Reference material for community organizations
This webpage is for the sole use of organizations of the CVITP. Please do not share this webpage with anyone not participating in the CVITP.
Free virtual tax clinics:
To find more information on the virtual tax clinics, please check the important note on the Tax clinic basics page.
About the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) is a collaboration between participating community organizations and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The organizations host free tax clinics where volunteers complete tax returns for eligible individuals. The CRA supports the organizations as they carry out this work.
In the province of Quebec, the program is known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program and includes the participation of Revenu Québec. Volunteers in Quebec complete both federal and provincial returns.
Who you can help
When you take part in the CVITP, you can help individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation. Individuals helped through the program include:
- Indigenous peoples
- Newcomers and refugees
- Persons with disabilities
- Youth and students
- Homeless and housing insecure individuals
- Individuals with a modest income
Please note: This is a YouTube video, and will only appear for those with unrestricted Internet access.
To evaluate if an individual is eligible, use the following table as a guideline. However, you can increase the suggested total family income based on the local economic environment and the population you serve.
Please note that this chart is a suggestion only. If your resources are limited, you also have the ability to decrease the suggested family income amounts.
Remember: If you choose to modify the income thresholds for your organization, a note detailing any changes should be made when you post your clinic information on the canada.ca website.
|Family size||Total family income is under…
|More than 5 persons||$52,500 plus $2,500 for each additional person|
Simple tax situation
Volunteers should not complete returns for individuals who:
- are self-employed or have employment expenses *(see exception)
- have business income and expenses
- have rental income and expenses
- have interest income over $1,000
- have capital gains or losses
- filed for bankruptcy in the tax year (or the year before, if that return has not yet been filed)
- are completing a tax return for a deceased person
- have foreign property (T1135)
Individuals who have a T4A slip, Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income, that shows self-employed or business in box 048 may be eligible to have their return completed through the CVITP if all of the following conditions are met:
- the total income in box 048 is under $1,000
- no expenses are claimed
- the individual is not registered as a GST/HST registrant and is not required to be one
Responsibilities of the community organizations
You are responsible for:
- recruiting volunteers
- planning your free tax clinics
- supporting your resources and your volunteers
- keeping information secure and confidential
- making sure all volunteers register online
- making sure the CRA has approved the registration for each volunteer before they start to volunteer
- confirming volunteers have met security requirements based on their volunteer role, including a valid police records check (PRC) that is less than 3 years old, when necessary. PRCs should be in line with program terms agreed to by all volunteers during registration. A job aid to help you validate PRCs is available and can be requested from your CRA coordinator
- informing the CRA when volunteers are no longer able to participate in the program. For example, if the volunteer is temporarily located outside of Canada, deceased or chooses not to continue New (September 2020)
- sharing your CVITP Organization Identification Number (COIN) with volunteers who are affiliated with your organization New (December 2020)
To learn more about your responsibilities in general, visit the Tax clinic basics. You will find additional information on the COIN in the Support your volunteers section. Updated with the virtual tax clinic information (May 2020)
Charging fees for tax clinics
Community organizations and volunteers cannot charge for the services they offer through the CVITP. They must decline any offers of payment. In addition, organizations cannot charge a membership fee as a way of collecting payment for completing the tax return. Organizations and volunteers charging a fee will be removed from the program, and their CVITP EFILE account will be suspended.
Role of the CRA
A CRA coordinator is available to guide you throughout the program. They are your point of contact and can help you access the following resources:
- training for volunteers
- tax preparation software
- dedicated help line for volunteers
- promotional material
- computer donation program
- CRA electronic services, such as EFILE and the Auto-fill my return service
The volunteer training website helps CVITP volunteers get ready to file tax returns. There are resources available to all volunteers, including job aids, helpful links and contacts, commonly used forms, and more!
Online training is complemented by free live webinars or in-person sessions. Ask your CRA coordinator if in-person training is available in your area.
If volunteers live in a remote area where Internet access is not always available, please contact your CRA coordinator to request alternatives to the online training. PDF versions can be sent, and in-person training may be available.
Due to temporary measures related to COVID-19, in-person training may not be offered at this time. Please check with your CRA coordinator to see if there are any sessions that have been scheduled.
The CRA offers free tax software for volunteers to prepare returns. Each year, when the current version of UFile CVITP is available (usually in late January), approved organizations will receive an email containing activation keys and instructions for installing the software.
CDs are available for those without Internet access. If you need to get tax preparation software for previous years, contact your CRA coordinator.
For help with installation, you may watch the video on how to install the UFile CVITP software. Installation instructions are also available, see Tax software.
The tax software is to be used for the CVITP only. The following rules apply:
- Do not copy the software or allow copies to be made
- Use the software to prepare returns for eligible individuals only
- Do not use the tax software for monetary gain
Dedicated help line Updated (May 2020)
Volunteers and organizations can call the CVITP dedicated help line (1-866 -398-3488) throughout the year with questions about individual income tax, EFILE and EFILE error code messages, and UFile CVITP tax preparation software.
This number is for CVITP volunteers only. Please do not share this number with individuals outside of the CVITP.
Hours during tax filing season
(From February 24, 2020 to June 5, 2020)
Monday to Friday: 8 am to 12 am (EST) (closed May 18)
Saturday: 9 am to 8 pm (EST) (closed May 16)
|Hours outside of tax filing season||Monday to Friday: 9 am to 8 pm (EST)
Saturday and Sunday: closed
Get the promotional material you need from your CRA coordinator before hosting your tax clinics.
- Promotional poster (TIS50)
- to advertise your free tax clinic services and inform taxpayers that the volunteers are not CRA employees
- available in English, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Cree, Dari, Dene, Hindi, Inuktitut, Mandarin, Mi'kmaq, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog
- Volunteer recruitment postcards (RC636-7-8-9)
- to recruit volunteers to complete tax returns at your organization
- available in English and French, in 4 different colours (blue, green, orange and purple)
- Online clinic form to write the details of your upcoming clinic(s)
- It is important that you write all of your clinic information into the online clinic form, as it helps the CVITP with future planning and support
- Filling out the online clinic form also gives you the ability to post your clinic information on the canada.ca website however, it is optional
- It is recommended to have your information (location and hours of operation) posted to the canada.ca website, as this will allow people to easily find your clinic using an online search for free tax clinics
- Your CRA coordinator will send the link to the online clinic form
Computer donation program
Wherever possible, the Government of Canada donates its surplus laptops to schools, charities, and service organizations, including those hosting free tax clinics.
If your organization needs a free laptop, fill out the form RC320, Application for a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Computer. Please note that the CRA often receives more requests for computers than it can fulfill.
Donations are made to organizations, not volunteers. A condition of the donation program requires that the organization must agree to actively take part in the program for 3 years. Once the computer is donated to the organization, the device is no longer the property of the CRA. The organization is responsible to keep the computer up-to-date and secure.
CRA electronic services
EFILE for electronic filers
EFILE is an automated service that allows those who complete tax returns on behalf of others to electronically file returns directly to the CRA using EFILE-certified tax preparation software.
Benefits of EFILE
- faster refunds for taxpayers – Since EFILE cuts out several manual steps, most electronic returns can be processed in as little as 2 weeks
- improved accuracy – Before an EFILE return is accepted for processing, a series of computer checks and balances are performed, resulting in greater accuracy
- paperless – There are no paper returns to file and, unless receipts are requested, none are needed
Auto-fill my return
Auto-fill my return is a secure online CRA service that CVITP volunteers can use to automatically fill in parts of a taxpayer's 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 income tax and benefit return. It uses the information that the CRA has available for the taxpayer at the time of filing.
The CRA encourages the use of Auto-fill my return as it reduces the margin for error and helps to ensure accuracy. It also improves service to taxpayers who may not have copies of all of their slips when they go to a free tax clinic, or who may not be able to pass the confidentiality requirements to get them over the phone.
Requirements for EFILE and Auto-fill my return
Volunteer requirements and how to register for EFILE and Auto-fill my return services can be found under Register to volunteer. For more information on how to verify if your volunteers have met security requirements, refer to Tax clinic basics.
Become a participating organization
Learn how you can host a free tax clinic at your organization.
- Find the answers to most tax-related questions
- EFILE for electronic filers
- Everything you need to know about EFILE
- Free tax clinics
- Register to volunteer
- Find tax clinics operating in your area
- UFile CVITP
- Find answers to frequently asked questions about UFile
- Links to the UFile QuickStart Guide and CVITP EFILE Guide
- UFile online help
- Volunteer training
- Auto-fill my return
Forms and publications
Individual tax enquiries line: Call 1-800-959-8281 and mention that you are a CVITP volunteer.
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