New Online Tax Filing Program and Virtual Coaching Will Empower Those Who Need It Most

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WoodGreen, Prosper Canada, and Intuit Canada team up to help low-income filers as the tax filing deadline nears on June 1st

TORONTO, May 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Due to COVID-19, thousands of low-income Canadians who would normally prepare their taxes through Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) clinics saw their appointments cancelled, leaving many of Canada’s most vulnerable people in need of a way to file their taxes.  

Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As the tax deadline for individuals fast approaches on June 1st, WoodGreen has teamed up with Prosper Canada, Intuit Canada and the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation to launch a pilot program that will allow clinic users to learn to prepare their own taxes through their mobile devices and computers. Coaching, mentoring and more general support from trained volunteers will be made available by phone or video conference. The pilot program will be offered to clients of WoodGreen’s Financial Empowerment Program. This solution is possible due to a recent decision by Canada Revenue Agency to allow tax clinics to offer services remotely.

“Low-income individuals must be able to file their taxes to access the benefits and supports they need – particularly given how their lives have been disrupted by COVID-19,” said Steven Vanderherberg, Director of Family Finance and Employment Supports at WoodGreen. “This pilot program will provide many of our clients with an innovative tax filing assistance option, without taking on additional risk of coronavirus exposure. We thank Prosper Canada and the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation for helping make this possible during this tax year.”

The Virtual Self-Filing program, which builds on an existing in-person clinic run by WoodGreen and supported by Intuit volunteers, hopes to empower WoodGreen’s Toronto-based clients and build their financial confidence by supporting them in learning how to prepare their own tax return. Those who voluntarily opt in will receive an email guiding them through the process of creating an account and starting their return. A phone or video appointment with a WoodGreen staff member or volunteer will then be scheduled, where the tax helper can learn about the client, answer questions, and help guide them through the process of finalizing the return for filling.

The Virtual Self-Filing program is a great example of community, government and business leveraging each other’s strengths and technology to financially empower Canadians – building their financial capability and health,” said Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of Prosper Canada. “COVID-19 disproportionately threatens vulnerable Canadians, who are challenged every day to stay home safely, but it’s also an impetus to find innovative ways to serve people, no matter where they are – a benefit that will last long after the pandemic is gone.

This Virtual Self-Filing initiative builds on an in-person program that was run by WoodGreen with help from volunteers from Intuit that had closed along with other clinics in March. Virtual Self-Filing will be piloted in Toronto in 2020, providing valuable feedback and testing for how these tools are used and insights into remote service delivery. The learnings from this pilot program are intended to be used to develop and deliver Virtual Self-File options to clients at other tax clinics across Canada — empowering Canadians and enabling community tax clinics to reach more Canadians with their existing resources.

About WoodGreen
A United Way Anchor Agency, WoodGreen combines significant scale and a proven track record with an entrepreneurial mindset, continuously seeking and developing innovative solutions to critical social needs.  With a rich history spanning more than 80 years, WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 37,000 people each year from 36 locations. Together we help people find safe, affordable housing, seniors live independently, internationally-trained professionals enter the job market, parents access childcare, children and youth access after-school programs, newcomers settle in to Canadian life, homeless and marginalized people get off the streets, people find meaningful employment and training and financial empowerment supports, and provide a wide range of mental health services. Learn more at www.woodgreen.org

About Prosper Canada
Prosper Canada, is a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation. Prosper Canada works with government, business and community partners to develop and promote financial policies, programs and resources that remove barriers and help more Canadians to prosper.

About Intuit
Intuit’s mission is to Power Prosperity Around the World. We are a global financial platform company with products including TurboTaxQuickBooksMint and Turbo, designed to empower consumers, self-employed and small businesses to improve their financial lives. Our platform and products help customers get more money with the least amount of work, while giving them complete confidence in their actions and decisions. Our innovative ecosystem of financial management solutions serves approximately 50 million customers worldwide. Please visit us for the latest news and in-depth information about Intuit and its brands and find us on social.

Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation drives philanthropic partnerships, programs and initiatives that power prosperity among those who need it the most.   We believe citizen engagement in preparation and filing of tax returns is an important, empowering opportunity for individuals and families to understand and improve their personal financial lives. This is especially true for lower income – and why Intuit has donated TurboTax to millions, founded “Tax Time Allies,” and provides funding and other supports to nonprofits that build financial freedom among those who need it the most.