Victoria – Between September 01, 2012 and August 2013 Together Against Poverty Society’s (TAPS) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program assisted 974 low income members of our community receive $1,519,000 in federal and provincial tax benefits.
“For more than ten years, TAPS has been assisting low-income members of our community complete their income tax returns,” said TAPS Executive Director Kelly Newhook.
Newhook said the demand has steadily increased over the past five years as the Canada Revenue Agency has continued to reduce its capacity to provide direct service to clients. This has culminated in a year where the demand has never been higher.
“The Federal Government has chosen to cut the CRA to the point that it has an extremely limited capability to provide direct service to clients,” said Newhook. “They pushed everything to the on-line model, and for people living in poverty, or for those with low literacy or mental health issues, this is a barrier to completing one’s income tax return.”
Newhook said “Not only do many people need assistance completing their tax returns; they are often the very people who are most in need of the benefits that come with completing one’s taxes”
Although the Canada Revenue Agency is affiliated with the program, they are primarily a referral source, providing no funding. Fortunately, Vancity has stepped up. “Vancity has been working with TAPS for a few years and our partnership has continued to evolve to help meet their growing needs. A program like this not only creates impact on the financial well-being of our members and people in the community, but it also circles back and flows straight into our local economy, helping to build an even stronger and healthier community.” said Miriam Valois Branch Manager of Vancity’s Victoria Downtown Community Branch said
Ruth Aiyadurai, Account Manager at Vancity, who was also a volunteer said “The need for this program is evident by the sheer number of people lining up for hours to have their taxes prepared. I met with people from many backgrounds, each having a different life story. It felt good to make a difference and to help contribute to their financial well-being.”
Contact: Kelly Newhook, Executive Director, 250-361-3521(work) or 250-882-6090(cell)
Government benefits include such things as: income tax credits, the Child Tax Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the GST rebate and the Provincial HST/Low Income Tax Credit, not to mention other programs such as subsidized housing and disability services that require the completion of one’s income tax return.
TAPS Volunteer Income Tax clinics operate every Thursday from 9-11am and from 1-4pm. TAPS is one of the few agencies in Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands that provides assistance for completing income tax returns throughout the entire year. It is also one of the few agencies that will complete prior year’s returns. As a result, there is an unrelenting demand for TAPS income tax preparation services.