Income Tax Filing Supports
Tax season is a stressful time of year for many. For those with low literacy, filing personal income tax can be a daunting task. According to a 2020 paper, as many as one in ten Canadians don’t file their taxes. Because of this, they may miss out on cash benefits. In a CBC news article, Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of Prosper Canada, explains that some of the reasons people don’t file their taxes are language barriers, cognitive issues and even a lack of awareness. With the deadline for filing personal income tax approaching (April 30, 2023), how can we support all Canadians with filing their taxes?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers free tax clinics through its Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. The clinics provide free tax-filing assistance to individuals with low income and a simple tax situation. Your organization can host a tax clinic by applying for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Grant. Watch the video below for more information.
People with low literacy can seek the help of a tax consultant or accountant to help file their taxes. Here are some tips when working with a consultant:
- Be honest and upfront about your literacy level: Let your consultant know that you may need extra help understanding the tax forms and instructions.
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. A good tax consultant should be patient and willing to explain things in a way that makes sense to you.
- Bring a trusted friend or family member: If possible, bring someone you trust to help you understand the tax forms and instructions. This person can also help you communicate with the consultant if necessary.
Support for Indigenous Peoples
Filing taxes for Indigenous Peoples of Canada can be a slightly different process than non-Indigenous Canadians. The CRA offers a recorded webinar specifically for Indigenous Peoples covering basic tax filing information and the specific benefits, credits, exemptions and deductions they are eligible for.
Further resources can be found with the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) and First Nations Public Service Secretariat. The CRA also provides a credit and benefit short return form through friendship centres, community representatives, band council offices or a Northern Service Centre.
Support for New Canadians
Newcomers to Canada may still be adapting to life in Canada and may not have the English or French language skills to fully comprehend the tax system. Literacy practitioners can use resources created for those with low literacy (see the resources listed below) to help newcomers. The CRA also provides a series of videos aimed specifically at newcomers and offered in a variety of languages. Below is one of the videos in the series.
For more assistance and resources, check with local libraries, community centers or social service organizations to see if they offer tax filing assistance for people with low literacy skills.
- CRA: Learn about your taxes
- Do Newcomers Need to File an Income Tax Return?
- Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources – Module 2: Income and taxes
- Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS): 1-800-267-6999
- Taxes and benefits for Indigenous peoples
- Taxes for New Canadians: Step-by-Step Guide to Filing Your Tax Return
- Understanding income tax : learning materials for literacy and basic skills
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