Prime Tax Season
By Valeria Sales, Community Development and Integration Counselling Team Lead
April 7, 2021
Despite our general reluctance to face the reality each year, the month of April is more than the start of spring, it’s also prime tax season in Canada.
It’s an annual tradition of either fear or gleeful anticipation depending on your situation. Yet, a surprising number of Abrigo clients don’t experience any of those feelings because they simply don’t see the need to file their taxes by the April 30th deadline.
In fact, a select number of our clients don’t see the need to file their taxes at all each year. This is especially true for those with no or low income. Some individuals haven’t filed for a decade or more.
That poses as a potential problem for some but for many others it could also mean a monetary windfall.
Unlock the eligibility for credits
Filing a tax return with the federal government means that you unlock the eligibility for various credits and benefits to you and your family. Most of these credits and benefits are based on your family’s size and income. Not filing your taxes each year will end or suspend these payments.
Some of the more common credits and benefits that you may be entitled to if you file your taxes include: the GST rebate, Ontario Trillium Benefit, Canada Child Benefit, the Disability Tax Credit, Canada Workers benefit and the Climate Action Incentive just to name a few.
One client example that clearly stands out in my mind who benefited greatly by filing her income tax was Maria (her name has been changed to protect her identity).
Maria was a long-term victim of intimate partner violence. She was made aware of Abrigo’s services by a friend and became a client in Abrigo’s Violence Against Women program where she received regular counselling and support.
She lived in a shelter and was unable to find a job for herself and she had no other means of support from either friends or family members. Despite her concerns, she allowed her daughter to live with the child’s father for a period of time because of the difficult conditions Maria was experiencing.
Although Maria was receiving Ontario Works (social assistance), due to the traumatic circumstances she lived through she did not file her taxes for the previous 10 years. With Abrigo’s assistance she filed a return for each of those 10 years and that action changed her life.
She was able to receive over $6,000 per year in retroactive benefit payments for each of the 10 years with the total amount surpassing $67,000. In addition, due her health conditions, Abrigo was able to get this client transferred into the Ontario Disability Support Program.
After getting all of the retroactive payments she was entitled to, Maria was able to rent an apartment and her daughter has returned to live with her.
The impact of receiving these benefits improved her self-esteem and self-confidence immediately. She no longer felt scared, alone and isolated. The changes in her life were real and profound.
If you are reading this article, please file your return for the 2020 calendar year. It could make a big difference in your life.
In-person tax clinic
For years Abrigo has held an in-person tax clinic for our low-income clients. This free service has been of huge benefit for many. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted this program the last two years and we have made the decision again this year to cancel this service. To ensure our clients get the help they need, we have assembled a small group of local accountants who will prepare your tax return for you at an extremely reasonable cost.
If you would like to connect with one of the accountants assisting Abrigo this year please call us at 416-534-3434 and we can direct you to our closest partner. Happy filing everyone!
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