As a former Canada Revenue Agency Business Collections employee – almost 11-years – from collector to Resource Officer and Manager, I understand the fear people have when they receive calls from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
I also understand how scary it is when someone calls you, or leaves a recorded message for you, claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and demanding payment with threats of jail or immediate legal actions. I’ve been called as have many of my clients.
With a little knowledge and understanding of the CRA and the people who work there, I am going to list 10 signs that every Canadian needs to be made aware of in order to not be caught up in this scheme.
10 Facts Every Canadian NEEDS to Know About the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
10. Yelling and Screaming are NOT permitted, nor tolerated.
Regardless of what you have heard or experienced, the people who work in the Canada Revenue Agency are everyday people like you and I. If we yelled and screamed at our “client base” we would be disciplined or fired. They are no different.
9. Threats are NOT allowed.
The staff at the CRA will not threaten you with jail time, to send in the Sheriff, have you deported or to take every penny that you have. Even is the call is not a scam you do not have to tolerate any threats from anyone at the CRA.
If you have been evading the paying of taxes, you already know that you could be charged and that jail time is possible. Any other type of collection action usually comes with pre-warning by a letter, Notice of Assessment or is started once you file / pay your taxes.
The CRA will not seize your principal residence! Your cottage, rental properties, maybe, but house you and your kids live in… No.
8. The Element of Surprise
If the call catches you by surprise, AND the person on the end of the phone is screaming at you, threatening to take your
7. Ask Questions.
In the instance you get a live person on the phone and they are trying to give you a hard time and force you to pay money, turn the conversation back to them and ask lots of questions. Ask them what the account number / social insurance number is, what periods or years the debt relates to (the debt they want you to pay). Ask them for a break-down of the total tax owing and the amount of penalties and interest – either the total amount or broken down by period or year. (They have this at their finger tips). Ask them what Tax Office they are calling from, and what the address and phone number is at that office. Ask them to send you a remittance voucher so that you can make that payment at the bank.
Tell them that while you would love to speak to them, you have an accountant who handles all your tax information and you would like to take down their information so your representative can call them back.
5. Do NOT Agree to Pay anything over the phone!
This rule applies not only to the CRA but to anyone else who ever calls your home / phone asking for money. Never, ever make a payment over the phone with your credit card.
4. Receipt Please!
If you are self-employed, you understand the importance of getting and keeping receipts. Why would you buy a pre-paid gift card or charge card to send to some stranger who is not going to give you a receipt for payment?
The CRA has recently allowed payment of some taxes by credit / debit card. They will likely NEVER accept payment via gift cards, etc.
3. If you get such a call, hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can be found online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501.
If you believe you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service.
2. Confirm, Confirm, Confirm.
If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, call the CRA by using the numbers on its Telephone numbers page. The number for business-related calls is 1-800-959-5525. The number for calls about individual concerns is 1-800-959-8281
1. The CRA NEVER…
Requests prepaid credit cards;
Asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;
Leaves personal information on your answering machine!
Asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.
Emails seeking information or asking for payment.
So when in doubt, ask yourself the following questions:
Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling?
Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?
Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
Are they too mean / demanding / aggressive?
It’s always better to defer the conversation than make the mistake of giving information or money to criminals.