A Lesson in POWER: How to ALWAYS Level the Playing Field with the CRA.

Power is a funny thing.

Pretty much everyone wants it at some point in their life.

Most of the people who have it do not know how to use it properly.

To be honest, few will ever get it.

The most important thing to know about power is that it is most successful when used in two ways; either by declaring yourself King and having your cronies keep everyone else at bay by whatever means possible, or secondly by taking the time to get key players on your side and using your network to help you maintain power but all along helping those around you learn and grow, and they help everyone else under them do the same.

Which model do you think is most often associated with government tax collections agencies?

Having spent a lot of time working at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in the collections and enforcement division and being responsible for training collections, enforcement and audit staff there I can honestly say not as many staff there who feel you have to do what they say no matter the consequences as you would think.

It is true that there are employees of the CRA who feel that being in a position of power allows them to do things, say things and act in a manner which is improper or unjustified.  There are also staff there who take their positions of power to a whole new level and they let their egos control their decision-making process which means they wield power in order to realize an outcome in their best interest, not yours.

I have seen how power corrupts and the result is never easy to correct.

The CRA has a lot of power.

Throughout my decade of employment at the Canada Revenue Agency I was surprised with how much power the Agency has and how many taxpayers feared this power.  I could hear collection officers tell taxpayers that they could clean out their bank accounts like “this!” (Insert snapping of fingers sound here), which is true, but also not true.  I learned to be subtle in my use of my apparent super-powers and the way I used my power was to visit my clients and by always making sure that when sitting with a taxpayer / representative that my chair was at its highest so that I would be looking down at them.  It was all I needed when dealing with the career tax evaders because it worked, but it was a tactic not necessary when dealing with 99% of the people I met with.

However, we already know that the CRA has a lot of power and in most cases before they use it, they are going to let you know first by phone, letter or a visit to your home or place of employment.  Once the CRA has decided they need to use their powers they are bound by the guidelines set out in the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act and by policies and procedures set out in their tax office.  The extent to which they use their powers is either their decision or it is influenced by their team leader or manager.

Once the CRA starts using their powers, your ability to control the outcome diminishes greatly. What you can control, is how much power you will ALLOW the CRA to use against you.

This is done by being proactive – reading notices, asking questions and keeping all your paperwork in one spot where you can access it once it is asked for.  But if you are past that point, or if it is just not possible, then you can take power back by enlisting the help of people who know the CRA policies, procedures and most importantly, their techniques and tactics.

If the CRA knew they were dealing with someone who knew more about their job, more about their techniques and more about how quickly they need to take an action which they claim is urgent, then the playing field is changed forever.

Having someone there to look after your best interests, who will tell you what the best plan of action for you, and you only, then taking that plan to the CRA and telling them the same is the best way to always level the playing field.  Negotiating is always easier when you know more than your opponent.

So please, if you have a tax problem, old or new, and you have been spinning your wheels with the CRA, the IRS, the MRQ, WSIB or the CRTC, don’t let it continue any longer.  Come visit inTAXicating.ca, or send us an email at info@intaxicating.ca and take advantage of our free consultation to leave how to put these issues behind you once and for all.

Have you ever been put in a position where you accepted something which was not in your best interests because the other side had all the power?

Happy to read your comments below.

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Importance of People Skills in the Workforce

Want to be an effective manager?  Having good policies and processes in place will help get the job done, but getting the most from your staff requires you to pay some attention to your people skills.  People skills are important because they tell and show others how effective you deal with many different types of individuals on a daily basis.  The wider the range of others in terms of ages, cultures and company levels that one can deal with, the better that person’s skill level.

It really does not matter which field you work in, whether it is tax, accounting, HR or marketing, the most successful individuals in each area are not necessarily the ones who had the highest university GPA or those who are the most technically gifted, but rather the top stars in each field are the ones with the best people skills.

So where can you learn or develop these soft skills?  They are not taught in school and while you can learn them on the job, that would only be the case if you work with someone with exceptional soft skills (or horrible ones) and they are  willing to mentor you to develop yours.  In school we focus all our time and energy on maximize our grades and probably spend zero time learning to effectively interact with others

Then into the workforce come these brainiacs with super-high GPA’s and they work hard and talk about how smart they are, and watch those with superior personal talents moving up the corporate ladder faster them they do. 

By the time they realize what it takes to advance in an organization, it is usually too late, as people tend to get set in their ways after being passed over by someone not as smart but who pleases everyone.  These individuals will have reached a ceiling in their fields relatively quickly in their careers.

The world, both corporate and non-corporate, desperately needs more leaders and this lack of leadership will not be filled anytime soon if the majority of the workforce is lacking in people skills. Fortunately, this problem can be addressed in two ways. For those already in the workforce, companies can utilize seminars and workshops as part of on-going professional education on these skills including diversity training. All management, current and potential candidates, should attend such development sessions or take online courses.  The result will be a much more efficient management which in turn will mean bigger profits.

The other way is to start in school and expose students at every level and as early as possible to principles of people skills. It may need to be made part of the regular curriculum. Of course, staff including teachers and professors should also be exposed to their own developmental workshops as well since they were most likely not given the opportunity during their own years as students for this type of training.

It might also help to include parents in the education process from the get go so they can foster a more balanced development for their children besides focussing the balance on education and sports / arts.  

But at some point every good manager should have that talk with their staff about their soft skills and if the staff member reacts defensively, then sign them up for all the courses because that might just be the justification you were looking for!