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Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Grant

Terms and conditions of the grant

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The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), known in Quebec as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program (ITAVP), is a collaboration between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and community organizations which host tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals. The program has been operating since 1971 and its mandate is to help vulnerable and underserved Canadians and families in need by preparing their income tax and benefit returns free of charge. Each year, through the CVITP, participating organizations and volunteers help hundreds of thousands of eligible individuals file their income tax returns and, as a result, receive the benefits and credits to which they are entitled.

The CRA currently has the legal and policy authority provided under the following authorities:

  • Income Tax Act, subsection 220(1)
  • Budget 2018 provided the CRA the authority to expand the size of the CVITP, helping more individuals complete their taxes and access benefits to which they are entitled; this expansion included funding for additional year-round benefit clinics and more outreach activities to vulnerable population segments.

Scope and objectives

Building on recent efforts to expand the reach of the CVITP, the CRA is proposing to create a grant that would provide direct financial support to eligible organizations. The goals of the pilot (starting in 2021-22) are to defray some of the administrative costs that organizations incur in hosting tax preparation clinics and to encourage growth and increase retention amongst existing CVITP participating organizations. In order to defray some of the administrative costs, the grant will allocate funding with a base amount, three conditional amounts available for organizations servicing identified populations and geographic locations considered government priorities, and provide funding based on the total number of federal returns an organization files to encourage growth and facilitate retention. The expectation is that by providing financial assistance to community organizations, it will encourage more organizations to participate in the CVITP and increase the retention rate of existing organizations. The grant would also encourage CVITP participating organizations to expand the reach of their tax clinics, for example, by extending the number of days and/or hours of operation, or offering additional tax clinic locations.

Overall, increasing the number of community organizations that participate in the CVITP will expand access to free tax preparation services available to vulnerable population segments. Vulnerable population segments include Indigenous peoples, newcomers and refugees, seniors, youth and students, people with disabilities, the homeless and housing insecure, and low to modest income individuals.

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


Organizations that 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 that the CRA has approved to participate in the program.

In order to be considered eligible for funding, organizations must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must be approved as a participating organization with the CVITP in the current program year and assigned a CVITP Organization Identification Number (COIN).
  • Must administer tax clinics and electronically file a minimum of 10 income tax returns for individuals.
  • Must provide services free of charge and decline any gift, monetary reward, or any other form of payment that may be offered.
  • Must not make any misrepresentations in the application or in any correspondence, conversations, or updates submitted relevant to the application.
  • Must have a bank account with a Canadian institution and accept direct deposit.

Types of eligible organizations

Eligible organizations include non-profits, charities, and other community groups. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • seniors’ support and recreation centres
  • shelters and support centres
  • family services associations
  • settlement organizations
  • multicultural societies
  • service clubs (for example, Lions’ Club, Royal Canadian Legion)
  • band offices
  • volunteer bureaus
  • post secondary student groups or associations
  • places of worship

Eligibility exclusions

CVITP clinics that are organized and/or administered as follows are excluded from consideration for funding:

  • Federal or provincial Member of Parliament offices;
  • Municipal counselor offices;
  • Non-community or non-volunteer based organizations that normally operate tax clinics for profit (e.g., tax preparation businesses and accounting firms)

Eligible activities

Eligible activities are activities performed by participating organizations which qualify an organization to receive grant funding. Eligible activities are the administration of free income tax clinics and the electronic filing of federal income tax and benefits returns by volunteers affiliated with an approved CVITP organization.

Eligible expenses

The grant will provide a base amount of grant funding to all eligible organizations who filed more than 10 federal income tax and benefit returns. This funding can be used towards eligible expenses incurred for the purposes of running a free tax clinic.

Eligible expenses are direct expenses which are reasonable and necessary for the eligible activities specified above. All expenses must have been incurred for the purpose of hosting and administering tax clinics and filing tax returns between June 1 and May 31 the following year. For example, paying for police record checks in January in preparation for the upcoming tax season would be an eligible expense.

For a list of eligible expenses an organization can put grant funds toward go to Expenses.

Stacking rule

A stacking limit is the cumulative total of all government assistance as a percentage of total eligible expenses. Total government assistance (TGA) is the total federal, provincial and municipal assistance received by a single organization for the same program or service.

The stacking limit will apply to the full amount of the grant calculated. The disbursement of funds will not exceed 100% of TGA for the purpose of hosting and administering income tax clinics.

As a result, applicants must disclose all sources of government funding they received for hosting and administering free tax clinics.

The Revenu Quebec grant is not considered TGA for the purposes of the CVITP grant application, and therefore should not be included as TGA on the application.

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 have CRA approval for participation. Once approved, applicants will receive a notification from the CRA that provides their organization identification number (COIN). 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.

Application deadline

The application period will typically be open from May 1 to June 30 each year for activity completed between June 1 of the previous calendar year and May 31 (see Table 1) of the current calendar year. The CRA reserves the right to change the application dates based on business needs and requirements. If the CRA does change the application dates, this will not affect the previously defined activity period dates of June 1 to May 31 of each year.

Communications regarding the updated grant funding formula will be released publicly during the summer. The updated funding formula will be communicated to applicants from year 3 only when they are advised that they have been successful in the grant process.

Communication will also be released to promote the grant and reiterate the new funding formula, to coincide with program registration. The application period for funding in year three will be from May 25 to July 31, 2023. Organizations will be required to apply for funding annually and the funding for each organization will be based on activity from June 1 of the previous year to May 31 of the grant application year.

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 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
  • other sources of total government assistance received for the tax clinics
  • other factors based on government priorities, which may vary annually (i.e. serving Indigenous populations, operating in Northern communities, etc.)

The overall goals of the proposed grant are to encourage growth in the number of organizations and retention of existing organizations within the program, and to help offset the expenditures related to hosting and administering tax clinics and filing returns. Given that the environment and context of organizations across Canada varies greatly there is no one-size-fits-all determination to funding.

The funding formula will include a base amount of $500 for organizations who file 10-49 returns, or a base amount of $1500 for organizations who file 50 or more returns. There will also be three conditional amounts of $250 each, all of which the organization could receive in addition to the base amount of $500 or $1500. This could provide an organization a base amount of anywhere between $500 and $2250. These base and conditional amounts will provide the grant the flexibility to take into consideration the unique needs of organizations. For example, the increased costs of supplies and connectivity associated with living in northern or remote areas. Funding conditional amounts are to be reviewed and adjusted annually should the CRA need to adjust to new government priorities or address newly identified needs within the program. If conditional amounts change, this will be publicly communicated at the beginning of each new grant cycle.

As per the stacking rule in section 4, TGA will apply to the full grant funding calculated before any program ceiling is imposed. Grant funding received from Revenu Quebec for the purposes of filing Quebec provincial returns would not be considered TGA for the purposes of the CVITP grant application, and therefore should not be included as TGA on the application.

The CVITP reserves the right to apply its discretion to the assessment of applications and may give preference to organizations in order to achieve specific CRA objectives. These objectives will be made known. At the outset of each CVITP year, the program may introduce additional criteria that will be taken into consideration to score the applications it receives.

Funding distribution

Funding will be disbursed as a grant using the following funding formula:

Base and conditional amounts Footnote i (applicable base amount + conditional amount(s) ) + Dollar per return amount (number of returns filed x $5 per return Footnote ii) less Total Government Assistance (TGA) = up to a maximum payout ceiling Footnote iii

Return to footnote (i) referrer Base and conditional amounts

  • Base of $500 for organizations who file 10-49 returns or
  • Base of $1500 for organizations who file 50 or more returns
  • Conditional amount of $250 (for organizations serving Indigenous populations) and/or
  • Conditional amount of $250 (for organizations operating in prescribed northern and intermediate zones) and/or
  • Conditional amount of $250 (for organizations operating in rural and remote areas)

Return to footnote (ii) referrer $5 per return filed by the organization

Return to footnote (iii) referrer Maximum payout of $30,000, which can only be achieved once an organization has filed between 5,550 - 5,700 returns

To ensure that funding is distributed equitably across the country, the CRA will allocate a portion of total funding to each province and territory. The CRA will distribute funding on a first come, first served basis within each province and territory, up to the maximum amount of funding allocated. After all funds have been allocated within each province and territory, any unused funding will be redistributed to remaining organizations on a first come, first served basis relative to the date that their application was received, regardless of which province or territory they operate in.

The CRA will review all applications for eligibility to receive grant funding. At the end of the grant application period, the CRA will assess each application on first come, first served basis, and will determine funding based on the information provided. Please note that, even if an organization meets all eligibility criteria, the submission of an application creates no obligation on the part of the CRA to provide funding. The CRA retains discretion to determine, based on other public policy and public interest considerations, whether an application that meets the criteria identified in the terms and conditions will receive funding. If an organization disagrees with the CRA’s funding determination, it has the right to seek judicial review. Total funding per organization will remain within a cap of $30,000 in order to stay within the funding allotment for the pilot. Funding amounts per organization will be determined based on the funding criteria as described in section 5.2 and the provided funding formula.

The CRA will contact each organization to advise of the funding decision. The CRA will also advise successful applicants of the funding amount, as applicable in the form of a funding agreement.


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 the names of the organizations that receive funding and the amount they received on 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 number of federal income tax returns filed through CVITP or ITAVP tax clinics will be recorded and counted towards organizations using the CVITP organization identification number (COIN).

The COIN is transmitted electronically via the electronic submission of a federal income tax return through CVITP tax preparation software. The COIN will count the total number of returns filed under each registered and approved CVITP organization. The COIN will be used to verify the reported number of returns submitted in each organization’s grant application.

Eligible organizations are responsible for ensuring that their volunteers enter the COIN correctly in the appropriate field in the CVTIP tax preparation software. If a tax return is transmitted to the CRA without a COIN there will be no opportunity to match the tax return to the organization after the fact.

Although eligible organizations will receive grant funding from the CRA, the organization, their employees and the volunteers who participate in the CVITP remain completely independent of the CRA.

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

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

The program reserves the right to review funding recipients’ accounts, eligible activities, and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant agreement, and to request verification of information submitted within the grant application during which funding recipients may be required to present documentation.

The CRA reserves the right to review organizations at any point during their participation in the program to ensure they are meeting the requirements for participation in the program and the eligibility requirements of the grant if that organization has also applied for funding. At any time during the application intake period and the application assessment period following, the CRA may contact the applicant for information clarification, validation or substantiation necessary for the application assessment.

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