“New” CRA Powers are Not so New after all! Unless…

Recent radio advertising and newspaper or online articles would have you believe that the CRA has been ramping up staff in order to break down your door in the middle of the night and arrest you for tax fraud.

Deep down inside you knew that you should have opened a BN number and GST/HST account for your child\s lemonade stand because even though they were significantly under the $30,000 sales threshold, if registered, you could have claimed the Input Tax Credits – but you didn’t and the CRA wants their money!

You also know that if you had a question, the CRA call centre were going to mislead you, or lie to you so that you would be forced to pay even more money.

You also know that you might need help for a tax accountant, tax lawyer, tax broker, tax solutions firm, or tax audit specialist… but you cannot choose because the different names must mean they do different things and you don’t know which category you fall into, and … the CRA are so coming to get you… now!

(Is that rustling in the bushes in front of my house?)

spyingWell all of these new powers and the threats that they are going to break-down your door and arrest you on the spot are not really true.

You only have to fear the CRA breaking down your door (really the RCMP, but I’m sure the CRA would be there somewhere along the way) if you have done something wrong.  Very wrong.  Criminally wrong.

You should be concerned if the CRA knows you’ve done something criminally wrong, or have been involved in terrorist financing or activity because they’ll pass that along to the police.

The Canada Revenue Agency gained the little-noticed new authority, which does not require a judicial warrant, through an amendment tucked into the government’s most recent budget bill.

Previously, confidentiality provisions in the law prevented the CRA from handing information about suspected wrongdoing, on its own initiative, to law enforcement.

The exception was information that pointed to tax-related crimes.

The new provisions apply to offences including breaking and entering, vehicle theft, arson, corruption and kidnapping and in return, the CRA can now receive information from local authorities about any offence with a minimum prison term, or one with a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The list of offences is broad and is a significant shift in confidentiality policy allowing the CRA to pass along information to law authorities without a court-ordered warrant, even when the alleged crime(s) have nothing to do with taxes.

Interim procedures for administering the new powers were issued to all CRA employees in June 2016 not too long after the legislation received royal assent.

The intended use of this new tool, is that an exchange should occur when an employee gathers information in the course of their regular duties.

This information exchange was intended to be one-way and would be closely controlled through a set of strict criteria.

As an aside, it would have been nice to know who might be carrying on criminal activity, when I was working at the CRA and went to visit a business to determine why they stopped filing GST returns, only to learn that they were conducting illegal activities and was physically threatened before getting the heck out of there.

The following day the RCMP showed up, cleaned out the place and arrested the operators.

I never did get my outstanding GST returns, however, which could have been prosecuted as a criminal offense (but was not).

All potential referrals to police will be vetted by the agency’s criminal investigations personnel and must be approved by the assistant commissioner of the department’s compliance programs branch, CRA has reported.

The key points to remember are this;

  1. If you happen to have partaken in a criminal activity, you might not want to disclose that to the CRA collector.
  2. Make sure to stay compliant!  File up to date and don’t give the CRA reasons for looking for stuff.
  3. Take all of the tax-related advertising with a grain of salt.  Their intention is to scare you and force you to drop a ton of cash at their business.  Instead, I recommend you do your research, ask questions and get the solution that fits your tax problem.
  4. If you’re not sure… Ask.  Then use your judgement.

 

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.

If You Can’t Beat Them or Join Them, Copy Them! Tax Law Firm Copies inTAXicating Winning Tax Solution Model

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.biz name official

 

If you are fighting a losing battle, find your most successful competitor and do what they do!

If you are one of the many people who have paid tens of thousands of dollars to a prominent tax lawyer because they told you a lawyer was absolutely required to save you from the “taxman,” you are going to be really disappointed to learn the firm itself no longer feels that way.

As a result of a drawn-out and very public dispute with the Law Society of Upper Canada over their retention of client retainer fees to keep them from the reach of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), DioGuardi Tax Law has been forced to reinvent themselves into our firm, inTAXicating, by saying when people owe tax to the Canada Revenue Agency, a lawyer is no longer the most effective choice for ending the problem.

Oops.

From their press release, Philippe DioGuardi is reported to have said “People who owe tax are vulnerable to the Canada Revenue Agency’s aggressive collection tactics. They need fast and affordable ways to fix their tax trouble before the CRA comes after them with bank and wage garnishments or liens against their home and other property.”

Something I have been saying for the past 10 years!

In an effort to possibly save their business, the press release goes on to explain that hiring lawyers for CRA collections matters is time-consuming (read: expensive for clients) and slow: “They know what I know about fighting the CRA. And because they’re not lawyers, they can work more quickly to end people’s tax debt trouble for less than a lawyer would charge. Frankly, when the trouble is that you owe tax, you don’t need the hassle of hiring a lawyer to fix it.”

Unfortunately, the aggressive negotiation tactics DioGuardi’s firm is known for and which the CRA despises are still at the centre of their campaign.  They also boast a network of resources to assist people who need help with financing, and to slide people into bankruptcy when they cannot get financing.

DioGuardi’s previous radio advertising warned Canadians against searching for Tax Solutions on the Internet (so you will not find answers or firms like inTAXicating) and against so-called Tax Solutions firms, which are really Bankruptcy firms offering to “help” you with your tax debt by plunging you into bankruptcy after drawing out your tax file to incur more fees.

So inTAXicating now has a little competition … kind of … in the field of tax solutions and assistance with CRA issues.  You can either choose 17 years of tax experience – 11 of which were spent recently working in and managing CRA collections – or you can choose a firm which used to believe only lawyers can solve tax problems, but now tells you lawyers are not needed to solve tax problems, and oh, hey, they also used to work somewhere in the CRA 25 years ago.

Once this model wears out, watch for them to morph into Tax “Brokers” so they can do the work, and get paid after the fact, all in an effort to “protect” your money from the “Tax Man”.  It’s all the same everything, just dressed up in different clothing.

For us, nothing has changed.

If you have a tax question, issue, lien, or concern with the CRA, or RST, or need help regarding an audit or Taxpayer Relief, or just want to ask a tax question, then send an email to info@intaxicating.ca and you will have your answers.  If you need to hire us, we’ll tell you.  If you can handle it yourself but need a little guidance, we will tell you.

Our reputation is as important as your reputation.

inTAXicating Tax Services.  Canada’s only Tax Solution option!

Find us also at Goldhar Tax Solutions, or http://www.goldhartaxsolutions.ca

Find us on Facebook, Twitter and check out our credentials on LinkedIn.  Our blog is always at http://www.intaxicating.wordpress.com

 

How To Avoid The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Phone Scam

As a former Canada Revenue Agency Business Collections employee – almost 11-years – from collector to Resource Officer and Manager, I understand the fear people have when they receive calls from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

I also understand how scary it is when someone calls you, or leaves a recorded message for you, claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and demanding payment with threats of jail or immediate legal actions. I’ve been called as have many of my clients.

With a little knowledge and understanding of the CRA and the people who work there, I am going to list 10 signs that every Canadian needs to be made aware of in order to not be caught up in this scheme.

10 Facts Every Canadian NEEDS to Know About the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

 

10. Yelling and Screaming are NOT permitted, nor tolerated.

Regardless of what you have heard or experienced, the people who work in the Canada Revenue Agency are everyday people like you and I. If we yelled and screamed at our “client base” we would be disciplined or fired. They are no different.

9. Threats are NOT allowed.

The staff at the CRA will not threaten you with jail time, to send in the Sheriff, have you deported or to take every penny that you have.  Even is the call is not a scam you do not have to tolerate any threats from anyone at the CRA.

If you have been evading the paying of taxes, you already know that you could be charged and that jail time is possible. Any other type of collection action usually comes with pre-warning by a letter, Notice of Assessment or is started once you file / pay your taxes.

The CRA will not seize your principal residence!  Your cottage, rental properties, maybe, but house you and your kids live in… No.

8.  The Element of Surprise

If the call catches you by surprise, AND the person on the end of the phone is screaming at you, threatening to take your

7. Ask Questions.

In the instance you get a live person on the phone and they are trying to give you a hard time and force you to pay money, turn the conversation back to them and ask lots of questions. Ask them what the account number / social insurance number is, what periods or years the debt relates to (the debt they want you to pay). Ask them for a break-down of the total tax owing and the amount of penalties and interest – either the total amount or broken down by period or year. (They have this at their finger tips). Ask them what Tax Office they are calling from, and what the address and phone number is at that office. Ask them to send you a remittance voucher so that you can make that payment at the bank.

6. Defer

Tell them that while you would love to speak to them, you have an accountant who handles all your tax information and you would like to take down their information so your representative can call them back.

5. Do NOT Agree to Pay anything over the phone!

This rule applies not only to the CRA but to anyone else who ever calls your home / phone asking for money. Never, ever make a payment over the phone with your credit card.

4. Receipt Please!

If you are self-employed, you understand the importance of getting and keeping receipts.  Why would you buy a pre-paid gift card or charge card to send to some stranger who is not going to give you a receipt for payment?

You wouldn’t.

The CRA has recently allowed payment of some taxes by credit / debit card.  They will likely NEVER accept payment via gift cards, etc.

3. If you get such a call, hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can be found online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501.

If you believe you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service.

2.  Confirm, Confirm, Confirm.

If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, call the CRA by using the numbers on its Telephone numbers page. The number for business-related calls is 1-800-959-5525. The number for calls about individual concerns is 1-800-959-8281

1.  The CRA NEVER…

Requests prepaid credit cards;

Asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;

Leaves personal information on your answering machine!

Asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.

Emails seeking information or asking for payment.

 

 

So when in doubt, ask yourself the following questions:

Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling?

Do I have a tax balance outstanding?

Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?

Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?

Are they too mean / demanding / aggressive?

 

It’s always better to defer the conversation than make the mistake of giving information or money to criminals.

CRA News Release: Reminder – Registered Charities Prohibited From Devoting ANY Resources to Partisan Political Activities

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has issued a Press Release on their website; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cmmnctn/pltcl-ctvts/dvsry-eng.html, reminding registered charities that they are prohibited from devoting any of their resources to partisan political activities.

The CRA has determined that a “partisan political activity is one that involves the direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party at any time, whether during an election period or not, or a candidate for public office.”

For those of you quick to conclude that this is a recent change – made by the Conservative Party of Canada to protect themselves from negative press, the prohibition on partisan political activity is a long-standing requirement under the Income Tax Act (ITA).

Charities are responsible for their resources, and must devote these resources to exclusively charitable purposes.

Charities that devote any resources to partisan political activities may no longer be eligible for registration. A charity’s resources include funds, property, and personnel (volunteers, employees, and directors).

Partisan political activity may include, but is not limited to:

  • providing financial or material contributions to a political party or candidate
  • making public statements (oral or written) that endorse or denounce a candidate or political party
  • criticizing or praising the performance of a candidate or political party
  • organizing an all-candidates meeting or public forum in a way that could be seen to favour a political party or candidate
  • inviting candidates to speak at different dates or different events in a way that favours a candidate or political party
  • posting signs in support of, or opposition to, a candidate or political party
  • distributing literature or voter guides that promote or oppose a candidate or political party explicitly or by implication
  • explicitly connecting its views on an issue to any political party or candidate

These restrictions on partisan political activities do not prevent volunteers, employees, or directors of charities from:

  • helping in a political campaign, as long as they do this in their personal capacity and do not suggest they represent a charity
  • making partisan political comments in public (including on social media), as long as they make it clear they are speaking in their personal capacity and not as a representative of a charity

Charities that use the Internet or social media to post information should ensure the information does not contain partisan political statements. Also, the information should not link to statements made by a third party that support or oppose a candidate or political party.

An important note surrounds the responsibility charities have to ensure their social media also complies with these rules, and as such, when a charity invites comments on its website, blogs, or on social media, it should monitor them for partisan political statements and remove, edit, or moderate such statements within a reasonable time.

For more information on political activities, you can refer to the CRA’s website, specifically their section on Resources for charities about political activities, including Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities, and Partisan political activities, or call the CRA’s Client Service Section at 1-800-267-2384.

CRA Press Release: Tax preparer extradited to Canada (from Italy) for tax fraud in Canada

The following news items was released by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on September 8, 2015, regarding a former Tax preparer from Vaughan, Ontario, who was convicted of Tax Fraud for adding fictitious deductions to 4,200 tax returns from 2003 – 2005.  She was sentenced to 10-years in jail and fined almost $700,000.

The news release read:

“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that Ms. Doreen Tennina was extradited to Canada from Italy on September 4, 2015, and is now in custody serving a 10-year sentence for tax fraud.

On May 31, 2013, Ms. Tennina was found guilty in the Superior Court of Justice in Oshawa, Ontario, on two counts of fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code and was sentenced in absentia to the maximum period of 10 years in jail on each count to be served concurrently.  A news release publicizing Ms. Tennina’s conviction and sentence was issued on June 4, 2013.

Ms. Tennina, a former Vaughan, Ontario tax preparer, fraudulently claimed carrying charges and charitable donations totaling $58,500,000 in 4,200 tax returns prepared on behalf of her clients from 2003 to 2005, inclusive. The false claims reduced the amount of federal taxes owed by over $10 million. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $699,608 for causing her company, Executive Accounting, to fail to report income received from the tax evasion scheme.

The preceding information was obtained from the court records.

Taxpayers who claim false expenses, credits or rebates from the government are subject to serious consequences. They are liable not only for corrections to their tax returns and payment of the full amount of tax owing, but also to penalties and interest. In addition, if convicted of tax evasion, the court may impose jail time and fine them up to 200% of the tax evaded.”

Remember, taxpayers who have not filed returns for previous years, or who have not reported all of their income, can still voluntarily correct their tax affairs if the CRA has not contacted them first for the returns.  If applicable, the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) allows for filing / amended filing without penalty or prosecution provided the disclosure is full and complete.  These taxpayers may only have to pay the taxes owing, plus interest.

More information on the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) can be found on the CRA’s website at www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

A link to the news release is below;

Lien on Me: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Policy and Procedures around Property Liens

Quite a few questions this morning surrounding liens and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

I thought a re-post of this article I wrote might provide some clarity.

When searching for lien information relating to the CRA in Ontario, this post comes out 1st in Google, for obvious reasons as it mixes CRA policies with their internal procedures.

 

 

Lien on Me: CRA Policy and Procedures around Property Liens.