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Just Ask Angie: Who qualifies for free tax prep service?

Q: Who is the free tax preparation service for, and how do I access it?
Cropped view of a senior woman receiving help with her finances from her granddaughter

Q: Who is the free tax preparation service for, and how do I access it?

A: I’ve written about the Free Tax Clinic Program before, and it’s definitely worth highlighting here again, because it’s tax season, and also because so many of you readers (or your friends, family or neighbours) may qualify. This program is for folks who fall within certain income brackets and have a relatively simple tax situation.

What are the income limits?  For individuals, this means you earned roughly $40,000 or less during the tax year. For a family of two (ie. two adults, or an adult and a child) your total earnings were roughly $50,000 or less in the tax year. If you have dependents, you can add $2,500 for each dependent in your family to the last income amount mentioned.

What is a “simple” tax situation? This means you do not have employment expenses to claim; you do not have self-employment income to report; you do not have rental property income; you do not have capital gains, and any interest income is less than $1,000. Note: Taxpayers who have T4A income that shows as self-employed/business in box 48 may be eligible to have their return completed under the Free Tax Clinic program.

If you are unsure if you qualify, it’s worth talking to a volunteer directly just in case you do. You can do this by simply calling the Free Tax Clinic program volunteer coordinator, Louis at 604-886-1995.

There are three ways to have your taxes done: over the phone, by making an appointment to have them done in-person while you wait, or through a drop-off/pick-up format.

Over the past two years, volunteers have been encouraging folks to have their taxes done over the phone, and you can do this by calling coordinator Louis Legal at 604-886-1995.

In-person tax clinics are offered in March and April through various community organizations and through the generosity of several community volunteers. The locations and times are as follows: The Resource Centre (Mondays and Fridays – to book call 604-885-4088), Gibsons and District Public Library (Fridays – to book call 604-886-2130); Sechelt Public Library (Tuesdays – to book call 604-885-3260). If you’d like an appointment in Pender Harbour call Harry at 604-741-5132. Or, you can do walk-in appointments on a first come first served basis at: Pender Harbour Community School (Thursdays 9 a.m. to noon) or Pender Harbour Health Centre (Wednesdays 9 a.m. to noon).

If the phone or scheduled tax clinic days do not work for you, there is also the option to drop off your taxes and pick them up later. When you drop your taxes off you will need to fill out a consent form that usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Each organization has its own rules about how drop-off/pick-up works. These are: The Resource Centre (call to arrange drop-off time- 604-885-4088), Gibsons & District Public Library (drop-off during Libary Hours), Calvary Baptist Church of Gibsons (ring the doorbell Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 1p.m.); VCH Home and Community Care Office (Monday to Friday – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.); Pender Harbour Community School (Drop-off in mail slot Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to noon), Pender Harbour Health Centre (drop off at the reception Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to noon).

If you think you know someone – a friend, neighbour, relative, senior on a fixed income, or anyone else who may qualify, please let them know! It is a great opportunity for people to get tax season wrapped up at no cost! And…if you are behind on a number of years’ taxes, volunteers are great helpers to support you in getting caught up!

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub.

The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Contact us: [email protected] or 604-885-4088.