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Getting Back on Track: Filing Taxes Unlocks Money and Benefits that Make a Difference.

22 mars 2024

The H&R Block Canada team met John (name altered to protect anonymity) during the 2022 tax filing season. He came to us through our Returning Hope® program looking for help in filing his annual taxes. While we know the positive impact that filing taxes can have on low or no-income Canadians, we didn’t know at the time just how much John’s story would both impact and motivate our team.

John was going through a very vulnerable time in his life. He’d recently overcome a substance use disorder and had been using the services of a local community support centre for temporary housing and regular meals. With an incredible amount of courage and determination, he was making moves in a positive direction.

He knew he had an obligation to file his taxes annually, despite having little and irregular income. But he didn’t really know where to begin. He had the right government ID (many vulnerable Canadians don’t) but needed access to technology and expertise to get the job done.

Unlocking Support that Makes a Difference.

For many in John’s position, obstacles like not having a government ID, a permanent address, a bank account, or access to technology, could’ve prevented them from filing.

Through the support of H&R Block, Tax Experts help those needing the service solve for these obstacles, like using the community support centre’s address as their own, or help them use alternative forms of ID.

But what many people are unaware of is that filing your annual tax return is actually a requirement for being able to access critical government support programs throughout the year. This includes the GST/HST credit, Employment Insurance, the Canada Child Benefit, the Canada Carbon Rebate, disability tax credits, the Canada Workers Benefit, and many more. Canadians must also file a current tax return to apply for affordable housing.

In effect, a filed tax return can be the deciding factor in having your own place to live.

A helping hand to ‘Return Hope’.

In its eighth year, the H&R Block Returning Hope® program runs in partnership with 20 regional community support centres across Canada. Returning Hope® provides free end-to-end tax filing support to help low-income and vulnerable Canadians who may not otherwise be able to file.

Our goal is to let vulnerable Canadians know that these challenges aren’t insurmountable and Returning Hope® can help them file, which will give them access to government credits and benefits they may be entitled to throughout the year.

The Compounding Effect.

To many, the act of filing an annual tax return is a (relatively) simple one - either by yourself or with the help of a qualified Tax Expert. For others like John, a tax return can mean so much more than just money back in your pocket.

We’ve since learned that for John, filing his taxes with the support of our Returning Hope® team has had a positive compounding effect on his life. It helped him unlock affordable housing support, and after years of being in and out of shelters, he found a place to call home.

While we know there’s a range of challenges that confront Canada’s vulnerable population - and the solution isn’t singular or simple - we feel passionately that filing taxes is a potentially impactful first step in helping pull Canadians from poverty.

Achieving $3M in tax credits and returns for Canadians.

To date, the program has helped file 4,075 tax returns for vulnerable Canadians and found more than $2.5 million in missed credits and refunds. In 2024, it’s expected to surpass $3 million back in the pockets of vulnerable Canadians.

Where to find more info?

Read more about H&R Block’s Returning Hope® program here, including dates and locations of our free clinics in 2024.

To learn more about the program, or if your organization is interested in participating, check out our Corporate Social Responsibility page.

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