Free tax clinic benefits on- and off-campus community

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Ruben Breteler (centre) and Yna Billanes (left) help St. Catharines native Jerome Bryant file his taxes at Brock's free tax clinic.

Graduate student Mark Frimpong has come to the right place for free tax help.

When he drops by Brock’s Collaboratorium on a sunny Friday afternoon, Frimpong is greeted by a group of accounting students who have volunteered their time to help students and community members complete their tax returns.

Frimpong is from Ghana and the master’s in Political Science student was unsure about how to file his Canadian tax return.

“I don’t have the technical expertise to help me complete my Canadian taxes,” says Frimpong. “I appreciate that it is a no cost service that puts money in our pockets. Otherwise, I would have to pay a professional.”

The Brock tax clinic doesn’t only cater to students; it is part of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), and Goodman School of Business Accounting students have been trained by the CRA to complete tax returns for lower income earners as well.

“This tax clinic is an important resource because it provides a free service for those who don’t have the means or resources to complete their returns,” explains John-Paul Goldsworthy, Co-op accounting relationship manager.

He has coordinated the tax clinic for the past six years.

“The fact that it’s free is really important. We want as many people from the community to use it as possible.”

For the student volunteers, the tax clinic offers a chance to get hands-on experience.

Angela Havoic, a fourth-year Goodman’s Bachelor of Accounting Co-op student, is one of four upper-year students who supervises the 40 volunteers.

Over a two-week period, she will spend over 18 hours volunteering at the busy tax clinic.

Havoic already had tax preparation knowledge from her co-op job but she still appreciates the opportunity to gain expertise in new areas.

“It’s a different experience,” says Havoic. “I’m dealing with a lot more international tax returns, which I don’t have a lot of experience with.”

Goldsworthy shares Havoic’s perspective.

“It’s a great opportunity for our first year BAcc students. Now they’ve got great experience on their resumes that will stand out during their job search.”

Goodman School of Business accounting students will be available until March 31 to help current Brock students and community members complete their Canadian tax returns.

Brock’s Co-op Programs Office is coordinating the free tax return clinic, which runs daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Thistle 252A (the Collaboratorium).

Clients are asked to bring all required documents.

The location is wheelchair accessible.

Posted on March 24, 2014

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