Navigating the tax system can be overwhelming for anyone, and especially so for those living with mental health and addictions. It has a huge impact on the lives of CAMH clients.
Last month, the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Service team held an income tax clinic for CAMH clients through a partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Ontario. This partnership allows CAMH the ability to have a team of chartered professional accountants come onsite to volunteer their time for a full day, free, accessible, tax clinic service available to CAMH clients.
CAMH client Valerie holds up her completed tax return for 2014
“This is a great service for clients,” said Anita Persaud, a case manager in the Addiction Medicine Service. “It really gives clinicians a chance to speak with their clients about the benefits of the tax system as one way to provide additional income support for their clients receiving social assistance, as well as those who have low levels of income.”
The clinic helped turn what can be a stressful process into a simple, easy, and accessible one that allowed clients the benefits of a monetary return, if applicable, sooner rather than later.
“Some clients that I spoke with had misinformation because their only source of income was social assistance and it is nontaxable,” said Anita. “They [thought they] did not need to file and were missing out on the extra money from provincial taxes that they were entitled to.”
Members of CPA Ontario pose with CAMH's SDH team (L to R) Penny Balberman, Teresa Chang, Jacqueline Mulligan, Susan Cox, Piyush Aggarwal, David Kennedy, Tara Pearcey, Reena Sirohi, Freda Lai, David Oddie
“Dave (the CPA) was very patient and careful in the process. Both of my clients were able to complete multiple years of taxes,” said social worker Mark Blackstone. “In one case a client had left his T5 at home by mistake and Dave said he’ll still accept this by fax and complete it at his end.”
In addition to volunteering their time and resources, CPA Ontario will also provide a generous monetary donation to CAMH based on the number of tax returns completed, yet another way Ontario’s CPAs are giving back.