Jane Long-Haggerty, a chartered accountant with a member of the Salvation Army Food Bank, hold up a cheque for $740. Long-Haggerty decided to cut her fees in half and ask her clients to donate whatever they felt they could to the food bank. The idea landed her a room full of food and $740 to the Salvation Army Food Bank. (Submitted)<a aria-disabled="true" aria-labelledby="element_Caption1_col_after_voice" class="mceButton mce_col_after mceButtonDisabled" id="element_Caption1_col_after" role="button" tabindex="-1" title="Insert Column After"></a>

Jane Long-Haggerty, a chartered accountant with a member of the Salvation Army Food Bank, hold up a cheque for $740. Long-Haggerty decided to cut her fees in half and ask her clients to donate whatever they felt they could to the food bank. The idea landed her a room full of food and $740 to the Salvation Army Food Bank. (Submitted)

Penticton accounting firm gives big return to food bank

Long-Haggerty said this year’s tax season showed how bad the pandemic has impacted everyone

A Penticton chartered accountant decided to use tax time as a way to give back to those hit so hard by the pandemic.

With many locals out of work and facing higher tax bills, local food banks are experiencing even higher need in the community, said Jane Long-Haggerty of Long-Haggerty Professional Chartered Accountants.

Her firm decided to do a food drive during tax season.

“People would get a reduced rate for their tax preparation ($59 instead of the regular $100+). This would help them with their cash flow a bit and ensure filing was affordable,” she said. “They would provide a donation for the food bank in return.”

There was no minimum amount either, the donations were based on whatever people felt comfortable with. The food and cash donations were then tallied and Long-Haggerty matched the amount raised which totalled $740.

By the end of it, a room full of food donations were given to the Penticton Salvation Army food bank.

“For a first year, I think it went great,” Long-Haggerty said. The firm plans to do something similar next tax season.

This year’s tax season showed just how much the pandemic has impacted everyone.

“Tax season was a bit crazy this year for accountants and businesses. We had extra reporting required for the wage subsidies and other programs and there were some new credits for personal taxes for individuals working from home due to COVID-19,” she said.

Accounting offices also faced staffing shortages with staff off sick or under quarantine and additional delays in working remotely.

The extra reporting and changes with an already busy season made it very difficult for some firms to meet the deadline, which CRA did not extend.

There was no extension offered even when the CRA site went down the day before the deadline.

It was also hard for the taxpayers that received the CERB/CRB benefits because it added quite a tax bill to people who have not been able to work, which of course can be quite a strain on the finances, she said.

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