Million Dollar Neighbourhood co-hosts Bruce Sellery and Dr. Joti Samra. The show airs Sundays on OWN.

Having been the host of Maxed Out, a lifestyle television show, I know that good things often come out of the episodes and sometimes those good things can be a surprise.

The first episode of Million Dollar Neighbourhood, which aired Sunday  on the Oprah Winfrey Network, is aiming to raise the net worth of 100 Aldergrove, B.C., families by a total of one million dollars over 10 weeks.

Every week, the community will strive to save $100,000, or an average of $1,000 per family, through a variety of means including bartering or pitching in to renovate the home of a needy family.  

Most people have fat marbled throughout their spending in everything from cellphone bills to fast food fixations. 

But Million Dollar Neighbourhood’s first show took a slightly different tact by recovering money that had already been spent.

A tax team from H&R Block did a second look review of the families’ tax returns. Astonishingly, they found errors or missed deductions in nearly a third of them. The refunds ranged from $100 to $10,000, in total more than $50,000.

I was curious at the number of filing mistakes, so I asked Cleo Hamel, senior tax analyst for H&R Block Canada, about her conclusions.  

“In general, I think people get complacent and follow the same tax routine as the previous year because it is easy. A change in their income from year to year is something they take note of but understanding how to use, for example, medical expenses to their advantage requires a little more work.  Or they are unsure of whether they qualify for a credit and fail to followup.”

You may not be able to avoid death or taxes but with a little vigilance you can lessen the impact of the government bite. 

Alison Griffiths is the author of the upcoming book Count On Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money. Reach her at alisongriffiths.ca or griffiths.alison@gmail.com.

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