April 6, 2017 5:09 pm

File taxes or miss out on government benefits, Hamilton anti-poverty groups say

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the City of Hamilton and the United Way have joined forces to launch a tax-filing awareness campaign.

Canadian Press/File

More than 7,000 Hamilton families are missing out on $43 million worth of government benefits, simply because they aren’t filing their taxes.

Those surprising numbers come courtesy of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, which has been joined by the United Way and the City of Hamilton to launch a tax-filing awareness campaign.

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Roundtable director Tom Cooper says that money “could certainly be beneficial to those individual families,” and could be spent in the local community “on groceries and other essentials.”

Mary Long, labour community services director at the United Way of Hamilton-Burlington, hopes to knock down barriers through awareness, noting that many “aren’t aware that these benefits are available to them, or they have an idea that somehow it’s just not for them.”

The campaign includes free income-tax filing clinics for individuals earning less than $30,000 per year, or families earning $40,000 or less.

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Long adds that 41 provincial and federal programs are triggered through filing taxes, such as the child tax benefit, guaranteed income supplement for seniors and the disability tax credit.

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