Free income tax counselling coming to Island

MANITOULIN—Life just seems to be getting more and more complicated these days, but while the only sure things in life are said to be death and taxes, it is the latter that just seems to be getting more and more complicated. For those with the financial resources to hire expert help, tax time isn’t usually that challenging but when you are of limited means, getting those forms filled out correctly can seem insurmountable. Help, however, is on the way.

John Cockburn, a financial empowerment coordinator for the Sudbury Community Service Centre and Sudbury Credit Counselling, dropped a line to The Expositor with the good news. “We are happy to announce that we will be holding our free income tax clinics for individuals on low income at various locations across Manitoulin Island this year throughout the months of March and April,” he said. “We are working in conjunction with the United Way in Sudbury to extend these vital services to the Manitoulin area.

Financial struggles seem to be growing by leaps and bounds these days. “We are hearing from more and more people every day,” Mr. Cockburn notes. The issue is particularly acute in rural and remote communities. “We are finding that more people are coming in whenever we schedule a clinic in smaller communities across the North,” the credit counsellor added.

Mr. Cockburn explained that the free clinics are not for everyone, however. “These clinics are reserved for individuals living on a low income, that’s less than $35,000 a year for a single individual, less than $45,000 a year for two individuals, less than $47,500 a year for three individuals and an additional $2,500 per individual after that,” he said. “We cannot accommodate individuals who are self-employed or have investment interest income over $1,000. We also cannot file final taxes for deceased individuals, unfortunately.”

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be in dire straits to access the service. In fact, it is much better if you tackle financial planning long before it becomes an issue. Mr. Cockburn noted that planning for the future, perhaps setting up a registered education plan or Canada Learning Bond to prepare for your children’s future education, can be part of that financial foresight.

Mr. Cockburn stressed that the clinics have proven to be very successful for clients.

Drop in clinics will be held at 70 Barber Street in Espanola from 10 am to 3:30 pm on Thursday March 28 and 10 am to 4:30 pm on April 10; from 10 am to 3 pm at 66 Robinson Street (Channel View Apartments) in Little Current on Thursday, March 21; from 9 am to 3 pm at 29 Nixon Street (Meadow View Apartments) in Mindemoya on Thursday, April 11; and 12 pm to 4:30 pm at 1079 Sheshegwaning Road (the Sheshegwaning band office) in Sheshegwaning First Nation on Wednesday March 20.

Clients are met on a first come, first served basis and are advised to bring all their tax related information, and if available, your Notice of Assessment from the previous year.