Dealing With CRA

Here are some common problems we can help you with:

  • Have you been reassessed and don't understand why?
  • Have you been contacted by CRA for an audit?
  • Have you been reassessed and disagree with the outcome?
  • Do you have tax returns that are overdue and need to be filed?
  • Is the CRA's collections department after you and making your life miserable?
  • Did you submit a payment but not receive credit for it?
  • Do you need information from CRA and don't know what to do, or don't have the time to do it?

Dealing with the CRA can be confusing, intimidating, and time consuming. The CRA's job is to collect taxes, they will not look after your interests or help you minimize your taxes.                  WE WILL!


Deadlines to be aware of

Corporate Tax filings are due 6 months after your year end. Missing this deadline will cost you 5% + 1% per month that it is late to a maximum of 12 months (17%). If you are late a second time it will cost you 10% + 2% per month that you are late to a maximum of 20 months (50%).   Keep in mind taxes due are due 3 months after your year-end.  We know it is stupid, but it is the law.

GST filings are due 3 months after your year-end if you file annually.  Quarterly returns are due one month after the quarter end.  Being late will cause penalties to be applied.

Payroll remittances and filings are due 15 days after the month end to which they apply.  Penalties will be applied for being late.


Did you know?

  • The CRA is not always right. Just because you get a letter from the CRA telling you that you are wrong and they are right does not mean it is true. Auditors make mistakes and CRA's computers make mistakes. Don't take their word for it, get professional help from those who know the law and the system.
  • Every situation is unique and must be looked at based on its own merits and circumstances (applying tax law requires interpretation based on the situation).
  • You have rights under the Tax Act which must be respected. (see web link below)
  • Contrary to what they say, CRA will not look after your interests.
  • CRA are not always right - In fact quite often they are wrong or choose to be narrow in their interpretation of tax law.
  • CRA looses cases in Tax Court.
  • Tax law is not always fair, and does not always make sense.
  • Tax law relies on interpretation of both the law and the facts of the individual scenario.  In addition, different CRA staff are going to interpret the situation and law differently.


Tips for Dealing With CRA

  1. Always be polite. Write down the name, department, and phone number of the person you are talking with (make sure you document the date of the call ).
  2. Do not procrastinate.  Call them back A.S.A.P.  and tell them you got their letter or phone call.  Explain to them what you are going to do (that you will arrange a meeting with your representative or that you will have your representative contact them).  If you don't want to talk to them call after 6:00 PM and leave a message.  IMPORTANT: They will NOT go away if you ignore them or try to dodge them.
  3. Do not volunteer information to CRA officials.  If possible do not speak to them at all.  Get professional help to deal with them. They cannot force you to answer questions over the phone.  You are entitled to get a representative to help you.
  4. If the CRA is requesting information ask them to put it in writing and mail it to you.  This will allow you some extra time to get a representative, and will prevent any omissions or misunderstandings between the CRA and you.
  5. Everything the CRA does takes time and they do not keep you informed as to what is going on or how long it will take.
  • An audit will take between 6-9 months from start to finish depending on how complex it is and how organized your information is.
  • An appeal will take 1-2 months to get a response saying they have received it, and 6-9 months more just to get it looked at by someone in appeals.
  • The total time to get a decision from appeals will be between 9 and 15 months.
  1. Just because CRA tells you that you did something wrong, or that they have denied your appeal, don't give up.  If you think you are right take them to Tax Court.
  2. Going to Tax Court is not that expensive or complicated.  However, you must be prepared.  You must know the legislation.  You must be able to explain why CRA is wrong (legislatively). 
  3. Going to tax court does not require a lawyer.  You don't have to go to tax court yourself (you can have a representative go for you or with you).
  4. Objecting to a reassessments and filing appeals have time limits that must be adhered to.  If you miss a deadline CRA will do their best to NOT have to deal with your issue.  They will even fight in Tax Court on the grounds that you missed the deadline.


Knowledge is power

You have rights that the CRA must respect. In fact the CRA posts them on their website. The problem is they just don't let you know where to find them, or promote that they exist.  Check out the link below. - Check out this new link

Now that you know what your rights are you can ensure that you are treated fairly.  If you know your rights then you will be able to keep your cool and be calm even if presented with a difficult situation.  Remember that these rights must be respected.  However, this does not mean that you can ignore CRA or violate legislation. 



  • Keep good records and documentation (or have someone do it for you)
  • File your tax returns accurately and in accordance with the legislation
  • Provide copies of your records and documents to CRA for audit purposes (never give up the originals).
  • Provide answers to their questions (but you can seek help from a representative before answering).
  • Respond to CRA in a timely fashion and be aware of legislative deadlines and time frames.
  • Remember that ultimately you are responsible for your records and taxes.  Make sure you understand what you are doing, or what others are doing for you.


Audit Tips

Ensure your documents and records are organized and easily accessible.  CRA hate to wait

You have to provide reasonable access to your original documents, but you do not have give them to the CRA.  We highly recommend that you do not let them take your originals.  We do recommend that you give them photocopies.  There have been instances of documents going missing at CRA and unfortunately this creates problems.  Despite what CRA auditors may say, photocopies are acceptable so long as they are legible and contain all relevant information.

Ignorance is not bliss.  Make sure you know who your auditor is, who their team leader is, get contact phone numbers for both.  Document every date and time you talk to them or leave them a voicemail.  Document the nature of the discussion.  Document every letter or phone call you receive and note what they want, the time frame for providing it, and whether they are being reasonable.

Once the audit begins keep on top of the auditor.  Ask about time frames, expected completion dates, and if they require any information not contained in that which they already have.  That said be careful that you don't provide information that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Once the audit is complete and they tell you that they have found adjustments (they will find something, guaranteed), get an explanation in writing as to why CRA thinks its wrong and their legislative basis.  At this time if you have not done so already, get help.  Depending on the amount of tax CRA want it is at least worth an hour of consulting time to make sure that they are right.  Do Not just pay it.

IMPORTANT:  If you disagree you have a limited amount of time to object and appeal.  Get help and do it quickly.  If you are late filing you may be out of luck.


Things CRA staff will not tell you

You have rights when dealing with CRA and the related legislation. These rights are published on the CRA website yet most auditors do not even know they exist, and the ones that do, don't advise you about their existence.

check out:        - Taxpayer's Bill of Rights

The right to organize your tax affairs to pay the least amount of tax legally possible is enshrined in case law.  The Duke of Westminster’s Case, holds that a taxpayer can legally arrange their affairs to minimize tax payable, regardless of motive.  The caveat on using this case is that you can not violate the spirit or intent of the Tax Act.  This case will not help you if you are in violation of G.A.A.R (General Anti Avoidance Rule) or if you are using tax avoidance schemes.

If you get reassessed (ie after an audit is completed) CRA's collection department will call you to try and collect the outstanding amount.  Be polite (see tip #1 above).  If you don't have the cash try to make payment arrangements.  If you are going to appeal tell them you are appealing the decision and don't want to pay until the matter is settled (see below).

If you are appealing a reassessment you do not have to pay the amount that is in dispute until the matter is resolved.  If you are contacted and asked to pay tell them you are appealing and that you will not pay until the issue is resolved in appeals or Tax Court.

CRA staff are NOT allowed to threaten you.  They do have some legal powers that can be exercised (seizing bank accounts, garnisheeing wages), but these powers cannot be used indiscriminately or without allowing reasonable time for you to make arrangements.  If you are ever threatened ("we will shut your business down if you don't pay", "we will put a lein on your house") get professional help immediately, so you can lodge a complaint.


CRA Contact Phone Numbers

Here are the contact numbers for CRA.  These can be used by anyone to find out information about their taxes.  You will need to be prepared to answer some security questions so that they can verify your identity.  We suggest that you have your current Notice of Assessment with you so that you can answer questions about it should CRA ask.  They quite often want to know what was on line 150 or what the amount of your refund or balance owing was.


Personal Tax Enquiries                    1-800-959-8281

Corporate Tax Enquiries                  1-800-959-5525

Tax Refunds Enquiries                     1-800-959-1156

GST Refund Enquiries                      1-800-959-1153


"Let us tip the scales in your favor"