For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Community Tax Clinic

We decided to try holding a different kind of community outreach this year – a free community tax clinic.  We have a number of accountants in our assembly, so we organized a tax clinic to help people with simple tax returns and modest incomes prepare their returns. 

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a program called the Community Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (CVITP) where they help community organizations set up and run such clinics.  We registered with CRA to sponsor a clinic, and advertised our clinic on the CRA website, as well as on our hall website and on Kijiji and a website called comefromchina for new Chinese immigrants.  We also posted notices about the clinic in a nearby community centre.  CRA provides training, and access to free software to use in preparing the returns.  At first the registration was slow and we wondered if we would have any returns to prepare, but by the time the clinic date arrived, we were full.  We learned that it was important to have a phone number for registration rather than just an email address, and we had someone look after booking the appointments when people called.

We ran our clinic on a Saturday from noon until 5 pm.  We set up a wifi connection at the hall so that we could electronically file the returns on the spot.  We booked appointments for every half hour, and our four tax preparers prepared about 30 tax returns.  Most of the people we helped live in the community around the hall, and for all of them, it was the first time they had ever been in the building.  We had a couple of people staffing a reception desk, and we served people coffee and snacks while they waited their turn.  It was interesting to watch them reading the texts on the wall.  Some of them asked questions about the hall while we prepared their taxes.

The people who came seemed to really appreciate the help.  We gave them an information sheet to let them know about the regular Sunday night gospel meeting at the hall and our ESL class, as well as upcoming events such as a clothing give-away and a gospel supper.

Overall we were very happy with the response.  It is quite a bit of work to set up and requires commitment from a number of people to run smoothly, but it brought many new contacts into the hall for the first time, and provided a way of doing good and helping the community. 

For more information email Ken Kember

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