Webinar: The new CVITP grant program for organizations that host free tax clinics
Slide 1 - Introduction
Welcome everyone and thank-you for joining this presentation.
My name is Jessica-Rae, I work at the Canada Revenue Agency, also known as the CRA. I’m very happy to be here today to talk to you about the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Grant.
I’m here to provide an overview of the grant and answer any questions you may have.
Slide 2 - Table of Contents
During today’s presentation we will:
- Give an overview of the grant
- Explain the CVITP Organization Identification Number and how it is used
- Review grant eligibility
- Discuss how funding amounts are determined, and
- Explain how to apply for the grant
Slide 3 – CVITP grant overview
1) Financial support is based on the number of tax returns your organization files. So, we hope the grant will encourage new and current organizations to expand their programs. The funding may help organizations reach more Canadians and expand their clinics.
Additionally, the grant will help off-set some of the costs for organizations to run either CVITP clinics or, in Quebec, ITAVP clinics.
2) The grant funding amounts will be calculated based on four main points:
- The total number of federal income tax returns electronically filed by an organization
- The eligible expenses they incur for the purpose of running their clinics
- The total amount of other government funding they receive specifically for the CVITP or ITAVP clinics, and
- Certain demographic targets or activities can increase the funding an organization receives. These are called funding escalators and we will discuss them in more detail later on.
3) You can apply for the grant between May 1 and June 30, 2021. You’ll be able to apply online through the CVITP grant webpages on Canada.ca. Once the application period has closed, the CRA will review applications and distribute funding to successful applicants in Fall 2021.
Slide 4 - COIN
The CVITP Organization Identification Number, also known as the COIN, is a new feature this year for the program.
- The COIN is a unique, permanent, eight-digit identification number that will be assigned to all approved organizations that participate in the program. An organization will keep the same COIN each year. The COIN will also remain the same if the organization takes a break from participating in the CVITP.
- If you have not received your COIN, it will be included in your program registration approval email. If you misplace your COIN you can contact your local coordinator to get it.
- Though the use of the COIN is not mandatory, it must be used if your organization plans to apply for the CVITP Grant.
- However, we encourage all organizations to use the COIN, even if they won’t be applying for the grant. It will help improve data and reporting within the program.
- The regular transmission of an income tax return won’t be affected by whether an organization uses the COIN.
- Instructions on how to enter the COIN into the software will be made available later.
- The purpose of the COIN is to count the number of federal income tax returns an organization files electronically using the program provided tax software.
- The count generated by the COIN will be used to improve data and reporting for the program and to help administer the grant.
- The COIN is only accepted in the program-provided software.
- When an income tax return is prepared in the program-provided software, the COIN can be transmitted 1 of 2 ways. 1) If the tax return was Efiled or 2) if the return was printed off with the barcode and mailed to the appropriate tax centre.
- If a volunteer forgets to enter the COIN before Efiling or mailing the return, there is no way to add the COIN to the tax return after the fact.
- As the COIN was only introduced for use this year, it is not possible for the COIN to count 2019 tax year returns or previous year returns.
- The COIN will count 2020 tax returns and each year going forward.
- And finally, the COIN does not collect any information from an individual’s tax return. It is only a counter.
Slide 5 - Eligible organizations
To be eligible for the CVITP Grant, an organization must be registered and approved to participate in the program for that year.
Eligible organizations may be non-profits, charities, or other types of community organizations.
Here is a list of common types of organizations that participate in the program and would be considered eligible. This list is not exhaustive, but provides examples.
Slide 6 - Excluded organizations
Organizations that would not be considered eligible for the grant include:
- Federal or Provincial Member of Parliament offices
- Municipal counselor offices
- And non-community or non-volunteer based organizations that operate for a profit
If an organization uses space in an office or is housed within the building of an office or organization that falls into 1 of these 3 categories, they would still be considered eligible to apply for the grant.
Additionally, if an organization is part of or is a department of a municipal or provincial government, they would still be considered eligible for the grant.
Slide 7 - Grant eligibility
In order for an organization to be eligible to apply for the CVITP Grant, they must meet the following criteria.
- Participate in the current year of the program
- Run a tax clinic and electronically file at least 10 federal tax returns. The program verifies the number of tax returns filed by an organization through the COIN. Therefore, organizations must enter the COIN when filing returns.
- Have 2 or more people in the organization. Both individuals do not need to be registered with Efile. For example, the second person could be an administrative volunteer. This criteria is necessary because the CRA cannot pay an individual.
- The organization must provide their services free of charge.
- And they must have a Canadian bank account that accepts direct deposit.
- Banking information is not required in the grant application. Successful applicants will be asked for their banking information.
Slide 8 – Grant funding determination
It is important to note that each year of the grant has a specific activity period. The grant funding will take into account the following 4 items for the relevant activity period. We will discuss the specific dates of each activity period later on in the presentation.
- The number of federal tax returns filed electronically.
- These include electronically filed returns submitted through Efile and returns prepared on the program-provided software and printed off containing the barcode.
- The total number of returns filed must be self-reported by the organization in their grant application. It is important that organizations intending to apply for the grant track their output going forward.
- The COIN is only intended to verify the self-reported number provided in the grant application.
- We expect there may be discrepancies between the self-reported number and the count of the COIN, because the COIN is currently limited to only counting electronically filed returns for the current year.
- If discrepancies are significant, we will contact the organization to explore the reason for the difference.
- The total amount of eligible expenses
- The grant may reimburse expenses up to a maximum of $1,000.
- However, there are many benefits of reporting all eligible expenses incurred during the relevant activity period.
- This is because reporting all expenses improves data collection and allows us to better understand the experience of organizations across Canada.
- Secondly, this information will help us review the grant program to determine whether it becomes permanent.
- And finally, the Total Government Assistance reported in the grant application will be deducted from eligible expenses. Therefore, it is to your organization’s advantage to report all expenses.
- Total Government Assistance
- Total Government Assistance or TGA is defined as the total Federal, Provincial, Territorial and Municipal funding received by an organization for the purpose of running a tax clinic.
- All grant applicants must disclose their TGA. This is then taken into account in the funding calculations.
- Funding escalators
- Escalators are demographics related to an organization’s focus or its activities. They can increase the amount of grant funding an organization can receive.
- Escalators are subject to change annually based on government priorities.
- They will be posted publicly on our website prior to each grant year.
Slide 9 – Funding escalators
The escalators for this year are whether the organization:
- Offers Auto-fill my return
- Offers virtual clinics
- Is Indigenous-focused
- Is returning to the program
- Operates free tax clinics outside of peak filing season*
*Peak filing season begins on the date in February that organizations can start filing and ends on May 31.
Slide 10 – Grant funding ceiling
The grant funding amounts are based on the number of tax returns filed by an organization during the relevant activity period. An organization may receive up to the maximum amount as indicated in the following table. As organizations are invited to apply for the grant annually, these maximums amounts are for each year.
The funding amounts range from up to $500 for an organization that files between 10 and 200 returns, to a maximum of $10,000 for organizations that file over 4,000 returns.
Slide 11 - Eligible expenses
Eligible expenses are costs covered by an organization specifically for the purpose of hosting or administering a tax clinic.
Reimbursement for expenses is capped at $1,000. However, this amount, as with all funding, will be subject to the maximum funding payment amounts shown in the table on the previous slide.
Shown here is a list of categories for eligible expenses. This is how the list will appear on the grant application. If your organization has incurred an eligible expense that does not fit into one of these categories, you will be able to manually enter additional expenses with an explanation.
Slide 12 – Activity period
This table lists the activity period for each of the three years of the CVITP grant.
When determining funding amounts, we’ll look at the number of returns filed, eligible expenses, total government assistance and the funding escalators covered during the activity period.
For year two and three of the grant, the activity period will cover a full 12 months so all eligible expenses and returns filed will fit into an activity period.
However, for the first year of the CVITP Grant, the activity period is much shorter. In light of this, the program is providing some flexibility.
For year 1 of the grant, organizations may report all eligible expenses that were incurred for the purpose of running tax clinics between February 22 and May 31, even if the expenses occurred outside of these dates.
Slide 13 – Apply for the grant
Organizations that meet all the eligibility criteria of the grant are welcome to apply online starting May 1.
The following information will be requested on the grant application:
- Your organization’s name and COIN as well as the contact information for the grant applicant
- The total number of income tax returns filed
- A list of all your eligible expenses
- If your organization has no expenses to report, simply enter zero
- The total amount of other government funding your organization received to run tax clinics
It is important that organizations track and keep a record of all expenses and returns filed during the relevant activity period. The CRA may ask you to verify reported expenses when assessing your application.
Slide 14 - Application period
The grant application period will be open from May 1st to June 30th every year. Organizations are welcome to apply annually.
The link to the application will be on the CVITP Grant webpages between these dates.
Applications will be given funding on a first-come, first-served basis.
The total available amount of funding for each year of the grant will be proportionately allocated between each province and territory.
QUESTION AND ANSWER SECTION
Introduction (SLIDE 1)
We decided to add a segment to the Grant webinar. In this portion, we selected some of the most common questions we’ve been receiving from organizations and individuals across Canada about the grant for hosting free tax clinics. We would like to take a few minutes now to share these questions and answers with you.
Additionally, if you have a specific question about your organization, or a question that is not answered by the end of this webinar, you are welcome to submit questions to our CVITP Grant mailbox. The email address will be displayed on the last slide, at the end of the question and answer period. We have 13 questions to answer – let’s begin!
Q: The online grant applications opened on May 1st. What if I am still running my tax clinic and continuing to file returns between May 1st and May 31st?
A: Organizations should report on their grant application the information that is accurate to date at the time of application. This information includes the number of income tax returns filed, eligible expenses and total government assistance. When reviewing applications the self-reported number of returns will be compared with the total COIN count from between February 22, 2021 and May 31, 2021. Differences between these two numbers are to be expected for several reasons such as the time gap between the date of application and the end of the activity period for year one. If there are significant changes in either the number of returns, the expenses or total government assistance, organizations may re-submit their application anytime between May 1 and June 30 with the updated information.
Q: Can I submit expenses from before February 22, 2021?
A: Yes, organizations can include expenses from before February 22, 2021 in their CVITP Grant application. All reported expenses however must be related to the costs of running a free tax clinic between February 22 and May 31st.
Q: What if I have expenses unrelated to any of the pre-listed categories?
A: Any eligible expenses incurred for the purpose of hosting a free tax clinic that do not fall within the pre-listed expenses categories posted on the grant webpages, can be submitted in an itemized list under the category titled “other” on the CVITP Grant application. Eligible expenses must be in accordance with CRA’s policies and directives on reimbursements, as such alcohol and gift cards, for example, would not be eligible.
Q: Do I have to submit my expense receipts?
A: While you are not required to submit expense receipts at the time of your CVITP Grant application, the Canada Revenue Agency reserves the right to review any grant application and request receipts for all reported expenses during the application review period.
Q: Will I be able to make changes to my CVITP Grant application after I submit it?
A: No, it is not possible to make changes to your CVITP Grant application after you submit it.
However, you may re-apply for the grant if you want to provide new or updated information. You can re-apply only within the grant application period of May 1 to June 30.
For the grant’s first year in 2021, the CRA will take into consideration the date of the original grant application when it reviews applications on a first-come, first-served basis. When assessing your grant application though, the CRA will only review the data submitted in the final grant application. For example: If your organization re-applies 3 times with new or updated information, the CRA will only review the final application. Data from your previous applications will be overwritten with each re-application, with the exception of the date of receipt from the original application.
To re-apply, just click on the “Apply” button on the How to Apply webpage and proceed as directed. The Apply button will only be available during the application period.
Q: If my organization is a branch of or funded by any level of government (municipal, provincial/territorial or federal), would we be eligible to apply for the grant?
A: Yes, as long as your organization does not fall into one of the three exclusion categories (Federal or Provincial Member of Parliament offices, Municipal Councillor offices, and/or non-community or non-volunteer based organizations operating for profit), you can apply for the CVITP Grant.
Q: Our organization receives other government grants for the purposes of hosting a tax clinic, but we do not yet have the amount of grant funding we will receive. How should we report our Total Government Assistance on our CVITP Grant application?
A: You do not need to report other government funding on your CVITP Grant application if you have not received the funding during the relevant activity period of that year of the grant. (Year 1: February 22-May 31, 2021). The government funding you will receive will be reported as Total Government Assistance in the following grant year (Year 2: June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022).
Q: If I only have two people associated to my organization, do they both need to be Efile volunteers?
A: While there needs to be two individuals associated to an organization in order to be eligible for the CVITP Grant, both volunteers or individuals associated to the organization do not need to be tax filers and registered with Efile.
There must be two names on record with the CVITP/ITAVP for each organization that applies for the grant. This could include two registered volunteers associated to an organization. This can also include two individual that join together and register with the program as an organization or a primary and secondary contact listed in the organization’s program registration contact information.
Q: How does the program count the funding escalator for offering virtual clinics?
A: The organization must register their tax clinic as virtual by including the word "virtual" in the tax clinic name. If you did offer a virtual clinic, but did not include the word “virtual” in your tax clinic name, please contact your Regional Coordinator. Going forward, your organization will now be able to indicate in your tax clinic registration if you will be offering virtual tax clinics.
Q: If my organization has a membership fee, does this count as charging a fee for service to clients of my tax clinic?
A: The requirement of a membership fee is not considered charging for the purposes of the CVITP Grant, unless your organizations require an individual to purchase a membership for the purpose of having their income tax return prepared and filed. Any organization that expects or requires payment in any form from an individual for the sole purpose of preparing and filing tax returns, would be considered ineligible for the CVITP Grant.
Q: Can my organization accept voluntary donations from clients of my tax clinic?
A: If an organization receives voluntary or unsolicited donations for the service provided through the free tax clinic, that would not make an organization ineligible for the CVITP Grant. Organizations that require donations, advertise fees for service, or have a mandatory payment form for the tax clinic would be considered ineligible.
Q: How much is the grant funding amount?
A: The table “CVITP Grant funding maximums for eligible organizations” shared in the webinar and also posted on the grant webpages lists the maximum amounts of grant funding an organization could receive based on the number of income tax returns the organization filed during the relevant activity period.
Q: Do I have to report to the CRA how I spent the grant funding I received?
A: No, there is no expectation from the Canada Revenue Agency to report back to the program on how your grant funding was used.
Thank you for joining us today to learn more about the CVITP Grant. We hope the webinar and the Q&A segment have been helpful.
As a reminder, the CRA began accepting grant applications on May 1, 2021. The last day to submit applications is June 30, 2021. We look forward to receiving your organizations application! Have a great day.
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