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Students Help Peers with Tax Clinic

A group of Grade 11 and 12 volunteers at Burnaby Mountain Secondary organized a free income tax clinic to help fellow students with their personal income tax returns.

The volunteers, who are part of an Accounting class, were able to assist their peers with securing more than $1800 collectively in tax refunds.

In addition to being a career exploration opportunity for the students who worked in the clinic, they received a certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and their volunteer hours counted towards their graduation requirements.

Grade 12 student Hugo Spence is one of ten students who worked on the returns:

The tax clinic was a catalyst in my learning of accounting. It felt exciting to give back to my peers and connect with new people. Helping students earn their money back felt rewarding.” 

The volunteers were supported by their teacher Vanessa Welsh:

“Running the tax clinic has been a fantastic way to allow students the application of their learning. The process requires a lot of collaboration and handling of sensitive information. Students gain confidence in their accounting skills and get a glimpse into the work that Chartered Professional Accountants do.”

The student volunteers participated in seminars about understanding tax law and compliance and using CRA tax filing software. Once ready to start welcoming their peers, the volunteers worked on the initial client interview, set up files in the software provided by CRA, corresponded with CRA and employers on questions, and explained the results to each client. The students worked in pairs on the preparation of each client’s tax return.

For Marty Xu, a Grade 11 student, the clinic helped him narrow down what career he wants to pursue after graduating from high school:

“Helping others with their taxes was an enriching experience, ultimately directing me toward a path of accounting and finance. I am very grateful for the tax clinic and the inspiring growth it has provided for me and my future.” 

The work of the volunteers was also appreciated by the students who received free help with their returns. What follows is participant feedback shared with the clinic:

“I didn’t even know that I could file my taxes being a high school student. I ended up getting a really good refund and all I had to do was drop off my documents at the school’s tax clinic. The students who prepared my return were very professional and responded to all of my questions and concerns.”

Building on the success of the inaugural clinic last year, in total 15 returns were e-filed with CRA by the volunteers. The clinic fell under the umbrella of a CRA program called the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). A variety of scholarships for the students who led running the tax clinic were also funded by the related CVITP grant.

Read about it in the Burnaby Now.


Posted May 2024