Free tax clinics going ‘virtual’ because of COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency has announced that free tax clinics, which in past years have allowed a growing number of eligible Canadians to file their annual income tax return at no charge, will continue despite the covid-19 pandemic – but with special protective safeguards in place this year.

Due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many community organizations had to close, postpone, or scale back on the free tax clinics they normally offer, the federal tax collection agency noted in a press release issued on May 12.

The CRA says penalties and interest will not be charged if tax payments are made by this year’s extended deadline of Sept. 1.

However, the CRA says the free tax clinics will continue to be offered by local organizations, in partnership with its Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) and the joint CRA and Revenu Québec Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program.

It is the CRA’s hope that by going virtual, community organizations will have the opportunity to host clinics before the June 1, 2020 filing deadline and beyond.

“By filing a tax return, Canadians can get benefits and credits that can significantly improve their quality of life,” said Diane Lebouthillier, federal Minister of National Revenue. “I am reassured to see that tax clinics will now be able to provide virtual services to continue supporting vulnerable Canadians.”

“The Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program has a major impact on the lives of thousands of low-income individuals in Quebec,” added Quebec Minister of Finance Eric Girard. “The measures announced today will make it possible to help taxpayers through online and telephone tax clinics.”

The tax filing season has been extended from April 30 to June 1, 2020 as part of the measures introduced to deal with the various hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CRA says that penalties and interest will not be charged if tax payments are made by the extended deadline of September 1, 2020.