If you have a tax debt that you cannot pay in full, you should be very careful dealing directly with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). In fact, many agencies, including law firms, advise people who have large tax debts not to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency directly.
Why? Because CRA agents are hired by the government to collect the tax debt from you. Their primary objective is to close your file and that will only happen in one of two ways: pay the tax debt you owe, or file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.
The Canada Revenue Agency has many tools in its arsenal to collect your tax debt. These tools include garnishing your wages, freezing your bank account and placing a lien on your property. They cannot however take these enforcement actions against you unless they have done their homework. For example, they can't freeze your bank account unless they know where you bank, they can’t place a lien on your home unless they know you own a home, and they can't garnish your wages unless they know where you work.
Of course, the Canada Revenue Agency does have its own ways to find this information, but sometimes you can be your own worst enemy in this regard. Many people want to make payment plans with the Canada Revenue Agency to pay their tax debt and will directly contact the Canada Revenue Agency to attempt to do so. The CRA always wants to be paid in full. Generally they won't accept a long term payment plan unless it involves paying off the tax debt within 24 month, which many people are unable to do when they have a large tax debt. This is where Canada Revenue Agency forms and requests come in.
Say for example you owed $40,000. Over 24 months, your monthly payment would be $1,666 per/month but you can only afford to pay $500 per/month. When calling the Canada Revenue Agency they may indicate that they are willing to accept a temporary 3-6 month payment plan based on $500 per/month if you fill out a Canada Revenue Agency form providing financial disclosure. This form will ask you about your income, income sources, expenses, assets, liabilities, where you bank and more. Once they receive your financial disclosure, they may disallow payments for expenses that do not include shelter, food and transportation and then demand a much larger monthly payment. They may accept the lesser monthly payment for 3-6 months but the danger is that if they demand more, or when the short term payment plan you negotiated expires, the CRA will have all of your personal financial information that you provided in the Canada Revenue Agency form and can proceed to take enforcement action against you. Don’t get caught in this trap.
If you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency there are solutions available to you. If the CRA has presented you with one of these Canada Revenue Agency forms for financial disclosure, seek professional help immediately. A seasoned financial consultant with experience dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency can help you negotiate a repayment arrangement that you can live with and help you protect your personal information.
For more information about Canada Revenue Agency forms and requests to beware of or if you need help with a tax problem, please contact DebtCare Canada at 416-907-2582 or visit www.debtcare.ca.