Here’s what to do if you disagree with the CRA about your tax return

National Post


The tax deadline for most of us is less than two weeks away – May 5 (self-employed taxpayers and their spouse or partner have till June 16). The good news, however, is that many of us have not only already filed our 2013 returns, but have received our refund and corresponding Notice of Assessment.

But what if you disagree with the way the Canada Revenue Agency has assessed your return? If so, it’s important that you object to your assessment in a timely manner, formally, by filing a “Notice of Objection” setting out the reasons you’re objecting.

The deadline for submitting an objection is one year from your normal filing due date (generally April 30) or 90 days after the date printed on the Notice of (Re)Assessment, whichever is later.

If you miss that deadline, you can still apply to the CRA for an extension of time to object to an assessment. In that application, list the reasons why you didn’t object on time and what prevented you, or someone acting for you, from objecting in a timely manner. The deadline for this extension is one year from the expiry of the normal deadline for filing your notice of objection.

If the CRA denies your application, you can further appeal to the Tax Court to have the application granted but you must do so within 90 days of the CRA’s refusal letter.

A recent tax case decided late last month involved a taxpayer bringing such an application for an extension of time to file his notice of objection for the 2007 and 2008 tax years. In his case, the CRA mailed notices of assessment for the years in question on January 31, 2011. The taxpayer, therefore, had 90 days from that mailing date (i.e. until May 2, 2011) to file notices of objection. Failing that, he had a further one year (i.e. until May 2, 2012) to apply to the CRA for an extension of time to object.

The taxpayer argued that “he did everything he could to challenge the assessments by phoning and visiting the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on many occasions…What more could he do?”

Unfortunately, the tax law requires that both the notices of objection and the application to the CRA to extend the filing time be in writing. While it appears that the taxpayer “actively pursued his claim with the CRA,” he didn’t do so on time nor did he do so in writing. In fact, it appears that there was no written communication with the CRA whatsoever during this entire period.

As a result, the Judge concluded that the Tax Court “has no authority to grant an extension of time” to object and his application was dismissed.

This case serves as yet another reminder of the importance of protecting your legal right to appeal CRA’s assessment by being sure to object on time.