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Volunteers ready to help with income tax returns

Burt Amiro and Estella Wilson are leaders with the Truro-based Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In March and April, eligible residents can have their income tax done for free.
Burt Amiro and Estella Wilson are leaders with the Truro-based Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. In March and April, eligible residents can have their income tax done for free. - Monique Chiasson

TRURO, N.S. – It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and it greatly reduces stress.

Tax season is quickly approaching and there’s help for people who don’t know how to properly fill out their income tax forms.

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program began in 1971 to help people complete their tax returns for free. This year, it runs today to April 28

at the Colchester East Hants Public Library for eligible residents (see sidebar).

“A lot of people don’t have access to a computer and even if they did, they wouldn’t know how to do,” their taxes, said Burt Amiro, a local program leader.

And although an estimated 1,900 tax forms were done through the program last year alone, Amiro believes there are still many who don’t realize the initiative exists.

“We do still have people come in and tell us they didn’t know about this.”

And it’s an easy program too, said Estella Wilson, the other program leader.

“I believe our system is simplified for volunteers … and we all help each other; you are not left on your own,” Wilson said about volunteering, adding there are many longtime volunteers who are eager to share their knowledge with newcomers.

As of mid-February, more than 20 volunteers had signed up. Volunteers are trained online by the Canada Revenue Agency and it often takes a day or less of training to be ready, said Wilson.

“If they sit in with us for a day, generally, and if they can do it on the computer, they don’t need much training.”

Amiro said more volunteers are always needed and it’s not too late to get involved.

“They have to be able to do the basic income tax forms and preferably on computer because we don’t do very many on paper anymore,” he said, adding the group only completed seven on paper last year.

And the process is efficient, they say. It’s estimated about 16 returns can be done every 20 minutes, thanks to numerous volunteers working at once.

It is also possible to have a volunteer help people at their home, for example, someone with a disability or special circumstances.

Another thing to remember, said Amiro, is that you can bring in your spouse or family member’s tax information to be done at the same time.

“And we can do adjustments for past years,” he said.

Those adjustments, however, must be done on paper and mailed in, so a possible return would take a little longer to receive.

And if a volunteer makes a mistake?
“We correct it. All you have to do is call,” said Wilson.

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program:

 

To make an appointment, call 902-896-4192 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Messages will be answered the next morning.

Walk-ins are also welcome.

Clinics are for low-income wage earners, seniors and pensioners; students, people with disabilities, social services recipients, and people filing for refunds, benefits and credits.

Remember to bring medical receipts, including drugs, glasses, dental and travel expenses to appointments.

When are the Truro clinics available? By appointment:

March 1 – 2 to 4:30 p.m.

March 3, 10 and 24 – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

March 6, 15, 20 and 29 – 1 to 3:30 p.m.

March 8, 13, 22 and 27 – 5 to 7:30 p.m.

April 3 and 24 – 5 to 7:30 p.m.

April 7, 14 and 28 – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

April 10, 17 and 19 – 1 to 3:30 p.m.

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