Free tax filing offered to select Island groups

Northeast Town woman makes request, Sudbury firm agrees

MANITOULIN – Credit Counselling Sudbury (CCS), supported by United Way Canada North East Ontario, is again offering its tax-filing services to clients on Manitoulin with qualifying incomes. Due to the pandemic, the tax returns will be filed with a volunteer over the phone. 

Barb Baker, who owns and operates $umthing, which offers a number of courses, including those on managing one’s finances, said she recalled the advertisements in this paper three years ago from CCS, which hosted in-person tax filing services for those whose annual salaries met the criteria. Ms. Baker reached out to them this winter to see if they might be willing to do this again. The response was that they were not permitted to leave the city due to pandemic travel restrictions. Not to be deterred, Ms. Baker worked with John Cockburn at CCS to see if they could find a workaround which they did—tax filing by phone.

Ms. Baker said she wanted people to understand that although filing by phone sounds counterintuitive, it will be completely safe.

“I’ve spent the last four years of my life with (OPP Constable) Marie Ford telling people ‘don’t give out your SIN over the phone!’” she laughed. In this case, however, the phone call will be initiated by the person using the service and is a safe option.

Tax filings for the years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 can be completed over the phone.

Clients must have the following ready for their phone appointment: date of birth; address; all tax forms (T4, T5007, T4A(P), T4A(OAS) etc.); medical expense totals; rent or property taxes totals; and information for any dependents. 

All of the client’s tax forms will be mailed back to the client at their home to keep for their records.

Those who qualify for the CSS telephone tax filing are as follows: single person income up to $35,000 annually; two people up to $45,000 annually; three people up to $47,500; each additional dependent up to $2,500 and interest income less than $1,000.

It is important to note that volunteers will not prepare returns for individuals who are self-employed.

Ms. Baker reminds everyone to never give personal information over the phone if someone calls you. While clients will be expected to give out personal information, “it will be initiated by you,” she reiterated.

Ms. Baker said she thought it was important to see a service like this on Manitoulin because of her background teaching money management, a topic on which she would normally be offering classes through municipalities. She said she received a number of phone calls from Island seniors following last year’s tax season, as they did not file because of pandemic restraints and which caused them to receive letters from the government warning them about the need to file as it pertains to their Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Security. Ms. Baker said she did not want anyone to go without these important sources of income and so sought to make this easier for those who need the help.

To set up your appointment with CSS, please call 1-800-685-1521. Volunteers are available from now until the end of tax season.