By Garrett Simmons
It’s tax time once again.
The Family and Community Support Services Tax Return Assistance program is back for another year, and organizers are hopeful this will be their busiest year ever.
Last year, FCSS assisted 300 clients and the year before, 280 people received help through the program.
“Every year we have a bit of an increase, and we’re looking forward to helping more people again this year,” said Cindy Lauwen, Volunteer Services Co-ordinator for FCSS.
Through the program, trained volunteers offer free assistance with tax returns for individuals, families and seniors with modest incomes. Assistance for these simple tax situations is provided to those with total family incomes of $35,000 (for one person) all the way up to families with an income of $52,500 (for five people).
A team of qualified volunteers, with Canadian Revenue Agency training, are tasked with completing the tax returns in a timely manner, usually within a week.
“Our volunteers complete 10-20 hours of CRA training, brushing up on tax information and anything that is new for that year,” said Lauwen, who added volunteers also complete a CRA screening process.
A team of four volunteers are on hand to assist clients in the 16 municipalities FCSS serves in the MD of Taber, Lethbridge County (excluding the City of Lethbridge), and County of Warner. Getting started is simple.
“All of the appointments come through me or through our Low German Mennonite Family Liaison Worker, Susie Peters,” said Lauwen.
Peters collects all the tax information for her clients, and completes the tax returns, while Lauwen turns the information she collects to her team of volunteers.
Clients can seek assistance over the phone, via a video call or they can drop off their information in person at the FCSS location in Taber at 5404-50 Ave. Arrangements for tax drop-offs in other communities in the FCSS service area can be made by contacting Lauwen.
Whatever way you decide to get your information to FCSS, Lauwen added that keeping up with your taxes is critical.
“Since it is a free service, it is extremely important to file your taxes every year,” she said, as regular tax filings ensure people continue to receive their Old Age Security cheques and AISH payments, for example.
For more information on the Tax Return Assistance program, visit http://www.fcss.ca or contact Lauwen at 403-915-7063 or Peters at 403-593-0618.