Words of Wisdom from Tax AID DABC
By Sam Turcott, Director, Advocacy Access Program at Disability Alliance BC (DABC)
People with and without disabilities often have an aversion to income taxes. The process of filing taxes each year can seem confusing, time-consuming, and overly technical. However, the reality is that filing income taxes does not have to be a difficult or frustrating process.
A simple income tax return can be prepared and filed in 30-40 minutes. Income taxes are also used to determine eligibility for a range of government and non-government supports for people living with low or modest incomes including the GST credit, BC Sales Tax Credit, Child Tax Benefits, Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Grants and Bonds, subsidized housing, Medical Services Plan Premium Assistance coverage and more.
The Tax Assistance and Information for People with Disabilities (Tax AID) program at Disability Alliance BC provides free help to people on provincial disability benefits (“PWD” and “PPMB”) to file their back taxes and access tax benefits. Most people receiving disability benefits get at least $400-$600 back when they file their taxes and some qualify for much more. Over nearly three years, Tax AID has helped people with disabilities to access more than $1.2 million in tax benefits.
Here are some things to know to help you file your taxes this 2017/18 tax filing season:
- The Canadian income tax deadline in 2018 is set for April 30. However, your life will be much easier and less stressful if you beat the rush and file your taxes in February or March. If you are going to do it anyway why not get it out of the way sooner rather than later?
- There are many options to file your income taxes. The Canada Revenue Agency posts information about free income tax clinics offered by community organizations on their website. These clinics are for people with low-income and are often in high demand. You can also try filing your income taxes yourself. There are a variety of free and paid computer programs that make preparing and filing your income taxes much simpler. We recommend trying SimpleTax, a by-donation tool that you can access over the internet. Disability Alliance BC has a Help Sheet on our website that provides a step-by-step guide to preparing a simple income tax return. If you are interested in filing an income tax return yourself but are not sure whether you will be comfortable we encourage you to give it a try. You can always decide mid-way through to get help from a community tax preparer or a professional tax preparer if it seems too complicated.
- Make sure to keep track of any income tax slips that are provided to you from employers, the government, or other places you got money from in 2017. These slips contain the information you will need to prepare an accurate income tax return. If you received income that was not reported on an income tax slip you should keep track of it and find out whether it will need to be reported before you file.
- If your address has changed, make sure you contact the Canada Revenue Agency to let them know so they can update your address. This will ensure that they send information to the right place. You can also sign up for direct deposit to make it even easier to get your tax benefits.
Our motto at Tax AID is that taxes don’t need to be taxing. We hope that you will take advantage of the many benefits of income tax filing this year and that you spend some time to learn how easy tax filing can be. To learn more about Tax AID DABC call us at 604-872-1278 or toll-free 1-800-663-1278.