“Income-tax time creates incredible stress for me,” says Rosemary. The cost of having income taxes prepared by tax firms starts at $60. For Rosemary, whose been laid off from her factory job, that’s a big deal.
Due to circumstances beyond her control, Rosemary asked The Salvation Army for assistance to complete her tax forms through its free income-tax clinic in Oshawa, Ont. While her financial situation was dire, she didn’t want to skip filing her returns. “If I don’t file, I don’t get benefits,” says the 52-year-old. “And I just can’t afford to lose them.”
Chartered Accountant, Matt Sanders, has volunteered at the Army’s Oshawa clinic for six years. “The need for this free service is critical,” says Matt. “If people can’t afford to have their tax forms completed, they don’t file. And the impact of not filing means they don’t qualify for the GST credit, property tax credit, or child tax benefits. That can add up to more than $100 dollars a month in someone’s pocket. That’s substantial for people who are hurting financially.”
For a multitude of reasons, Salvation Army tax clinics are easing pressures that already exist for individuals and families who are on a low/fixed income.
As tax time draws nearer, John’s pressures mount. A victim of child abuse, his emotional pain has long outlasted the visible wounds he suffered from bruises, punching, and binding. “I just can’t handle one more thing,” says John. “Even the stress of completing a simple form is overwhelming.”
Jamie attends the clinic because he has difficulty concentrating and making decisions. A few years ago he lost his job as a truck driver when he was diagnosed with depression and delusional disorder.
“I trust The Salvation Army to calculate my forms correctly,” says Jamie. “And I feel normal here. Many in society are uncomfortable around me. Everyone here accepts me, and that’s amazing!”
Every day there are Canadians who have to make choices that no-one should have to make. By offering free tax-services, this is one more way The Salvation Army and its programs help people find hope, courage and the strength to move forward when life hits hard.