About the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Provisions

If you’re faced with a large tax bill, you’re likely looking at any option to help you cope with this debt. In your search, you may have come across the Canada Revenue Agency’s Taxpayer Relief Program. While this program could possibly help you deal with your tax debt, it’s not the magic solution that some may assume it is.

The CRA’s taxpayer relief provisions can cancel or waive penalties or interest charges on your tax bill. However, these provisions will not reduce the overall debt that you owe.

It’s also important to note that it is quite difficult to qualify for this relief. After all, the CRA wants the money that is owed to them, and they don’t want to simply remove penalties for everyone.

The CRA only considers offering taxpayer relief when the following situations prevent a taxpayer from meeting their tax obligations:

  • Extraordinary circumstances that have prevented an individual from making a payment when due or filing a return on time
  • Actions of the Canada Revenue Agency (such as errors or processing delays)
  • Extreme financial hardship (such as a situation where paying the penalties and interest charges would make it impossible to afford the basic needs of life)
  • Other circumstances (the CRA, on some occasions, may grant relief in other situations)

What Does the CRA Mean by “Extraordinary Circumstances?”

The first point on the above list is “extraordinary circumstances.” This point means a situation beyond the taxpayer’s control that may have prevented them from filing a tax return on time or making a payment when due.

Extraordinary circumstances, as defined by the CRA, include:

  • Natural or human-made disasters, such as floods, fires, earthquakes, etc.
  • Civil disturbances or service disruptions that prevent prompt filing and payment, such as a postal strike
  • Serious illness or accident
  • A situation that has caused significant emotional or mental distress, such as a death in the family

It’s important to note that these situations are ones that are beyond the taxpayer’s control, and they are typically rare situations. If you have a large tax debt and are looking to have penalties or interest charges waived or cancelled, you may have to prove why the extraordinary circumstances that affected you made it impossible for you to pay on time. This is an important point as, with any CRA program, you may not be accepted.

If you are dealing with a large tax bill and are wondering whether or not the CRA taxpayer relief program is right for you, or wondering about the relief options, please contact us today at 1 888-868-1400.

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