Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario say they want to help out frontline healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The association is calling it “Accounting for Bravery” — a program that brings together CPAs from across the province to prepare workers’ tax returns free of charge.
Sudbury’s Kayla Levesque is one of many accountants volunteering her time.
“We’ve been looking for ways to support these frontline workers in trying to figure out how we can come together to relieve some stress,” she said.
Levesque is a CPA and a CA, and a professor at Cambrian College. Volunteering is nothing new for her — she has volunteered with the association’s Tax Preparation Assistance program for more than 15 years, helping low-income individuals get their taxes done.
“What we’re going to do [now] is support those frontline workers, including the paramedics, the hospital cleaners, the doctors, the nurses, the PSWs … and we’re going to help them by doing their tax returns free of charge,” she said.
The Accounting for Bravery initiative has just been launched, so she hasn’t done any tax returns for these frontline workers yet.
“We’re hoping that the registration does pick up … I’m not sure if the front line workers are aware of it just yet. I’m hoping that the news does spread to the front line workers and other CPA volunteers so we can get the registration going,” Levesque said.
Extended tax filing deadline a big help
CPA Ontario will act as the portal through which front line workers can register to access the free tax return service.
“They’ll get some direction from CPA Ontario and then the tax returns and the tax information will be filtered to the volunteers,” she added. “So everything will be done electronically.”
She said the entire process is confidential.
“As charter professional accountants, we have the utmost respect and ethical abilities for our frontline workers. So maintaining confidentiality and and ensuring that their information is secure and private is definitely going to be one of the biggest concerns that we take on and ensure that everything is secure.”
Levesque says she is thrilled to be able to help support frontline healthcare workers.
“I think these are the skills that we’re given and we should be able to share and use them to help others as accountants,” she said.
“This is where we thrive. When it comes down to numbers or tax season it can be daunting and overwhelming for individuals. And if we can do anything by releasing or relieving that stress, that’s where we can we can really get involved here. Volunteering our time shows them our gratitude for what they’re doing out there.”
Levesque noted the only reason why the association is able to offer this service right now is because of the extension on the tax return deadline.
“The tax deadline has been extended to June 1, which means we now have a window where we can promote this this opportunity to frontline workers,” she said.
“We can take in tax returns until May 15 and ensure that they make the June 1st deadline. We’ll try our best to get as many returns as possible done.”
Frontline healthcare workers interested in the service can sign up for the Accounting for Bravery initiative online.