Completing taxes can be a significant challenge for many of our service users. Without up-to-date taxes, people are unable to access essential government services and subsidies entitled to them. They may also be missing out on GST funds that have built up over years of not filing their taxes.
Recognizing the immense barriers that incomplete taxes create for many service users, JHS staff in Abbotsford found a way to step in and support by registering for the CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which allowed them to start delivering a Tax Clinic at our Abbotsford Community Services Office.
Roy is the volunteer leading the program.
Once a week, Roy comes in and prepares people’s taxes for them for free. Roy has received training through the CRA to file taxes, which contributes to his ability to provide comprehensive assistance.
Anyone in the community in need of support with filing their taxes can come to the ACSO when the tax clinic is open to receive assistance. So far, we’ve seen many JHS service users access the Tax Clinic, including individuals within our Reintegration Program, CLS Outreach, Homelessness Prevention Program, and more.
Roy makes it simple for service users to access the Tax Clinic: they simply come in, sign paperwork and a waver form giving their consent for Roy to access their tax information, and Roy takes it from there to complete their taxes. Everything is completed on site, and people are notified when their taxes are complete.
In just the first few weeks of delivering the program, Roy has completed roughly 30 tax returns.
High Five, Roy!
Now retired, Roy finds fulfillment in serving the community through this work.
We also have longstanding tax volunteers at our VCSO that provide the same service to folks in the Vancouver area. People are encouraged to come to the CSO during hours of operation to access assistance. They are asked to bring any tax documents that they have received that year and a piece of photo ID, though, if they have neither our tax volunteers can work with them to assist without this information as well.
Our volunteers and practicum students are an integral part of the JHS team, and play an important role in our efforts to serve vulnerable community members. While this is a notion we hold deeply every day, as this week marks Volunteer Appreciation Week, it’s particularly important to celebrate.
Roy is one of the many volunteers that have made a significant impact on our collective ability to create safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all. We would like to thank our volunteers and practicum students for their time and dedication to the JHS and to the people and communities we serve!