Salvation Army Helps Low-Income Families and Individuals Prepare Their Tax Returns

Salvation Army Peterborough helps low-income families prepare tax returns
Categories: Articles, Feature, Mobile, Newswire

It’s income tax time and The Salvation Army is offering no-cost income tax assistance to low income individuals and families.

“The cost of filing an income tax return can be overwhelming for people who are hurting financially,” says Joanne Minaker, executive director for The Salvation Army’s community services in Peterborough, Ont. “For example, what a single person on social assistance would pay an accountant or tax clinic to prepare their return could buy them two weeks’ worth of groceries.”

Across the country, in many Salvation Army communities, volunteer-run tax clinics are easing pressures that already exist for people on a low or fixed income.

“After people have come through our tax clinic, they relax,” says Minaker.  “And our services are not just for people on social assistance. Our clients include university students, working poor, newcomers and seniors on a fixed income.”

In 2014, The Salvation Army in Peterborough helped 1,400 people fill out their tax forms.

Offering free tax-services benefits clients in a variety of ways. University students with no parental support learn how to file their own taxes; newcomers are educated about the tax system; seniors feel cared for and single parents learn about budgeting.

Robin Bailey, program service coordinator for The Salvation Army in Burlington, Ont., says it’s heart-warming to see a single mom’s face light up when she realizes she is getting a substantial return. Then they talk about budgeting strategies.

“We want to put money into their pockets,” says Robin. “But the service doesn’t end there.

“Helping someone file a return is also about the conversation that takes place during the process. We listen. They trust. We offer other supports. They find hope.”

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 could mean a loss of more than $100 dollars a month. That’s substantial for people who are struggling financially.”