to assist individuals.
Though taxes don’t need to be filed until the end of April, Rathor asks interested people to drop off their tax information early in order to avoid an influx of submissions at the last minute.
“The sooner they file their returns the sooner they get their refund,” he says, adding that clients will need to provide their signature to authorize volunteers to E-file their taxes.