Give a Man a Fish …

Give a Man a Fish …

Give a Man a Fish …

Date posted: April 12, 2018

Today we are pleased to welcome Elaine Yamamoto, the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows/Katzie, as our guest blogger. It’s tax time and she shares what the literacy committee in her community is doing to help people with tax filing.

The Canada Revenue Agency. The name alone will cause many to break out in a cold sweat. The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee (CLC) has a program that gives low-income individuals the knowledge and confidence needed to file their own taxes online each year.

When the CLC began offering tax filing assistance in 2012, it was the perfect blend of two objectives. Jane, an ESL student in our CALP Lifelong Learning group, received an almost perfect mark in the training program of a large tax filing company. When she was told she would not be hired because her spoken English was not good enough, she offered her services to low-income earners through the CLC’s outreach program at the Learning Room. Over the next three years, she helped many people, including those who had up to ten years of taxes to file. Even when she was hired by the tax company and her hours made it difficult to volunteer during tax season, she continued to help people throughout the rest of the year.

Emma filing her taxes.

For the past three years, the CLC has shifted its focus to helping low income people with basic computer skills learn how to file their own taxes online. The tax software, Ufile, offers free use of their online filing software to anyone with an annual income under $20,000. Our volunteer, Maynard, is a retired teacher who took on the lesson design with enthusiasm. He also volunteers with the CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), hosted in our community by the Maple Ridge Library.

The CLC’s Tax Filing Seminar provides people with the tools to file independently each year. Learners are always counselled to ensure that they keep their username and password safe so that they can access their completed profile each year and avoid the hassle of inputting their interview information each time.

We are thrilled to have learners return to use the internet connection at the Learning Room to file their own taxes. Our learners no longer have to scramble to find a volunteer to file their taxes. They have also learned that they can keep their $75 PST tax credit, rather than pay it to a company to perform this easy task. While many have internet connection at home, some seminar participants prefer to file their taxes at the Learning Room. Emma returned the next year to file for herself and her partner and Tyler (in the feature photo left) is a star pupil who has filed his own taxes here for the past three years.

A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Learners cannot use Ufile to change the address that is on file with the CRA. To change an address over the phone (or to get T-slip information), the learner will have to call 1 800 959-8281 (press*) and provide background information to prove their identity.*
  • The Ufile software individual-income maximum for free filing is $20,000. The CVITP individual-maximum income is $30,000.
  • A list of CVITP providers in BC is available on the CRA website.

 

*Elaine has shared a handout she has for individuals who need to phone CRA for information to file their taxes. Click here for Calling the CRA.

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