The Ridge Meadows Seniors Society is hosting tax preparation drop-off events for seniors needing help with filling out their returns. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows seniors tax clinics offer drive-up drop-off service

No appointments needed for seniors who meet eligibility criteria to get tax help

Seniors have extra time to file their taxes but what about those struggling with the paperwork?

The Ridge Meadows Seniors Society is offering physically distanced tax help.

No appointment is necessary. The process is drive in and drop off during the designated times.

“One of our volunteers will take it home and prepare them for them,” said Maria Perretta, the society’s executive director.

The volunteers will contact the seniors directly if they have any questions while filling out the tax returns. As of late May, the volunteers had done about 250 tax returns, which is on par with what was done in previous years.

Struggling with the paperwork can mean a senior does not receive money due to them. Perretta explained that the volunteer help with tax return prep had a significant impact for the seniors last tax season, for instance.

“That results in about $15,000 staying in the bank accounts of local seniors,” she noted.

To qualify for the seniors society tax clinics, people must be at least 55 years of age, and have an annual household income of less than $35,000 for an individual and $45,000 for couples.

People do not have to be members of the society in order to get the volunteer help with their tax returns but must qualify for a basic tax return. Unfortunately, the service cannot do returns for the deceased nor those in bankruptcy. The service is free.

Canadians have until June 1 to file their returns. People who miss that deadline but still file and make any payments by Sept. 1 will not be assessed the typical penalties for lateness, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Local tax help is available at the Maple Ridge seniors centre, 12150 224th St., on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. The centre can be reached at 604-467-4993.

Reach the Pitt Meadows centre at 604-457-4771 with any questions. It’s tax drop-off is available Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The tax clinics have traditionally been held in February, March and April, but those were cancelled due to the pandemic. The society was able to get the tax prep volunteers back for this amended schedule and the no-appointment format, Perretta explained.

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