Volunteer program available to help with tax returns

Adam MacInnis
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Taxes may be as certain as death, still, it’s something that many people tend to avoid or at least put off.

Stan Robinson, right, helps Charles Brown file his taxes at a free clinic at the Aberdeen Sobeys. He and other volunteers will be holding the clinics in various locations leading up to the tax deadline. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

But there’s a group that’s trying to make it a bit easier for people in Pictou County.

Volunteers trained by Revenue Canada give their time each year to offer their expertise to the public at the library and at community rooms at Sobeys or the Atlantic Superstore.

Already they’ve helped about 50 people and there were more trickling in slowly at Sobeys on Monday.

Allan Murray has been helping people filing taxes since about 1997 and enjoys the annual event.

“It’s interesting to do and if you volunteer you’re not spending money on something more expensive.”

While the Canadian Tax system is designed so that individuals can file their own forms, some just need a little help.

Shirley Lennon has been volunteering to help people for about seven years and said it’s just another way that she can help people out.

“I do a lot of volunteer work. It’s a way to keep my brain sharp,” she said. “It kind of keeps you in tune with things and gets you out.”

She said people can save some serious money by simply knowing about tax deductible items. For instance people can use certain expenses as a write-off including everything from medical, dental and optometry. They can even file information about their mileage as well as meal expenses when travelling for medical reasons. Mileage is credited at 51 cents a kilometre and meals can be credited for $17.

Lennon said people just need to remember to keep the receipts to show proof of all that.

“You have to make sure if they wanted to audit you they would have the information.”

Another thing to keep in mind is making sure you list all your dependents. There’s certain areas too where people can potentially get more money back if they have a student in college or university.

“There’s lots of things that people just forget about,” Lennon said.

The volunteers suggest that people file earlier rather than procrastinating. Lennon said sometimes you’ll need to go search for a receipt you didn’t think about and getting an early start could prevent you from missing a late deadline.

There’s also the benefit of getting your refund back sooner, said Murray.

“Usually we get seniors wanting to get their returns done sooner and the younger crowds come towards April 30.”

The free clinics will be held in various locations leading up to the end of tax season. Watch the community calendar listings in The News for details on when and where.

amacinnis@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: NGNewsAdam

Organizations: Sobeys, Revenue Canada

Geographic location: Pictou County

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