People in Penticton on a low or fixed income will be eligible for free assistance filing their income taxes.

The community volunteer income tax program, run by the Penticton and Area Access Centre, will open on Monday.

Katrina McKeown, executive director of the Access Centre, said more than 1,200 people used the program last year and received income-boosting tax benefits.

“Lots of people scrape things together to make ends meet, and our free income tax clinic helps people access tax credits they may not even know about,” McKeown said.

“Families with children, in particular, are at risk of missing out on thousands of dollars of benefits and credits that are only accessed by completing a tax return.”

The program will be available at the Access Centre, located at 306 Martin Street, Penticton, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays.

McKeown said the volunteers are accountants, bookkeepers and retirees who are all registered and trained by the CRA.

“This is not small stuff. For example, a senior getting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) can lift them out of poverty,” tax coordinator Shirley Pretty said, adding volunteers filed 1,570 tax returns last year.

“Our returns last year generated $1.7 million in benefits for the GIS benefit alone. And we helped parents get over $322,000 in child tax benefits for the care of their children.”

The free program is funded by the City of Penticton and the United Way of Central and South Okanagan.

More information on the program can be found by visiting the Access Centre or calling 250-493-6822.

Source: Castanet