North

Meet the woman doing elders' taxes for free in Nunavut

Vicki Aitaok started doing elders’ taxes on the side in 2004 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, giving them access to the service for free.

Cambridge Bay woman put an offer out on Facebook to help elders with their taxes

Vicki Aitaok estimates she does between 150 and 170 tax filings a year. (Submitted by Vicki Aitaok)

A woman from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is offering to do elders' taxes, but unlike licensed accountants, Vicki Aitaok will do it for free.

Aitaok started doing elders' taxes on the side in 2004, when she was a housing manager in the Nunavut hamlet. 

Tenants in government housing weren't filing their taxes properly, and it was affecting the cost of rent, Aitaok said.  

"Many people were not getting their income taxes completed so the rent assessments were not accurate, actually," Aitaok said. 

"If people weren't submitting proper income tax documents then their rents were maxed out," she said. "I wanted to correct that."

Aitaok kept up the practice after leaving her housing job, and now, she's still helping elders' with their income taxes.

Filing taxes from the North has been especially irksome for some residents.

Last year, northerners shared their tax woes with CBC News. Several said they had been reassessed more than a dozen times. In 2016, northern residents had their taxes reassessed 51 per cent more often than other Canadians.

Though not an accountant by trade, Aitaok is studied in the art of filing taxes.

Both her parents are accountants, and as a 12-year-old, Aitaok photocopied tax returns for $2 an hour.

Now, she's a part of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, a federal government initiative that connects volunteer tax filers to people in need of assistance. She recently posted notice of her services on Facebook.

Cambridge Bay November 2018 (Karen McColl/CBC)

By her own estimates, Aitaok does between 150 to 170 filings a year. She maintains the work isn't as grueling as some might believe.

"Everything is done online and electronic and the software is so amazing that it just sort of makes it all simple," she said.

The feedback has been positive and Aitaok said she's been able to get some elders out of debt.

The Arctic College employee does the taxes on her personal time, but Aitaok isn't doing it on her own. She's in the process of training 10 volunteers to help her.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated Aitaok started doing taxes in 1994 and has trained 10 volunteers to help. In fact, she started doing taxes in 2004 and is in the process of training volunteers.
    Mar 03, 2019 11:16 AM CT

With files from Wanda McLeod

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