April 21st, 2020
CRA needs to take action to prevent thousands of Canadians from losing income supports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2020
HAMILTON – NDP MP Matthew Green has written to National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to take action to ensure that Canadians, particularly seniors and those receiving income support, are not cut off from benefits if they are unable to meet the June 1st tax filing deadline.
“With many volunteer income tax clinics suspended due to COVID-19 there is a very real risk that Canadians who rely on federal and provincial benefits are going to be cut off these supports by July. We need clear direction from CRA on how these clinics can resume filing taxes electronically or over the phone” said Mr. Green. “If volunteer tax clinics aren’t able to get up and running soon then CRA needs to seriously consider extending benefit and support payments to all recipients based on 2018 tax filings.”
Federal supports such as Guaranteed Income Supplement, GST rebate, the Child Tax Benefits as well as provincial benefits like the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) are calculated based on a person’s income tax return. According to Canadians for Tax Fairness, more than $50 billion in annual federal benefits are dependent on Canadians filing their taxes.
“Income support programs are a life-line for low-income families and seniors, but require annual tax filing” said Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. “While those struggling with low incomes are facing incredible anxiety during our current health crisis, our federal government must make every effort to assist people to access the benefits that are so vital to their well-being".
Mr. Green also believes that many of challenges related to meeting the tax filing deadline could be eliminated if Canada Revenue Agency took a more proactive role in processing income taxes.
“CRA needs to seriously consider automatic filings for non-complex cases.” said Mr. Green. “Many people on fixed incomes file the same return year after year and CRA has all the forms and paperwork it requires to file on a person’s behalf. Automatic filings would help to ensure the continuation of income supports and help to ensure our most vulnerable people have stable, consistent income”.