Statute of Limitations for Tax Debt: Canada

Statute of Limitations for CRA Debts – Truth vs Myth

There is a common belief that there is a statute of limitations on tax debts and that taxpayers can ride out these periods and ultimately pay no taxes.  Google it, and you will see all kinds of information out there, but it’s the Canada Revenue Agencies information which matters the most.

A Collections Limitation Period (CLP) is the time in which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can begin actions to collect a tax debt.

Myth: After the CRA issues a notice of assessment, it has either 6 years or 10 years to collect the debt. If you don’t pay what you owe within that time, the CRA can no longer collect the debt.

Fact: Each tax debt has a 6 or 10 year collections limitation period (depending on the tax) and the limitation period can be restarted or extended by the CRA when certain events occur.  At that point, the total amount of time that the CRA has to collect the debt will be longer than 6 or 10 years.

Even after the collections limitation period ends, you can still have a tax debt and interest will continue to accrue until the tax debt is paid in full.

 

Start of the collections limitation period

The limitation period starts on the date that a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent, or 90 days after that date, depending on the type of tax debt.

 

Types of tax debt

The collections limitation period start date and duration will be different depending on the type of tax debt. Some tax debts are subject to collections restrictions, while others are not.

The following are some of the most common types of tax debt:

 

Individual (T1)

The Collections Limitation Period (CLP) starts on the 91st day after the CRA issues the notice of assessment – unless there is an objection filed.  There is a 10-year CLP on T1 debts which can be re-started and extended by the CRA.

 

Corporate (T2)

The CLP starts on the 91st day after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent unless a NOA or appeal has been filed.  The 10-year CLP applies, however the CLP can be restarted and extended.

 

Large Corporations (as defined by the Income Tax Act)

The CLP starts on the 91st day after a NOA or reassessment is sent.   The 10-year CLP applies, however, the CLP can be restarted and extended.

This type of tax debt is subject to a 90-day collection restriction for the period after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent, however, the CRA can act to collect 50% of the amount owing by a large corporation as soon as a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent.  The CRA can start collection action on the 91st day for the remaining 50% of the amounts owed by a large corporation, unless a notice of objection or appeal is filed.

 

Payroll (T4) Deductions

The CLP starts the day after the Notice of Assessment is sent.  There is a 6-year collections limitation period, however this CLP can be restarted and extended at any time.

NOTE: There is no collections restriction on Trust funds, so the CRA can begin collections actions the day after a Notice of Assessment has been sent.

NOTE: If a Notice of Objection or an appeal has been filed, the CRA can continue to collect the debt(s)

 

GST/HST

The Collections Limitation Period starts the day after the Notice of Assessment is sent and while the 10-year CLP applies, it can be re-started and extended at any time.

NOTE: Additionally, since GST/HST are also Trust Funds (funds held in trust for the Crown), there is no collection restriction once the Notice of Assessment has been sent.

NOTE: If a Notice of Objection or appeal is filed, the CRA can continue to collect the debt(s).

 

Collection Restriction Period

For tax debts subject to collection restrictions, the CRA cannot start collection action:

  • during the 90 days after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent
  • during the time that you dispute your debt by filing a notice of objection or appeal

However, if the CRA determines that it might not be able to collect a tax debt because of collection restrictions, it can apply to the Federal Court (Canada) for a jeopardy order.  If granted, this order will let the CRA take collection action immediately.

 

Restart of the collections limitation period

The limitation period is restarted when either you or the CRA takes certain actions. Tax debts subject to the 6-year limitation period are restarted for another 6 years and tax debts subject to the 10-year limitation are restarted for another 10 years.

The following are examples of actions that will restart the collections limitation period. This is not a complete list.

 

Actions you initiate

The collections limitation period will restart when you:

  • Make a voluntary payment
  • Write a letter to the CRA proposing a payment arrangement
  • Offer to provide security instead of paying the amount owed
  • Make a written request for a reassessment of an amount assessed
  • File a notice of objection with the CRA
  • File an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada
  • Ask the CRA if you can make pre-authorized debt payments

 

Actions the CRA initiates

The CRA takes various actions to collect tax debts when taxpayers don’t make voluntary payments.

The collections limitation period will restart when the CRA:

  • Issues a garnishment or statutory set-off to collect an outstanding tax debt when you don’t make voluntary payments
  • Applies a refundable credit to your tax debt and notifies you by sending a letter or Statement Of Account
  • Issues a NOA or reassessment against a third party for amounts you owe
  • Certifies your tax debt in the Federal Court of Canada
  • Initiates seizure and sale action to collect your outstanding tax debt

 

Extension of the collections limitation period

The events listed below can extend the collections limitation period. When this happens, the clock stops running on the date that an event begins and it will not run during the event.

This has the effect of stalling the collections limitation period.

When the event is completed, the collections limitation period resumes where it left off.

Other events can then restart the limitation period.  It will end when the 6‑year or 10-year limit has been reached, even if it took more years than that to reach that limit if you include the stalled time.

The following events can extend the collections limitation period:

  • You file an assignment (bankruptcy or proposal) under the BIA, CCAA or FDMA.
  • The CRA accepts security instead of payment of a tax debt.
  • You become a non-resident of Canada after the CRA issues a NOA or reassessment.
  • The CRA postpones collection action without accepting security for an objected or appealed GST/HST debt. This applies only to GST/HST tax debts assessed under the Excise Tax Act.
  • You file a Notice of Objection with the CRA. This will extend the limitation period only for tax debts subject to collection restrictions.
  • You file an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada. This will extend the limitation period only for tax debts subject to collection restrictions.

 

NOTE: Filing a Notice of Objection with the CRA or an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada will restart the collections limitation period for all types of tax debts because both of these actions are considered acknowledgments of debt.

Similarly, if your tax debt is subject to collection restrictions, filing an objection or appeal will extend the collections limitation period.

 

End of the collections limitation period

Once the period ends, the CRA cannot take any further action to collect the debt, however, the tax debt still exists and you can make voluntary payments.  Voluntary payments you make after the limitation period ends will not restart it.

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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

SEO Spam, inTAXicating, and Why Businesses Fail

Anyone else get a lot of SEO Spam?

SEO, in case you were not aware is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, and is a marketing technique which focuses on growing the visibility of your web-site through non-paid search engine results.

To get a higher ranking website, you need a combination of good content and your site has to hit the right keywords.  Doing this will drive traffic to the website, and all of this helps the search engines know that your site needs to be shown to people searching for whatever you have written about.

It stands to reason then, that just because you created a web-site (or blog) it doesn’t mean that anyone will see it or read it.  The site has to be “indexed”, meaning that it needs to show up in search engines, and it gets indexed by having people show up and visit the site.

The more visitors, the higher the ranking.

What does SEO spam have to do with businesses failing?  Directly, a lot, yet indirectly, a lot as well.

In and amongst the spam I get at http://www.intaxicating.ca, I seem to get a LOT of pitches from SEO companies who promise to help me get your website on the “first page of Google”.

Now, I know that a lot of these inquiries are spam because they are fraudulent – trying to steal identities and money – however there are some real companies who reach out to help me improve my site’s ranking.

If you are going to take the time to make a pitch to company, should you not check before you reach out to ensure that you are offering a service which they actually need?

Some of the blog posts contained on the inTAXicating blog already come up on the first page of Google.  In fact, several inTAXicating posts come up before the Canada Revenue Agency when they are being searched.

Forget the offer to be on the 1st page of Google searches.  When you’re number 1 already, why even make the offer of service.

If you cannot see that, what else are you going to miss which is a lot less obvious?

Business fail because they do not take the time to check their prospective client(s) out and they end up making a pitch which shows there is no attention to detail being paid.

In the meantime, when you have a tax issue, and you need the best, contact inTAXicating.  We rank higher than the CRA on CRA tax matters for a reason.

info@intaxicating.ca

 

7 Ways the Tax Man is Watching You: MoneySense.ca

When I saw this headline in Money Sense.ca I immediately felt upset that this article was going to be a bunch of made-up, fear-mongering, scare tactics along the lines of something that would come from an advertising campaign from a certain tax law / brokerage firm.

They popularized the calling of the CRA the “tax man” and since we all know the CRA hates that, its worth noting that it a confrontational relationship with the CRA is what they are all about.

Some people need that.

Most don’t.

Then, upon reading the list, I noticed that each and every one of the 7 items has a quote from… Dioguardi, and once the shock and surprise wore off, I shook my head and wanted to set the record straight, as far as I see it.

Not really...
The CRA is watching you!

The link to the original article is here;
http://www.moneysense.ca/save/taxes/cra-watching/

So let’s look at these items in a bit more depth;

1. Social media. Sure. If you make it public, and you have a unique name, the CRA can see what you’re posting. It doesn’t mean that if you have $40K in reported income and buy a $100K boat that they are going to assess you. If you are in collections and the CRA’s collections officers are trying to get you to pay, and all of a sudden a boat shows up on their radar, they will do their research and determine who owns it, how it was purchased and if it belongs to someone who owes the CRA taxes, then you have better have a good explanation as to why you didn’t disclose it.

2. Kijiji, eBay, etc. Yes, if you are selling items online as a way to earn an income it is income that you should declare and pay taxes on. The CRA have in the past requested and received information from eBay related to their top sellers. If, however, you are doing this as a business, it would have made sense to have engaged an accountant or tax professional to ensure that you are not only reporting correctly, but that you are claiming all eligible deductions and expenses – like a home office – to offset the income earned. A business is a business.

3. Credit card slips – yes, however only if it’s through an audit and the auditor has requested it directly from you. I suppose if you were under criminal investigation, or were in collections for a long time, the advanced collection techniques might include requesting this information, but the collections staff are not able to do anything with it. Auditors can assess with it. Collections cannot. Very misleading point here!

4. Bank accounts and investments – All financial institutions are required to provide year-end tax slips to taxpayers indicating their position during the year and in each and every case, a copy is sent to the CRA. They already have this information. They’re not watching anyone. The slips the bank sends is matched to the slips the taxpayer files. No slip, then the CRA asks for it (maybe you lost or forgot it) and then if it’s not accounted for, the CRA will raise an assessment.

If a taxpayer is in collections and the CRA wanted to know information about a bank or investment they have the ability to use a Request for Information, to ask for information and a Requirement for Information to ensure they get the information. Both processes are complicated and the CRA must prove that they were denied the information or that they need it urgently in order to raise an assessment.

5. This section is a bit vague and underwhelming. First, the CRA checks the sales records much faster than they did years ago – but they take that information then send out a questionnaire to the taxpayer to complete which is the supporting document they use to assess. They see you sold, but you let them know if there is cause for digging deeper.

On the rent side,, what catches the most number of people is when a renter pays rent in cash and the landlord and the landlord does not provide receipts and neither reports in… until there is an issue, and the renter declares rent paid. The CRA checks the landlord to see if they declared the rental income and when they have not… Assessment. The CRA is, again, not watching people in this case. They come across these assessments because of breakdowns in rental agreements.

6. Income and pensions. This list should have stopped at 5. This is not a case where CRA watches anyone. It’s about reporting and discrepancies.

7. Mystery diners – I’m not even going to comment on this than to say that it’s so over the top it’s unbelievable.

I will add, that while working at the CRA, I did attend restaurants as a representative of the Crown, however I disclosed my reason for being there and it was only in situations where restaurant owners had payroll debts over $300,000, and suddenly reduced their payroll from 15 full-time employees to 2 full-time employees. I just needed to check and see if they really did cut staff, or if they just started paying the other 13 cash under the table, to avoid having to deduct and remit the CPP, EI and tax. In each and every case, upon entering the restaurant, I would count the number of employees – when I saw more than 10, I would take the owner aside, explain this was not legal, then request a payroll audit and be done, until the audit assessment came into collections.

So to conclude, the most accurate part of this article is, “always give full and complete disclosure”.

The “tax man” is not watching you, unless you are in collections, under investigation, or trying to “game” the system.

If you have questions, concerns or comments, and want the truth about your situation, send us an email to info@intaxicating.,ca and we can have that discussion.

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Ways to Know You Need New Tax Representation.

Since today is Thursday, I thought a Thursday Thirteen themed post might be a good change of pace!

Here are 13 things that should NEVER be said to someone with a 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!”

 

 

Taxpayers Ombudsperson to Examine CRA Legal Warning Process

The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Sherra Profit has announced that the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO) will be undertaking an examination into the systemic issue of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) practices regarding providing legal warnings to taxpayers when collecting unpaid taxes.

Obviously, the OTO have received many complaints alleging that staff at the CRA have been taking legal actions – freezing and seizing funds from bank accounts, garnishing wages, taking refunds – without notifying taxpayers first, or without working to make a payment arrangement first.

Oh oh.

Apparently, the purpose of this exercise is to allow for the Ombudsperson to identify the current process the CRA uses in order to take legal actions, specifically to see if the notice being given is “sufficient”.

Additionally, there will also be a review of whether the CRA clearly identifies their entire collection process on their website.

Is it clear enough for the average Taxpayer to understand not to carry a balance with the CRA?

After the examination, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson will make her findings public in a report.

For those of you not familiar with the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO), they “work to enhance the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) accountability in its service to, and treatment of, taxpayers through independent and impartial reviews of service-related complaints and systemic issues”.

The website can be found here; https://www.canada.ca/en/taxpayers-ombudsman.html

The OTO wants to initiate systemic examinations when complaints or questions are raised about a service issue that may impact a large number of taxpayers or a segment of the population, in order to keep on top of the pulse of Taxation and the CRA here in Canada.

Recommendations arising from these examinations are aimed at improving the service provided to taxpayers by the CRA.

Quotes
“While the CRA’s collections practices and collections officers’ behaviours are some of the most common complaints received in my office, we have received more specific complaints about the legal warnings aspect.  CRA collections officers generally try to work out an acceptable payment arrangement that will allow taxpayers to avoid undue financial hardship. Taxpayers who contacted my office indicated they were taken by surprise, and said they have faced financial hardship and stress because of the lack of notice prior to CRA taking legal action.”

Sherra Profit
Taxpayers’ Ombudsman

Well…

Let me tell you, Office of the Ombudsperson, that there are 3 important pieces to the puzzle that you do not know about or have overlooked;

  1. The issuance of the Notice of Assessment (NOA) comes with legal warning built right into the notice.  As the CRA’s collectors will tell you over and over again, the CRA is not a bank and thus, by issuing the NOA the CRA is demanding payment in full.  If, for whatever reason, a taxpayer cannot make payment in full, they are expected to contact the CRA and let them know.
  2. Recent attempts by the CRA to lower their workloads resulted in the creation of New Intake inventories where by the collectors were advised and trained to take immediate legal action against a taxpayer once the 90 days grace period granted upon the issuing of a Notice of Assessment has passed.  Day 91 = legal action.
  3. Trust accounts, situations where trust funds are due to the CRA as due right away and no collection restriction applies, ie/ jeopardy.

The answer here might include spelling out information on the CRA website a touch more clearly, and it should include having it in a few more places, maybe flashing and more noticeable because to educate and inform each and every Canadian Taxpayer all the time so everyone knows, just is not feasible.

Personal experience working at the CRA has afforded me a much different view of the CRA’s legal warning procedures and when I compare how I handled files to how others did, I get it… There are issues.

I cannot tell you the number of times I gave verbal legal warning, followed that up with written legal warning, then followed that up with another call and then upon freezing a bank account, got that call of surprise and shock.

However, I do know of a few others who froze bank accounts and instead of sending the legal document to freeze the account to the bank and the Taxpayer on the same day, held on to the Taxpayer’s copy for an extra day or 2 in order to prevent the Taxpayer from getting the notice first and emptying his / her bank account.

It’s not as clear as one might want it to be…

OTO… You’re going to be so disappointed with what you find, but you need to understand before you try to make the CRA A kindler and gentler place that everything is already in place, policy and procedurally, to do just that.

It could just be that people who are not informed do not feel they have a person or place to ask questions without fear of reprisal!

 

Back from vacation and catching up! How we can help – details included.

Just wanted to drop a quick note to all of you who called, emailed and hit me up on the blog or on social media that we’re back to work and trying to get to everyone as soon as possible.

If anyone has an urgent matter, please send an email to info@intaxicating.ca, in the subject line, please write “urgent” and that will be the top priority.

For new readers of this blog or who are seeing this blog through our website, here is what you need to know!

inTAXicating is a Canadian tax consulting business which provides solutions to Canadian Tax problems predominantly related to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but not limited to the CRA.

With over 20-years experience in Canadian Tax (throw in some IRS tax, FATCA, Revenu Quebec, Cross-border matters and WSIB) combined with over 10-years working in the CRA in their collections division, you have the experience and expertise that no-one else can boast to have.

Our model is simple! Give you the truth based on the facts.

You get a free consultation and if it is determined that you can handle it best, or if your questions are quickly answered, then you are on your way.

If there are more complex matters which may eventually require greater expertise, then you have the option to handle you tax matters up to that point and then hand it over, or you may wish to hand it over right away…

It’s your taxes and you need to know what is being done and how to properly handle them going forward.

There are no magical cures for tax problems which took years and years to grow, so if anyone promises you a magic bullet, proceed with caution.

inTAXicating also believes that everyone who earns money needs to pay their taxes, however, they should pay what they owe, and in circumstances where there is no ability to pay, the government should understand that and give you a break.

No questions are bad questions.

I do not believe in the “natural person” being exempt from taxes because the CRA does not believe it, but I have spoken to many, many “de-taxers” and enjoy the conversations and helping them through the CRA’s prosecutions.

We specialize in all matters relating to CRA collections, specifically Directors Liability, Taxpayers Relief, s160 assessments, liens, and garnishments, RTP’s.

We provide audit representation, accounting (through a CA), as well as presenting the options to solve all tax matters including the ugliest and most complex tax matters. The messier the better!

In short, we want to help.

15 minute Consultation / responding to questions via email – free
Meeting – $250 plus HST (one hour meeting – detailed summary and recommended plan of action included)
Engagement – either hourly @ $250/hour or a fixed fee depending on the complexity and amount of work involved.
Accounting – best rates possible also related to the amount of work involved.

We try to stick to this model as best as humanly possible because it’s your money and you work hard for it, so you should not have to throw it away.

info@intaxicating.ca