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

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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!

 

 

When is the Best Time to Resolve a CRA Tax Problem?

If you live in Southern Ontario, you are in the middle of a heat wave.  Summer came back bigger, badder, stronger than it had all summer, and with humidex readings in the low 40’s, all the talk is about cooling off and extending the cottage season.  Thinking about Tax Debt with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the last thing on your mind.

There is nothing wrong with that.

But as the calendar creeps towards October, we enter the last quarter of the year and this is traditionally the best time of year to finally seek resolution on that nagging Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax problem.

The tax problem that causes you so much stress that you cannot open the brown envelopes from the CRA.

The tax problem which resulted in the CRA freezing your bank account or garnishing your wages.

That nagging tax issue which prompted the CRA to register a lien against your property.

The one that prevents you from having a full night’s sleep.

Yes, that one.

Well worry no more because help is here.

No matter how big, or small, complex or simple, we have seen them all, and resolved them all.  At the very least, after a meeting with us, you will understand the truth behind your tax problem – whether you have a chance of having it overturned or whether you actually are on the hook for the balance.

After a meeting with us, you can finally start on the pathway to resolving your tax troubles and no longer worry that when you try to use your debit card it might not work because the CRA froze your bank account and withdrew all of the funds.

inTAXicating Tax Services

Contact us: info@intaxicating.ca

Toronto-based.  Canada-wide Tax Liability Specialists.

Lack of tax knowledge could be costing Quebecers: C.D. Howe Institute reports

I came across this article from the Montreal Gazette;

I strongly recommend that you take the time to read it.  It is brief, but very informative as it tells the story that I have been trying to tell for the past 20-plus years!  There is that there is a significant percentage of, not just Quebecers, but Canadians who leaving money on the table because they don’t understand the tax system, according to a report released by the C.D. Howe Institute last week.

The report — which bases many of its conclusions on a survey of 1,000 Quebecers — suggests that lack of knowledge is one of the reasons many people don’t take advantage of credits and savings vehicles, like RRSPs, which could reduce their tax burden.

“People might be missing out on benefits that they’re entitled to,” said Antoine Genest-Grégoire, a tax policy researcher at the Université de Sherbrooke and one of the authors of the report.

“It can take various forms, people can simply not know about the existence of the credit … sometimes, they know it exists but they don’t know how to use it or they find it too complicated.”

Survey participants were asked a series of questions about how the tax system works and the average score was just 55%.

It wasn’t just tax credits that left participants stumped. Respondents scored poorly on questions about progressivity — the idea that people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate, a core principle of the Canadian income tax system.

While almost 90% of respondents knew that income tax rates differ based on how much people make, many struggled with the concept of bracketing — when different segments of an individual’s income are taxed at different rates.

“We hear a lot of people thinking that once you reach the top income brackets, you essentially pay close to 50% of your income in taxes,” Genest-Grégoire says, when in reality, it’s only the income above the cut-off for the highest tax bracket that’s taxed at the highest tax rate.

Only 26% of survey respondents were able to answer a question about that correctly.

While survey respondents generally had a good sense of whether they pay sales tax on everyday purchases, like groceries, prepared food and clothing, there were some exceptions.

For example, Quebec provincial sales tax doesn’t apply to books, a decision made to encourage literacy and support book publishers in the province. Only 21% of survey respondents knew that.

The result, Genest-Grégoire said, is that the public policy objectives of the tax exemption are unlikely to be realized.

The lack of tax literacy doesn’t just affect individuals pocketbooks, Genest-Grégoire said.
“People who don’t understand taxes tend to have lower trust in the tax system.  The Canadian tax system, even though you’re obligated by law to produce a tax return, works on trust.  The government doesn’t audit everyone,” he said. This lack of trust “makes tax avoidance, tax evasion more probable.”

Genest-Grégoire said the provincial and federal revenue agencies have taken steps to put more information online, but the system itself remains complex. One solution would be to make benefits that are currently provided through the tax system more accessible and for government to automatically enrol people, as is already the case with many benefits for children.

Warren Orlans, a former CRA Collections Employee turned Taxpayer Advocate has been saying for over a decade that the CRA needs to continue putting out information on the Internet, however it needs to be available in many different formats in order to be most effectively accessed by Canadians everywhere.  “Not everyone learns the same way, so having a concept explained in text, showing steps, and possibly with an example and even with little videos would expose the greatest number of Canadians to the message at once.”

“Every day, I deal with Canadian taxpayers and corporations of all sizes as they try to understand and interpret the CRA.  My 11-year’s experience at the CRA and 10-years outside the CRA have afforded me the ability to diagnose and resolve even the most complex of tax matters”, Orlans said.

If you need help understanding the CRA, or interpreting their letters or actions, contact the best, at inTAXicating.  Email: info@inTAXicating.ca. Or call us at 416.833.1581.

Toronto-based, Coast-to-coast tax liability expertise.

 

Happy Canada Day! Don’t Forget About Taxation!

Happy Canada Day, Canada.  You don’t look a day over 150-years-old!

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

There are so many things to be thankful of this Canada Day, beginning with Tim Horton’s and hockey and ending with socialized medicine and peace.  But in between there is a whole lot of taxation.  Taxes you pay which go to build new arenas, which pay for medicine, which support the troops who keep us safe, and fund programs which integrates youth of all backgrounds, races, religions and income levels together in order to keep violence as low as possible.

These are the taxes we cannot avoid paying – unless we stop spending – and they are the consumption taxes (GST/HST), gas tax, liquor tax, and many more, and there are taxes on wealth, like personal income tax, as well as Corporate taxes.  There are also payroll taxes and any other fee, levy or revenue tool (all taxes but given a different name).

For the most part, these taxes are unavoidable, and as Canadians we pay them knowing that money goes back into the economy and helps people.

What I do not understand, however, is why people pay more taxes than they are required to pay, or can afford to pay, and these taxes are viewed by people in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a “stupid” or “lazy” tax and what they are referring to are penalties and interest.

It is my belief that no one should pay any penalties or interest.  Ever.  Why give the CRA more money than they are seeking through the Income Tax Act or the Excise Tax Act.

If you work with an accountant or tax preparer, there should be no reason for late filings or late remittances, or for missing out on key deductions because that representative should know you, and the industry you work in, and be able to keep you current and free of penalties and interest.

But there are many legitimate reasons why people file late, and incur penalties and watch interest accrue on their tax accounts, and these people are then hammered by the CRA and need help, which is why I created inTAXicating.  My goal here is to help you get out of the troubles that you have gotten into and by help, I mean rehabilitate you and get you current on your filings, help you reduce your balance owing, apply for taxpayer relief (fairness) if it applies to you, and get you on a remitting and reporting schedule which ensures you are never late again.

Too many firms out there have watered down the “Tax Solution” process to the point where you pay them a ton of money, they “fix” your issue and then another one pops up, all because they are experts in taking money and not experts in resolving CRA debt issues.

The best part about working with inTAXicating is having the expertise where you need it.  If your problem is with collections or enforcement then you need the person who worked in that area, and trained and managed the collectors and who can tell you the CRA’s next move before they can.

Being audited?  Recently assessed?  Don’t understand a letter?  Balance looks too high?

There is no tax situation too scary, or too difficult to figure out.  Business taxes, personal taxes, GST/HST, payroll, T2’s, provincial, federal, liens, RTP’s, appeals, VDP… We’ve seen it all, handled it all, and have been successful with it all.

Just because it’s July 1st and summertime doesn’t mean the CRA stops working too.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  With more time on their hands, the CRA’s collections staff have the time to thoroughly research tax files which have balances on them to see what they can do to ge the account paid in full.

My experience working in the CRA for almost 11-years, tells me that the majority of in depth investigations occurs during the summer months.

Make summertime the best time to resolve that nagging tax problem.

If you have a tax problem, we have a tax solution.

You can also find us on twitter @inTAXicating or on Facebook @inTAXicating

Or email us: info@intaxicating.ca

 

What are you waiting for?

Your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Collections Questions Answered

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked CRA Tax collections questions from the past weekend:IMG_7817

  1. Can you bribe a CRA officer in Canada?

Answer: NO.

First off, bribing a CRA officer is a criminal offense and you could quickly wind up with the RCMP at your door, or under investigation, but more realistically, the staff at the CRA tend to be lifelong civil servants and one of the great benefits of working in the civil service is the great pension.  Few civil servants are willing to even entertain the thought of giving up their pensions, let alone going to jail for someone when they have hundreds of other people to collect from.

2.   Is there GST/HST on a lien?

Answer: Let’s presume that the question is asking if there is additional GST / HST on a lien, and the lien has been registered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  In that scenario, the answer is no.

The CRA would register a lien for unpaid or unfiled (and assessed) GST / HST, and the amount used for the lien is the amount owing on the day it has been registered in Federal Court.  This fact is important because from that day forth, interest continues to accrue and accumulate on the tax account with the CRA, but the lien only reflects the amount owing at a point in time.

Often, a lien will get paid out and then the CRA’s computer system kicks out an update Notice of Assessment with an additional balance owing  and taxpayers are puzzled having just paid off a lien.

They did pay the lien.

Now they pay the rest of the balance owing.

3.   Where can I get the truth about Voluntary Disclosure?

Answer: From the CRA website, of course.  The link to the VDP section of their site is here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures/

4.   Can I claim mileage drive to and from work at the CRA?

Answer: I hope you enjoy your career at the CRA and are not an auditor, because you should know this answer!  You cannot claim mileage driving to and from work.

From the CRA website; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns206-236/229/slry/mtrvhcl-eng.html

“If you use a motor vehicle for both employment and personal use, you can deduct only the percentage of expenses related to earning income. To support the amount you can deduct, keep a record of both the total kilometres you drove and the kilometres you drove to earn employment income. We consider driving back and forth between home and work as personal use.”

13 Ways to Know You Need New Tax Representation for your CRA Tax Issues.

Here are 13 things that should NEVER be said to someone with a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax problem – from someone who claims to want to help (or just your money).

Each quote below was an actual quote uttered by a tax solution representative or accountant to a prospective client in my presence.

Sit tight, and get ready to shake your head in disbelief…

13.  “GST, HST, PST… They’re all the same.”

12.  “CRA Collectors don’t care about you.  They treat their clients like a ‘whack-a-mole’ game.  You pop your head up and they smack you on the head with a hammer.  We provide you with a helmet or advise you to stay underground until the game is over.”

11.  “You’re an alcoholic? GREAT!  Substance abuse qualifies for relief!!”

10.   “I can tell you for a fact that the Auditor General requires the CRA to close files, NOT collect money.  The benchmark is 7-years.  We can close your file in 7-years!”

9.   “You’re just a little guy! Nobody cares about you.”

8.   “If you tell the CRA anything you are shooting yourself in the feet.  That’s dumb and it hurts.”

7.   “I know the CRA have won in Tax Court, but they are wrong, and this time we have everything we need to prove them wrong!”

6.   “Just ignore them and it will all go away.”

5.   “You don’t need to speak to a Tax lawyer, or an accountant.  They’re useless.  You should never talk to the tax preparer.  Just pay us $5,000 and we can make it all go away.”

4.   “The Taxman…”

3.   “I don’t care what the CRA wants, and how soon they want it.  They’re getting what I want to give them, when I’m ready to give it to them, AND they’re going to see that I’m right and they are wrong.”

2.   “We need to reduce the amount that you owe, so I’m going to create a T2200 for you, and claim a lot of expenses that your employer has not deducted like mileage, phone, and parking.  They’ll never know its not true and on the off-chance that they ask, I have hundreds of parking receipts in my car I can give them.  It’s perfectly fine…”

  1.   “Don’t even bother opening that envelope… Just throw it out.”

 

Just missing this list, but barely, is the commonly uttered line; “Quick, transfer the house out of your name before the CRA registers a lien against it!”

When you need new representation, contact us at info@inTAXicating.ca