by Heidi Riley
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) offers free tax assistance to those in need and is a collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and community organizations. CVITP volunteers complete simple income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest-to-no income and a simple tax situation.
“Volunteering with this program helps in-need community members get their income tax filed for free to access the benefits and credits they are entitled, such as the GST/HST rebate and the Canada Child Benefit. Some Canadians need assistance to access their benefits and credits. This program helps those in need by filing their annual tax return which is the prerequisite to access eligible benefit payments, even for those with no income or whose income is tax exempt,” says Natasha Brewer, CRA spokesperson.
“Last year, 110 volunteers helped 4,330 people on PEI file their tax and benefit return through the CVITP,” says Natasha.
“Volunteering with this program is a great way to network, learn new skills, build your resumé, and get involved with your community. How much and how often you volunteer is totally up to you. You can file as many or as few returns as you like, whatever fits your schedule.”
In-person tax clinics are typically held annually in Alberton, Charlottetown, Cornwall, Hunter River, Montague, O’Leary, Souris, Stratford, Summerside and Tignish from the end of February
to the end of April. Clinics are also offered by videoconference, phone and drop-off and run year-round with the need for volunteers outside of the tax season.
What do you need to volunteer with the CVITP? Volunteers fill a variety of roles and do not need to be tax experts. They respect client confidentiality and protect taxpayers’ information.
Volunteer roles available
To complete income tax and benefit returns, volunteers should have a basic understanding of taxes, be comfortable using a computer, an interest in learning to use tax-filing software, and willingness to help people in the community.
“Volunteers receive training and a dedicated phone line to support them while helping people file their taxes,” says Natasha.
Volunteers are also needed to act as greeters, to welcome people to the tax clinic, and intake officers to ensure clients have all their required documentation. Administrative support volunteer roles are also available to provide support, book appointments for clients and send reminders.