Expanding free tax filing to fight inequality

This spring, Food Banks Canada is expanding its National Tax Clinic program to help more individuals living with low incomes file their tax returns.

In collaboration with the network of food banks and provincial associations, and with increased funding and volunteer support from our corporate sponsor, KPMG in Canada, we have doubled the number of free tax return clinics included in the program from two to four and upgraded software to help more people access the benefits they deserve.

The UHC – Hub of Opportunities in Windsor, Ont. and Source Community Resources Centre in White Rock, B.C., have joined The Mississauga Food Bank and Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre in filing 2021 taxes on behalf of clients in need, operating virtually as a safety precaution due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: Tax Clinics – Another Way Food Banks Partner to Help Clients

According to Heather McLean of The Mississauga Food Bank, which together with the Saskatoon Food Bank returned more than $9.3 million to the pockets of low-income individuals last year, virtual tax clinics help alleviate client fears and spread education about the existing social benefits system.

“Numerous clients who I spoke to had not filed taxes for many years out of fear,” McLean said of her experience during the 2020–2021 tax season. “Many were in receipt of disability benefits and were struggling to make ends meet, or they received the CERB and were afraid they would owe money on their taxes.

“The virtual tax clinic allowed them to stay safe in their homes while still ensuring their returns were filed.”

READ MORE: Why Automatic Tax Filing is Important to Reduce Poverty

As tax clinic clients interact with volunteers in filing taxes, they also develop a better understanding of how to navigate the tax system going forward.

Ultimately, helping individuals access the tax credits, child benefits and other financial supports they are entitled to aligns with Food Banks Canada’s long-term goal of reducing poverty, inequality, and the need for food bank services.

Food Banks Canada’s National Tax Clinic program is offered as part of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.

2021–2022 National Tax Clinic Locations and Dates:

The Mississauga Food Bank — Mississauga, Ont. — March 1 to May 15 https://www.themississaugafoodbank.org/how-we-help/taxclinics/

Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre — Saskatoon, Sask. — March 1 to May 15

UHC – Hub of Opportunities, Windsor (formerly the Unemployed Help Centre) — Windsor, Ont. — March 15 to May 15

Source Community Resources Centre — Serving Surrey and White Rock, B.C. — Year-round https://www.sourcesbc.ca/our-services/volunteer-services-income-tax-clinic/