Could you be missing out on unknown savings?

It happens a lot. Every year, Canadians miss out on billions of dollars in tax credits and government benefits because they don’t file their taxes, or don’t understand what they are eligible for. A large number of these people are low-income families and individuals who could really use the financial break.

(Have you filed your taxes? Great — visit the Benefits Navigator to see which government benefits you are eligible for!)

This is important for reducing poverty in Canada. By filing taxes and applying for benefits, Calgarians get additional income that can increase their financial wellbeing. These benefits range from housing and rental assistance to GST rebates and medical tax credits which can be additional sources of income for lower-income Calgarians.

This extra income can allow people to plug into the grid of opportunities in our city, which makes Calgary better for everyone.

For example, the provincial government has a child care subsidy program that helps low-income families cover daycare costs. The program makes it easier for these parents to work and contribute to our economy. Without that help, it would be next to impossible for many parents to hold down a job and raise kids at the same time.

Filing taxes is the first step in tapping into these savings, as benefits can’t be accessed unless you file taxes. United Way is partnering with the Calgary Public Library to offer tax clinics, where trained volunteers help low-income Calgarians file.

Finding and applying for benefits is the second step, but wading through the various benefit programs at different government levels (municipal, provincial and federal) can be overwhelming.

We realized that people in our city need a simpler way of navigating these programs. So United Way developed the Benefits Navigator to make it easier. It’s fast, simple and free. After you’ve filed taxes, you can input some basic family and income information, and the Benefits Navigator will tell you which programs you are eligible for, and direct you to the appropriate websites to apply.

This can save you a lot of time — and money.

At tax time, we can be great neighbours and community members by helping those around us be aware of the importance of filing taxes, and of supports available to those who need a little help getting this done.

—Dr. Lucy Miller is President and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area. Visit the Benefits Navigator here!