If you are in a dispute with the Canada Revenue Agency, you need to
understand the four levels at which you can solve your dispute.|
You are dealing with an auditor (income tax or GST/HST) who
proposes to issue an assessment or reassessment. Normally the auditor will
write you a letter and give you 30 days to reply. You can get an extension of
time if necessary. It is important to make your case properly and
professionally to the auditor. Very often the case can be solved at this
level if you do it properly. And solving it at this level eliminates any
further costs in professional fees.
Once an assessment or reassessment is issued, you must file a
Notice of Objection, normally within 90 days. If you miss this deadline,
you may be out of luck, although an extension of time of up to one year may be available in limited circumstances.
Your objection will be dealt with by an Appeals Officer, who is a CRA official. Again, if your case
is properly presented it should be resolvable at this stage. This is an informal process;
the Appeals Officer will simply discuss the case with you and your representative,
and does not hold any kind of "hearing".
APPEAL TO TAX COURT
If the assessment or reassessment is confirmed, you can appeal
to the Tax Court of Canada. GST/HST appeals with up to $50,000 in dispute, and income tax appeals with up to
$25,000 of federal tax and penalty at stake, can go under the "Informal
Procedure", which is much less costly than the Court's "General Procedure".|
During the appeal process, there is an opportunity for
you or your representative to settle the case with the Department of Justice
lawyer who is handling the file. Cases can often be settled at this stage
without going to Court.
If you do not settle, then your case will go before a
Judge of the Tax Court of Canada. Normally you have to prove that the
assessment is wrong. This requires two things:
proving the facts
necessary to show that the assessment is wrong|
showing how the law
(e.g., the Income Tax Act or the Excise Tax Act) applies to the
facts you have proven.
When you retain me to represent you in your dispute, I do
my best to resolve the matter at the earliest possible stage. Compared to the
alternatives, this leads to the quickest possible resolution at the lowest
Of course, every case depends on its facts, and it is
impossible to generalize as to what the result of your case will be. Only by
a careful review and analysis of all of the facts can I determine your
prospects of success.
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