How Free Income Tax Clinics Benefit Low-Income Households

Categories: Blog

For many of us, it’s easy to file a tax return with tax software or by paying a tax preparation company. But when you can barely afford to put food on the table, the financial burden of having an accountant or tax preparation clinic prepare your return is overwhelming.

Across the country, from Moncton to Oshawa to Yellowknife, Salvation Army volunteer-run tax clinics ease pressures that already exist for individuals and families who are on a low/fixed income.

“The Salvation Army’s free tax clinic means I can buy food and pay my bills,” says Raleen, a single parent of three. “On social assistance I have nothing left over at the end of the month. To pay up front for my taxes to be filed means that our groceries are affected. That has happened a few times.”

Matt Saunders, a chartered accountant, has volunteered at the Army’s tax clinic in Oshawa, Ont., for many years. “The need for this free service is critical,” says Matt. “If people can’t afford to have their tax forms completed, they don’t file. And the impact of not filing means they don’t qualify for the GST credit, property tax credit or child tax benefits. That can add up to more than $100 dollars a month in someone’s pocket. That’s substantial for people who are hurting financially.”