Charitable Fund Spotlight – Hope House’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

3 minute read
 Hope House serves those affected by poverty by helping them get caught up on their taxes.

November is Financial Literacy month – a time for Canadians to make a plan to improve their financial health. It’s a chance to take a look at their debt, optimize their savings, plan for financial emergencies, and ensure that they are on the best financial path for them and their family. For Canadians living in or near poverty, this can be overwhelming. How do you improve your financial health when you are struggling to get by? Hope House, a Kindred Charitable Fund recipient, serves those affected by poverty by helping them get caught up on their taxes.

Hope House offers a free income tax program through the Canada Revenue Agency's Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). The program is run by registered tax clinic volunteers who support community members in getting their taxes done, whether it’s just for the past year, or several years. “By completing and e-filing a tax return, community members gain access to a number of benefits such as the Climate Action Incentive or the Ontario Trillium benefit,” says Jennifer Jolley, an Intake Support Worker at Hope House. They may even be owed an income tax refund, which can mean a great deal if they are struggling financially.

Hope House serves vulnerable people in Guelph – the unhoused and housed, the employed and the unemployed, those suffering a new, bewildering setback and those dealing with chronic, more complicated issues of poverty. Hope House operates and advocates on the belief that poverty, food insecurity, inequality, health and community are all interconnected. They offer services and programs that challenge the stigmas surrounding poverty and allow their community members to maintain their dignity and choice.

The CVITP provides training for the volunteers, who are often, but not always folks who work in the income tax field. Most of the returns they work on are simple. “Many community members have a lot of anxiety around doing their taxes,” explains Ms. Jolley. “They don’t understand the process and there’s a fear that comes with that.” As well, paying for an income tax preparation service simply isn’t feasible for many.

The income tax volunteers can even help community members who have misplaced needed slips and receipts. “There are ways to access these kinds of documents – our volunteers can help with that,” explains Ms. Jolley. And by submitting a tax return, community members gain access to a whole host of services that can make their lives easier. For example, you need a Notice of Assessment (NOA) to apply for subsidized housing, the Canada Learning Bond, and even an Affordable Bus Pass.

The CVITP at Hope House completes over 1,000 tax returns each year for their community members. Kindred’s Community Inspiration Framework compels us to empower others in their financial lives to better navigate the complexities of our Canadian financial system. We are pleased to support a program that is aimed at improving the lives of those living in or near poverty.

Jessica Sproat

Community Engagement Manager
Jessica is a corporate social responsibility enthusiast with a passion for collaborating with non-for-profit groups. She’s passionate about helping connect colleagues with opportunities to support their communities through volunteerism and sponsorships.

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