Problems with the CRA

March 16, 2018

Most Canadians can lay claims to having had some problems with the CRA. Some problems are way worse than others, as evidenced by recent media stories. The issue appears to be systemic rather than related to any individuals within the organization, although like any other workplace there are good and bad employees.

Some of the most common complaints that we have heard from clients, and experienced ourselves, relate to communication breakdowns. The CRA will frequently move your file around so you are always bringing someone else up to speed, documentation is poor and subject to the agent’s interpretations, good notes are not always taken and documents are lost, misplaced or mishandled.

There are steps you can take to reduce problems with the CRA, these include filing returns and remittances on time, every time; don’t let the conversation become personal or adversarial, stay problem or solution focused; record all conversations with agents; and try to communicate as much as possible in writing. It is difficult to use email since agents are not allowed to use email, letters from the CRA are stock letters that often miss the point of the communication, agents aren’t allowed to modify or customize letters – it seems that the CRA only wants one sided accountability.

MPs are a great resource for getting bogged down issues moving or resolved, so don’t be afraid to deal with your Member of Parliament’s secretary when you are frustrated.  If there is one thinng that your MP’s office is good at it is resolving problems with the CRA.

Many times, the CRA arbitrarily assesses taxes – this is usually the result of non-compliance, you may have field your returns late or not at all. Arbitrary assessments are particularly problematic because there is often not rhyme or reason to the numbers that are assessed and getting a reversal can take a lot of extra work on your part. This underscores the need to be a compliant taxpayer.

If your problems are working our put payments arrangements or lacking the resources to repay back taxes remember that licensed insolvency trustees can help. A bankruptcy or proposal can be used to get you up to date on your filing.