Town’s free tax return program aims to help more people

Program helped 235 people last year

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Some people just don’t bother doing (or getting done) their tax returns. In some cases they can’t afford it, and the Town of Slave Lake wants to help them out. For years the town has offered what it calls the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program for seniors and low-income people, run by volunteers. Tammy Kendall, who coordinates the program for the town, says she’s got the green light this year to raise the eligibility income threshold.
“I thought we had to stick by the (threshold) numbers,” she says. “Apparently we can go over them and not get in trouble.”
So that’s what they’re getting ready to do this year. The free tax prep ‘clinic’ starts on March 12 and runs through May 2. The volunteer tax prep advisors will be set up in the multi rec centre (MRC) lobby Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during that period, for three hours in the morning and two hours after lunch. If those hours don’t work, “give me a call,” says Kendall.
Obviously, not everybody qualifies; nor is the idea to take business away from the people who do tax prep for a living. But as noted, there are people not getting taxes done and Kendall hopes to reach more of them this year. Capacity shouldn’t be an issue, she says. The typical consultation takes only a few minutes.
So who does qualify? For starters, seniors over 65 years of age. Then families with low to moderate incomes. The threshold numbers for income are $40,000 for one person, $55,000 for two people, $55,500 for three people, $60,000 for four people and $60,500 for a five-person family. However, there is some flexibility to go above those numbers, as Kendall has noted. She said she has been informed some people are not getting their tax returns done and are therefore not eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The town’s program hopes to reach and help some of those.
Anyone with a T4E slip (unemployed due to a layoff) is also eligible for the free service. Finally, people with disability benefits are eligible.
Not eligible for the town’s free tax prep service are people who are self-employed or who have employment expenses, people with business income and expenses, people with rental income and expenses, people who have interest income over $1,000, people who have capital gains and losses, people who have filed for bankruptcy within that tax year and people who are deceased.
For more information on any of the above, call Tammy Kendall at 780-849-8031.

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