B.C. Seniors Advocate underscores need for all seniors to file taxes

Advocate says seniors in the province need to file tax returns, even if they think they do not make enough income to file.

Victoria – B.C. Seniors Advocate is reinforcing the need for seniors in the province to file tax returns, even if they think they do not make enough income to file.

“There are many subsidies available to seniors that are based on income tax information,” said Isobel Mackenzie. “If seniors don’t file their taxes, low-income seniors in particular may be giving up opportunities to access subsidies which can make significant differences to their lives.”

The importance of filing taxes was highlighted in a recent case where the Federal Government found that 83,000 Canadian seniors, 13,000 of them in B.C., did not receive Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments for up to seven years because they did not file income tax for one or more years. The Federal Government is now fixing the problem and making retro-active payments to these low-income seniors. “GIS is a key support for the lowest income seniors,” said Mackenzie. “These are seniors living on $17,300 annually or less, however to receive this GIS, you must file an income tax return.”

In British Columbia, the median income of those over 65 is $24,000 and $22,000 for those over 75. Roughly one-quarter of senior homeowners have household incomes of less than $30,000. Approximately 35 percent of seniors who rent, have household incomes of less than $20,000. There are 54,000 seniors living on $17,000 or less annually. “Clearly there are many seniors in this province who are facing very challenging financial situations,” said Mackenzie. “For these people, any financial support can result in life-changing outcomes, the ability to pay for a hearing aid, or uninsured dental care, or basic living expenses such as covering monthly rent.”

Mackenzie stresses it is important for seniors to know that there is help available to prepare income tax returns and it is free of charge for low-income seniors. Throughout the province there are Volunteer Income Tax clinics hosted by local community agencies. Volunteers, many of whom are retired accountants, receive training from the Canada Revenue Agency and are aware of all recent changes and relevant tax issues affecting seniors. Each year over 10,000 tax returns are prepared through this program.


Financial subsidies available to seniors that rely on tax returns for eligibility include:

• Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) – a monthly benefit for seniors receiving Old Age Security who are on a low-income, $17,300 or less

• Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) – provides a subsidy directly to those aged 60 or older who live in a private market rental unit and are on a moderate to low income

• BC Bus Pass Program – offers subsidized annual bus passes ($45 annually) to low-income seniors receiving GIS

• BC Seniors Supplement – a monthly top-up of $49.30 to the federal OAS/GIS or federal allowance payments

• Medical Services Plan (MSP) Premium Assistance – offers reduced monthly premiums on a sliding scale to low-income individuals

• Fair PharmaCare – subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs

• Home Adaptation for Independence (HAFI) grant – provides financial assistance to help eligible low-income seniors make renovations necessary to continue to live at home

• Publicly funded residential care and assisted living – client portions are calculated based on after tax income

• All co-payments for home support are waived for seniors in receipt of GIS


In Vanderhoof, Nechako Valley Community Services provides a volunteer tax preparation clinic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at this office.



Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read