Income tax made easy for low-income residents, seniors

‘So many people don’t understand what they can claim’

Published on February 18, 2014

Estella Wilson and Burt Amiro are co-ordinators of the  community volunteer income tax program taking place in Truro in March and April. The initiative has trained volunteers complete income tax forms for free for seniors, low income and social assistance recipients. Monique Chiasson – Truro Daily News

TRURO – A local group of volunteers want to ensure income tax time is not stressful for those who need assistance.

The community volunteer income tax program, which has been offered in Truro since the 1980s, will return again this tax season. The initiative has more than 20 volunteers trained to do income tax for free for low-income residents, seniors and people on social assistance. The program begins March 4 and wraps up April 22 and is done at the Truro library by appointment or drop-in, during set hours.

“There were 1,287 people last year,” said Estella Wilson, a co-ordinator who has assisted the program since 2000.

Despite that large attendance, there are still many who are unaware of the program, said co-ordinator Burt Amiro.

“There are always people who don’t know about this and we want to get as many people who are low income as possible,” said Amiro, who has helped with the program since 1997.

“A lot of people don’t have any idea how to do (income tax). So many people don’t understand what they can claim and we want to make sure they get everything they are entitled to. We claim everything that’s legal,” said Amiro.

The income tax process, which is confidential and supported by Canada Revenue Agency, is offered both by electronic and paper format and refunds done electronically “usually come in 14 days,” said Wilson.

Amiro said volunteers, who know how to do basic income tax even before special training, have an excellent reputation for their work.

“We are not perfect but we’ve had very few issues. If there’s a problem we make sure it’s fixed,” he said.

For people making use of the service, there are some things they should remember. Many items can be claimed, with receipts, that people often take for granted, said the co-ordinators.

Charitable donations, travelling for medical appointments, which may include meals, medical assistance such as medications, hearing aids, physiotherapy, dental and more,  

should all be claimed.

“Tuition can be claimed for (post-secondary) students too. They can also claim textbooks and an education amount, which varies depending on if they are part-time or full-time students,” said Amiro, adding the existence of a student loan doesn’t impact those claims.

People with disability amounts (a specialized disability tax credit) should remember to bring that document as well.

“A lot of people don’t even know that (option) exists,” said Wilson.

For more information, or to book an appointment, call the library at 895-4183.

Twitter: tdnMonique




What: Community volunteer income tax program

Where: Truro library, Prince Street

For: Low-income people ($30,000 for single; $40,000 for couples), seniors, pensioners, students, people with disabilities, social benefit recipients, people filing for refund, benefits and credits.

When: March 4 to April 22, by appointment or drop-in

Hours: March 4, 8, 22, 25 and April 1, 5, 19 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and March 7, 14 and April 4 and 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Charge: None

* For details on what defines “low-income” call the library at