Filing taxes will be easier for hundreds more people receiving provincial disability benefits with the expansion of Disability Alliance BC's Tax AID program.
Tax AID DABC provides free, individual help with tax returns year-round. A number of provincial and federal tax credits can be claimed retroactively.
Building on work to reduce poverty in British Columbia, the Province is providing $1.14 million to Disability Alliance BC (DABC) to expand this successful Vancouver-based program to Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George.
“We hope that people will hear about this program and take advantage of the services that are available,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Over the last three years, Tax AID DABC has helped 650 people recover $1.5 million in tax credits. It’s a good program, and I’m glad that we could help bring this service to more people in our province.”
DABC has contracted with three organizations to deliver the program in the new communities: Active Support Against Poverty in Prince George, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre in Kelowna and Together Against Poverty Society in Victoria. DABC selected the organizations based on their experience offering simple tax services to people living on low incomes.
“Twenty thousand people with disabilities fail to file their income taxes each year,” said Jane Dyson, executive director, DABC. “This means they lose out on refunds and income-tested benefits, which could improve their finances. Now, with government’s support, we can help a lot more people unlock the advantages that come with filing annual tax returns.”
Tax AID assistance is provided with the support of advocates who have expertise in disability tax issues. The program specializes in helping people who have not filed returns for a number of years. Filing a tax return is also the first step for people with disabilities to access the Registered Disability Savings Plan, and the benefits that accompany this federal program.
“Disability Alliance’s help was a big part of me changing my life around,” said Steve, a former Tax AID DABC client. “The help (they) gave me filing my taxes was the beginning of my recovery. I got thousands of dollars back, and moved forward to leading a more healthy life.”
DABC started offering Tax AID services in 2015, with the support of the Vancouver Foundation. To qualify for the program, people must be receiving the provincial persons with disabilities (PWD) benefit, or the persons with persistent multiple barriers to employment (PPMB) benefit.
Audrey Schwartz, Active Support Against Poverty, Prince George –
“We are thrilled we can now offer Tax AID DABC for people receiving disability benefits in our community. They can use every dollar, and we will work hard to help them get their refunds and tax credits.”
Tina Larouche, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Kelowna –
“Many of our clients with disabilities tell us they are afraid to file income taxes in case they end up owing money. With our new Tax AID DABC program, we will be able to help a lot more people with disabilities get up to date with their filing. This program will help improve the quality of life of the people we serve, and help to reduce the poverty of many British Columbians with disabilities.”
Douglas King, Together Against Poverty Society, Victoria –
“A completed income tax return can be the first step towards a better life. It can help unlock hundreds or thousands of dollars in benefits each year, and allow people to qualify for important supports like subsidized housing.”
- More than 546,000 people in B.C. over the age of 15 years identify as having a disability.
- People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as people without disabilities.
- Around 103,000 people in B.C. receive PWD benefits.
- The Tax AID DABC program has helped more than 650 people and filed over 1,714 years of income taxes for people with disabilities. Many of them had not filed their returns for several years.
- For people with low incomes who are not on disability assistance, free help is available to file simple tax returns through Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which is available in 50 B.C. communities. They can also obtain free assistance from two of the Tax AID DABC contracted agencies: Active Support Against Poverty (ASAP) in Prince George, and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS), in Victoria.
Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/community-volunteer-income-tax-program/tax-preparation-clinics.html
Disability Alliance BC (DABC): http://disabilityalliancebc.org/
Active Support Against Poverty (ASAP): https://clbc.cioc.ca/record/CLB0016
Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre: http://www.kfs.bc.ca/
Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS): http://www.tapsbc.ca/
B.C. Poverty Reduction Strategy: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/BCPovertyReduction