Looking After Canadians Tax Interests During and After COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Canadians do business for now, for the immediate future and possibly forever. One thing, however, that has not changed forever, is taxation.

Yes, the government of Canada has pushed off some tax filing deadlines, paused Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) collections actions, and provided “benefit” payments to those in need (and those who don’t really need), but in the midst of this massive outlay of money, there are some key facts to keep in mind to keep you safe and secure.

1. File Your Taxes

Life will go on, businesses will slowly open, and people will get back to work. As of the writing of this post, April is coming to an end, and the June 1st Personal Income Tax (T1) filing deadline is fast approaching! While any funds owing to the CRA on those taxes are not due until after August 31st, if you are going to owe and your account is going to wind up in Collections, it’s best to start making payments as soon as you can.

Don’t wait until you’re back to what resembles a “normal” work day, to realize that you cannot file your taxes because the likely response from Taxpayer Relief is that you had plenty of time while self-isolating. Don’t take that chance. You don’t need to pay interest to the CRA for filing late. File on time!

2. Beware Direct Deposit

If you signed up for any of the federal government’s “benefit” programs, and in doing so, provided the CRA with your Direct Deposit information, then you need to ensure your tax compliance is a priority for you going forward.

By giving the CRA access to your bank account, and with the current deficit of $20 billion dollars set to double due to the benefit payments, the CRA is going to be in a hurry to recoup those funds. If you delay paying, they’ll issue a Requirement to Pay (Garnishment) and take the funds from your account.

3. Do NOT Ignore CRA

Once the pandemic is under some sort of control, and life goes back to “normal”, if you are ever contacted by the CRA’s Collections department there are two things you should not be do. 1) Do not ignore them – if you get a letter or a legitimate phone call – speak to them. 2) Do not Lie. With hundreds of accounts in their collection inventories, you are just a name or number to the CRA unless you lie to them. Then it gets personal… Tell the truth. They probably know it already anyways.

4. Pause Before Bankruptcy / Insolvency

Times are tough for everyone, but if you have debts which are tax-related, or if your inability to pay other creditors is based on a tax debt, then before exchanging your tax debt for bad credit, reach out to someone who knows how the CRA works with Canadians like you, and don’t jump into something just because advertising makes you think that this “government program” is available. There are lots of better “government programs” available which can help you without something negative happening to your credit in return.

5. Explore Resolution to Tax Debts / Compliance Issues

If you are behind on tax filing – personal or corporate – owe money to the CRA, or locked in a dispute with the CRA about amounts owing? Now is the perfect time to get filed up to date, apply for Taxpayer Relief, and get the truth about your tax liability and your chances of success. Take the time to invest in yourself and resolve your tax issues.

6. Questions? 

If you have questions, ask them in the comment section. If we can answer them, we will. If you leave a valid email and the question is specific, you’ll get an email. If the answer to your question requires more information, then you’ll be asked them, and if there is an opportunity to help you further, you’ll get the truth about what benefits you, not us, not the CRA.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Lien Questions Answered

There are many questions around writs and liens – each situation can be very different – but there are some commonly asked questions which pop-up when someone realizes that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has registered a lien against their property.

Commonly asked questions:

  1. When does a lien have to be dealt with. A:When the property needs to be sold or refinanced. Unfortunately, many Canadians realize that the CRA has actually registered a lien when the property owner is attempting to sell or refinance their property, which is also the worst time to attempt to get the CRA to work with you.

2. Can I negotiate with the CRA? A: No, the CRA will not / does not negotiate tax debts. You can negotiate a payment arrangement under certain circumstances, and you can “negotiate” penalties and interest by applying to the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief program, but no other negotiations exist outside of bankruptcy.

3. Will the CRA remove a lien if I file for bankruptcy? A: No, liens survive bankruptcy.

4. Once I pay the lien amount, my debts to the CRA are done, finished, over? A: No, actually, the lien amount represents an amount owing in your account at the time the lien was registered. There is still interest accumulating on the debt (possibly other assessments too). Once the lien is resolved, there is the additional amount(s) which must be cleared up.

5. How can I get a lien removed? A: Great question! You can, provided you are doing so for a reason. If you need the lien removed in order to refinance because that re-financing will result in the CRA getting paid, then you might be able to have the CRA temporarily lift the lien to allow for that transaction to proceed.

6. Can I transfer the property out of my name / remove myself from title? A: NO, NO, NO!!! This is very dangerous because if you transfer an asset from your name into another person’s name when you have a debt to the CRA, or may have a debt to the CRA, and that transfer is for less than the fair market value, then the person who received that asset can be held liable for your tax debts.

7. Is the CRA going to act on the lien and kick me out of my house? A: No. If there was a lien on a secondary property such as a cottage for example, then the CRA might be prompted to take action and force a sale, but for a principal residence, no they are not.

8. If I leave it long enough, will it go away? A: Unfortunately no, unless you knew something about the way the CRA operates and there were specific criteria which applied to you and your financial situation.

Email Example

To help clear up some of the confusion around this topic, here is an email we received recently regarding a CRA lien. This email contains some common questions, along with some common misinformation.

Hopefully this example will help Taxpayers who have liens registered against them by the CRA.

Lien email.

Question: “When the CRA puts a lien on a property, we are advised to contact a lawyer. Why is that? Can we not get written confirmation from the CRA ourselves, that after the lien amount is paid, the lien will be removed within a set period of time?  If they agree to do it, do they just delay anyway or check whether they want anything else from you first?  Is this all true?”

Answer: There is a lot here, but let’s break it down into manageable pieces.

When the CRA registers a lien against a property – which is a regular CRA collections technique in order for the CRA to secure their debt – they know what the outcome will be.  As a result, while it might be a huge inconvenience, it’s usually not a concern unless the property is going to be sold, or if it needs to be re-financed.  In that case, the lien needs to be addressed.  Otherwise, the amount the CRA registers the lien for is the amount owing on the day the lien was registered and interest and possibly debt continues to accrue on the account.

The CRA cannot and will not provide confirmation that once a lien is paid that the lien will be removed because there might be additional debts which the CRA is going to need to register a lien for.  They prefer not to put things in writing which could come back to cause them problems collecting tax debts.

If, however, there is a just a tax debt, and the collector registers a lien and that lien is satisfied (paid) – that means the balance was paid in full through re-financing or selling the property.

The major problem that occurs here is that once a tax account is paid, that account is automatically removed from the inventory of accounts that the collector has – often without them knowing. This means they do not have the opportunity to remove the lien from the property and need to be reminded there is a lien in place so they can finish it up, remove the lien and close the account.

Otherwise, it can be very difficult to get a lien removed after the fact because there is no one assigned to it, and no one wants to take responsibility for working an account which is not assigned to them.

So if there is a lien registered and you pay it, make sure to follow up in a timely manner to ensure it’s been taken off.

Lien / Writ / Certificate Help

If you, or someone you know has a lien registered on a property that they own and are looking for suggestions, recommendations or solutions to resolve this, then look no further than inTAXicating Tax Services.

We can be reached via email at info@intaxicating.ca, to get the ball rolling.

Our services will cost you much less than you expected, and your results will be far greater than you could have imagined.

Lien on Me: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Policy and Procedures around Property Liens

You are here looking for answers relating to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and liens.

Below is the link to my original article on CRA liens, and for the longest time, it was the number 1 searched item on Google relating to that topic.

As a result, I have decided to re-post it.

Lien on Me: CRA Policy and Procedures around Property Liens.