Volunteers at the local non-profit are getting busy as bees with the deadline to file taxes for most individuals approaching.
Those with not so much love for numbers, or those who can’t afford to hire an accountant, there might be an alternative thanks to volunteers at Langley’s Gateway of Hope.
When it comes to filing taxes, a lot of people get anxious about it, said family services co-ordinator Andrea Voss.
“It’s nice that we are here to help those individuals and ease their anxiety,” she said.
Through its community volunteer income tax program, the local Salvation Army is helping low-income families and individuals report their earnings and avail themselves of the benefits for which they qualify.
Those interested in the free service can contact Gateway of Hope directly and will be connected to Voss, who is currently leading a team of eight volunteers to serve a growing number of clients.
The annual program runs throughout the year, but the size of the team shrinks significantly during the off-season, when Voss herself and just one volunteer are sufficient to cater to the community needs.
March 1 to April 30 is the busiest time of the year for Voss, and this year, too, doesn’t appear to be any different.
Her team has filed about 130 income taxes this year, so far. More than 600 income tax reports were filed through the community support program last year.
On average, about 500 taxes are filed every year.
Voss shared that most of the clients are refugees from other countries.
Since tax filings often determine whether or not an individual will receive GST benefit, child care benefit, PharmaCare, housing support, and Guaranteed Income Support benefit, among many other benefits, reporting earnings becomes crucial, said Voss.
During COVID, when many of the services at the local non-profit had to be temporarily shut down, Voss – knowing the relief timely tax filing can offer to people – decided to launch a drop-off service for clients.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, people could drop off their forms for volunteers to process.
Currently, both in-person and drop-off income tax filing services are available for people.
She said people from all walks of life join hands to help the community.
The program was started 10 years ago. Voss and her team applied for and received the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program grant.
“We are excited to be amongst one of the recipients of the grants,” Voss said.
The grant helped Gateway of Hope with administration and supply expenses associated with running the program.
There’s various criteria for those wanting help. For example, individuals with an annual family income of $35,000 or less are eligible to seek community support help. A family of two adults with an income of $45,000 or less is also eligible.
For screening or to book an appointment, people can call Gateway at 604-514-7375.
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