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The Canada Revenue Agency is committed to providing accurate and reliable information to taxpayers about the status of their tax filings, balances assessed, and balances owing. Taxpayers are encouraged to enroll for MyAccount, a self-serve online service giving you immediate access to all your CRA account information.
Unfortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency has encountered a glitch in its account programs. Since January 2018, taxpayers, or their representatives, have been provided grossly misleading information about tax balances owing.
Tax lawyer Philippe DioGuardi cites multiple instances of client files which show a zero balance owing when there is ongoing collection enforcement on taxpayer balances that, in some instances, are hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The Canada Revenue Agency has an obligation to provide accurate and reliable information to taxpayers at all times,” Mr. DioGuardi explained. “ If the Canada Revenue Agency client account shows a zero balance owing, I submit that it is inappropriate to continue with collection action on a balance that is unavailable to the taxpayer. Further, the Canada Revenue Agency ought to suspend accrual of interest on all accounts that incorrectly show a zero balance.”
Calls to the Canada Revenue Agency from DioGuardi Tax Law reached an agent who admitted that the Canada Revenue Agency is switching over some of their online account systems, and that the online account balances available at this time are not correct. The problem applies to personal and business accounts. The Canada Revenue Agency has been unable to advise as to when the problem will be corrected.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s IC07-1 information circular governing policy for the granting of relief from interest cites, in paragraph 26:
Penalties and interest may also be waived or cancelled if the penalty and interest arose primarily because of actions of the CRA, such as:
(b) errors in material available to the public, which led taxpayers to file returns or make payments based on incorrect information;
(c) incorrect information provided to a taxpayer, such as in the case where the CRA wrongly advises a taxpayer that no instalment payments will be required for the current year…
“This is a clear instance of the Canada Revenue Agency providing erroneous material and incorrect information to the public,” says Philippe DioGuardi. “ I intend to address it on behalf of my clients through service complaints and, if necessary, submissions for taxpayer relief. The CRA is clearly in violation of its obligations to taxpayers.”
Calling the CRA? Busy signals and inaccurate answers are all too common, says report
The Canada Revenue Agency could choose to argue that taxpayers can telephone collections or general enquiries centres toll-free to ascertain their correct tax balances. However, given the findings of a report last year, CRA’s track record of not answering telephone calls in a timely manner makes it unlikely that taxpayers will have access to accurate information anytime soon.