April just got a whole lot less stressful! According to the federal government, it’s actually possible to get totally free tax help in Canada. 

While tax time is still a while away yet, many experts are already urging Canadians to start getting prepared.

Whether you’ve been claiming a COVID-19 support benefit, working from home or are no longer working due to the pandemic, filing could look a little different for you this year.

This means things could get more complicated, however, fortunately help is on hand.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, some Canadians are actually eligible for free help and support when it comes to filing taxes.

There’s different options available, depending on your circumstances. With that in mind, here’s what’s on offer:

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The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program

According to the CRA, qualifying Canadians may be able to get their taxes done at no cost through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).

It’s also known as the “tax clinic.”

This operation is hosted with the help of community organizations and volunteers, to help people with “modest incomes and simple tax situations.”

Tax clinic volunteers will complete tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals, helping to ensure they get the money they may be entitled to.

Qualifying Canadians can walk-in to a local clinic and wait to be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, or drop your documents off and pick them up at a later time.

Right now, it's also possible to attend a virtual clinic via video-chat or phone call.

In Quebec, this program is known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program.

Who is eligible?

In order to be eligible for the CVITP, there is a criteria laid out by the CRA.

Individuals assisted by the program include: Indigenous Peoples, youth and students, newcomers and refugees, people with disabilities, seniors, individuals with a modest income, and some others.

They must also have a “simple” tax situation.

A situation is usually described as simple if a person's income is generated via employment, a pension, benefits, support payments and scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, or grants.

An income table is provided by the CRA, to help determine whether an individual can get the free tax help.

For example, a single-person could be eligible if they earn less than $35,000 per year.

Is there any other free help out there?

If you don’t qualify for free help from the CVITP, there are other options.

The CRA, via the Government of Canada website, provides a list of certified tax software, some of which are free to use.

Others work on a “pay-what-you-want” system, which means you can get a little help at a price that’s affordable to you.

These programs will help you complete your taxes, regardless of your individual circumstances.

“Tax software must be certified by NETFILE every year,” explains the CRA.

The agency also notes that it’s possible to file up to 20 returns per computer or online account using NETFILE-certified tax software.

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