Calgary

Free tax clinic helps Calgary's poor, homeless file their returns

Calgary's most vulnerable people are getting a helping hand when it comes to filing their taxes. H&R Block has set up a free tax clinic at the Mustard Seed — a non-profit organization and homeless shelter in downtown Calgary.

A 'big deal' for Mustard Seed clients, says advocate

The Mustard Seed says having tax professionals on site helps clients who may not be able to afford transit to get to places offering tax return assistance. (CBC)

Calgary's most vulnerable people are getting a helping hand when it comes to filing their taxes.

H&R Block has set up a free tax clinic at the Mustard Seed — a non-profit organization and homeless shelter in downtown Calgary.

Richard Sutcliffe, one of their clients, saw a sign about the free clinic, and thought it was an added bonus that he wouldn't have to pay fees to file.

He says his work as a home renovations and auto shop labourer has been inconsistent.

"It should help me a lot because I haven't got my GST for the last few years," he said. "They just sort of not send you GST if you don't file your tax."

Donna Ryder, an advocate and community health nurse with the Mustard Seed, says having tax preparation done on site has been a huge help to the clients.

"It happens all year long. Guests come in and say, 'I need to get my taxes done,' and often it's five years, 10 years, they haven't had them done. So it's a big deal," she said.

The Calgary based tax preparation service has direct access to forms with the Canada Revenue Agency, which streamlines the process for people who don't have an address or identification. 
Valorie Elgar says the free tax clinic is about giving back to the community. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

"If they don't file they are missing out on some potential credits so there could be money coming to them like GST credit or the carbon tax rebate, so if they don't file they are missing out on that." Valorie Elgar, a senior tax preparer with H&R Block.

The clinic is open Feb. 21 to Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Mustard Seed is at 102 11th Avenue S.E.

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