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Friday, July 15, 2016 11:00 AM

Hundreds of British Columbians receiving disability assistance have more money in their pockets as Disability Alliance BC marks the one-year anniversary of its free tax-filing service.

In July 2015, thanks to funding from the Vancouver Foundation, Disability Alliance BC launched the Tax Assistance and Information for People with Disabilities (Tax AID DABC).

After just one year, the program has already helped more than 277 people file over 730 years of taxes and access more than $470,000 in tax credits and benefits.

Tax AID DABC helps people receiving disability assistance, who have the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, and people receiving income assistance, who have the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers (PPMB) designation, file income taxes from previous years and take advantage of all the tax credits and benefits available to them.

Andy, Sadie and Logan are three people who have benefited from Tax AID DABC.

Logan lives in a care home in Victoria. At the request of one of his support staff, a Tax AID advocate visited Logan and helped him file seven years of taxes.

Sadie has a PWD designation and lives in the Gulf Islands. She had fallen more than five years behind on filing her taxes and resources in her community to help with tax filing are limited. She spoke with a local accountant who told her that the cost to file would be more than $200 for each year she was behind.

Sadie coordinated remotely with a Tax AID DABC advocate and was able to get caught up-to-date through the free service.

Andy, a 27-year-old from Surrey, has received disability assistance since he was 18 but has never had any guidance about how to file a tax return. He knew that he was missing out on benefits, like the GST credit. But he never realized that, over the course of 10 years, he was missing out on thousands of dollars of income-tax benefits. Tax AID DABC staff were able to help him get his tax slips and file 10 years of taxes for him.

In addition to working one-on-one with clients, Tax AID DABC has answered hundreds of tax inquiries by email and over the phone since it launched and is reaching out to communities throughout B.C. to expand the program. Tax AID DABC can also conduct remote tax filings for clients, or work with community groups to organize and deliver workshops across B.C.

Disability Alliance BC’s Tax AID program was profiled in this year’s Accessibility 2024 progress update as one of the initiatives that is helping British Columbians with disabilities achieve greater financial security.

Quotes:

Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –

“I want to congratulate Disability Alliance BC and everyone involved in the successful first year of the Tax AID DABC program. This free and confidential service is helping people take full advantage of tax credits and benefits available to them.

The result is greater financial security for people with disabilities in B.C. – often hundreds or even thousands of dollars in money and benefits – as well as the peace of mind of being caught up on their income tax filing.”

Darryl Plecas, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors and Accessibility and MLA for Abbotsford South –

“This is a valuable service that is making a truly positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities in our province after being in operation for just one year.

It’s exciting to know that Disability Alliance BC is committed to expanding the program to help even more people throughout B.C.”

Sam Turcott, manager, Tax AID DABC, Disability Alliance BC –

“I am very proud that Tax AID DABC has helped so many people on PWD and PPMB benefits to access additional money through their income taxes.

Our advocates have been able to help clients living on low incomes to access more than $470,000 that they are entitled to receive.

We are looking forward to building upon the success of the program in our second year and are planning to do more to reach communities in the Interior, the North and Northern Vancouver Island. We are very grateful to the Vancouver Foundation for its support and funding of Tax AID DABC.”

Kevin McCort, president and CEO, Vancouver Foundation

“Disability Alliance BC has done a fantastic job of helping low-income British Columbians access a wide range of tax benefits and credits through expanding their Tax AID program across the province. An effective mix of in-person and online support has made a real difference for hundreds of persons with disabilities and persistent multiple barriers to employment, who often are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Vancouver Foundation is proud to work with DABC.”

Quick Facts:

  • Each year, people receiving income and disability assistance who do not file their taxes lose out on hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in tax credits.
  • Tax credits do not reduce disability or income assistance benefits.
  • Tax AID DABC is a project of Disability Alliance BC, a non-profit, non-governmental organization with more than 35 years supporting people with all disabilities to live with dignity, independence and as equal and full participants in the community.
  • Accessibility 2024 – B.C.’s 10-year action plan to be the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities – launched two years ago in response to consultations that engaged thousands of British Columbians.
  • Themes that emerged from the public consultation – ranging from employment to financial security to accessible service delivery – make up the 12 building blocks of Accessibility 2024.

Learn More:

Learn more about the Tax AID DABC program and the financial benefits of income tax filing: https://taxaiddabc.org/

To speak to a Tax AID advocate, call 604 872-1278 (toll-free 1 800 663-1278) or email: taxaid@disabilityalliancebc.org.

For more information on setting up a Tax AID DABC workshop in your community, please email Program Manager Sam Turcott at: sam@disabilityalliancebc.org.

For more information on Accessibility 2024 and to view the Two-Year Progress Report, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility.

View a list of cross-government services for people with disabilities in B.C.: www.gov.bc.ca/disabilityservices