Accessible Year-Round Income Tax Filing Support for Seniors

The Cause

For low-resourced seniors, benefits and supports such as Old Age Security can be critical to meeting basic needs including food security and maintaining housing or accessing the affordable housing that can prevent homelessness. When income taxes are not filed, a senior does not receive benefits and is unable to apply for housing or social supports. As such, helping a senior complete income tax filing, is often the first step to securing housing and other supports for at-risk seniors.

Sage Seniors Association (Sage) provides uniquely accessible year-round support to low-resourced seniors to complete income tax filings, and is willing to help with filing of multiple years.
Most income tax clinics operate only March to April and only file the current year of taxes but often individuals in need of support are behind in filing multiple years and are in a time sensitive situation that requires filing to be up-to date in order to avoid negative consequences.

To remove more barriers, Sage’s Seniors Income Tax Program is accessible remotely by phone which enables those that are in hospital or housebound to get the support they need.

Tax filings are done by trained volunteers - mostly seniors themselves and the service is free.
The result for a senior struggling with poverty can be life changing.

Who Will it Benefit?

“I am bedridden because I have a lot of health issues right now so I can’t go anywhere to get my taxes done but I was told that maybe Sage can help me."

Low- resourced seniors in the greater Edmonton region who access the service directly benefit. This includes seniors who may be housebound or in hospital, and those who may have a language barrier.

“We help a lot of people experiencing homelessness as they need their taxes filed to qualify for any sort of funding or housing supports. We also get countless calls from Social Workers who need taxes filed for their clients, so their funding doesn’t get cut off. We often help seniors who are in hospital or in care homes or have physical disabilities who are unable to travel to an in-person clinic.
Seniors benefits are based on the senior’s income from the previous year, and all too often, we see seniors who are not receiving benefits simply because they have not filed their taxes, sometimes for several years. It is not uncommon for us to help a senior file five or more years of taxes - which means that they have not been maximizing their income for some time, and are very likely living in poverty. Most clinics will not file more than a couple years,” tax program coordinator

Special efforts to provide support to seniors whose first language is not English is also part of the program. A volunteer works with the Multicultural Seniors Outreach staff to reach seniors in various ethno-cultural communities to ensure they get their taxes completed.
The volunteers (94% seniors) who give over 1000 hours of tax preparation, also directly benefit, “I find it rewarding to be able to help seniors file their taxes so that they don't lose their benefits and perhaps qualify for additional supports... It feels good to be able to provide them with the peace of mind that their taxes have been taken care of. "