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

Tax AID DABC is One Year Old Today!

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Last July, thanks to generous funding from the Vancouver Foundation, Disability Alliance BC launched its  provincial program Tax Assistance and Information for People with Disabilities (Tax AID DABC). The program’s focus is to help people receiving Persons with Disabilities (PWD) and Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) who have not filed their income taxes for multiple years to catch up on their taxes.

Over the past year, Tax AID DABC’s advocates have:

  • Helped over 277 clients to file multiple years of taxes
  • Filed over 730 years of taxes
  • Helped clients from across BC to access over $470,000 in tax credits and benefits
  • Answered hundreds of tax inquiries by email and over the phone

This year, we are expanding our provincial scope and will reach out to more communities across BC, particularly those in the North, the Interior, and Northern Vancouver Island. We can conduct remote tax filings for clients, or work with community groups to organize and deliver workshops across BC.

We welcome your referrals to Tax AID DABC. To speak to a Tax AID advocate, please call our Advocacy Access line at 604-872-1278 (Toll-free 1-800-663-1278) or email taxaid@disabilityalliancebc.org.

For more information on setting up a workshop in your community, please email Program Manager Sam Turcott at sam@disabilityalliancebc.org.

If you would like us to send you a brochure or poster, please email Chloe at chloe@disabilityalliancebc.org.  More information about the program is also available on our website: https://taxaiddabc.org/

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation has issued this release about Tax AID DABC, in recognition of Tax AID’s first anniversary:

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016SDSI0036-001288

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On PWD or PPMB benefits? Want help filing your 2015 taxes for free?

Tax AID DABC is offering in-person tax clinics in at the DABC office (#204-456 West Broadway) in Vancouver where we will help you file your 2015 tax returns.

The clinic is for recipients of BC disability assistance (either PWD or PPMB benefits) who have simple income tax situations (no self-employment income, most or all income reported on T-slips).  When you come to the clinic bring your T5007 tax slips and any other slips with you.

Clinics will be offered the following days:

Wednesday, March 2

Wednesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 30

Wednesday, April 13

Please call Chloe Krause at 604-872-1278 or email taxaid@disabilityalliancebc.org with a number you can be reached at to request an appointment.

Changes to the Disability Tax Credit Application

 

The Canada Revenue Agency has changed the layout of the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) application. Some of the notable changes are as follows:

1. The application package has been shortened from 12 pages to 6 pages.

2. The revised application now allows applicants to request an automatic adjustment of their prior tax returns if they qualify for the DTC.

3. Sections of the doctor’s portion of the application have been shortened and simplified. For example, in the sections titled speaking, hearing, walking, eliminating, feeding, dressing, and mental functions necessary for everyday life the doctor is no longer asked to explicitly indicate whether their patient’s restrictions are present all or substantially all of the time. This change only simplifies the application and does not remove the requirement that applicants need to show they are restricted all or substantially all of the time in one of these areas.

4. More space is provided in the effects of impairment section for doctors to explain how a person’s disability affects his or her life.

We hope that these new changes will make it easier for people with disabilities to apply for and access the benefits of the DTC.

If you want to apply for the DTC you can download and print the application from the Canada Revenue Agency website or request a copy of the application by calling 1-800-959-8281. Disability Alliance BC has more information about the DTC and the related Registered Disability Savings Plan in Help Sheet 14 of our Help Sheet series.

We hope this helps you to help your clients. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Sam Turcott at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278.

New video – Tax AID DABC: Success Stories

Please check out this brief video of some clients we’ve helped through Tax AID DABC!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG6yS00ysPo

Since July 2015 we’ve helped PWD/PPMB recipients access over $100,000 in credits and rebates. For more information about our program: http://www.disabilityalliancebc.org/ourwork_new.htm or https://taxaiddabc.org/

Thank you to the Vancouver Foundation for making this project possible