Volunteers Make Tax Time Pay
Make Tax Time Pay (MTTP) is an E4C program that mobilizes community and resources towards our mission to limit, alleviate and ultimately eliminate poverty. According to the 2011 Tracking the Trends report by the Edmonton Social Planning Council, 10.5% of Edmonton’s population lived in low-income families, including 41,000 children, in 2009.
MTTP, targeted to low-income families and individuals, offers free income tax preparation and benefit assistance in Edmonton. A total of 26 MTTP program sites pop up in March and April throughout greater Edmonton. The tax sites range from spare rooms in churches to community rooms in libraries. The sites arise like a pop-up chain of small businesses, all made possible by over 300 volunteers.
Lynne Heidebrecht, Site Coordinator at Sprucewood Library, has been volunteering with MTTP for over six years. She described the volunteers at her tax site location as service-minded people ranging from homemakers, to retired nurses to landscapers. Lynne, a retired social worker, shares, “Assisting people to find resources is an extension of my former role. MTTP keeps me connected to the community. I don’t get paid, but I feel rewarded by smiles and clients returning.”
Tax refunds are used to pay off loans, start savings accounts or just cover bills. Lynne recalled that after a young single mother with a child had her taxes completed, she said, “There’s no way that I should be getting this much money back. This is crazy!” When she was asked what she plans to do with it, she said, “I’m going to get an apartment and move out of my mother’s house. I see freedom.”
The Sprucewood Library site served people of all age groups, from 16 years to 90 years. Lynne says, “There were young people filing taxes for the first time, who were both nervous and curious. There were people with health challenges. There were immigrants from over 20 countries dressed in ethnic colourful clothes. There were grandpas, grandmas, sons and daughters and those who hadn’t filed their taxes in many years.”
In addition to tax preparation, MTTP connects low-income persons to benefit assistance programs that will increase or stretch their monthly income. Based on 2012 benefit rates, a family of four with a net income of $34,000 stands to supplement their income by over 31% (almost $900 per month) through completion of the application for various government benefits. This year MTTP helped connect over 650 service users to these benefits.
Be a Part of the Momentum
Only through the generous support of donations of time, energy and funds is this program possible. Besides volunteers, MTTP relies on over $62, 000 in donations to operate each year. Here are a few ways to get involved and support this program:
- Program sites rely on laptops. MTTP is seeking bulk donations (8-10) of laptops of the same make and model
- Financial contributions are essential to this program. Enclosed is an envelope or donations can be taken online at www.e4calberta.org/donate-to-e4c
- Volunteers are crucial in running the tax sites and connecting with clients.
Connect with us about how you can get involved today:
Make Tax Time Pay
Phone: 780.424.5408 ext. 163