HSF tax clinic volunteers help students

Tamara El-Haj, a posting clerk at HSF, puts her taxes in her mother’s hands each year. / LAURA DASILVA Tamara El-Haj, a posting clerk at HSF, puts her taxes in her mother’s hands each year. / LAURA DASILVA

Laura DaSilva
News Reporter

The taxman is likely the only one excited that April 30 is fast approaching.

Many students have successfully procrastinated to this point, and are now realizing the tax return deadline is only a few weeks away.

Humber Students’ Federation is trying to help ease the tax pain.

HSF is currently running tax clinics where students can book appointments with trained volunteers and file their taxes free of charge.

“It’s called CVITP (Community Volunteer Income Tax Program). The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) regulates the standards the volunteers have to adhere to, said Laura Goldhaber, accounting coordinator at HSF. “We allow trained volunteers to prepare taxes for other students.”

Goldhaber said she wants to make filing taxes as easy as possible for students and encourage financial literacy.

“We want to promote the idea that it’s good to be aware of what your financial situation is. It’s good to start early, when it’s not difficult,” she said.

Carlorenz Manaig, a tax volunteer currently enrolled in Humber’s Accounting program, said he’s grateful to be helping students better understand their finances.

“Some of the international students don’t know anything about Canadian taxes,” he said.

Many students leave the paperwork to their parents or accountants because of the confusing lingo.

“I let my mom do my taxes. There are so many complicated little things. If you don’t fill them out precisely you could lose compensation and rebates you’re entitled to,” said Tamara El-Haj, a posting clerk at HSF.

Juan Ortiz, a second-year Computer Programming student, said he’s too lazy to learn how to do his taxes.

“I know the programs that are available to do my own taxes, but I haven’t looked into them. I’d rather just take my stuff to Cash Money (a retail money lender),” he said.

Manaig said students should keep organized paperwork to make the filing process easier.

“Students should keep all of their public transit, rent, tuition, and medical receipts. They should also keep their T4s and records of any charitable donations made throughout the year,” he said.

Goldhaber encourages students to file returns, even if they aren’t earning employment income.

“They have tuition credits they can claim, which will be beneficial when they owe taxes in the future,” she said.

Manaig said the tuition credits carry over to when they start earning income, and cautions students about not filing a return.

“If you don’t file your tax return and you made an income you can be penalized. The CRA lists the penalties on their website,” he said.

“For example if you fail to declare foreign income, you’ll be penalized $25 every day,” Manaig said.

The HSF tax clinics are available only until today. After that Goldhaber encourages students to call the Canada Revenue Agency directly at 1-800-959-8281.

“They’ll get the most direct and accurate answer. Asking a friend for tax advice is not something I ever advocate,” she said.

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