Webinar - The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) Grant
Please note: The content of this presentation is accurate as of the date it was aired on November 15, 2022. For the most recent information on these topics, go to Grant for hosting free tax clinics - Canada.ca.
The CVITP Grant – Community Volunteer Income Tax Program
Shiraz: Hello, and welcome. My name is Shiraz. I’m with the Canada Revenue Agency, or the CRA for short. I’m very happy to be here today to talk about the grant for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program or the CVITP.
We’ll go over how you could be eligible, and how to apply.
[An image of the CVITP logo reads, “People helping people.”]
Shiraz: I’d like to begin by acknowledging that the lands on which I am presenting to you from are part of the unceded territory of the Algonquin People, which is also home to a strong urban Inuit community.
Given that we are meeting virtually, I also want to acknowledge the lands on which you are gathered from coast to coast and invite you to take a moment of silence to have a thought for the territory in which you find yourself.
Topics we will cover
Shiraz: During today’s presentation, I’ll explain the CVITP Organization Identification Number and how it’s used.
We’ll review eligibility for the grant and discuss how funding amounts are determined.
And, I’ll explain which expenses are eligible, and how and when you can apply for the grant.
Free tax help
Shiraz: For those that are new to the program, the CVITP has been serving communities for over 50 years.
It is a collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency, known as the CRA, and thousands of community organizations and their volunteers.
In the province of Quebec, the program has operated since 1988, and is referred to as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. The program is jointly administered by the CRA and Revenu Québec.
With the support of the CRA, community organizations host free tax clinics where their volunteers complete tax returns for eligible individuals. Doing their taxes ensures they receive, or continue to receive, their entitled benefit payments, such as the Canada Child Benefit, GST/HST Credit, and Canada Workers Benefit.
For more information about free tax clinics, go to canada.ca/get-tax-help.
[An image of the CVITP logo reads, “People helping people.”]
Goal of the CVITP Grant
Shiraz: We hope the grant will encourage new and current organizations to increase their free tax-filing services. The funding may help organizations expand their clinics and reach more Canadians.
Additionally, the grant will help offset some of the costs for organizations to run clinics.
[An image of a smiling family with two children.]
CVITP Organization Identification Number (COIN)
Shiraz: The CVITP Organization Identification Number, also known as the COIN, was introduced in 2020.
It’s a unique, eight-digit identification number assigned to all approved organizations that participate in the program.
The COIN counts the number of federal income tax returns an organization files electronically using the provided tax software.
It’s permanent – an organization keeps the same COIN year to year. It will also remain the same if the organization takes a break from participating in the CVITP.
And finally, the COIN doesn’t collect any information from individual tax returns. It's only a counter used to apply for the CVITP Grant.
If you have not received your COIN, it will be included in your program registration approval email. If you misplace your COIN, contact your local coordinator.
Using the COIN
Shiraz: If your organization plans to apply for CVITP Grant funding, using the COIN is mandatory.
However, even if you aren’t going to apply for the grant, we encourage all organizations to use the COIN. It helps improve data collection and reporting within the program.
If your organization doesn’t plan to apply for grant funding, using the COIN is optional. Your organization can still file tax returns without it.
[An image of an individual using a laptop and wearing a headset.]
Using the COIN (cont’d)
Shiraz: The COIN is only accepted in the software we provide.
You can find instructions on how to enter your COIN in the online CVITP learning guide.
There are two ways you can file tax returns using the COIN:
1) electronically using EFILE, or
2) by printing the return and mailing it to the appropriate tax centre. The printed version of the return has a barcode that allows it to be tracked.
If a volunteer forgets to enter the COIN before submitting the tax return it, there is no way to add the COIN after the fact.
We introduced the COIN in 2020, and it’s not possible to use it to count tax returns from 2019 or earlier.
Shiraz: To be eligible for the CVITP Grant, an organization must be registered and approved to participate in the program for that year.
Eligible organizations could be non-profits, charities, or other types of community organizations.
Here are some examples of the types of organizations that participate in the program and are considered eligible:
- band offices
- family services associations
- multicultural societies
- places of worship
- post-secondary student groups or associations
- seniors’ support and recreation centres
- service clubs
- settlement organizations
- shelters and support centres, and
- volunteer bureaus
[An image of an individual smiling.]
Shiraz: Organizations that are not eligible for the grant include:
- non-community or non-volunteer-based organizations that operate for a profit
- municipal councillor offices, and
- offices of federal or provincial members of Parliament
But, if an organization uses space in an office or is housed within the building of an office or organization that falls into one of these categories, they are still eligible to apply for the grant.
Shiraz: For an organization to be eligible to apply for the CVITP Grant, it must:
- have been assigned a COIN
- host or administer a tax clinic that provides tax filing services free of charge
- have two or more volunteers. It’s not essential for both volunteers to be registered with EFILE. For example, one person could be registered as the clinic coordinator, while the other volunteer files income tax returns. This is necessary because the CRA can give grant funding to an organization but they cannot give funding to an individual.
- It must also file a minimum of 10 income tax returns for Canadians with a modest income electronically using the provided tax software. This includes returns submitted electronically through EFILE and returns that are prepared on the program-provided software and then printed off and mailed to the CRA. The program verifies the number of tax returns filed by an organization through the COIN. This is why organizations must enter their COIN when filing returns.
- and, they must have a Canadian bank account that accepts direct deposit. Banking information is not required in the grant application. However, successful applicants will be asked for their banking information.
[An image of two individuals reviewing a document.]
Calculating grant funding
Shiraz: Funding amounts for the grant are based on three main factors:
The first factor is the number of federal returns filed electronically by volunteers affiliated with the organization.
This includes returns that are prepared on the program-provided software and submitted electronically through EFILE and those that are printed off and mailed.
In its grant application, the organization must report the total number of returns filed. So if applying, an organization must track its output.
The COIN verifies the number that an organization reports on its grant application.
We expect there may be discrepancies between the self-reported number and the COIN count. The COIN is currently limited to counting electronically filed returns prepared in the 2020 version of the software and every year after and organizations may file returns for other years.
If discrepancies are significant, we will contact the organization.
The second factor in grant amounts is the total government assistance that an organization receives.
Total government assistance is the total federal, provincial, territorial and municipal funding received by an organization for running the tax clinic.
All grant applicants must disclose their total government assistance. We take this into account in the funding calculations. Organizations should not include any CVITP Grants they have received from the CRA, or the provincial Revenu Québec (RQ) grant within the total government assistance.
And finally, the CRA also considers other factors based on government priorities, which may vary annually. Examples include serving Indigenous populations, and Northern communities.
New funding formula
Shiraz: As of October 2022, the CRA has applied a new funding formula to increase the amount of money awarded to eligible organizations through the grant each year.
Under the new formula, all organizations will receive $500 for basic expenses, instead of a variable amount determined by reported expenditures and $5 per tax return filed.
There are also two new supplementary amounts, based on current ministerial priorities, of $250 each, for organizations that serve Northern and/or Indigenous communities. The changes will make it easier for small community organizations, which form over 50% of the CVITP, to get funding. It also recognizes the unique challenges of organizations that serve Northern and Indigenous communities.
Here’s how it works:
$500 for the basic needs of running a free tax clinic
+ $250 conditional amount for organizations that serve Indigenous communities
+ $250 conditional amount for organizations that serve Northern communities
+ $5 for each federal tax return filed
We deduct the total government assistance from the total. The maximum funding available to each organization is capped at $30,000. An organization can get this amount if it files between 5,800 and 5,900 returns.
Revenu Québec provides a separate grant for Quebec organizations to offset the cost of completing provincial income tax returns.
[A chart highlighting the new funding formula and amounts.]
Shiraz: Your organization is no longer required to record all expenses for hosting or administering a free tax clinic. However, any grant funding received should still go toward the cost of running a free tax clinic, or to assist in growing and expanding your tax clinic.
The list of categories for eligible expenses includes:
- rental costs associated with acquiring space
- office stationery
- office supplies
- volunteer costs
- human resource costs
- free tax clinic promotion
- COVID-19 related costs, and
- costs related to internet and telephone use
[An image of laptop, notebook, and report.]
Shiraz: The timeline shows the steps for receiving CVITP grant funding.
The twelve-month activity period is June 1 to May 31 of the following year. When determining funding amounts, we’ll look at the conditional amounts, number of returns filed, and total government assistance reported during the activity period.
You can apply for the grant between May 1st and June 30th. When the application period closes, the CRA will review applications. We will begin funding distribution to successful applicants in the fall.
To ensure all eligible organizations have the opportunity to benefit from the changes announced to the funding formula on October 14, 2022, the CRA will reopen the grant application period from October 14 to November 30, 2022. Organizations that have already applied for the CVITP Grant in 2022 do not need to reapply.
[A flowchart highlighting the timeline for receiving CVITP grant funding.]
Shiraz: The grant application period is from May 1st to June 30th every year. The application link is on the CVITP Grant web page at canada.ca/free-tax-clinics-grant.
Organizations are welcome to apply annually.
And, the total amount of funding available for each year is allocated proportionately between each province and territory.
[An image of an individual using a laptop and taking notes.]
Shiraz: This is the end of the webinar. Thank you for joining us today! We hope we helped you gain a better understanding of the CVITP Grant and the application process.
Thank you, and have a great day!
[An image of two individuals and one is waving to the camera.]
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