Thanks to the Social Planning and Research Council’s free 2020 tax clinics, clients received an average refund and tax benefit of $3,359. It’s an income boost of more than 10 percent for those living on $30,000 a year that would have gone unclaimed without the program.
In total, since 2018, $9 million in refunds and tax benefits have come back to Hamilton residents living on low incomes. A grant from HCF’s Pandemic Response Fund helped keep the program running in 2021.
Program volunteers have assisted seniors, people with disabilities, single parents, working couples and others. The benefits go beyond financial. Clients report less stress and better food security. Some have been able to retain their immigration status as a result of the program.
“Many clients are terrified to do their own taxes,” one service provider said. In the words of another, “This program is a life-saver.”
Excerpt from 2021 Fall Legacy newsletter