The Truth and Myths Around the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Program

There is quite a lot of information on the Internet around the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Taxpayer Relief Program (formerly known as fairness).  Understandably, there is also a lot of misinformation around this program.  After having spent almost 11 years working in the CRA – beginning as an entry-level collector and working my way up through the division to a team leader before taking my MBA and heading into the private sector –  I have learned quite a lot about how the Taxpayer Relief program actually works.Myth vs Reality

This post will identify the key objectives of the program straight from the CRA, and then highlights some common myths about the program and the actual fact about why it makes sense to invest considerable time and effort into an application, or engage the services of someone who knows the program inside and out.

The Taxpayer Relief program was set up to allow for the Minister of National Revenue to grant relief from penalty and/or interest when the following types of situations prevent a taxpayer (individual or corporation) from meeting their tax obligations:

  • Extraordinary circumstances;
  • Actions of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
  • Inability to pay or financial hardship;
  • Other circumstances

The program distinguishes between “cancelling” and “waiving” of penalties and/or interest as the CRA understands that granting relief to a taxpayer only to see them smothering in penalties and interest again is an exercise in futility.

The term “cancel” refers to a penalty or interest amount that is assessed or charged for which relief is granted, in whole or in part, by the CRA.

The term “waive” refers to a penalty or interest amount that is not yet assessed or charged for which relief is granted, in whole or in part, by the CRA.

The term “Taxpayer” includes individual, employer or payer, corporation, partnership, organization, trust, estate, goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) registrant or claimant.

Now, you or your client, has been charged penalties and / or interest and you want to know if you qualify.  Look no further than the CRA website, and their section on Taxpayer Relief, here.

Circumstances that may warrant relief include;

Extraordinary circumstances

Penalties or interest may be cancelled or waived in whole or in part when they result from circumstances beyond a taxpayer’s control.  Extraordinary circumstances that may have prevented a taxpayer from making a payment when due, filing a return on time, or otherwise complying with a tax obligation include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Natural or human-made disasters, such as a flood or fire;
  • Civil disturbances or disruptions in services, such as a postal strike;
  • Serious illness or accident; and
  • Serious emotional or mental distress, such as death in the immediate family.

Actions of the CRA

The CRA may also cancel or waive penalties or interest when they result primarily from CRA actions, including:

  • Processing delays that result in taxpayers not being informed, within a reasonable time, that an amount was owing;
  • Errors in CRA material which led a taxpayer to file a return or make a payment based on incorrect information;
  • Incorrect information provided to a taxpayer by the CRA (usually in writing);
  • Errors in processing;
  • Delays in providing information, resulting in taxpayers not being able to meet their tax obligations in a timely manner; and
  • Undue delays in resolving an objection or an appeal, or in completing an audit.

Inability to pay or financial hardship

The CRA may, in circumstances where there is a confirmed inability to pay amounts owing, consider waiving or cancelling interest in whole or in part to enable taxpayers to pay their account. For example, this could occur when:

  • A collection has been suspended because of an inability to pay caused by the loss of employment and the taxpayer is experiencing financial hardship;
  • A taxpayer is unable to conclude a payment arrangement because the interest charges represent a significant portion of the payments; or
  • Payment of the accumulated interest would cause a prolonged inability to provide basic necessities (financial hardship) such as food, medical help, transportation, or shelter; consideration may be given to cancelling all or part of the total accumulated interest.

Consideration would not generally be given to cancelling a penalty based on an inability to pay or financial hardship unless an extraordinary circumstance prevented compliance, or an exceptional situation existed. For example, when a business is experiencing extreme financial difficulty and enforcement of such penalties would jeopardize the continuity of its operations, the jobs of the employees, and the welfare of the community as a whole, consideration may be given to providing relief of the penalties.

Other circumstances

The CRA may also grant relief if a taxpayer’s circumstances do not fall within the situations described above.

The CRA expects these guidelines to be used when applying for relief and that the requests are made within the deadlines for requesting relief, which is limited to any period that ended within 10 years before the calendar year in which a request is submitted or an income tax return is filed.   The 10-year limitation period rolls forward every January 1st.

If filed using the correct form, with sufficient supporting documentation, a response from the Taxpayer Relief Program can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years due to the amount of requests.  In order to ensure that you are making the best claim possible, you really should engage the services of a professional, as they would be able to assess whether or not your request is sufficient, and they would ensure that you meet all the other conditions which must be in place for the CRA to review and consider your application.

At the end of the day, if you have a reasonable chance of being successful under this program, the investment made to have it written, reviewed or monitored by an expert is a worthwhile expenditure.

Now let’s have a look at some common myths around this program which are floating around the Internet.

Myths

Myth: That the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief program is a one time program and that you had better take your best shot the time you decide to apply.

Reality: Not true,  This program is available to all Canadians who have been charged penalties and / or interest and as such, they have the right to ask for relief each and every time it is warranted.  The Taxpayer Relief Group do not maintain collection inventories and as such they review each case on the merit of its submission without any influence from the permanent collections diary or the collector assigned to the case.

Myth: That the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Program is used in order for the CRA and a taxpayer to negotiate a deal which would resolve the taxpayer’s debt issue by settling the debt and accepting less than the actual amount owed to them.

Reality: Never, ever, ever!  The CRA does NOT settle debts outside of bankruptcy or a proposal, and they certainly do not use the taxpayer relief program for this purpose.  As a matter of fact, I can speak of a first hand experience where a collector used the word “settle” in the permanent collection diary of a corporation which had paid a principle tax debt of $650,000, because they wanted to fight the $775,000 in penalties and interest through Taxpayer Relief.  The CRA sent back the $650,000 and re-opened negotiation with the corporation because they did not want to set the precedent of settling tax debts through the Taxpayer Relief Program.

Myth: I cannot afford to pay my taxes, so I am not going to file my tax return, and then when I have a debt, I can ask for relief because I had no money?

Reality:  Failure to file a tax return is a criminal offence which can result in prosecution, so you should always file, and be clear to the CRA upfront that money is tight.  But before an application is made to the Taxpayer Relief Program, all outstanding returns must be filed up to date, and all installments must be accounted for.  Otherwise, the application is set aside until everything is current.

Myth: Having a disability or illness from birth qualifies me for Taxpayer Relief.

Reality: Probably not.  If you have managed to conduct your affairs for a period of time without any tax issues, but then something happens which cases the accumulation of penalties and interest, you cannot use your disability or illness when applying for relief, unless something happened during the period in which the penalties and / or interest were applied as a result of a worsening of your disability / illness.  In that case, you would need to substantiate this with supporting letters from your doctors and specialists.  

Myth:  I met with someone who is going to write a letter to the CRA asking for relief and they have sent me the letter to review.  If I sign it, and they send it off, am I now being considered for relief?

Reality:  Not any more.   Years ago, taxpayers were able to send in letters to the fairness department which contained their reasons for asking for relief and some would include supporting documentation, while others would not.  However, since the CRA revamped the Taxpayer Relief Program, they require that the form RC4288 be included in the package or the claim will be rejected.

Myth:  I need to be pre-qualified for the CRA Taxpayer Relief Program.

Reality: No.  You can determine if you may qualify, or you can seek a professional to help you determine if you have grounds for relief, but there is no pre-qualification of this program.

Myth: If my claim is rejected, then I have to pay the penalties and interest.

Reality:  You should make arrangements to pay the penalties and interest in any case in order to stop the interest clock from ticking should the claim be denied – wherever possible, however, the Taxpayer Relief Program allows for a second-level review to be performed (usually with additional information provided) and there is an option for judicial review should the second level review be unfavourable.

 

So take some time to look around when you are considering an application under the Taxpayer Relief Program and make sure that if you engage someone you do so for the right reasons.

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Frequently Asked Tax Question Answered: How do I know if what I read about Tax Debt to the CRA is true?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions of me: How do I know if what I read on the Internet regarding debt to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is true or not?

The answer is quite clear, however, complicated at the same time.

If you owe money to the CRA and you are looking for options, suggestions, or tips on the Internet, you have to pay special attention to the “Solution” options which are advertised as if they are providing legitimate advice.

The most important thing to do is to take note of the terminology used in these ads – over and over again – because the intention of these ads and blog posts are not to help you but to achieve a high SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.  These posts are written to capitalize on the number of eyes who will read that post because of the way it was written, not because it was intended to provide help to you.

Here is an example of a fear mongering ad, disguised as an article on taxes, meant to “help” you.  I am paraphrasing the content, but the example should provide a clear clue as to the true intention of the poster.

Title: Understanding Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Assessment & Arbitrary Assessments

The sample post: CRA tax assessment is when the Canada Revenue Agency conducts a review of your income taxes. The most common form of CRA tax assessment is the Notice of Assessment that is sent once the CRA has conducted a preliminary review of your tax return. There is another CRA assessment known as “arbitrary assessments.”   These assessments are also known as “notational assessments.” What this means is that, if you have not filed your taxes on time, the CRA could decide to complete and file your return for you.

Many people believe that, if you do not file your taxes, that the CRA will wait until you do file your taxes and then the CRA will penalize you by changing you penalties, fines, and interest.

This is not always true.

The CRA is able to choose to complete an arbitrary assessment in which the Canada Revenue Agency will estimate your income and the tax debt that you owe and then the CRA will charge interest on this debt as required.

The amount of tax debt that comes from a CRA arbitrary assessment will  not be as favourable to you as it would be if you completed your return yourself.

The CRA will use previous income tax statements to complete your return and will not take steps to include expenses or deductions or attempt to give you any tax breaks.

In many cases, the amount owing listed by the CRA will be very high and additional charges, penalties and interest will be charged since the assessment was late.

You will then be subject to CRA collection efforts such as a wage garnishment of up to 100% of your income, or the CRA will empty your bank account and then freeze it so you cannot use it.  They could also put a lien on your house and if you don’t pay them, sell it and keep the proceeds.

What do you do if you Receive a Notational Assessment?

If you receive an arbitrary CRA tax assessment, your options are;

  1. Pay the amount listed
  2. File an appeal of the assessment.
  3. You can also choose to file a return yourself at this point in an attempt to reduce your tax bill, but, this will trigger a CRA audit to ensure that your tax return is filed correctly.

In addition, if the CRA does not have the information it needs in order to complete an arbitrary assessment, it can take you to court where the court can order that you complete the return and pay a court fine.

If you ignore this court order, you could be subject to contempt of court charges and go to jail.

As you can see, your best option is to contact us, and we will help solve this problem.  We have an army of former CRA staff at our disposal who deal with hundreds of these daily.

Let us help keep you out of jail and away from the prying eyes of the CRA.

 

WHEW.

After reading this, if you were not afraid of the CRA, you must be by now.  This blog post started out trying to get people looking for CRA tax solutions and slowly wound its way through a series of lies and mis-truths and took the reader straight to audit and jail.  It just stopped short of proclaiming that King Tax Man was going to descend from the clouds and throw tennis sized hail-balls at you.

This type of article is not good.  It’s not accurate, heck, some of it is not even true.  But how would you know?

What are the red flags that you should notice?

Let’s break down this article and address some of the “facts”.

First paragraph – mentions of CRA, or Canada Revenue Agency – 5 times.  This is their SEO target, clearly.

I was also alarmed that the writer was unable (or unwilling) to state what a Notice of Assessment (NOA) is, and how the CRA actually issues them.  To set the record straight, a Notice of Assessment is the computer generated form which is issued once a change occurs on someone’s tax account.  This NOA carries with it a legal warning from which the CRA are able to take collections actions.

An additional lie occurred when the author stated that your tax return is looked over once it is filed.  In truth, no one has reviewed your tax return.  The data entry group take the paper-filed returns and just enter the information in the system.  Electronically filed tax returns are run through a program aimed at identifying any obvious errors or inaccurate deductions taken.

There is the idd case where the CRA will flag and wait for your tax return, however try not filing for 20-years and being under audit regularly, and then you can get to that level.

Canada’s tax system is a self-reporting system so the information is accepted as filed, and the Audit, or Verification department are responsible for checking the information to make sure it is correct after the fact.

Another HUGE issue, is that there is a significant difference between an arbitrary assessment and a notional assessment.

Arbitrary assessments are issued for personal (T1) taxes and occur when the CRA’s non-filer group, or a CRA collector takes information on your personal tax account for that current year, plus previous years and prepare the unfiled tax return for you, less deductions.

In many cases, they are pretty accurate.

A notional assessment is specific to GST/HST and in these cases the non-filer unit or the collections unit will assess an amount owing for each period outstanding based on a suggested amount the system provides.  That suggested amount is a combination of the previous filings, and the industry or SIC code that is associated to your file.

In both cases, returns can be filed and the assessments removed, however, Notices of Objection should be attached just to provide recourse should the filings not be accepted.

Filing the missing returns does not trigger an audit.

The whole piece about the CRA taking you to court, etc., makes absolutely no sense as it’s not even true.  Arbs and Notionals are based on information in the CRA’s systems.  If the CRA doesn’t have information, they can still raise an assessment.

I suspect the writer was just trying to close out the reasons for using them by tieing in the jail / court fine, for not complying.  It’s not true at all, but it makes for a compelling story!

If the intention of the article was to really assist Taxpayers and let each and every Canadian decide if they want to pay for assistance / expertise, then all they had to do was discuss prosecution which is what the CRA can and will do if repeated attempts to file have been issued from the CRA (Demand to File) and have not produced the returns.

Maybe they didn’t know that existed…

Maybe they were not aware that failing to file is a criminal offense, if the CRA asks for the returns and they are not provided.

Certainly, they did not want you to know that failing to pay is not.

If someone looked at the above post, they would panic, contact this firm, and likely be convinced to pay a lot of money for something they could likely do themselves because they don’t want to make it worse, or go to jail.

It’s hard to get the truth out there when there are people and firms distorting the facts in order to make a profit off of taxpayers lack of understanding of how the CRA works.

Additionally, if they intentionally muddled the facts in this post to scare you into using their services, what other information have they creatively adjusted?

Or, if they believe this to be the truth, then they just don’t have the experience or expertise to know better, and do you really want to use them to represent you in dealings with the CRA?

Outcome:

I questioned the author in an online social media forum.  I said, “I’ve always understood that an arbitrary assessment was specific to T1 returns and that they were actually quite accurate because most of the information used is already posted to your T1 account, whereas a notional assessment was specific to GST/HST and those figures were based on the industry or SIC code. Can you confirm this is your understanding as well?”

He never responded…

Surprised?

I’m not.

When you have CRA tax collections problems then you need the expertise of the firm with an actual former CRA tax collector.  inTAXicating Tax Services.

Visit us at http://www.inTAXicating.ca

How to Make a Payment to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Do you owe money to the CRA?  Are you in Collections?  Do you have CRA debt?  Are you looking to make an installment payment, or a payroll remittance?  How about a GST/HST payment or remittance?

If any of these apply to you, then you need to know how to make a payment to the to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you have to make a payment to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for either tax arrears or with a filed return, or as a remittance / installment, you have no excuses!  You can use any of the following options:

  • Your financial institution’s telephone or online banking service
  • The CRA’s pre-authorized debit service offered through My Account, which lets you:
    • set up a payment from your bank account to the CRA on a pre-set date
    • pay an overdue amount or make instalment payments
  • The CRA’s My Payment service, which lets you make payments online. You can use this service if you have Visa®Debit, Debit MasterCard® or Interac®
  • Online at a participating financial institution
  • Through a third-party service provider which offers payment by credit card or PayPal.
  • In person at any Canada Post outlet using cash or debit card.

 

What if you cannot pay in full, or if the CRA is all over you and you want to make a payment but don’t want them immediately sending a Requirement to Pay to your bank account and freezing it? 

 

If you owe money to the CRA but are unable to pay the full amount now, or if you need the CRA to work with you and set up a payment arrangement – to make smaller payments over time until you have paid your full debt (including penalties and interest), you should contact inTAXicating Tax Services through our website www.intaxicating.ca to schedule a meeting.

Aside from helping you make that payment, and avoid the garnishment, we can also assist with a wide variety of tax matters.

We can also assist with the potential cancelling, waiving or reducing the amount of penalties and / or interest you owe through the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Program.  Results are never guaranteed, however, you stand a 0% chance of having the penalties and / or interest reduced or waived entirely if you do not apply.

Email: info@intaxicating.ca

You Filed Your Tax Return to the CRA. You Owe CRA Money. Now What?

You have filed you Canadian personal tax return by the April 30th deadline and you owe the CRA money.  Now what?  You have heard horror stories about how the Canada Revenue Agency goes about collecting taxes dollars.

You need to act fast, right?

Well that is exactly what is wrong with tax-filing season in Canada.

What about if you owe more to the CRA because you already have a balance, or if you happen to be self-employed and you plan on having your tax returns prepared after the April 30th deadline, but before the June 15th deadline for self-employed Canadians, and you find out that you owe money to the CRA?

Or, what if you carry a balance year-over-year because between taxes owing and installment payments, you just can’t keep up?

What do you do?

What are your options?

If you listen to the radio, you are likely to have noticed that about every 3rd ad is a commercials talking about debt.  In these commercials, very calm voices talk about how it feels to be in debt and how they a simple solution for debt.  They even refer to “programs” which are supported or endorsed by the Canadian government. and in 10 minutes / 15 minutes / 20 minutes, you too can be debt free.

It’s convenient.  Too convenient…

Their solution is bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, and their solution is a great way for you to no longer have debt owing to the Canada Revenue Agency, or your credit card provider, etc.

What they fail to mention, is that you are paying them money to trade your debt problem for a credit problem.

Sure, you won’t owe the CRA any more, but now that the euphoria of that “win” has worn off, you now have to face reality that you have no credit for 3-7 years at best.  During that 3-7 years, you won’t have a credit card unless it’s a prepaid one, and you won’t be able to get a loan, and you cannot be the director of a corporation.

During that period where you are under a  proposal or in bankruptcy, the CRA can, and still will raise assessment where they are allowed by law to, such as raising s160/s325 assessments for assets transferred to avoid paying the CRA, or if you act as a director even though the director is someone else’s name.

Forget about it if the CRA has already placed a lien on an asset.  That survives a bankruptcy.

But the commercials make it sound SO appealing, so quick, and so good.

I’ve always felt that bankruptcy and Consumer Proposals are great options for people with no options.  If your debt is tax-related then you really should know what your options are before jumping at the first thing you hear and making these Trustee / Insolvency firms rich, so they can advertise even more, but up bigger billboards and open their own “tax solution” businesses to “help” you with your tax problems.

Don’t fall for the easy way out, because you get way more than you bargained for!

Instead, contact us, inTAXicating, and let us diagnose your debt, and tell you the best options for you, and not what works best you the trustee or the CRA.

http://www.intaxicating.ca

CRA Problems? Here is what you need to do!

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Do you have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

Do you owe the CRA money?

Are you behind on your personal (T1) tax filings?

Are you a business owner and you have fallen behind on payroll, GST/HST or Corporate Tax (T2) returns?

Has the CRA registered a lien against a property you own?

Have you transferred and asset and the CRA is assessing a 3rd party for your debts?

Are there garnishments on you bank account or against your wages?

Do you own a business and the CRA is contemplating Director’s liability?

Is the CRA taking you to court, and you just don’t understand if you have a case or not?

Does any of this make sense to you?

It’s complicated, it’s time sensitive and it’s extremely frustrating that the CRA would rather force you, or your business into bankruptcy that work with you, isn’t it?

Here is what you need to know before you can do anything to solve these problems:

  1. If you search online using any keywords related to CRA, tax, debt, or urgency, you might wind up here (you can thank me later), or you might wind up at a trustee.  Bankruptcy firms have covered the internet with keywords aimed to make you think that the best and only option for you, is bankruptcy or a consumer proposal.  While it might be, there are SO many other options!!!  You don’t need a trustee to put you in bankruptcy in order to remove a RTP, when asking the CRA to remove it might be the way to go.
  2. Just like the phone scams claiming to be from the CRA, or wanting to clear your ducts, there are many “Tax Solutions” firms out there disguised as your ideal solution, when they want your money, your trust and then you accept their advice that bankruptcy is the best option for you.  You can identify these firms this way:
    1. They buy followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts they operate.
    2. They write blog posts not intended to help you, but to scare you.
    3. They refer to the CRA as being bad, evil, and as the “Tax Man.”  That approach is proven to never work.  Even if you detest the CRA, telling them that won’t help your case.
    4. They hide their true intentions; either that they are part of a Trustee in Bankruptcy or by calling themselves fun names, to distract you from who they are and who the owners are.
  3. You need to know what the CRA wants from you, and how to go about fixing it.  If you don’t know how the debt came about or what the CRA can, will, or have done to you already, then you cannot fix it, or have someone fix it for you, and,
  4. You need to know what will happen to you / your company / your family, in the instance where you decide to; do nothing, pay the balance, file the returns, fully comply with the CRA or choose bankruptcy / consumer proposal.

Without knowing answers to the above 4 questions, you cannot properly fix your tax problems once and for all.

If the “solution” to your 5, 10, 15 or 20-year tax problem can be fixed in one meeting and for a fee, what exactly are you getting?

Tax problems that take years to establish, sometime take years to resolve.  Considering some of the alternatives, it’s worth it to know that your CRA problems have been resolved and you are not exchanging a CRA tax problem for a bankruptcy / consumer proposal problem.

Ask, before you begin.

info@intaxicating.ca

Tell us about your tax problems, and let us tell you what the best option for YOU is.  If the solution can be achieved through a simple action which you can do, then you get moving on it.

If it requires some expertise or assistance, then leave that up to us.

Former CRA Collections expertise to help you when you need it the most!

 

 

CRA Acting Unusually, or Cabot Business To Be Charged With Tax Evasion

In what is either a case of the CRA acting in an unusual manner, or a business has misplayed their hand  – and is being charged with tax evasion under the Income Tax Act (ITA) and the Excise Tax Act (ETA).

Time will tell who is in the wrong.

The CBC has reported that a St. John’s car dealership and a director of the dealership, are being accused of tax evasion and making false and deceptive statements on tax returns by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The CRA filed charges under the ITA and the ETA against Cabot Ford Lincoln Sales Limited and director Frank Clarke, for the 2009-2011 taxation years.

The CRA has alleged in their court documents that Cabot Ford overstated their expenses in those 3-year by more than $240,000 in order to evade taxes owing by around $45,000 and on the GST side, they underpaid around $14,000 in GST through “false or deceptive statements” provided on their GST returns.

The director, is accused of personally evading more than $76,000 in taxes by failing to declare more than $270,000 in income over that same three-year period.

What I find really unusual, is that this case is not yet before the courts, so just by reading this, we are automatically coming to the conclusion that this company and director have done something illegal, however, that might not be true.  The director told the CBC that they are “still trying to understand everything ourselves, especially since the Canada Revenue Agency has not yet informed us of all details of the situation.”

If that is the case, having this go public is the worst case scenario for the business if the CRA’s claims turn out to be true.

On the other hand, if the CRA’s claims turn out to be false, then this would be another case where the CRA have stepped beyond their means to force an issue which was incorrect or inaccurate.

The director believes that the investigation is still underway, when he told the CBC that he [has] “been in touch with the CRA during their investigation and will continue to co-operate with them as this all moves forward.”

The charges were filed last week, and the matter is scheduled to be back at provincial court in St. John’s on March 26th.

We will be watching to see if this gets resolved ahead of time and what the long-term repercussions of this position taken by the business and by the CRA will be.

I would like to say that I would never let the CRA issue a press release about a client of mine which could do harm to their day-to-day viability – these issues can always be worked out in advance, however, not knowing all the details, it’s hard to say why this was done and who pushed for it.

If you have tax troubles with the CRA, or need them to stand down or back off, you need to contact inTAXicating Tax Services!  Visit our website at www.intaxicating.ca, or email us at info@intaxicating.ca

Former CRA Collections expertise to help resolve a CRA Collections problem.

Full Disclosure Alert: Know Who You Are Dealing With!!

I had the most interesting comment sent to me today, by someone who used to work at the CRA.

She noticed on my blog, and on social media, that I “claimed” to have been a “Former CRA Employee of the Year” and she, having worked at the CRA, was not familiar with the award.

She questioned my legitimacy!

I love it.

It reminded me that I had not finished updating the “About Us” section on the inTAXicating website, and in doing so, I will include the details of this honour.

I was nominated for the “Most Valuable Player” award – which was the wording they used for the Employee of the Year – by a colleague of mine in 2002.

The nomination was his acknowledgement that I went way above and beyond the scope of my employment not only professionally but personally to support my colleagues, staff and to represent the CRA in a positive manner.

This was before my MBA, and before children.

I had recently started a Mentoring Program for the Collections division at our CRA office and the program was so successful, that we began running it through the rest of the departments in our building and in other Tax Services Offices. I was also responsible for overseeing the Write Off inventory, managing a New Intake collections / compliance team, heavily into training staff and had recently taken over the Director’s Liability inventory and was in the process of cleaning that up.

Personally, I had just gotten married, had been right in the middle of taking accounting courses towards my CGA designation and was volunteering my time with a Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program here in Toronto.

I was also on the board of the Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign, and in the role, I went to each and every employee in the Revenue Collections division in our office and spoke to them one-on-one about the program and their contribution.  They donated record amounts.

I had several inventories of business collections accounts, and when the office renovated floors and we had to move staff between floors, I was the coordinator.  I was also the employee who received the sensitive issues from the Director’s Office to hand, with care.

I was busy.  Could have been much busier, but certainly I was fully engaged.

I was nominated and both myself and the nominator received recognition for the honour.

I was deeply honoured and appreciative.

Then I won.

I was shocked.

I drove to Niagara Falls, accepted the award from then Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency Ruby Howard, and I drove back home to attend class later that evening.

The following day, the first person I met when I arrived into the building greeted me like this;

“Hey Warren. Congratulations on the award. I just don’t feel that you deserved it.”

“Thank you”, I replied to him. “Neither do I.”

“Sorry, that might have been harsh”, he said to me.

“I’d rather you speak the truth, than keep that from me” I said.

“You know what”, he said. “Maybe I just don’t know you well, enough, but time will tell.”

Just a year before this man passed away from a long battle with cancer, he said leaning over the cubicle right beside me where he sat; “You know what, Warren. I’m surprised you only won one of those things.”

That comment from one of the smartest people the CRA had ever employed, meant a lot to me.  Not many people got along with this gentleman because he was all business, all the time, but I deeply respected him and I let him know it.  He earned that respect from everyone, but few knew how to pass it along to him.

But, getting back to my “claim”…

I decided to attach the picture of my award;

Me accepting the award in Niagara Falls;

My certificate of my 10-year’s of service to the CRA;

…and a word of advice for anyone who has tax problems…

Know who you are dealing with. Understand their expertise in the field you are looking for expertise in.

What makes inTAXicating so successful is that Taxpayers, business owners and other professionals read my words, Google me, check out my LinkedIn profile and determine that I know my stuff.

Which I do.

Then they reach out.

I expect each and everyone of you to do the same.  Read some posts, Google me. Check out my LinkedIn profile and reach out for tax help, to have questions answered, to learn more about the CRA, or to help your clients so you can help them.

Email: info@intaxicating.ca