Help available for this taxing time

By Geoff Lee

March 9, 2017 10:59 AM

LET'S ADD IT UP Up to 27 business students from Lakeland College in Lloydminster will help low income people in Lloydminster to prepare and file their taxes at six free walk-in clinics. They start March 11 at the Legacy Centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. SUBMITTED LLS PHOTO

Filing tax returns will be less taxing this year for low income Lloydminster seniors, students, families and newcomers to Canada.
In partnership with the Lloydminster Senior Citizen Society, 27 Lakeland College business students are volunteering their services at six income tax clinics.
The free walk-in clinics will be held in March and April, ahead of the April 30 tax deadline to file 2016 taxes.
“This is going to be an incredible learning opportunity for our students—they have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working with real people on their tax returns,” said Erin Bandola, accounting instructor.
All but one of the tax clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Saturday March 11 at the Legacy Centre.
The Legacy Centre will also host a session on March 16 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
That’s where volunteers from Senior Citizen Society like retiree Kay Hauer have provided free tax returns for low income people for more than 20 years.
“I’ve been doing it at the Legacy Centre, but we have people from all different walks of life come there,” said Hauer, the lead coordinator.
Hauer estimates she has prepared more than 200 returns over the years for people who can’t afford to go to an accountant.
She said they appreciate the service because it is free.
“I’ve got to know a lot of people over the 20 years that I’ve been doing it,” she said.
In her last job, Hauer was an instructor at Lakeland where students ran through a training exercise last weekend alongside community volunteers.
Six of the volunteers are professional accountants who work in industry or for public accounting firms.
The students will prepare the returns using the Canada Revenue Agency Community Volunteer Income Tax Program software with the tax pros reviewing the data prior to E-filing.
The student volunteers are from Lakeland’s accounting major in the business administration diploma program and the bachelor degree program offered in partnership with Athabasca University.
Lakeland College students who come to a tax clinic can access and print their T2202A tax forms beforehand on their My Lakeland online account at the campus.
Anyone who plans to attend needs to bring all of their applicable income tax slips like T-4s.
“If they are coming for the first time, it’s a good idea to bring a copy of last year’s tax return, any expenses especially, medical or charitable receipts,” said Hauer.
Hauer said to qualify for the free clinic, a low income single person would need make less than $35,000 a year and a couple about $40-$50,000.
This will be the first year the Senior Citizen Society has teamed with Lakeland and the accounting volunteers thanks to former Lakeland student, Michael Davidson.
“He had heard about these tax clinics going on in Lloydminster and he thought that would be a great thing for the students, so he reached out to Lakeland College,” said Bandola.
The first year instructor noted it was something she also pitched to Lakeland in her hiring interview
“The reason I thought it was so important was because I did it in my own undergrad and got such huge value out of doing it,” she said.
“This is also a great opportunity for our students to meet with potential employers and make a good impression on them.”
Bandola expects students will file up to 500 tax returns at the clinics including March 18 at the Synergy Centre, April 8 at Lakeland College, April 22 at Synergy and April 29 at Synergy.

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