Volunteer Ian Pinches, who has helped people complete tax returns there for the past decade, said he was disappointed the Wanneroo City Council recently decided not to approve a $436.80 fee waiver for the ATO to use that centre.
‘This free community service will no longer be available because the City councillors have not passed the motion for the ATO Tax Help Volunteers to use the facility which it has in the past 10 years,’ he said.
‘To have this free service taken away will have a detrimental effect on the community ” they now have to get on a bus or train to Clarkson or Joondalup to have their tax returns completed properly.
‘The Tax Help program helps the most vulnerable in our community.
‘Most will require help with both the tax information they need to enter into the tax return and with using e-tax.’
The service, which is available by appointment until the end of October, helps people who earn around $50,000 or less per year and have straightforward tax affairs.
Wanneroo’s community development director Fiona Bentley said the free service was available at three of the City’s libraries, Clarkson, Wanneroo and Girrawheen, which were free of charge.
‘The ATO was offered use of the Yanchep Two Rocks Library free of charge; however the offer was declined,’ she said.
‘Under the City’s facility hire and use policy, the ATO does not qualify for any fee reduction as it is neither a service organisation charity nor community organisation.
‘The ATO qualifies for a 50 per cent waiver under the City’s donations and waiver of fees and charges policy.’
An ATO spokesman said it had a policy to not pay rent for space used for tax help centres.
‘The Tax Help program is managed by the ATO but conducted by the community for the community,’ he said.
‘Its success rests on the goodwill of volunteers ” both centres and individuals ” to assist those who need help with the tax return.’
Mr Pinches said he was unaware of the ATO’s offer and would be willing to volunteer from Two Rocks.
As a volunteer trained each year by the ATO, Mr Pinches said the service helped people with disabilities and those receiving Centrelink payments, students, young people, migrants, and people who spoke limited English.
Visit ato.gov.au/taxhelp or call 132 861 for more information.