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Community Links volunteers offer free income tax help for residents

By: By Jessica Patterson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 01:28 pm

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Hate doing taxes? A local volunteer might be able to help you with them, or do them for you, at Beiseker or Airdrie Community Links.

There are six volunteers at Community Links who offer free tax help to low-income families, individuals, students, people with disabilities, and seniors, according to Sue Der Stepanian, coordinator of volunteer services at Community Links in Airdrie. The program is open to residents in Crossfield, Irricana, Beiseker, Kathyrn, Airdrie and surrounding area, who qualify for the program.

“Our volunteers aren’t professionals, but they are trained with Canada Revenue Agency,” Der Stepanian said. “They can’t do bankruptcies, small business, self-employment, rental income, estate taxes, capital gains or losses.”

That said, residents in Rocky View County with individual income tax returns are encouraged to take their taxes to the Beiseker office, Community Links staff or bring them to Airdrie for the volunteers to tackle.

For the volunteers, doing others’ taxes is a labour of love, Der Stepanian said.

“It’s a really great program, with amazing volunteers,” she said. “It’s their way of giving back to the community.”

Last year, volunteers did 236 tax returns through the program. This year, Der Stepanian expects that number to increase.

“We start counting for 2013 taxes on May 1, 2013,” she said. “Once April 30, 2013 comes, that’s the deadline for filing anything for 2012. As of May 1, 2013, to present, we have already filed 105 tax returns.”

While March and April are the busiest months of the year for the Community Links tax volunteers, the program accepts taxes any month of the year.

“People have issues in their lives, and sometimes income tax becomes a very low priority,” Der Stepanian said.

Der Stepanian said filing taxes is sometimes the first step people make towards taking control of their lives.

Without filing their income tax, people don’t get GST rebates, child tax credits, CPP or old age security.

“We encourage people to stay on top of their taxes every year, because it’s to their advantage,” she said.

Interested residents can drop of their taxes at the Beiseker Community Links office, at 401 - 5th Street or at the Community Links office in Airdrie, at 211 - 125 Main Street.


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