Yukon MP Ryan Leef is hoping the coming tax season will show Ottawa just how many Yukoners need over-the-counter tax services in the territory.
After the Canada Revenue Agency closed its Whitehorse office in October, Leef began offering some tax services out of his constituency office in the city.
With tax season looming in the horizon, Leef said he knows running things from Black Street isn’t a long-term solution, but he hopes that by keeping track of the numbers he’ll come through this tax season with enough data to make a case to Ottawa that Yukoners have different tax needs than the rest of Canada.
“It will put me in a better position in terms of the metrics and the understanding of issues to create a solutions-based presentation to the minister and see exactly what the needs of Whitehorse are. I can’t really approach this from a not-in-my-back-yard ideology, but I do have to highlight where Whitehorse and Yukon may be unique. The only way I’m going to do that is by going through the exercise, letting our office provide those services and see exactly what the service needs are,” Leef said.
Carol Church runs the local H&R Block and has been vocal in opposing the CRA office closure. She says it has left many Yukoners in the lurch when it comes to filing their taxes.
Church is happy to hear that Leef is planning on presenting his numbers to Ottawa, but she said that the only solution she sees as acceptable is for the CRA office to reopen.
“If that’s why he’s doing it, it’s a great idea. I think that Ottawa needs to know the numbers that are affected by this. Me sending 1,600 names down there doesn’t seem to have made a difference,” she said, adding that she is still collecting names on a petition to reopen the CRA office.
She also cautioned that once Leef starts running tax services at his office in earnest, it could be difficult to stop.
“He’s right. His office is not a long-term solution. Once he starts this, it’s going to be very hard to stop. That’s what people are going to get used to doing. I don’t think there is another solution. They (the CRA) need to be here,” Church said.
Leef’s office won’t be able to offer tax advice or corporate and business services like the CRA did. A spokesperson for Leef’s office said they will focus on making the necessary forms available, providing phone and Internet access to the CRA in Ottawa, and mailing out tax returns free of charge. The office is also looking at having volunteer tax writers on hand to help people fill out their tax filings, the spokesperson said.
Contact Jesse Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org