Eric Nielsen

Eric Nielsen

A taxing situation

Volunteer takes worry out of tax preparation

If you need a free tax return, there is a volunteer for that.

The deadline for filing personal income tax returns is just around the corner and Oak Bay Volunteer Services is gearing up with people ready and willing to help eligible residents stay on top of their taxes.

“It is very rewarding as an agency helping people in the community, it is a stressful task for a lot of our clients,” said OBVS office coordinator Ruth Platts. “It is wonderful that is something we can help with.”

The society, in conjunction with the Canada Revenue Agency’s nationwide Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, helps low-to-moderate income households prepare their income tax and benefit returns for simple tax situations and has been doing so since 1979.

The collaboration includes clinics for the volunteers to stay on top of the ever-evolving tax landscape and free training software to file electronically.

“When you hear someone on the phone panicking or upset about doing taxes they are surprised when we say we can help them with that it is great to hear the relief in their voice,” Platts continued. “It gives them great peace of mind knowing they have a trained tax volunteer.”

One of those people is Oak Bay resident Eric Nielsen, who filed his 20th tax return so far this year.

The retired Air Canada pilot is a number cruncher and has helped the OBVS with returns for more than six years, filing approximately 20 returns a year on behalf of fellow Oak Bay residents, some of whom need his help annually.

“I just enjoy doing it,” the 74-year-old said. “I get out and about in the community meeting people and being helpful to people. It keeps me busy, I quite like doing this sort of thing.”

Nielsen starts at the client’s house, picks up their information, files it, and then drops it off for them when he is done. Despite being into his 70s, he has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“It is helpful to members of the community that are often intimidated by tax forms,” he said. “As long as I am able to get out and about in the community without any difficultly – I intend to continue.”

Nationwide the collaboration between community services and the CRA help more than 500,000 people file their income tax returns, 110 of them in Oak Bay.

To find out more about the Oak Bay Volunteer Society, go to oakbayvolunteers.bc.ca, call 250-595-1034 or drop by their office at 101-2167 Oak Bay Ave. in the Oak Bay Municipal Hall.