Become a Volunteer
Help people in your community by completing income tax returns free of charge. This will ensure they get the benefits and tax credits they are entitled to.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain participating community organizations are now hosting virtual income tax return preparation sessions.
Volunteers can complete income tax returns for free:
- by videoconference;
- by telephone; or
- using a drop off and pick up option adapted to the health measures currently in place.
Volunteers can ask the organization they are affiliated with for more information.
Most participating organizations need volunteers mainly to prepare income tax returns for eligible individuals with modest incomes and simple tax situations. Some organizations, however, may assign other roles to volunteers, such as having them schedule appointments, check the eligibility of individuals, act as a resource person for other volunteers, or organize income tax return preparation sessions.
All volunteers must register to participate in the program. In addition, most volunteers must meet one or more specific requirements in order for their participation to be approved. If you want to become a volunteer, make sure you meet the requirements for the role you take on with the participating organization. See a description of the roles below, under How to register as a program volunteer.
Regardless of your role, as a tax assistance program volunteer, you undertake to:
- participate in the program through a participating community organization;
- work within the program's operational framework;
- safeguard and respect the confidentiality of the information of the taxpayers you help;
- complete basic training on your responsibilities as a volunteer and on how to complete income tax returns;
- provide your services at no charge and decline any offer of a monetary reward;
- always identify yourself as a tax assistance program volunteer and not as a representative of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Revenu Québec.
Note that you must be physically located in Canada to participate as a volunteer in the tax assistance program and prepare income tax returns for eligible individuals.
As a volunteer, you benefit from:
- access to tax preparation software provided under the income tax assistance program and information on how to use it;
- training on your responsibilities and the basics of completing personal income tax returns;
- new knowledge and experience on completing the federal and provincial income tax return;
- year-round access to dedicated toll-free help lines;
- certificates of appreciation from the CRA and Revenu Québec.
Step 1 – Complete the online registration form
To become a volunteer in the income tax assistance program, you must be affiliated with a participating organization. You must register for the program online using the following form:
Volunteer registration (CRA form)
When you complete the form, enter the name of the participating community organization with which you are affiliated. If you are not currently affiliated with an organization, enter no affiliation and a program coordinator will contact you to help you find a participating organization in your area.
- Your registration is valid for one year only. You have to renew your registration each year you wish to participate as a program volunteer.
- Although you can register online at any time of the year, we suggest that you register or renew your registration between the last week of October and the beginning of February to be ready for the filing season, which is from the end of February to the beginning of May.
- If you register at any other time of the year, you may not get the EFILE and NetFile Québec numbers on time and you may miss training sessions. Note that income tax return preparation sessions are held year round, so some volunteers are needed outside the busy tax season. If this interests you, a coordinator can put you in touch with an organization in your area that offers year-round service.
Step 2 – Obtain certifications required for online filing
The online filing service allows certified suppliers to file income tax returns with the CRA and Revenu Québec using return preparation software. Volunteers who want to use this type of service must be certified by the CRA and Revenu Québec.
Under the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program, returns prepared using software are usually filed online with the CRA and Revenu Québec.
If you intend to file returns online with the CRA and Revenu Québec, do the following as soon as possible:
- Register for the EFILE service and get authorization from the CRA.
- Ask the organization you are affiliated with to register you with Revenu Québec for NetFile Québec (you cannot register yourself).
- If you do not intend to file income tax returns online, you should not request an EFILE number simply to meet the security requirements. If you apply for an EFILE number and do not intend to file returns online, the application may not be accepted.
- Once the CRA has granted an EFILE number the application for a NetFile Québec number will be approved. It can take up to 30 days to receive an EFILE number.
Step 3 – Meet the security requirements
In order to participate as a volunteer in the income tax assistance program, you must meet one of the following security requirements, depending on what role you take on:
- If you intend to file income tax returns online, you must have the necessary authorization from the CRA. This is a security measure.
- If you do not intend to file income tax returns online, but you do intend to use the tax preparation software provided and file paper returns or you foresee having to handle or having to access taxpayers' personal tax information, you must provide the results of a police background check done within the last three years to the organization you are affiliated with. The organization can also directly request to have the results of a police background check.
Police background check
A police background check can be done by any police service, including municipal and regional police forces, or by a private company that provides personal background checks. There is usually a cost associated with obtaining a background check.
A police background check done using a court ledger (a register kept by the Ministère de la Justice) is not considered a valid background check under the tax assistance program.
A police background check done within the last three years is considered valid under the program. You will not need to have a new one done.
Auto-fill my return is an optional and secure Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) service that allows income tax assistance program volunteers to automatically fill in parts of a taxpayer's federal income tax return with information from the person's CRA file. This service gives the volunteer access to taxpayers' CRA files for the purpose of completing income tax returns. Note that this service cannot be used to complete Québec income tax returns.
All volunteers can use this service. To use this service, you must:
- be registered for the CRA's EFILE service;
- be registered for the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program;
- enter your RepID when registering as a program volunteer or give it to your program coordinator;
- provide the results of a valid police background check done within the last three years to the organization you are affiliated with (the organization can also directly request to have the results);
- use the software provided by the income tax assistance program.
To get a RepID, you must open a session in Represent a Client, a secure service available on the CRA website.
If you are an accountant or tax professional and you wish to participate in the income tax assistance program, you must make a clear distinction between your own clients and the taxpayers taking advantage of the program. Therefore, as a volunteer, you cannot use the EFILE and NetFile Québec numbers used for your business when preparing returns under the program. You must obtain separate numbers for use under the program.