How Do I Get Help Preparing/Filing My Tax Return, As I’m Low Income?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

BeratungIf you find yourself in the situation of having a low income, you can get help filing your income tax return. You can file online for free, get a paper copy of the tax return (though that option may be gone soon), or use the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). The CVITP is great for those that just don’t feel comfortable doing it themselves or don’t have access to the Internet.

File Online For Free

Every year Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) certifies software programs for preparing tax returns, some of those are available online and are free (though with limited restrictions and/or exclusions). Check out this link for the available software for your tax year; click ‘Online’ to see the online offerings. There is even an iPad app available for filing your return.

The free filing online services are usually restricted to personal returns (no business filings), some even to only a few slips and no medical or donations, and some based on your income level. Check out the privacy policy of the online services, as you don’t want any of your personal information getting out there. CRA does not accept any responsibility for programming errors that affect the calculation of your tax payable. Note that NETFILE® is not available after November 30th so you will have to print the return and file it, so make sure the online version can also print a return.

Check out which one will work for you. And, CRA does not test for spelling or grammatical errors or user friendliness.

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP)

CRA has developed the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) to help eligible taxpayers who are not able to prepare their own income tax return. CRA does this by partnering with community organizations that host tax clinics, and arrange for volunteers to prepare tax returns for taxpayers with low income and simply tax situations. Over ½ million taxpayers are help through this program.

Of course, with all things government there are limits. As a guideline, CRA has these suggested maximum income levels:

  • · Single person                                up to $30,000
  • · Couple                                         up to $40,000
  • · One adult with one child                       $35,000

Community organizations have the flexibility to adjust or set eligibility criteria for tax filers based on the local economic environment, the population they serve, and their own capacity.

The people volunteering in this program do not always have tax knowledge so the CVITP does not prepare tax returns for the following situations:

  • · Returns for deceased persons;
  • · Individuals who file for bankruptcy;
  • · Self-employed individuals;
  • · Individuals who report capital gains or losses; or
  • · Individuals who report employment expenses, or business or rental income and expenses.

Who is best served by the CVITP?

  • · Low-income individuals and social assistance recipients;
  • · Newcomers to Canada;
  • · Seniors; and
  • · Students

Volunteer tax preparation clinics are generally offered between February and April each year at various locations across Canada. This link will take you to the page on CRA’s website where the clinics are available.

If you’re in a situation where you’re unable to prepare your own return, it’s good to know there are options on which you can rely.

About the Author

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