CSU Grants $7,000 to Student-Run Tax Clinic, $1,000 Spent on Credit Card for Uber

Questions Raised Over Daycare and Website Delay

The John Molson Accounting Society got a $7,000 boost last Wednesday for their free tax clinic. File Photo Claire Loewen

The semester might have just begun, but so has tax season (look for your T4 in the mail).

And while accounting students at Concordia have been running a tax clinic, free of charge—a cost-saver for services that can range from $30 to $100—it’s largely unknown.

The Concordia Student Union council gave the John Molson Accounting Society a $7,000 boost last Wednesday, hoping to raise their profile to the wider student body, rather than having the service only known to Concordia’s business students.

The tax clinic also helps people in need who aren’t students.

“It goes to refugees we have in Montreal,” said Omar Riaz, general coordinator of the CSU. “It goes to [Indigenous communities and] the marginalized communities that could use the service the most.”

People earning under $25,000 a year can seek the tax clinic’s services. For couples, it’s less than $30,000 a year to be eligible.

This will be the third year JMAS operates the tax clinic. Last year, they trained 100 students on tax software and helped over 500 people file their income taxes.

JMAS is also requesting funding from the Office of the President, Concordia Council for Student Life, and the Graduate Student Association for $1,500, $1,370 and $1,000, respectively.

Unknown Credit Card Charges

The CSU credit card had a balance of over $1,000 for a series of Uber rides.

About $600 was linked to the general coordinator’s card, spent over a few months. One ride, dating back to May 30, 2017, was traced to the union’s IT support technician.

The source of spending for the remaining $400 is unknown, but the CSU is waiting on Uber for more information.

Some councillors called this a loophole which goes around the cheque requisition system. Meaning, a union member or employee of the union spends money first, then submits a form with receipts to be reimbursed.

This allows the CSU finance committee to judge the validity of the spending and to account for it in the appropriate union budget line.

Council hasn’t seen the general coordinator’s receipts yet. According to CSU councillor Sophie Hough-Martin, some of the rides would not have been eligible for reimbursement.

“It’s a loophole that has allowed for mismanagement and misspending of student money,” Hough-Martin said. “So we’re hoping to go through it all in detail as soon as we have all the information possible.”

Daycare and Website Delays.

The CSU Daycare on 1424 Bishop St. was set to open in March 2018, but that’s no longer sure due to a change in provincial law. Daycare permits approved by the Ministère de la Famille after June 2017 need to be re-submitted.

“It’s personally frustrating to delay the daycare,” Riaz said. “If it was up to me, I’d drive to the government, talk to someone, and get it approved.”

“The good news in all of this is that the construction is still on time,” he said.

About $60,000 was spent on demolishing the inside of the building. The construction itself, along with improving the building’s accessibility, is expected to cost $700,000 to $800,000.

The union’s website revamp was due last August, but it still hasn’t been launched. The executive said that the website is complex and that the developer needed more time to navigate the design process.

Some councillors requested a full report be submitted to council, detailing all costs and specific reasons for the delays.

Riaz said he didn’t understand the point of submitting a detailed report on the delays. Gaudet said that it was a matter of transparency for the union and its membership.

“I feel more personally attacked than feeling that they actually care about the website,” Riaz said after the meeting.

He further explained that it was best to work with the current web designer as opposed to having replaced them due to delays.

The new website should be ready by mid-February.