April has arrived, meaning it’s time to file our taxes. For many Canadians, having to travel to find income tax forms and guides each year can be inconvenient. This is especially true for people with mobility challenges, or those living in rural communities like ours, who are far away from a post office or financial institution.
Our government wants to make it easier for Canadians to receive the credits and benefits to which they are entitled, no matter where they live. Filing taxes is the gateway to benefits and credits, including the Canada Child Benefit and the Canada Caregiver Credit. For this tax season, we’ve introduced two new initiatives to make it easier and simpler to find, complete and file a return on time.
This year, the Canada Revenue Agency mailed paper tax forms and guides to anyone who filed their taxes by paper the previous year. An estimated 1.9 million Canadians will benefit from this new initiative, especially seniors and those who may not have access to the Internet.
The CRA has also instituted a “File my Return” automated phone service, which will help over 950,000 individuals who are on a low or fixed income. With these changes they will now be able to file their taxes simply by answering a series of questions over the phone. There are no paper forms to fill out or calculations to make. File My Return is free, secure and easy to use. Canadians who are eligible to use this new service should have already received an invitation letter in the mail around mid-February – if you haven’t, please contact our office.
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) is another very useful resource to use when you are filing your taxes. The program helps modest income Canadians get their income tax prepared free of charge. To help support the great work of these volunteers, Budget 2018 is doubling the investment in CVITP in order to help more Canadians file their return. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when Canadians lend each other a helping hand. Last year alone, over 2,800 community organizations and over 16,500 volunteers completed more than 768,000 tax returns for eligible individuals.
Each year, hundreds of tax returns filed by the CVITP were submitted through my Kenora constituency office. If you’re filing your personal income taxes and make less than $30,000 a year, either stop by the office or call toll free at 1-866-710-0008.
Canadians are required to file their taxes every year. However, too many are still reluctant about filing, especially those who cannot afford the services of a tax professional or are unfamiliar with the tax system. It is my hope that these new improvements and the successful CVITP will make filing your taxes a less daunting situation.
You can learn more about the free tax help offered through the CVITP, or find a tax preparation clinic closer to you, by visiting canada.ca/taxes-help.
For further information, please contact the offices below: