Reference material for community organizations

This webpage is for organizations that are participating in the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Please do not share with anyone who is not a CVITP volunteer.

How to install the UFile CVITP Software

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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 (ITAVP) 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. Those helped through the program include:

  • adults 65 years and older
  • housing-insecure individuals
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • modest-income individuals
  • newcomers
  • persons with disabilities
  • students

Help people file their taxes – What to expect as a volunteer!

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Modest income

The following table provides a guideline to determine if an individual is eligible for the CVITP. In general, a modest income means the total family income is less than the amount shown in the chart below, based on the size of the family.

Suggested income level
Family size Total family income is under…
1 person $35,000
2 people $45,000
3 people $47,500
4 people $50,000
5 people $52,500
More than 5 people $52,500 plus $2,500 for each additional person

Family size includes an individual, or a couple, and their dependants.

Note

Organizations can adjust the total family income for their clients based on the local economic environment, the population they serve, and their resources.

Remember:

If you choose to modify the family income amounts, please include details when you post your clinic information on the canada.ca website.

Simple tax situation

Volunteers should not complete returns that include:

  • self-employed income or employment expenses *(see exception 1)
  • business income and expenses
  • rental income and expenses
  • interest income over $1,000
  • capital gains or losses
  • bankruptcy in the tax year (or the year before, if that return has not yet been filed)
  • deceased person
  • foreign property (T1135)
  • foreign income (**see exception 2)

*Exception

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 tax 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

**Exception 2:

Individuals who receive U.S. Social Security benefits are eligible to have their tax return completed through the CVITP. Any other type of foreign income (including a foreign pension) would not be considered a simple tax situation.

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). For the CVITP, police records checks are valid as long as they’ve been issued within three years. 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, the volunteer may be temporarily located outside of Canada, be deceased, or choose not to continue.
  • sharing your CVITP Organization Identification Number (COIN) with volunteers who are affiliated with your organization.

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.

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 to collect payment for completing tax returns. 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. They are your point of contact and can help you access:

  • 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

Training

The volunteer training website helps CVITP volunteers get ready to file tax returns. Available resources include job aids, helpful links, contacts, and forms.

The online training on the website is supplemented 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 online training. PDF versions of training can be provided and in-person training may be available.

Important note

Due to measures related to COVID-19, in-person training may not be offered at this time. Please check with your CRA coordinator to see if any sessions have been scheduled.

Tax software

The CRA has free UFile CVITP tax preparation software for volunteers. Each year when the current version is available (usually in late January), approved organizations will receive an email containing activation keys and instructions for installing the software.

USB flash drives are available for those without Internet access. If you need software for previous years, contact your CRA coordinator.

The tax software is for the CVITP only:

  • Do not copy the software or allow copies to be made
  • Use the software only to prepare returns for eligible individuals
  • Do not use the tax software for monetary gain

Dedicated help line

Volunteers and organizations can call the CVITP dedicated help line (1-866-398-3488) throughout the year with questions about individual income tax, UFile CVITP tax preparation software, EFILE, and EFILE error messages.

This number is only for CVITP volunteers. Please do not share this number with individuals outside of the CVITP.

CVITP dedicated helpline for volunteers (1-866-398-3488)

New year-round hours

 

Monday to Friday: 9 am to 11 pm (EST) 

Saturday: 9 am to 8 pm (EST)

Sunday: closed

Promotional material

Get promotional material from your CRA coordinator before hosting tax clinics.

  • Promotional poster (TIS50)
    • advertise your free tax clinic services.
    • fill and print the PDF file. Contact your CRA coordinator for available languages.
  • Volunteer recruitment postcards (RC637)
    • use to recruit volunteers to complete tax returns at your organization.
    • available in English and French.
  • Submit the details of your clinics online
    • send information about your clinics using our online form. Your CRA coordinator will provide the link to the form.
    • include as many details as possible as it helps the CVITP plan and provide support.
    • option to post your clinic information (location and hours) on the canada.ca website. Posting allows people to find your clinic using an online search tool.

Computer donation program

When 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 the CRA often receives more requests for computers than it can fulfill.

Donations are made to organizations, not volunteers. They are made on the condition that the organization agrees to actively take part in the program for 3 years.

Once a computer is donated, it no longer belongs to 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 permits those who complete tax returns on behalf of others to electronically send returns directly to the CRA using EFILE-certified tax 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 service that can automatically fill in parts of a taxpayer’s federal income tax and benefit return. It uses information that the CRA has available at the time of filing. This service can be used by CVITP volunteers when completing returns for 2017 and onward.

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 their slips.

Requirements for EFILE and Auto-fill my return

In order to use EFILE and Auto-fill my return, volunteers must register and meet certain requirements. Your organization must verify that volunteers have met security requirements.

Become a participating organization

Learn how you can host a free tax clinic at your organization.

Resources

Website resources

Forms and publications

Individual tax enquiries line: Call 1-800-959-8281 and mention that you are a CVITP volunteer.

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