Insolvent or in Tax Trouble? Don’t Let the CRA Decide.

Insolvent or Tax Troubles?  Don’t Let the CRA Decide!

In my experiences which includes almost 11-years working in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you should never allow the CRA to decide whether you can fix your tax problems or whether you should go bankrupt.

From the stand-point of a CRA Collections officer, going bankrupt is great because it removes the account from their inventory of accounts to collect / resolve.

Your file disappears from their inventory and re-appears in the CRA’s Insolvency Unit inventory.

From the perspective of the Collections Department, it’s case closed!

 

There are 3 ways a CRA Collections Office resolves one of their accounts;

1) Collect it / fix the compliance issue(s)

2) Write it off because they cannot collect it

3) Move the account to the Insolvency unit

 

Go Bankrupt!

The CRA’s Collections Officers are not allowed to tell you to go bankrupt. In fact, they are taught in their training that they are not allowed to do that, and that sentiment is reinforced at all future training they attend.  As someone who trained CRA Collections staff for 5-years, I can confirm this fact.

Collections staff are not allowed to even suggest that you go bankrupt.  They might confirm it, but that’s all they can do.

What CRA Collections can do, however, when they feel you are insolvent, is to force you into bankruptcy via their collection actions, which include but are not limited to;

  1. Bank garnishment
  2. Wage garnishment
  3. Lien on a property
  4. Enhanced garnishment to accounts receivables (in the case of a business)

All the while, why applying these garnishments, the CRA refuses to release the hold on the accounts.

They freeze every source of income that you might have and you are faced with the decision to come up with the funds to pay them, or file for a proposal or an assignment in bankruptcy.

In some cases, a bankruptcy is unavoidable and the right solution, but not in every case, which is why I strongly recommend speaking to someone who is looking after your interests first and foremost.

There are tax-related companies who are fronts for insolvency firms, so they might appear  to want to help you, but they want you to file for bankruptcy, and there are other tax-service firms which gather your information and they unable or unwilling to help you, pass you along to a trustee.

You don’t want or need either of those.

You need a tax firm which has the experience in CRA’s collections, and who have the relationships with not only Insolvency firms, but mortgage brokers, reputable accountants and investment professionals so that you’re options are laid out for you to decide the best option.

Not the CRA.

In order to resolve your tax issues you need to disclose the details so your options can be determined, and you need your tax help to do the same.

Ask your tax-help the following questions;

  1. Are you committed to finding me a tax-solution first.
  2. If that solution is not going to be accepted by the CRA, what other options do you feel would work.

Don’t be weary if a firm wants to charge you a small fee to diagnose and plan out your solution.

You should be weary if they want to charge you a significant amount of money to diagnose it  and not give you a plan.  If they want to keep the plan a secret, and not educate you along the way, it’s because there is no plan.

Likely their solution it to drag you along the process knowing that the CRA will come along and lower the boom and then suggest to you that your only option is to conveniently have them file bankruptcy for you.

Don’t ask the CRA if you should go bankrupt.  You might not like the answer.

If you owe money to the CRA and you’re not sure if the debt is a tax matter which can be resolved, or if bankruptcy or a proposal are better options, just ask!  Send an email to info@intaxicating.ca and let’s talk!  We’re here for you.

Proposals Not Just For Marriage

Most people are familiar with the concept of bankruptcy. Creditors are owed money, assets are liquidated and the liquidation proceeds are paid to creditors. The process is usually very difficult for the person filing bankruptcy as his/her assets may consist of a family home or a cottage, which possibly has been in the family for generations. The disruption can be devastating for the family and their children.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA), the federal statute that governs bankruptcy and restructuring in Canada, provides an option other than bankruptcy.

The BIA allows an insolvent person whose aggregate debts are less than $250,000 (not including mortgages on residential property) to file what is known as a “consumer proposal”. A consumer proposal is not the same as bankruptcy, even though they are both governed by the same laws.

A consumer proposal is a formal settlement between a debtor and his/her creditors of all unsecured debts for an agreed upon amount. The settlement does not have to be for the full amount of all debts but can be for a fraction of the total owed. The debtor makes one monthly payment to the administrator of the proposal, who in turn makes dividend payments to the creditors.

More specifically, a person who is unable to meet their monthly debt payments meets with a qualified professional, who administers consumer proposals, and they discuss the ability of the debtor to make monthly payments. Together, they review the monthly income and expense statement of the debtor, as well as his/her net worth, to determine how much the debtor is able to pay each month. Once a monthly amount is determined the administrator notifies the creditors and helps to finalize a settlement agreement between the debtor and the creditors. Fifty percent (in dollar value) of the creditors must vote to accept the proposal for it to become binding on all.

The main difference between a consumer proposal and a bankruptcy is that in the case of the proposal the debtor’s assets are not liquidated. The debtor receives the same protection from creditors and collectors but retains control of his/her assets. The two obvious benefits are that there is no loss of assets and no family disruption.

One might ask “Well why don’t I just call all my creditors and work out my own settlement?” This will not necessarily work because, for example, if you have five creditors and you are able to settle with only
three of them, the remaining two are not forced to settle. They can still pursue you for the amounts they are owed. In a consumer proposal, all creditors are dealt with together and receive the same payment plan. As consumer proposals are governed by federal law, any settlement is enforced by the courts and creditors are required to accept the settlement in full and final satisfaction of all debts. So the debtor gets to keep his/her assets, he makes monthly payments to satisfy all debts over time and the creditors receive payments, which are greater than what they would have received if the debtor had filed bankruptcy.

Consumer proposals comprise an increasingly large percentage of overall personal insolvency filings in Canada. For records ending November 30, 2010, 31% of all consumer insolvencies in Canada were
consumer proposals. This is up dramatically from ten years ago when the majority filed for bankruptcy, having had no knowledge of the alternative.

In today’s economic environment, it’s important that people know what options they have to deal with debt. Canada’s insolvency laws mean that today, “Proposals are not just for marriage anymore”.

 

Reference:
Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Insolvency Statistics in Canada – November 2010. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/bsf-osb.nsf/eng/br02528.html

TODD HOWELL
Todd Howell is a licensed Trustee in bankruptcy and has over 13 years of experience in the bankruptcy and insolvency field. Todd is also a certified Insolvency Counsellor and a member of the Canadian
Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals.

Connect with Todd at: 416.963.7198 or todd.howell@crowesoberman.com.
http://www.linkedin.com/in/toddhowell1

 

 

This article was originally published in Crowe Soberman’s quarterly business newsletter – Comments and is intended for clients of the firm. inTAXicating has been granted permission to repost this article solely for informative purposes. Should you require any assistance, we encourage you to contact the author(s) toll free at 1.877.929.2501, or in the GTA at 416.929.2500.

 

More articles can be found here; http://www.crowehorwath.net/SOBERMAN/services/advisory/Personal_Insolvency/Personal_Insolvency.aspx