The Community Volunteer Tax Program

I often deal with clients who haven’t prepared their tax returns because they don’t know what to do, or they can’t afford an accountant or tax preparation service. It’s a massive pain, especially when they have to file statements of income with the court. So I was intrigued by this CBC News report:

The federal government is on an urgent search for more volunteers to help with a program that completes free tax returns for people with modest incomes, after it was forced to turn some families away in Nova Scotia last year.

The Canada Revenue Agency is willing to train people who want to complete simple tax returns, even if they’re only available to help for one day out of the entire tax season.

[…]

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program helps people with modest incomes, which is defined by different income levels and depends on the size of the family. A family of four earning $50,000 or less would qualify, as long as they have a simple tax return.

CRA places volunteers in community centres, churches and libraries across the country. 

Last year, 33,000 Nova Scotians took advantage of the service.

I just signed up. You can do so at this link.

The St. John’s drug scene

CBC’s David Cochrane on the darker side to oil-fueled prosperity in my hometown:

St. John’s is the hottest cocaine market in Atlantic Canada. At least that’s what the drug dealers whom the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary arrests tell the police officers.

The volumes of cocaine coming into the city are enormous,in spite of the many arrests and the relative geographic isolation. The spike in disposable incomes from the local oil boom and commuter workers from western Canada is fueling the demand. It is the dark side of prosperity.

Friday’s announcement of a $1-million police task force to tackle drugs and organized crime shows how true that is.

But embedded into that drug trade is a streak of hidden and unreported violence. There’s a rash of drug dealers ripping off other drug dealers. There are home invasions in areas much nicer than Tessier Place where stick-up crews are trying to rip off a dealer’s dope stash or his bank roll.

Police and prosecutors hear of severe beatings using bats,crowbars,brass knuckles and bear spray. The victims of these beatings often refuse to give the police a statement even if they end up in hospital with life-threatening injuries. After all,how do you tell a cop that the guy who hurt you did it in order to steal your cocaine stash?