ACORN Canada is currently expanding our Free Tax Prepeeration and Financial Literacy programming. We have built on the success of our FITS Project (free income tax sites) which involved creating storefronts and a community presence for financial literacy training. In 2007, 2008, and 2009 ACORN collaboratively ran FITS free tax preparation centers in both Toronto and the Greater Vancouver area that were open six days a week at times convenient for working people, this past tax season. We prepared taxes for low- and moderate-income families, linking them with unrealized benefits such as the GST credit, CCTB and the Canadian Employment Credit.
The cornerstone of this work is our targeted outreach campaign, for which outreach staff and trained community leaders went door-to-door talking with families and asking a series of questions to determine whether families filed taxes, met the criteria for other benefits eligibility, and/or used a commercial tax preparation service or a rapid refund loan, and at what cost.
We are now modeling formal financial literacy and asset development classes on this approach by engaging low income people on the doors and in their neighbourhoods. We feel this is a groundbreaking approach to building community wealth and economic capacity in Canada's low income neighbourhoods.