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Low income or no income? Access money through filing your taxes

26 March 2019

All Canadians should file taxes regardless of whether they earn an income. This is because tax time is one of the most important financial opportunities in the year, when receiving a tax refund can be the largest single infusion of cash into the household for many Canadians living on a low income. It is also the only way for someone to establish their eligibility for many benefit programs that provide financial support for low-income households throughout the year. For example, amounts received for the GST/HST Credit, the Canada Child Benefit, and the Canada Worker’s Benefit depend on the level of household income.  

Every year in all parts of Canada, community organizations host free tax clinics, supported by the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) which is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Canadians with modest household incomes and simple tax situations can access free tax-filing support through these tax clinics in their local communities during March and April. Canadians can find a tax clinic in their area by visiting CRA's website, or obtaining a recommendation from local community agency.  

Prosper Canada partners with community organizations across the country to support this important work. Since 2018, our five national Financial Empowerment Champions and their community partners have helped Canadian’s access over $81 Million in income at tax time. In three and a half years, the Ontario community partners in the Financial Empowerment and Problem Solving (FEPS) program have helped over 25,000 people access $138 Million in income at tax time, through tax refunds, benefits and credits. The Ontario Financial Empowerment Champions (OFEC) program has provided tax-filing assistance to over 18,000 people, helping them to access over $107 Million in new income.  

Delivering community tax clinics each year involves significant support from volunteers, and a great deal of on-site coordination, outreach, and often follow-up support from staff members. For example, FEPS program staff in Ontario provide one-on-one support throughout the year for individuals with more complex tax situations or back-taxes filing needs. They also provide one-on-one financial support for people looking for help with budgeting and saving for their child’s education once they have received this new income. Momentum and Aspire Calgary are partnering with community tax clinics, ATB Financial and private donors. Momentum is now using the tax time opportunity to deliver their Tax Time Savings Program, a matched savings program they’re piloting that matches 50 per cent of savings put aside for at least one year. At the end of 2018, 131 of their program participants saved over $136,000 combined.  


Tax time offers a tremendous opportunity for Canadians to add to their household income and build their savings for the years ahead.  

The following resources may be helpful: