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Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Grant

Terms and conditions of the grant

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Overview of the program

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), known in Quebec as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program, helps Canadians with a modest income and a simple tax situation by preparing their income tax and benefit returns free of charge.

The program is a collaboration between community organizations and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Community organizations host tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare tax returns for eligible individuals.

The program has been operating since 1971. Each year, participating organizations and affiliated volunteers support hundreds of thousands of people file their income tax returns, helping them get the benefits and credits designed to support them.

Objectives of the CVITP Grant

The CRA is running a three-year pilot project, where a grant will provide direct financial support to eligible organizations that participate in the program.

The goals of this grant are to:

  • cover some of the administrative costs that organizations face in hosting tax preparation clinics
  • encourage growth in the number of participating organizations
  • increase retention among participating organizations
  • encourage participating organizations to expand the reach of their clinics (for example, by extending hours or days of operation or offering additional locations)

We expect the grant will expand access to free tax preparation services for individuals with modest income and a simple tax situation. This may include Indigenous peoples, newcomers and refugees, seniors, youth and students, people with disabilities, the homeless and housing insecure, and low to modest income individuals.

The grant will give out funding based partly on the reported expenses to cover some of the administrative costs. It will also base funding on the total number of returns an organization files, so as to encourage growth and facilitate retention.

Expected results

It is expected that the grant will:

  • increase the number of organizations that participate in the program each year
  • decrease the total number of organizations that do not return to the program after participating for two years or less
  • increase the annual number of volunteers who are associated with grant recipient organizations
  • increase the number of returns filed each year by grant recipient organizations

Eligibility

Organizations who have registered and are approved to participate in the program may be eligible for funding. Eligible organizations must host or administer free tax clinics and electronically file income tax returns for eligible individuals.

For more information on eligibility criteria and the types of eligible organizations, go to Who can apply.

Eligible activities

Funding eligibility is based on the activities performed by the participating organization. Eligible activities are the hosting of free income tax clinics and the electronic filing of federal income tax and benefits returns by volunteers who are affiliated with organizations approved to participate in the program.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses are direct expenses which, in the CRA’s estimation, are reasonable and necessary for the eligible activities specified above. An organization must have covered the costs of eligible expenses between June 1 and May 31 of the following year for the purpose of hosting free tax clinic(s) and filing tax returns. See Table 1 for the eligible activity periods for each grant year.

For more examples of eligible and ineligible expenses, go to Expenses you can report.

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Organization Identification Number (COIN)

The COIN is a unique and permanent eight-digit identification number that is assigned to all organizations that are registered and approved to participate in the program. These organizations are assigned an identification number that they will keep for as long as they participate in the program. The CRA will inform each organization of their identification number in their program registration approval letter.

Starting in February 2021, organizations are responsible for sharing their identification number with affiliated volunteers and/or ensuring the number is entered into the appropriate field of the CRA-provided tax preparation software.

For information about the purpose of the COIN and how it works, go to Free tax clinic host’s identification number.

Stacking limit for funding

A stacking limit is a maximum permitted amount of combined funding from federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal governments. The total government assistance that an organization receives for a program or service cannot exceed the total eligible expenses for that program or service.

For the CVITP Grant, the stacking limit applies only to the portion of the grant that is based on the organization’s eligible expenses. This part of the grant cannot exceed the total government assistance the organization receives for hosting and administering the income tax clinics. However, the stacking limit does not affect the grant portion that is based on number of returns filed.

The CRA must apply the stacking limit in determining grant amounts. As a result, the grant application requires applicants to disclose all sources of government funding they received for hosting and administering free tax clinics.

Application process

To apply for funding, each year applicants must first register with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (or the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program in Quebec) and be approved for participation. Once approved, applicants will receive a notification from the CRA that provides their organization identification number. They will need this number for the grant application.

Applicants must then:  

  • complete the online grant application with all mandatory information
  • consent to be considered for funding
  • agree that all information submitted in the grant application is true to the best of their knowledge
  • submit their application within the application period

For more information on when and where to apply for grant, go to How to apply.

Activity period and application period

Organizations can apply from May 1 to June 30 each year for tax returns filed and expenses covered during the eligible activity period (see Table 1). They may apply for grant funding annually.

When reviewing grant applications, the CRA will consider electronically filed federal tax returns, total government assistance, and expenses covered during the activity period.

Table 1: Eligible activity periods for the CVITP Grant by year
Grant year Eligible activity period
2021 February 22, 2021 to May 31, 2021
2022 June 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022
2023 June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023

Application review

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will use the information gathered in the organization’s program registration and grant application to assess their funding eligibility. The CRA will assess applications on a first come, first served basis and score each application against predetermined criteria to determine the appropriate funding amount for each eligible organization. Funding will be proportionately distributed across the country.

Organizations will be scored on the following criteria:

  • the number of federal income tax returns electronically filed by volunteers affiliated with the organization
  • the reported eligible costs covered by organizations for hosting tax clinics
  • other sources of total government assistance received for the tax clinics
  • funding escalators (see below) based on government priorities, which may vary annually

The CRA reserves the right to apply its discretion to the assessment of CVITP Grant applications.

Funding escalators

The funding formula includes several escalators, which are factors that can increase an organization’s funding. The CRA may review and adjust funding escalators each year, based on new government priorities and any newly identified needs in the program. The CRA will publicly communicate any changes to the funding escalators at the start of each new grant cycle.

The current escalators 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.

Funding distribution

The maximum grant an organization can receive (Table 2) is directly tied to the number of returns it filed during the relevant activity period.

Table 2: CVITP Grant funding maximums
Number of returns filed by the organization Maximum annual grant for the organization ($)
10 to 200 500
201 to 500 1,000
501 to 1,000 2,000
1,001 to 2,000 4,000
2,001 to 3,000 6,000
3,001 to 4,000 8,000
Over 4,000 10,000

To make sure funding is distributed equitably across the country, each province and territory will be given a portion of the total funding. Within each province and territory, funding is distributed on a first come, first served basis, up to the total funding given to that region. After all funds have been awarded within each province and territory, the CRA will distribute any unused funding to remaining organizations on a first come, first served basis, based on the date that their application was received, regardless of province or territory.

The CRA first reviews all applications for eligibility. At the end of the grant application period, which is June 30, the CRA assesses each application on a first come, first served basis and determines funding based on the information provided. The CRA will notify all organizations of the funding decision via email, and provide a funding agreement to those who qualify for funding.

The CVITP Grant funding agreement is a written document between the Government of Canada and a recipient which describes the obligations and details of the transfer payment. The funding agreement will specify the amount offered to the organization.

Important

Please note that even if an organization’s application meets all eligibility criteria, the CRA is not obliged to provide funding.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has the discretion to determine, based on public policy and public interest considerations, whether an application that meets the criteria identified in these terms and conditions will ultimately receive funding. Organizations that disagree with the CRA’s funding determination have the right to seek judicial review.

Disclosure of information

By submitting a funding application, the organization authorizes the CRA to share any information included with the application within the Government of Canada for the following purposes:

  • to reach a decision
  • to evaluate the results of the program
  • to support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement

The CRA will publish on Canada.ca the names of the organizations that receive funding and the amount they received. The CRA may choose to publish summaries of the grant results. The CRA will ensure that all public disclosures respect the legal requirements for protecting personal information and third-party information. The CRA may use a grant recipient’s information as a case study to highlight the effects of the funding. Case studies will not include any sensitive, personal or confidential information. If a grant recipient’s information is used in a case study, the CRA will seek the grant recipient's permission to disclose non-personal information.

Program monitoring and reporting requirements

The CRA will use the organization identification number to monitor the number of federal income tax returns that each organization files electronically through its free tax clinics.

The CRA will compare the numbers reported in your organization’s grant application and compare it to our administrative data. The program expects some difference in the number of returns reported by organizations and those counted through the identification number. The CRA will question discrepancies only if the difference is significant.

For more information the use of the identification number, go to Free tax clinic host’s identification number.

In addition, organizations are not required to indicate in their application if they have met any of the annual escalators. The program will review your organization’s registration and administrative data to assess which escalators have been met.

Performance measures

To measure the success of the three-year pilot grant, the CRA will assess how well these targets were achieved:

  • an annual 5% increase in the number of organizations that participate in the program
  • an annual 10% decrease in the number of organizations that do not return to the program after two years or less participation
  • an annual increase in the number of volunteers associated with grant recipient organizations
  • an annual increase in the number of returns filed by grant recipient organizations

Verification and review of eligible expenses

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reserves the right to review funding recipients’ eligible activities and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant, and to request verification of information submitted in the grant application. Funding recipients may be required to present supporting documents.

Important

Grant recipients must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to validate reported eligible expenses. Demonstrated failure to provide such records may result in the rejection of the application.

The CRA reserves the right to review organizations at any point during their participation in the program to make sure they meet the requirements for participation. If an organization has applied for funding, the CRA will also assess their eligibility for the grant. At any time during the application intake period and the application assessment period, the CRA may contact the applicant to clarify, validate or substantiate information on the application.

After the funding has been distributed, if any organization is found to:

  • have charged a fee to file a client's return;
  • violated the grant or program eligibility requirements; or
  • made a false representation on their application;

they will be deemed ineligible for future funding and may be removed from participation in the program.

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