Make a Difference in Your Community Through the CRA’s Free Tax Clinics.
Tax season is just around the corner, and with that comes the call for CPAs to volunteer with the CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). By volunteering to prepare income taxes through the CVITP, CPAs help to ensure that Canadians with modest incomes are able to file their tax returns and access the various benefits and credits available to them.
In 2023, the CRA will be offering its free tax clinics in a hybrid format, giving volunteers the option of participating in person, by phone or video, or using document drop-off arrangements. If you’d like to get involved with the CVITP and make a difference in your community, whether as a returning volunteer or a first-timer, here’s what you need to know:
About the program
The CVITP helps community organizations across Canada host tax preparation clinics. CPA members can participate in the CVITP by volunteering to prepare tax returns and/or by helping a community organization host a free tax return preparation clinic through the CVITP. Note: Most tax clinics are held between March and May, but some community groups offer tax clinics all year long. Visit canada.ca/guide-taxes-volunteer for a list of the community organizations that are hosting tax clinics and seeking volunteers. Also, check the upcoming Chapter Events regularly as your local Chapter may be participating at a local tax clinic.
The steps to volunteer are as follows:
Step 1: Submit a volunteer registration form
The online form can be found on the CRA website. Once you’ve submitted the form, a CVITP co-ordinator will contact you to help you find a participating organization. Note: The CVITP volunteer registration form has a checkbox for CPA members that’s used for statistical reporting and acknowledgement purposes.
Once you’re approved as a volunteer, the CRA will send you information about its online training options for completing simple tax returns.
Step 2: Apply for your licensure exemption
Because the preparation of tax returns—even at volunteer tax clinics—is a regulated activity that would require licensing under normal circumstances, BC CPAs who are not already licensed for public practice must apply for an exemption from licensing before volunteering in this capacity. This includes members who are employed in public practice but who are not personally licensed, as well as those who hold the “Other Regulated Services – Non-Reviewable” licence. By granting the licensure exemption, CPABC is acknowledging the significant societal benefit provided by the volunteers who perform this service.*
You can apply for the exemption through the CPABC website by logging in to services.bccpa.ca under the “Other Services” tab. CPABC holds a blanket policy with CPA Professional Liability Plan Inc. for those that apply for this exemption. The policy applies to authorized CPABC members provided certain conditions are met, as detailed in CPABC’s Volunteer Resource Centre under Volunteer Tax Services.
If you have any questions about applying for the licence exemption, please contact CPABC’s Member Engagement department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Candidates enrolled in the CPA Professional Education Program and students registered with CPAWSB who are taking preparatory courses may volunteer to prepare tax returns only under the supervision of CPA members who are licensed for public practice or who have obtained the exemption from licensure as noted above. Candidates and students are not eligible to apply for the exemption themselves because they cannot be licensed for public practice.