Promising approaches to expanding tax filing for people on low incomes

3 February 2016
Now that the holiday season is behind us it’s time to turn our attention to something a little less festive – tax season. While filing taxes may not be on your list of favourite things to do, for Canadians living on low incomes, tax time is an important opportunity to boost their income by accessing a wide range of government benefits.
 
There are a range of government programs and community tax filing supports that are proven to increase tax filing for people with low incomes. Two promising approaches that are seeing marked results are the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Tax Program (CVITP) and New Brunswick’s Get Your Piece of the Money Pie program.
 
The Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) works with community groups to host free income tax preparation clinics. The CRA provides online volunteer training, and tax software, while community groups host the clinic and manage volunteers. To be eligible, individuals must make less than $30,000, couples less than $40,000, and individuals with dependents less than $35,000.
 
In 2014, over 2,000 organizations mobilized 16,000 volunteers to help file over 600,000 tax returns. Though it appears that some clinics are open year-round, the majority are only available in the lead-up to tax season.
 
Get Your Piece of The Money Pie: Led by the New Brunswick government, is an initiative that helps connect residents to benefits and credits they may be missing and encourages them to tax file. With the help of partners, it has resulted in an increase of: 36 per cent in tax filing by low-income residents, 113 per cent in the number of tax clinics, and 60 per cent in the number of clinic volunteers.

To learn why tax filing matters for people with low incomes, the barriers they face, and other proven tax filing supports read Accessing Income-Boosting Benefits Through Tax Filing.