Take the stress out of filing taxes
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in our community were working for cash “under the table.” That includes people relying on gig work, such meal-delivery and ride-sharing apps, and those combining several “side hustles” or odd jobs to make ends meet.
Now that so many people have lost jobs during the pandemic, informal work is more important than ever. But figuring how how to file your taxes and access all the benefits and credits you have earned can be really hard — especially if you can’t afford professional tax and money help. That’s where the Informal Economy Project comes in.
Introducing: The Informal Economy Project
High-quality, one-on-one tax and money advice from community financial workers. Learn more about the community development research behind this project here.
During the pandemic, the program is available virtually and by phone. The program is open to people from across Toronto.
By appointment only. The 2022 tax season is here!
The program is available for low-income people who need tax and money help, including but not limited to people who work in the “under the table” informal economy.
How to get help:
Call 416-848-7980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
We have several tip sheets available to help community members and the agencies that work with them get tax and money information.
- Tax basics: Refunds, deductions and credits
- Tax basics: What is the CRA?
- Filing taxes if you work “under the table” for cash
- What kinds of income are taxable?
- The benefits of filing taxes
- Filing taxes when you have little or no income
Click here to download a .zip file of all our tip sheets in a printable format.
Use these social media images to help us spread the word about informal economy workers and how our services can help them. We are also happy to work with community agencies so they can adapt this campaign for their needs. Printed postcard versions are also available upon request. Contact us for details!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the informal economy?
The informal economy includes workers who do not have a traditional job or paycheque, such as babysitters, ride-share drivers, bicycle couriers, musicians, and people who have small cash-based businesses or do odd jobs. This work is sometimes called “under the table” if workers and employers don’t report it at tax time. Informal work is not illegal.
Who is “low-income”?
Your income is calculated based on how much money you make (in total, from all sources), and how many people are in your household. For a single adult, low-income is considered $35,000 or less per year. If there are two people in a household, such as a couple living together, $45,000 is the limit. For a three-person household, it is $47,500. After that, allow for $2,500 for each additional person per year. Questions? Call to find out if you qualify.
Will my community financial worker tell me what to do?
No. We give low-income people free one-one-one advice about taxes and money. We don’t push any specific financial products or share your information without your permission. You have the right to make decisions about your money.
If I don’t want to report my income, will you report me to the Canada Revenue Agency?
We’ll never force you to file your taxes. The decision is always yours. But remember: The vast majority of low-income people get money back at tax time.
OK, but what if I’m REALLY AFRAID to file my taxes?
Hey, we got you. Here are some situations we are experts at dealing with:
- People who haven’t filed taxes in years (or even decades!)
- People who work multiple side-jobs for cash
- People with debts that have gone to collections; or other obligations, such as outstanding child support, that have made them afraid to file taxes
- People who haven’t made any money through work in the past year (you still need to file taxes! And you will most likely get money back!)
- People who have received benefits such as Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the past year
- People who aren’t sure what kind of worker they are (independent contractor, part-time employee, freelancer, etc.)
- Anyone who has fears and doubts about the tax system.
Where can I learn more about the West Neighbourhood House research underlying the Informal Economy project?
Our informal economy research spans years. You can learn more about our research in the documents below.
- Low Income Adults in the Informal Service Economy (August 2018)
- A Fortune Left on the Table: Why should low-income adults have to pass up government benefits? (June 2018)
- Advancing Economic Opportunities in our Local Economy Phase Two (August 2016)
- Tracking the Informal Economy Phase One (March 2014)
A literature review of the project:
Informal Economy Literature Review
Phase 2 Appendix:
Who is the funder of this project?
The Informal Economy project was made possible thanks to the Metcalf Foundation.