Anyone in finance knows that getting a maximum return on investment is a great feeling – but being able to quite literally share the wealth?
WoodGreen’s free income tax investment clinic helps people hold on to every penny they can, while not costing them a dime. But with increasing demand, more volunteers are needed to ensure that everyone who needs help this year will get it.
WoodGreen’s Income Tax Clinic offers free, year-round tax filing support for individuals and families living on low incomes. During this time of economic uncertainty and inflation, tax clinic volunteers play an essential role in our community by ensuring households receive important credits and benefits that can help them make ends meet.
Last year, dedicated volunteers served nearly 3,000 clients, helping unlock a total of $10.44 million in tax benefits.
"Tax filing is a key component of WoodGreen’s Financial Empowerment program," says Ansley Dawson, a Senior Manager with WoodGreen's Financial Empowerment Services.
"Our Tax Preparer volunteers directly contribute to poverty reduction in the community, creating pathways for tax clinic clients to access millions of dollars in government benefits and subsidy programs each year."
Want to learn more about what it’s like volunteering at our tax clinic? Here are three reasons why our current volunteers love volunteering with us.
1. An opportunity for people with financial experience to give back
The Tax Preparer role is a fulfilling volunteer opportunity for people with professional financial experience or experience filing taxes for themselves and/or others.
Last summer, WoodGreen volunteer, Janet Hercz, began seeking opportunities to use her professional background in service of others after watching her adult children learn to manage their finances for the first time. Understanding the anxiety that some people feel around preparing taxes, she was drawn to WoodGreen’s tax clinic as an opportunity to use the skillset she’d developed providing financial oversight at Toronto Metropolitan University and during a summer contract with the CRA to support her community.
In 2017, Tom McFeat’s professional experience also led him to volunteer for the Tax Preparer role. A CBC journalist specializing in business and finance news, he was interested in expanding his experience writing about financial issues into volunteering. Looking through opportunities on Volunteer Toronto, he came across WoodGreen and was attracted to the Tax Preparer position because it matched his skillset and was conveniently located near his home.
WoodGreen’s income tax clinic is a great opportunity for East Toronto residents who would like to volunteer in-person within their community. However, it is also a great fit for people looking for a flexible remote position, as was the case for Mitch Vine.
While looking for opportunities to give back to the community post-retirement, Mitch came across the Tax Preparer position. With his experience filing taxes for friends and family, he felt confident he would be a good fit for the role. In addition to allowing him to use his financial experience to help others, he liked that the clinic gave him an opportunity to volunteer conveniently from home during COVID.
2. A supportive chance for growth
The Tax Preparer role is ideal for volunteers with experience filing taxes. However, it can also be a great learning opportunity for anyone looking for an exciting challenge.
Volunteers receive comprehensive training, including interactive online sessions and on-the-job mentoring to equip them with the necessary skills and resources to excel in the role.
This dedicated training time also provides volunteers an opportunity to network and establish bonds with one another says Janet Hercz. The relationships formed help volunteers feel supported as they often work together on difficult tasks. More experienced volunteers and WoodGreen staff are also resources for new Tax Preparers, offering additional guidance and support.
3.A rewarding experience offering community connection
Our Tax Preparer volunteers all agree that the client impact is the most rewarding aspect of the role.
“It never fails to feel good helping others on an individual level,” says Mitch Vine, who describes the opportunity as a “concrete way to make a difference.”
WoodGreen’s Income Tax Clinic supports clients from all walks of life including people living with disabilities, people who are experiencing unemployment or have been unhoused, students, newcomers to Canada and more. Clients often share stories of their experiences, making the role a perfect fit for someone interested in creating personal connections with people in their community
The service provides a tangible benefit for all clients, but for those who are behind on years of taxes or receive more in benefits than they knew they were eligible for, the impact can be even more significant. WoodGreen’s Tax Clinic supports with up to 10 years of back taxes, providing an opportunity for clients to receive accumulated refunds they had previously missed out on. Additionally, our volunteers are trained to assess clients’ situations to ensure they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to. Volunteers also often serve as a point of connection to other WoodGreen programs and services, such as our Financial Empowerment or Employment Services, widening the scope of impact even further.
The clients make their appreciation known.
“They are enormously grateful,” says Tom McFeat. “They want to hug you.”
Applications for the 2024 Tax Season are open now!
Training for the 2024 tax season will take place in February. New volunteers will have the option to attend one of the sessions below:
- Saturday February 10 from 10am-4pm
- Tuesday February 13th from 6pm-9pm AND Thursday February 15th from 6pm-9pm
The contribution of your time can have a life-changing impact on people in our community. If the Tax Preparer volunteer position sounds like the role for you, we invite you to apply today or contact us at [email protected] for more information.