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Volunteer Bureau again offering tax help

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While figuring out their income tax may not be difficult for some, it can be stressful to others—especially if they can’t afford to hire a service to do it for them.

As such, the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau once again is offering a helping hand through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, with volunteers donating their time to aid low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly prepare their income tax forms before the April 30 filing deadline.

Those who want help with their taxes, but can’t afford to get them done at a firm, now can bring the applicable forms and information to the Volunteer Bureau (located in the old CN station) on Monday to Friday from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The information (which will be kept confidential) then will be given to trained volunteers to complete.

Volunteer Bureau administrative assistant Debbie Bazylewski said yesterday that 10-12 volunteers, who received training last month, have been busy with many tax returns already coming in since the first day they were accepted (March 2).

The local Volunteer Bureau helped about 300 people complete their tax returns last year, and Bazylewski anticipated they’ll see the same, if not more, this year due to money being tight and the likelihood of more people being unable to pay to have their taxes done.

While the deadline to file taxes is April 30, people are advised to bring in their information before the last week of April in order to give volunteers time to do them, noted Bazylewski.

As in previous years, the free service is aimed at those in a lower income bracket. Those with a net income of $25,000 or less ($30,000 or less for families) are eligible.

Volunteers only will help with straightforward personal returns, Bazylewski stressed.

Assistance will not be provided to those filing tax returns for the deceased or bankrupt, or those filing employment expenses, rental income, capital gains, foreign investments, giving or receiving support payments, or anything else that would be considered a complex return.

As well, the tax return only should be for 2008—not multiple years.

It’s important that those who do seek help come prepared and bring all the necessary information with them. Even if the Volunteer Bureau has helped them file their taxes in the past, it will not have that information on file.

Those who have their tax returns done also are reminded that volunteers are giving their time and are not responsible for unintentional errors and omissions.

If you have a problem with how your return was done, refer the matter to 1-800-959-8281.

They also are advised to keep a working copy of the year’s tax return filed away for easy access.

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program has been going on here for well over a decade, and has been offered by the federal government since 1971.

Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers nationwide participated in the program, helping almost 448,000 people complete their returns.

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