Q: Why should I file my taxes? 

A: Do you know that each year roughly $1.7 billion dollars in government benefits go unclaimed in Canada simply because people do not file their taxes?

These are benefits including the GST tax rebate, the Canada Workers Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit, as well as many others. As well as claiming benefits, there can be other advantages to filing your taxes: you can access a tax refund, if you are eligible; you are able to provide necessary income-related tax documents if you’d like to apply to subsidized housing, or many income-based subsidy programs like BC Housing’s Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) or the Rental Assistance Program (RAP); if you owe money, filing taxes on time allows you the option to pay on time, avoiding late fees. If you are a student, you may be eligible to carry forward tuition tax credits, or share these with eligible family members or a spouse.

With solutions in mind, and tax season on the near horizon, I’d like to highlight an important Resource Centre Program: the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). The CVITP is our free, volunteer-led, tax preparation service for those with low to modest incomes. Whether you are looking to catch up on taxes or simply stay up to date, this free service may be able to help you! Annual income limits to qualify for the free service are as follows: individuals, $45,000 and under; families $55,000 and under for two people, plus add $2,500 to that total for each additional dependent. Please note: the program does not serve clients with employment expenses, self-employment income, rental property income, or capital gains. Interest income must be less than $1,000.To learn more about 2024 tax clinic locations/times/dates from Pender Harbour to Gibsons: www.resourcecentre.ca/program/taxes/ or call us at the contact info below and we will be happy to connect you to a the tax clinic location nearest you.

On the topic of money, the Resource Centre’s Be The Change conversations, presentations and meet-ups for February are looking at poverty through economic development, income, wages, and workforce. If you’d like to be part of the conversation, join us at one of the Be The Change events.

Intro to Basic Budgeting Workshop is Saturday, Feb. 10, 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Sunshine Coast Credit Union (first floor meeting room.) This workshop is a partnership with the Sunshine Coast Credit Union to offer in-person money-management skills. To register: cec@resourcecentre.ca or call 604-884-4088.

Building Community Wealth: Using Economic Development as a Tool for Self-Determination is Monday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m. at Seaside Centre, Sechelt. Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization executive director Colin Stansfield presents “A vision for an inclusive and prosperous Coast.” To register: cec@resourcecentre.ca or call 604-884-4088.

Focus groups for those with lived experience (by invite only) is Friday, Feb. 23, 3 to 5 p.m. Facilitated by Chris Hergesheimer and Sean Travis Ramsey. Focus group topics include participation in the economy, income inequality and pathways to the workforce.

The Living Wage: Community Presentations, Roundtable Discussions and Creative Engagement Workshops is Monday, Feb. 26 at three locations: Sechelt/Madeira Park/Gibsons (5 to 6:30 p.m.) ***Exact Locations and times to be determined. Facilitated by Poverty Reduction Project’s Chris Hergesheimer , and Anastasia French of Living Wage for Families. To register: cec@resourcecentre.ca, 604-885-4088.

For up-to-date Be The Change event information visit www.resourcecentre.ca/program/be-the-change/ 

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub at 107A – 5710 Teredo. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Note: on some days, we can book clients after 2 p.m. Contact us: help@resourcecentre.ca or 604-885-4088. Search our online resource directory at www.resourcecentre.ca.