H&R Block’s Returning Hope Program Makes a Difference in People’s Lives.
March 17, 2021
Every year, many Canadians who live below the poverty line miss out on essential government benefits, such as the GST credit, the Canada Child Benefit, the Canadian Workers Benefit, or the Climate Action Incentive, because they're unable to file their taxes. Reasons can include not having the government identification needed – such as a mailing address or driver’s license – or not having a bank account in which to deposit funds. During the pandemic, there were even more credits and services made available that could've been missed as a result of not filing taxes. Tax records are also needed to qualify for such government programs as affordable housing and health benefits.
In response, H&R Block Tax Experts in 12 cities across Canada are providing free tax filing support to help individuals who may not otherwise be able to access vital government benefits.
In its 5th year, the Returning Hope program partners H&R Block Tax Experts with local support organizations and non-profits in Toronto, Vancouver, Kamloops, Red Deer, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Winnipeg, Markham, Ottawa, Montreal and St. John’s to hold pro-bono contactless tax clinics. The program runs the week of March 14.
Over the course of the program, H&R Block has been able to find more than $1.49 million for participants.
But the impact a tax refund can have on people is far more than financial.
One of H&R Block’s partner organizations – The Mustard Seed – recently shared a story about the impact the Returning Hope Program had on one of their community members.
Here is Calvin's* story, as told by The Mustard Seed.
Calvin has been a client of The Mustard Seed for six years, frequenting our community hubs and visiting the shelters for meals. He has bounced between the streets and temporary housing for a long time, but with a little help and encouragement from partners like H&R Block Canada, Calvin is happy to finally have a place to call home.
For years, Calvin carried all his belongings with him everywhere he went. Often weighed down by three or four large bags at a time, the only word he can think of to describe them is "heavy."
Today, Calvin no longer carries his entire life on his shoulders. He and his belongings have a safe place to call home - an affordable apartment he was able to secure because of H&R Block’s help. Prior to coming to The Mustard Seed, Calvin wasn't only without a home, but also without a phone, identification, and a bank account. With assistance from our Wellness Advocate program for which H&R Block provided tax services, Calvin was able to put all these pieces into place, setting himself up for long-term success and independence.
"It's all coming together now," Calvin says with a prideful smile.
With everything beginning to fall into place, Calvin has found time for fun and friendship. He's involved in The Mustard Seed's horse therapy program, needle pick-up initiative, and several other groups.
With the weight of his world off his shoulders, Calvin is a new man! He's a man with many friends, contagious laughter, and a bright, stable future ahead.
(*Name changed to protect privacy.)
Returning Hope to people and support organizations in the communities where we work.
To learn more about the program, or if your organization is interested in participating, check out our Corporate Social Responsibility page.