New Website for the Canada Revenue Agency

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has recently informed Disability Alliance BC that it will soon move its web presence to Canada.ca.  It has provided the following message:

“In 2013, as part of its commitment to better serve citizens and businesses, the Government of Canada launched the Web Renewal Initiative (WRI) to make its online information and services easier to find and use through a single, user-centric website – Canada.ca. The WRI is led by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Service Canada.

As part of the WRI, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be joining Canada.ca this July. As of July 11, 2017, all information concerning taxes, benefits, and charities will be moving to Canada.ca.

Moving forward, the majority of CRA’s content will be located on the Taxes theme. The remaining content will be found on:

Those accessing the CRA website will be automatically redirected to Canada.ca. This will be in place for one year to ensure that Canadians are taken to the appropriate page on Canada.ca, and that they will have sufficient time to update their bookmarks. If any of your webpages link to the CRA website, please ensure that the links are updated accordingly.

Canadians will have a consistent user experience on Canada.ca. This new site is organized by 15 themes and top tasks (most frequently used information and services), making it easier for Canadians to find information and services.”

This message is also available in French:

“En vue de son engagement à mieux servir les particuliers et les entreprises, le gouvernement du Canada a lancé, en 2013, son Initiative de renouvellement du Web (IRW). Cette initiative vise à rendre les renseignements et services gouvernementaux en ligne plus faciles à trouver et à utiliser grâce au site Web unique centré sur l’utilisateur Canada.ca. Le Secrétariat du Conseil du Trésor du Canada et Service Canada dirigent l’IRW.

Dans le cadre de l’IRW, l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC) transfèrera son contenu vers Canada.ca en juillet. À compter du 11 juillet 2017, on publiera tous les renseignements sur l’impôt, les prestations et les organismes de bienfaisance sur Canada.ca.

À l’avenir, la majorité du contenu de l’ARC se trouvera sur la page du thème Impôts. Le reste figurera aux endroits suivants :

Pendant un an, les internautes qui accéderont au site Web de l’ARC seront redirigés vers Canada.ca de façon automatique. Ils pourront ainsi consulter les pages adéquates sur Canada.ca et auront le temps de mettre leurs favoris à jour. Si vos pages Web comportent des liens vers le site de l’ARC, veuillez mettre ces liens à jour en conséquence.

Les Canadiens vivront une expérience uniforme sur Canada.ca. Le nouveau site, divisé en 15 thèmes et tâches principales (services et renseignements les plus populaires), aidera les Canadiens à trouver facilement des renseignements et services.”

One Million Dollars in Tax Benefits and Counting…

Since DABC’s Tax Aid Program began in 2015, our Tax Advocates have had the pleasure of helping over 480 individual clients access over $1,039,000.00 in tax-related benefits.  Many of our clients receive between $300 and $500 per tax return, with those who have dependent children receiving even more.  Are you missing out on tax benefits because you haven’t filed your tax returns in a while?

We can file up to 10 years of simple personal tax returns for people living anywhere in BC who receive PWD or PPMB benefits, and often when there are additional sources of income such as employment income, pension income etc.

Together with our partners at Plan Institute and BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, we can provide information and assistance to clients who want to apply for the Disability Tax Credit so they can open a Registered Disability Savings Plan.  If you open a Registered Disability Savings Plan within or before the calendar year you turn 49, you may qualify for thousands of dollars in free grants and bonds from the Federal Government, to help you save for later life.  To access any grants and bonds you are entitled to, it is essential to be up to date on your tax returns.

We’re here to help you access some of the tax benefits you may be entitled to.  If you or someone you know who receives PWD or PPMB benefits needs help catching up on filing their income taxes, contact Tax AID DABC at: taxaid@disabilityalliance.org or call (604) 872-1278 or toll free at: 1 800 663-1278.

 

New Tax AID DABC publications

Thanks to funding from The Vancouver Foundation and assistance from MOSAIC, we have translated Help Sheet #16: Guide to Filing Income Taxes for People Receiving PWD/PPMB and our Tax AID DABC brochure into five different languages.

The languages are:

  • Chinese Simplified
  • Chinese Traditional
  • Persian
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish

You can download them on our Online Resources page, or contact Val at 604-875-0188 or feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org if you would like copies mailed to you.

Community Update: Changes to Disability Tax Credit Certificate

Several changes were recently made to the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate which is used to apply for the DTC.


New Address for DTC Applications

One significant change is that residents of BC are now instructed to send their DTC applications to the Winnipeg Tax Centre.  Previously BC residents were instructed to send these applications to the Surrey Tax Centre.  The Winnipeg Tax Centre address is:

Winnipeg Tax Centre
66 Stapon Road
Winnipeg MB R3C 3M2

We have some concerns that this change will create inconvenience or confusion for people applying for the DTC.  However, we also hope that centralizing the review of DTC applications will result in better and more consistent administration of the DTC over time.

Shorter “Effects of Impairment” Section
The section “Effects of Impairment” on page 5 has also been significantly shortened.  This is the only section of the DTC where substantive information about the impacts of a person’s disability can be provided and is very important to establish DTC eligibility.  We remind applicants and their doctors that they have the right to attach additional sheets of paper to the application if there is insufficient space in that section to explain the effects of their disabilities.

Other Changes
In addition to these changes there have been a number of other changes to the application including new language in the section for applicants applying under the “Life-sustaining Therapy” category.
The DTC application form can be downloaded from the Canada Revenue Agency website (link) or requested through 1-800-959-8281.
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DABC now provides help and support to apply for the DTC to people in BC who are eligible for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) through our Access RDSP initiative.  We thank the Vancouver Foundation for their generous funding of this work as well as our partner organizations Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society.  For more information about the DTC and the RDSP please feel free to contact us at 604-872-1278 or toll free at 1-800-663-1278.

Celebrate 100 Years of Income Taxes By Making Sure You Are Getting the Tax Benefits You Deserve

Canada did not have income taxes in its early history.  The first income tax in our country was introduced in the fall of 1917 when Sir Robert Borden’s tory government passed the Income War Tax Act in order to help pay for the financial costs of World War 1.  The intention of that Act was to establish a temporary income tax but 100 years later and it appears that income taxes are here to stay.

Today, personal income taxes are by far the largest source of revenue for Canada’s federal and provincial governments, comprising more than 48% of federal income during the 2014-15 fiscal year for example.

Over time, income taxes and income tax filing have also become a way to determine eligibility for many programs and supports for Canadians with low or modest incomes as well as for certain benefits for people with disabilities.  These supports include the GST credit, BC sales tax credit, Carbon Tax Credit, MSP Premium Assistance, and access to subsidized housing.  Income tax filing is also required to receive federal grants and bonds for Registered Disability Savings Plans.  Tax AID DABC’s goal is to help recipients of BC provincial disability assistance to access the supports they are entitled to receive by getting caught up to date with their unfiled income taxes.  The service is free and many of our clients receive hundreds or even thousands of dollar in income tax benefits as a result.  If you are interested in celebrating 100 years of income taxes with us by getting caught up to date on your own taxes we hope that you will contact us for assistance.

Community Update: NEW Registered Disability Savings Plan/Disability Tax Credit Program

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) is thrilled to announce a new province-wide program to help British Columbians with disabilities access the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). This new service has been made possible through the generous support of the Vancouver Foundation and will be provided in partnership with Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS).

Through this new partnership, DABC advocates provide direct service by:
– Helping people who are eligible for the RDSP to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), a pre-requisite for the RDSP.
– Connecting individuals who have the DTC to Plan Institute or BCANDS who will help people open an RDSP.

In addition to direct assistance, DABC will travel to communities across BC to raise awareness about the program with a goal to increasing the number of people accessing the RDSP. We will provide information about the RDSP and DTC through workshops and one-on-one clinics, and will meet with community organizations, banks, and credit unions to promote the RDSP.

For more information about the DTC and RDSP or to request a workshop, please call Linda at DABC: 604-872-1278; 1-800-663-1278 or email rdsp@disabilityalliancebc.org
Plan Institute’s RDSP Helpline (1-844-311-7526) is a great resource for information about the RDSP and DTC. Plan will also be administering the Endowment 150 program, formally operated by the Vancouver Foundation.

More about the RDSP
The RDSP is a long-term savings plan designed to help Canadians with disabilities at all income levels save for their futures. One reason the RDSP is so unique is because eligible individuals who open RDSPs can receive federally administered grants and bonds worth as much as $90,000 during a person’s lifetime.

New Tax AID DABC video

Since July 2015, Tax AID DABC advocates have helped British Columbians receiving provincial disability assistance to file their income taxes so that they can take full advantage of all the benefits and credits available to them. As of October 2016, Tax AID DABC advocates have helped more than 335 clients to file 931 years of taxes and access over $670,000 in tax credits and benefits. Curly Tail Pictures has produced a great new video that provides info about the program and features stories from some of the clients who have benefitted from Tax AID DABC’s assistance.

There are two versions:

The full version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gao3xcTAxM

The short version:
https://www.youtube.com/watchv=Gz7GpkM6VdE

With sincere thanks to the Vancouver Foundation for making this important work possible.

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Tax AID DABC Trip to Squamish on September 8th

Tax AID DABC Advocates will be visiting Squamish on September 8th.  This is a great opportunity for people on PWD and PPMB disability assistance to get caught up on unfiled taxes and learn more about income tax benefits for people with disabilities.  Space will be limited so please RSVP in advance.

Information about our Squamish visit and details on how to register are here.

Tax AID DABC to visit Terrace, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton between September 27 and October 5

Tax AID DABC Advocates will be visiting Terrace, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton between September 27th and October 5th.  This is a great opportunity for people on PWD and PPMB disability assistance to get caught up on unfiled taxes and learn more about income tax benefits for people with disabilities.  Space will be limited so please RSVP in advance.

Scheduled dates are listed below:

  1. September 27 and 28: Terrace Work BC Centre (Address Pending)
  2. September 29: Kamloops Work BC Centre (795 Lansdowne Street, Kamloops, BC)
  3. October 3: The People’s Place, 3402 27th Avenue, Vernon BC
  4. October 4: Kelowna Work BC Centre (#102 – 1460 Pandosy Street, Kelowna, BC)
  5. October 5: Penticton (Address Pending)

Click on the links to learn more about how to reserve a spot!

UPDATE: Address for Kamloops workshop and clinic has been updated.  Please see link above for details

Reasons to be Excited about Filing your Tax Return

I’d bet if we asked most of the people who have had their income tax returns prepared by the Tax AID program at DABC, they wouldn’t say they were excited or happy when they connected with us to have their taxes done.  If you’re receiving PWD or PPMB assistance, it’s understandable that filing years of income tax returns can feel like just another way for government to peek into your life and pounce on you if you have made a mistake.   For many people this fear has led them to ignore their tax returns for years.  Well, fear no more!  For most people living in BC and receiving PWD or PPMB benefits (even if they have other sources of income), we can help!  We can file up to 10 years of simple income tax returns and believe it or not, this can be a rewarding and liberating experience!

Our clients frequently tell us that filing their income tax returns has lifted a huge weight of stress off their shoulders.  It means that they have extra cash to help take care of debt that was weighing on them, cover much needed expenses, and that they can cross one big item off their to-do list.

If numbers are the subject of your worst nightmares, you can pass them on to us.  If you are overcome by newfound courage once you’re caught up on your tax returns, we can point you to resources to help you do your own taxes next year.  We can also point you towards resources you may not even know were available, like the Disability Tax Credit which may help off-set taxes you owe or paid previously and which is required in order to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).  If you do owe taxes from earlier years, your refund could help you pay off this debt and we may be able to suggest how to stop the interest and penalties on what you owe. For most of our clients, they won’t owe money on their tax returns and they will be getting up to 10 years of GST/HST payments, BC Low Income Carbon Tax Credits and basic refund amounts.  This usually results in more than $500 per tax year returned to the client which in turn means thousands of dollars for people getting caught up on multiple years.

I always enjoy meeting new clients and am happy to help them conquer their fear of taxes and government forms.  This year I want to connect with people all over our beautiful province.  I learn something from every client I have the opportunity to help.  Your stories matter, and most importantly, you matter.  It is our pleasure to help you get the benefits of filing your income tax returns!

-Salina

Tax Advocate, Tax AID program, Disability Alliance BC